Operative Witchcraft

If you read Nigel Pennick’s “Witchcraft and Secret Societies of Rural England” and found yourself wanting more, look no further, Pennick has got you covered. His latest book, “Operative Witchcraft: Spellwork & Herbcraft in the British Isles” is an excellent follow up or stand-alone title.

Here, buried in traditions of rural tradespeople, you’ll find the roots of magic and witchcraft as it’s practiced today. Pennick outlines in detail not just what the magic was, but why it was believed to work. “Operative Witchcraft” covers a lot of magical ground in its approximately 200 pages: the crafting of talismans, animal magic, identifying places of power, creating tools, herbal treatments, and more! He discusses the belief of the different types of witches: White, Black, and Gray. Eventually, he leads us to an exploration of what happened when these rural practices butted up against the Church.

If you want a well written, thoroughly researched look at witchcraft’s past and possible future, get yourself a copy of “Operative Witchcraft”.

You can learn more here.

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Laurie Cabot’s Book of Visions

Thank goodness for Copper Cauldron Publishing. Why? Many reasons, but in particular because of their work with Laurie Cabot. Do I need to tell you why Laurie Cabot is important? Probably not, but just in case, let me take a moment. She is probably best known as the Official Witch of Salem, Massachusetts. Cabot helped develop Salem, MA into the witchy epicenter that it is today. She has taught her Art and Science of Witchcraft for decades. In the realm of Witchcraft, she is an elder stateswoman, and in my opinion, a bad ass.

And thankfully Cabot has partnered up with Penny Cabot, Christopher Penczak, and Copper Cauldron Publishing to preserve her knowledge for future students of Witchcraft. Thus far Copper Cauldron has released “Laurie Cabot’s Book of Shadows”, “Laurie Cabot’s Book of Spells & Enchantments”, and most recently, “Laurie Cabot’s Book of Visions: A Collection of Meditations”.

Let’s talk about truth in advertising! This “Collection of Meditations” is loaded with just that, meditations. As someone who practices a Zen Buddhist style of meditation, I can assure you that there loads of different types of meditation. Cabot carefully outlines her Art of Science of Witchcraft theory of meditation. Once you’re comfortable with meditation the book goes on to outline all the ways you can use it: accessing healing, animal spirits, faerie realms, deities, and more.

“Laurie Cabot’s Book of Visions” is a truly unique offering in the meditation and magical book spaces, worth every penny.

You can learn more here.

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

A Stampede of Unicorns

It’s here, the comparative review weeks in the making. Battle of the Unicorn Books! Through a combination of shipping mishaps and publishing trends, I received 3 different books centered on unicorns from two different publishers at the same time! When I realized I was up to my armpits in unicorn books, I thought it only made sense to read one after the other and do a big ol’ review. Better still, the shipping mishaps are enabling me to give some away too!

Who are the contenders in this battle royale?

“The Wonder of Unicorns: Ascending with the Higher Angelic Realms” by Diana Cooper
“Unicorn Magic: Awaken to Mystical Energy & Embrace Your Personal Power” by Tess Whitehurst
“Llewellyn’s Little Book of Unicorns” by Angela A. Wix

So, who was first?

That would be “The Wonder of Unicorns” by Diana Cooper. It was originally published in 2008 and is now being reprinted in a new edition as of November 2019. Next up is “Llewellyn’s Little Book of Unicorns” by Angela A. Wix, which was published September 2019. And last, but not least, is “Unicorn Magic” by Tess Whitehurst which also came out in November 2019.

“The Wonder of Unicorns” is 240 pages of angelic themed unicorns. It features full color illustrations by Damian Keenan throughout and is $18.99. For Cooper, unicorns are another aspect of the Divine. She explores unicorn legends with the perspective of them being angelic beings. Her book explains their angelic realm and hierarchy. She goes on to provide meditations and rituals to help you contact their dimension and work with them. They take on a Guardian Angel role in the lives of those who wish to invite them in. Out of the three books, “The Wonder of Unicorns” is definitely for those who wish to explore a potential angelic aspect to the creatures.

You can learn more here.

Next, what is black, white, and pink all over? “Llewellyn’s Little Book of Unicorns” by Angela A. Wix. It’s a 264 page hard cover perfectly sized to keep on you at all times. And you should keep it on you because her book does a great job of introducing unicorn energy into your life, and helping you recognize the unicorn that’s already there. Mundane tasks like cleaning take on a new energy. Beautiful crystals you may already own have new purposes. In fact, mindfulness, chakras, and more get a fresh unicorn perspective in this book!

You can learn more here.

I have a particular soft spot for the last title, “Unicorn Magic”, because it was written by Tess Whitehurst, who I had the pleasure of interviewing in 2015. Her book is filled to the brim with her positive, kick ass attitude. Whitehurst’s book is a 288 page self-help journey with a unicorn travel guide. She encourages you to find, create, and embrace beauty. If you want to be a better version of yourself, this is the book for you!

You can learn more here.

Now, thanks to the generosity of the publishers, we have a giveaway for ALL the books! That’s right! Follow the Rafflecopter contest below to enter. Contest ends at 11:59pm 01/19/2020.

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Not sure you’ll win? Reading this after the contest is over? Either way, below are affiliate links to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use these links to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

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The Magick of Food

If you follow my personal social media accounts, you know I LOVE food. My pot belly and high cholesterol also attest to this fact, but that’s beside the point. You know who else truly loves food? Gwion Raven. I was fortunate enough to be given an uncorrected proof of his new book “The Magick of Food: Rituals, Offerings, and Why We Eat Together” and I was simply blown away.

The first section of the book is “A Brief and Incomplete History of Food and Ritual”. For being “incomplete”, Raven starts with a small exploration of what our primitive, cave dwelling ancestors perhaps ate and what it meant to them. What flows from that starting point is an engaging history lesson on the evolution of food, faith, and where the two intersected. We visit the food, gods, recipes, and rituals of the Middle East, Greece, Rome, and what the author refers to as “A Dark Age of Cuisine” (Britain).

The second section is “Food, Magic, and Rituals for Today”. Raven explores what he considers five basic principles for food magic:
1. All food is sacred.
2. Eat what you need.
3. Share what you can.
4. Express gratitude.
5. Pass the knowledge along.
The author explores the magic to be found in a cup of tea or dinner out in a restaurant. From this point he discusses the connection between food and arousal, healing, grief, community, and the Kitchen Witch. This section if filled with magical ideas, spells, rituals, and my favorite, recipes!

The third section of the book is “All the Recipes”! Here you find ways to make everyday “mundane” recipes magical, cocktails (yes!), mocktails (alcohol free beverages), and magical libations. Rounding out the section is “Food Magick for Special Occasions”. In a book full of tempting recipes, here is where you will find some truly stand out feasts: “Goat for a God” (which I really want to try), “In Praise of Inanna”, “Demeter’s Vegetarian Feast”, and “Boar for Bacchus”. Raven also includes “A Year of Food Magick”, offering recipes for Pagan celebrations, and little more love in the form of “Four Ridiculously Good Aphrodisiacs”.

Being a food lover, I find it hard to imagine a person who wouldn’t be interested in “The Magick of Food”. It’s well-written, entertaining, informative, and loaded with recipes! What more could you want?

Learn more here.

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Your Goddess Year

Hello new year! Now is the perfect time to get your hands on “Your Goddess Year” by Skye Alexander!

Why? Because this beautifully illustrated book features a different goddess for each week of the year! For instance, you’re reading this during January 1-7, the first week of “Your Goddess Year”. The featured goddess is Sophia, who you learn from this book is less of a goddess and more like Wisdom incarnate. Not too shabby, right? The author gives a brief bit of background on each goddess, why you want to invite, or invoke her, if you will. Also included are instructions as to how you might want to go about doing that.

Alexander does an excellent job of presenting a diverse offering of female deities and women of power. Like who? Hera, Baba Yaga, Pele, Fortuna, Athena, Sekhmet, Oshun, and many more!

If you’re looking to learn more about the divine feminine, “Your Goddess Year” is a fantastic way to do that!

You can learn more here.

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

The Great Smoke Off: Dueling Smoke Cleansing Books

As many publishers, authors, and publicists will tell you, I don’t crank out my book reviews that quickly. Stacks of books pile up while I slowly work my way through review copies and advance readers. There’s just a limit to how quick I can read and write, you know? One day, while scanning my heap of books to read I noticed two books of a similar theme: “Sacred Smoke: Clear Away Negative Energies and Purify Body, Mind, and Spirit” by Amy Blackthorn and “Sacred Herb Bundles for Energy Cleansing: Your Guide to a Powerful Healing Practice to Purify, Bless, and Inspire” by Kiera Fogg. I said to myself, self, why not read them both a write a review comparing them to each other? And here we are.

Let’s start with some core basics. “Sacred Smoke” by Amy Blackthorn came out in October 2019, has 192 pages in black and white with pretty line drawings that retails for $14.95. “Sacred Herb Bundles for Energy Cleansing” by Kiera Fogg came out June 2019, has 128 glossy, full color pages that retails for $21.99.

Who are the authors? Amy Blackthorn (who I interviewed in 2018) comes from a background of herbalism, horticulture, and green witchcraft. She owns Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends, which sells teas inspired by traditional Hoodoo practices. Kiera Fogg’s background is in healing crystals and energy work. She owns Little Box of Rocks, a company that sells healing crystals.

Both books are well written. Both have some overlapping content. However, I feel the authors’ backgrounds are reflected in their books. Blackthorn’s book, “Sacred Smoke”, has more technical information that branches out in more directions. Specific ideas for utilizing smoke for witchcraft, self-care, magical practices, and spiritual practices. Fogg’s book, “Sacred Herb Bundles for Energy Cleansing”, has a much more generalized new age use vibe about it. Nothing wrong with that, heck, it’s pretty much how I roll. It also has to be mentioned that Fogg’s book has a very curated visual look to it. Her work is made for Instagram.

So, which book “wins”? Neither. Or both. Despite their surface similarities, both authors created wonderful books that pull on their individual strengths. In a perfect world, if you had the money and interest, you would buy both. As it is, I would suggest Fogg’s “Sacred Herb Bundles for Energy Cleansing” for those looking for more of a new age how-to, and Blackthorn’s “Sacred Smoke” for a more witchcraft oriented approach.

You can learn more about “Sacred Smoke” here.

You can learn more about “Sacred Herb Bundles for Energy Cleansing” here.

Shop your local indie bookstore. You can buy Sacred Smoke here! <--- This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Shop your local indie bookstore. You can buy Sacred Herb Bundles for Energy Cleansing here! <--- This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Awakening Your Crystals

It’s always a good time for crystals. Maybe you got some as a holiday gift. Maybe you’ll be spending some holiday cash to buy some. Either way, the time is right to discuss “Awakening Your Crystals” by Sharon L. McAllister.

“Awakening Your Crystals” focuses on what McAllister feels are eight key crystals: rose quartz, amethyst, pyrite, celestite, smoky quartz, citrine, fluorite, and unakite. She examines these eight crystals in depth separately and how they can work together. She does give a brief rundown on a bunch of other crystals too. All in shiny, full-color, I might add. More importantly, “Awakening Your Crystals” discusses care and maintenance of your crystals, how to explore the crystal’s possibilities, and how to “program” your crystals for the work intended for them.

With its compact size, full-color photos, and focus on healing, “Awakening Your Crystals” by Sharon L. McAllister is a great “go to” crystal book for beginners and longtime crystal lovers alike!

You can learn more here.

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

The Magian Tarok

“Why aren’t more people talking about this book? Are people talking about this book? Did I miss people talking about this book?” These questions continually raced through my mind while reading “The Magian Tarok: The Origins of the Tarot in the Mithraic and Hermetic Traditions” by Stephen E. Flowers, Ph.D.

Over the years I’ve heard many stories about the origin of the tarot. Perhaps I’m not well read, or maybe I never dug far enough, but I don’t recall ever hearing about Mithraic origins. Not until “Magian Tarok”. Flowers explores the Major Arcana through the prism of Mithraic symbolism. Mithraism is a mystery cult that’s roots run through most of the ancient world. “Magian Tarok” does a great job explaining and exploring the subject.

As he gets into the spread of Mithraism to the Greco-Roman empire, Flowers explores how the magical alphabet, Stoeicheia, also relates to the tarot. Curious about Stoeicheia? Don’t worry, the book goes into the subject as well.

Flowers doesn’t discuss how to use the tarot, but I can’t help but feel like anyone interested in the tarot would benefit from reading “Magian Tarok”. Understanding the roots and evolution of the tarot can help bring a fresh perspective and new appreciation of the modern tarot deck.

You can learn more here.

Shop your local indie bookstore <--- This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Favorite Things 2019

It’s that time again folks! That time when I look back at a year of articles and remind you about the best of the best things I wrote about this year. Looking at the list you’ll realize that not every item came out in 2019. My favorite things list is a recap of what I read or used in 2019, not necessarily a thing that released in 2019. So why now? Why not the end of December, or the beginning of January? Because I like to share my favorites while you still have time to buy them as gifts for people, or yourself.

And speaking of shopping, this year I’m including purchasing links (when I can) for IndieBound. IndieBound supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you. I encourage you to shop local, independent bookstores when you can. If you can’t, I ask you to consider IndieBound.

Now, with no further ado, and presented in particular order…..

FAVORITE THINGS 2019

The Little Book of Cat Magic: Spells, Charms, and Tales by Deborah Blake
It’s hard not to be enchanted by this little book of cats. It’s written by Deborah Blake, a crazy cat lady in the best of ways. The book is filled with delightful kitty-centric illustrations. “The Little Book of Cat Magic” is great for anyone who loves cats.

You can read my original review here.

You Can Buy Me Here

Magical Dogs Tarot by Daniel Mueller and Mickie Mueller
From cats, to dogs. It’s hard not to love dogs, and thusly, it’s hard not to love “Magical Dogs Tarot”. Mickie Mueller is a fantastic artist, and her dogs are endearing and whimsical. Daniel Mueller wrote a wonderful companion book, thoughtfully capturing the spirit of canines and merging it with tarot. A great addition to any tarot collection, and obviously it’s fantastic for dog lovers.

You can read my original review here.

Crystals: A Guide to Using the Crystal Compass for Energy, Healing, and Reclaiming Your Power by Aisha Amarfio
This book is ALL about its Crystal Compass. Sure, Amarfio provides loads of information about crystals: uses, care of, properties, etc. However, what sets “Crystals” apart is the super convenient chart she created to go with the book. This colorful graph, aka, Crystal Compass, is an easy to use guide to incorporating crystals into all kinds of work. In a year that saw many great books on crystals, Amarfio’s creation of the Crystal Compass made her book a favorite of this past year.

You can read my original review here.

You Can Buy Me Here

Witchcraft Activism: A Toolkit for Magical Resistance by David Salisbury
Written by a long-time activist, David Salisbury does a wonderful job of inspiring the reader to take action, mundane and/or magical. If you want to take action, this is the book to read.

You can read my original review here.

You Can Buy Me Here

Witchbody by Sabrina Scott
This year saw SO MANY fantastic releases. However, there was no other book like “Witchbody”. Scott created a graphic novel, filled with fantastic art that explores ecology, magic, spirituality, and more. It’s a journey unlike any other you’ll ever take with a book. In my opinion, “Witchbody” is a classic.

You can read my original review here.

You Can Buy Me Here

One Truth and One Spirit: Aleister Crowley’s Spiritual Legacy by Keith Readdy
An amazing work exploring Crowley’s Thelema legacy following his death. Thelema’s fractures, power struggles, and ultimately, its staying power makes “One Truth and One Spirit” a worthwhile endeavor.

You can read my original review here
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You Can Buy Me Here

The Ark Animal Tarot & Oracle Deck by Bernadette King
Some of you may remember that back in April I backed, and promoted, a Kickstarter for this deck. Well, now it is out and I have my copy. It is just as good, if not better, than promised. A beautiful, sturdy box with a magnetic closer. Gorgeous, full color cards. It’s designed to be used as a traditional tarot deck and/or oracle!

You can read my original post about it here.

Witchcraft & Secret Societies of Rural England: The Magic of Toadmen, Plough Witches, Mummers, and Bonesmen by Nigel Pennick
Pennick has created a book that is a highly readable blend of scholarly work and fantastical folklore. Trade unions that operate as secret societies is a trend that might be cool to bring back.

Read my original review here.

You Can Buy Me Here

The Sacred Herbs of Samhain: Plants to Contact the Spirits of the Dead by Ellen Evert Hopman
I feel like this from my original review says it all, “And no one tells a plant’s story better than Ellen Evert Hopman.”

Read my original review here.

You Can Buy Me Here

Letters to a Dead Friend about Zen by Brad Warner
Brad Warner does Buddhism 101. Need I say more?

Read my original review here.

You Can Buy Me Here

Since this is my favorite things, but also a shopping list, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that The Magical Buffet has a bunch of fun merchandise, as well as a vintage witch collection of merchandise for sale now! The witchy collection goes away December 31, 2019.

Shop The Magical Buffet store here!

Zen & Enlightenment & Giveaway

If you’ve been a reader of The Magical Buffet for just about any length of time, you know I love me some Brad Warner. I’ve featured nearly every book he has written on my site. So, believe me when I tell you that this may be my FAVORITE Warner book. This is the book I’ve been waiting for and Warner has been putting off writing. Welcome to your Zen Buddhism 101 book with cool professor Warner. In order to pull it off, Warner needed a framing device to make it work for him. He did it in the form of letters to his childhood friend Marky, who passed away shortly before work on the book began. I’m generally not a fan of the letters format, but Warner’s conversational writing works perfectly with it, and honestly, whatever it took for him to finally give me my grand overview of Zen Buddhism is okay with me.
Here’s a 5 minute video where Warner discusses the book:

And New World Library was kind enough to provide an excerpt to share as well….
By Brad Warner

Through sheer dumb luck I happened to encounter Zen Buddhism when I was a teenager. I didn’t go looking for it. It was just there at exactly the time I needed it to be.

I don’t believe in Buddhism either, by the way. It’s not like I heard their fairy tales and figured they were better than anybody else’s stories. The Buddhists have fairy tales too. The difference is that nobody cares if you believe them. They don’t care whether you believe their stories because the very idea of a you who can believe in stories is something they also call into question.

Even so, I’m not all that interested in Buddhism. I’m much more interested in what is true. What I like about Buddhism is that the Buddhists are also interested in what is true. At least, most of them are.

I’m not sure if Zen Buddhism would have helped you or not, Marky. I never tried to sell it to you. You knew I was into it, but you never asked.

I never liked people who tried to sell me their religions. I know you didn’t either, so I wasn’t gonna do that to you. No one ever tried to sell me Zen Buddhism. If they had, I would have regarded them as people who were too insecure to believe in something unless a bunch of other people believed it too. I have no time for that.

But nowadays I’m a minor spiritual celebrity. I’m not as big as Deepak, but I’m big enough to make a living at it. Which was always a source of embarrassment whenever I interacted with you and still embarrasses me when I’m around friends who, like you, knew me long before I started doing what I do now.

I see spiritual celebrities as charlatans, as people who make their living selling empty promises that they themselves don’t even believe. I swear that’s not what I do. But I don’t have anything against anyone who assumes the worst about me in that regard. Because that’s probably what I’d assume about me if I wasn’t me.

Spiritual celebs play the same stupid games as regular celebs. They, or maybe I should say we, validate each other the same way cheap nightclub singers do when they get on TV talk shows.

It’s like there’s a little Enlightened Beings Club. Here’s how it works. Some guy says he’s got enlightenment. He has a story to back him up about the wonderful day when he finally understood everything about everything. Another guy, his teacher, certified him as a member of the Enlightened Beings Club. And now he’s ready to help you learn to be just like him.

You go to the enlightened guy, and he trains you to imitate the things he says. Or if he’s real clever he teaches you how to rephrase his schtick in your own words. If your imitation meets his criteria, he gives you his seal of approval, and off you go. The industry is self-perpetuating. It’s in your teacher’s best interests to support your claims of enlightenment since you, in turn, are expected to support his. Without such support, the whole thing falls to pieces.

If someone comes along and says, “Ain’t no such thang,” it threatens the whole system since it is built on extremely shaky ground. Unless people believe in enlightenment, enlightenment cannot exist. The enlightenment they sell is nothing more than the belief in enlightenment.

This is the same deal with religions. Believing in God is not like believing in the existence of Mount St. Helens or something tangible like that. The difference is that you can question the existence of Mount St. Helens all you want, but it doesn’t go away. But when someone questions the existence of God, the very existence of God is threatened, because that sort of God is nothing more than the belief in God.

And here’s what’s even weirder.

It turns out that enlightenment actually is real.

God actually does exist.

I don’t know how you feel about my saying that now that you’re dead, Marky. But I know that when you were alive you would have rolled your eyes at me. And I would not have blamed you.

There are a lot of things I wish I’d talked to you about. But I didn’t. And so I’m writing you this letter. Maybe I’ll write you a bunch of letters. There’s a lot to say. I don’t know if there’s an afterlife and you can somehow read these letters, or if there’s reincarnation and you’re still a baby and can’t read them, or if you just stay dead after you die, in which case you’ll never even know of their existence. Maybe I’ll write about that in another letter.

All I know is that whether or not you can receive what I’m saying doesn’t change the fact that there are things I want to say. And so I’m going to say them.

But I’m going to have to say them later because right now there’s nobody else in the Pizza Pazza and the surly guy behind the counter is giving me a funny look. So I’d better scarf down my cold pizza and go.

About Brad Warner:
Brad Warner is the author of “Letters to a Dead Friend about Zen” and numerous other titles including “It Came from Beyond Zen”, “Don’t Be a Jerk”, and “Hardcore Zen”. A Soto Zen teacher, he is also a punk bassist, filmmaker, and popular blogger who leads workshops and retreats around the world. He lives in Los Angeles where he is the founder and lead teacher of the Angel City Zen Center. Visit him online at www.hardcorezen.info.

Excerpted from the book “Letters to a Dead Friend About Zen”. Copyright ©2019 by Brad Warner. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you. But wait, there’s even MORE! New World Library is going to send one lucky winner a copy of “Letters to a Dead Friend About Zen”! As usual, we’re doing the Rafflecopter thing, so see the widget below! Contest ends 12/06/2019 at 11:59pm eastern. a Rafflecopter giveaway