There are books of many shapes and sizes on the ole metaphysical bookshelf. Slim volumes on single subjects, massive tomes containing comprehensive how-tos (or single subjects, whoo), fiction-like noir mysteries involving a magical twist... the list is almost endless. I'm a strong believer that form informs function, and all those books are in their shapes and sizes for a reason. What I had never encountered until now was a pagan coffee-table book(!), and while it isn't how The Witch Belongs to the World: A Spell of Becoming is marketed, it's the strong impression that I get from it. Fio Gede Parma's book is as much art piece as practical guide, and even the "practical" parts are enveloped in personal expression from the author.
If you are in the market for a new book, though, right about now you're asking "what does that even mean, Wanderer? Do I want this book??" Well, in general, yes, you do. Parma has created a lovely book full of photography and poetry, not to mention a quality of prose that is elevated without reaching for grandiosity. That said, for all that 'The Witch Belongs to the World' is absolutely designed to help you further your spiritual development, it does so far more via inspiration and meditation than it does with anything resembling a step-by-step process. The goal seems to be to bring you along a vision of the path that the author has traversed, with spotlights shown on some key moments from hindsight, and then for the reader to contemplate what they have witnessed and make use of that what they will. As such, the ideal reader would be a contemplative one, someone who is not in a particular hurry to reach some particular goal in witchcraft; rather, they are experiencing their own life fully and, therefore, are ready to absorb lessons from someone else's.
Aside from the content itself, there's a reason I said I flashed on "coffee-table book"; I imagine that seems like a slight, although that's not the intention. This is a book to be displayed, to be examined by the passersby with the possibility of them being drawn into it. Even if your visitors aren't entranced with it, the photography and highlighted poetry can stand on their own as something worth sharing with others. Given how rare this is for our little niche of the library, it's a benefit worth considering if you're not in the broom closet. For the literature as well as the guidance, bringing The Witch Belongs To the World into your home is a good idea, with one small but important caveat: I think the digital version of the book loses a *lot* of the value of the book. The PDF was already a disjointed experience - reducing the photos even further on a Kindle, for example, would almost entirely defeat the point. There is also some serious care that went into the typography, which is something else that may flip from helpful to hindrance on an e-reader. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say.
~review by Wanderer (he/him)
Author: Fio Dede Parma
Llewellyn Worldwide, 2023
p. $27.99, pp. 320