Let's face it, modern witches are getting old.
Most of us have heard how awful it is to get old, and watched as much of (western) culture works so very hard to prevent aging. The goal is to look young . . . seemingly forever.
Several years ago, renowned author Cait Johnson put those two facts together and decided that we witches no longer needed to grow old while floundering in a society that dismisses the wisdom of age in favor of the seduction of youthful beauty. Hence, the utterly fabulous run-don't-walk-to-buy-it Witch Wisdom for Magical Aging: Finding Your Power through the Changing Seasons. Bottom line: Johnson has managed the seemingly impossible task of making the inevitable process of aging literally magical, offering a way to restore society's reverence of the Elder. As the author aptly puts it, "The Land of Aging can be filled with freedom and beauty, wisdom and pleasure."
Johnson begins with an exploration of the aging body in a section titled winter. I liked how we are encouraged to regard our bodies as something to care for as if a beloved companion animal. Our beauty is not defined by the perfection of youth, but the long story of our lives as reflected within our folds, lines, and scars. This section is full of inspiration to shed the habits we may have taken on to appear young. To stop dyeing our hair to make it look young, and instead eat food loaded with fatty acids to replenish it's strength. We are called to embrace, accept, and honor the physical signs of age.
With Spring, we look to how we express ourselves uniquely, visually. Johnson reminds us that valuing oneself is done while showing one's culture, ancestry, and ethnicity rather than hiding behind the blandness of doing what "everyone else does." Called "Feathering your Nest," readers are inspired to see our homes as our sanctuaries. Why keep items that no longer have meaning (from a previous relationship, for example, no ended through divorce or death)? Repurpose beloved items to better suit an older you. Get rid of the broken things (you know you have at least one thing you keep meaning to fix. . . ). Shed the accumulation of "stuff."
Summer takes on the complexities of sex and sexuality as an aging being. Tied to the fire of creativity, sensuality does not end with menopause no matter how much society says it does. Johnson reminds us that sex is so much more than penetration and is far far better when shared with a partner relishes your spirit and truly cares for you (looking past the exterior to the true love within). I found Johnson's description of love as passionate attachment refreshing. In this section we look at Self Love, Silver Foxes, and allowing anger to become a honored ally in creating conscious change.
With Autumn, readers explore the realm of death and honoring our own lives (not just others, Deity or not). We explore the process of letting go and ponder the legacy we will leave. Oddly, for this reviewer, Johnson brings in a discussion of food and magical cooking. This part of the section felt out of place, perhaps fitting better with Winter. It's almost as if the discussion of death and endings needed a "happy ending," which undermined the power of what the author was trying to convey. This section could have used more practical information about related topics, like green burials, funeral customs, or even creating our own funeral ritual.
There were times when I found the author's tone a bit authoritative, as if being scolded, and Witch Wisdom is probably more appropriate for those who identify as female. Nonetheless, I feel Witch Wisdom can be valuable for anyone feeling as if they are getting on in years.
All throughout there are meditations, magic, recipes, and crafts to support each seasons' message. Although there are relatively few illustrations, they are particularly delightful and inspirational.
Witch Wisdom is a wonderful addition to any witch's library.
~review by Lisa McSherry
Author: Cait Johnson
Destiny Books, 2022
pp. 164, $16.99