Sometimes I am given an item to review that defies norms and refuses to stay within typical boundaries. Witchbody, a graphic novel from Sabrina Scott, is the most recent one to come my way. At it's heart, Witchbody is a beautifully illustrated, heavily researched, thoughtfully-written work of art on western occult magic, the body, and environmental activism. It is unlike anything you have ever read before, coming closer to the works of Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman than Starhawk, but encapsulating the latter's sense of witch within the world rather than apart from it.
It is a challenging and emphatically occult work that is somewhat inaccurately called a graphic novel because it lacks a cohesive storyline. It might better be described as an illustrated poetic essay, one in which Scott expresses her viewpoint on how magic, witchcraft, ontology, sociology, and the environment are intricately and inextricably bound together. At its core, Witchbody offers the reader a compelling argument that we aren't just moving through the world, we are profoundly, deeply interrelated.
At 80 pages, this is not a big book, but it is one that will have you reaching for the dictionary as you ponder how she is using terms and phrases like pedagogy, trans-species entanglement, ontology, and colonial frameworks. Scott herself describes it as “a rambling and poetic autoethnography of western occult magic as a pathway for environmental learning and advocacy.” which may easily be a turnoff to some readers.
I do have a criticism, which is that the text, being hand written in ink, is more than occasionally difficult to read (even with my glasses). It took more than one read (not a terrible chore, I grant you) to puzzle out some passages' meanings because of the tiny, difficult lettering.
Scott's passion for the inter-connectedness of all things is compelling, spellbinding, and joyful.
~review by Lisa Mc Sherry
Author: Sabrina Scott
Weiser Books, 2019
pp. 80; $18.95