The Witches Almanac

I almost ignored the press release for “The Witches Almanac: Sorcerers, Witches and Magic from Ancient Rome to the Digital Age” by Charles Christian. I mean, these days the new age/witchy marketplace is overloaded with almanacs. However, this doesn’t really feel like an almanac. More like a self-contained reference book.

Dictionary.com defines an almanac as,
“an annual publication containing a calendar for the coming year, the times of such events and phenomena as anniversaries, sunrises and sunsets, phases of the moon, tides, etc., and other statistical information and related topics.
a publication containing astronomical or meteorological information, usually including future positions of celestial objects, star magnitudes, and culmination dates of constellations.
an annual reference book of useful and interesting facts relating to countries of the world, sports, entertainment, etc.”

And the thing is, “The Witches Almanac” isn’t really any of those things, other than being filled with interesting facts. So, what is “The Witches Almanac?” Essentially, Christian has put together “a biographical dictionary of the best-known practitioners and exponents of magic from the earliest times through until the present day.” The author explains, “This is primarily a book about people, but instead of the traditional approach of a biographical dictionary with all entries in strictly alphabetical order, I’ve opted to split the text into separate chapters, each dealing with a particular theme or chronological era containing a brief explanatory narrative discussing the historical context and issues of that theme/era followed by the relevant biographical entries.”

The historical context Christian provides makes “The Witches Almanac” a pretty solid text on the history of magic. It doesn’t compete with “Magic: A History: From Alchemy to Witchcraft, from the Ice Age to the Present” by Chris Gosden, but for all the biographical information provided, there is an awful lot of history contained within. And as far as operating as a “biographical dictionary” of magicians, “The Witches Almanac” does a fantastic job. I was hard pressed to think of any practitioners that may have been missed. Also, rest assured, “The Witches Almanac” has an excellent index, just in case you want to find a specific person.

If you’re looking for a rough history of magic that has the main focus on the practitioners that shaped it, “The Witches Almanac” by Charles Christian is not to be missed!

You can learn more here.

Get your own copy here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, 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.)

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The Witch’s Spellbook for Beginners

I do not need another spellbook. I do not need another spellbook. I kept telling myself that over and over again as I looked at the email asking if I wanted a review copy of “The Witch’s Spellbook for Beginners: Enchantments, Incantations, and Rituals from Around the World” by Sarah Bartlett. However, the name Sarah Bartlett rang a bell, and that’s because she’s the author of “Iconic Tarot Decks: The History, Symbolism and Design of over 50 Decks”, a book I enjoyed so much that it made my Favorite Things list in 2021. And then there was the phrase, “from around the world.” I do love seeing how things are done in other countries. Yep, I got the review copy.

And yep, I’m a fan. “The Witch’s Spellbook for Beginners” is a no frills, easy to understand book of spells that features mostly easily accessible ingredients/tools. There’s easily over 100 spells that cover the usual suspects, such as love, money, protection with particular attention to the best times and dates to perform the spells for optimal results.

Yes, there many books of spells are available, but Sarah Bartlett provides a balanced selection of spells from a variety of places that creates an excellent base of knowledge for beginners, and experienced spell casters alike.

You can learn more here.

Get your own copy here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, 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.)

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Witches of World War II

Anyone that has known me for awhile knows that the only thing I find more interesting than magic is the people who practice it. Therefore, the graphic novel, “Witches of World War II” by Paul Cornell with art by Valeria Burzo was too juicy to pass up. Although a work of fiction, Cornell shows some genuine occult nerd bona fide with his creative use of actual history and well-established magical lore to tell the tale of the greatest magicians of the era coming together to battle Nazi Germany. Shall I introduce you to our colorful cast of character?

The leader of the team is Doreen Valiente, who is best known today as one of the founders and shapers of Wicca. Valiente lost her husband in the war, and although has never officially been found to have served in the war effort, she did spend extended periods away from her family during the war and never spoke about what happened. Next is Gerald Gardner, founder of Gardnerian Wicca. Gardner was an ARP Warden during the war and with his New Forest Coven facilitated the famous “Operation Cone of Power” to keep Britain from being invaded. Another magic practitioner known to have undertaken magical workings to help Britain during the war was Dion Fortune, a well-known British occultist and one of the founders of The Fraternity of the Inner Light. Her letter writing efforts of magical operations undertaken during the war have been cataloged into the book “The Magical Battle of Britain”, a book that drifts in and out of print. Aleister Crowley certainly needs no introduction as he founded Thelema with its assorted organizations and had a penchant for publicity. There is much lore, and some fact, around the idea that Crowley aided Britain during the war, whether in an official capacity or not is up for debate. It is true he corresponded with Rudolf Hess, a Nazi big wig with an interest in the occult. Last is Rollo Ahmed, he wrote about magic as well as his experiences being a black man in Britain.

Cornell takes this band of magic makers on a fantastical wartime journey filled with intrigue, heroics, a cameo from Winston Churchill, and Valiente punching a Nazi. Along the way you see magic and scams, learning that the line between magician and conman can at times be thin, and that both can be effective in times of war. Burzo’s artistic style worked well with the story and did an excellent job rendering these characters.

I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed “Witches of World War II.” It appealed to my occult nerd tendencies, my love of reimaging history, and adventure. Do yourself a favor and get yourself a copy asap!

You can preorder your copy here! (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, 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.)

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Hagitude and Witch Wisdom for Magical Aging

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Menopause is the time that marks the end of your menstrual cycles. It’s diagnosed after you’ve gone 12 months without a menstrual period. Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51 in the United States. Menopause is a natural biological process. But the physical symptoms, such as hot flashes, and emotional symptoms of menopause may disrupt your sleep, lower your energy or affect emotional health.” In spite of the fact that menopause can be triggered for a variety of reasons and that the whole journey can last 20 years or so, Western society at best treats menopause as a joke, and at worst, as some sort of disease that shouldn’t be acknowledged or discussed.

Perhaps that is why I’ve stumbled across not one, but two different books that recently released that discuss the menopausal years. Today we’re looking at “Hagitude: Reimagining the Second Half of Life” by Sharon Blackie and “Witch Wisdom for Magical Aging: Finding Your Power through the Changing Seasons” by Cait Johnson. Both authors work to reframe the discussion of feminine aging with a perspective towards transformation and cycles, not endings.

Sharon Blackie’s “Hagitude” is equal parts personal memoir and mythological meditations on aging. Menopause is an alchemical process that forges and transforms. Blackie shares her story, but pairs it with stories of female figures from history and legend.

Cait Johnson’s “Witch Wisdom for Magical Aging” is divided into four parts, reflecting the four seasons. Each season is represented by a witch to offer guidance and regale you with tales of iconic females. “Witch Wisdom for Magical Aging” features spells, rituals, and DIY projects to help the reader.

So, what book is right for you? Both attempt the momentous task of trying to undue the cultural dominance of youth, and for that alone both deserve praise. “Hagitude” is the more thoughtful book. Sharon Blackie writes with a literary flare that makes for inspired reading. “Witch Wisdom for Magical Aging” strength lies in action. Cait Johnson has conveys a great personality in her writing, but her book differs in that it features things to do, not just reflect on.

You can learn more about “Hagitude” here.

You can learn more about “Witch Wisdom for Magical Aging” here.

You can get your own copy of “Hagitude” here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, 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.)

You can get your own copy of “Witch Wisdom for Magical Aging” here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, 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.)

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! Https://www.patreon.com/magicalbuffet

Favorite Things 2022

If this is your first time checking out The Magical Buffet’s Favorite Things list, welcome! I started doing the list as a response to the overwhelming popularity of Oprah’s Favorite Things that she does each year. I started with the argument that I’m far more relatable than Oprah, with the whole me being broke as opposed to a multi-millionaire. That evolved into The List as you see it today, which is 10 things that have been featured on The Magical Buffet website since the previous year’s list was published. So, although many of these items were published this year, you’ll find slightly older ones too.

Every year the list gets harder to make because each year I seem to gain access to more publishers, authors, and publicists, and all of them keep getting better at curating wonderful works. As I typed up last year’s list, I was already dreading the 2022 list, and this time is no different. I already have books in my “to read” pile that I feel certain are Favorite Things worthy.

With no further explainers or excuses, I present to you (in no particular order) The Magical Buffet’s Favorite Things 2022.

1. Lights, Camera, Witchcraft: A Critical History of Witches in American Film and Television by Heather Greene.
I started the year with a fun interview with Heather Greene about this book. The intersection of popular culture with witchcraft has always been a subject of interest to me and her work definitely did the work. It’s one part academic study, one part witchy media guide. Almost anyone would enjoy this book. You can read the interview here.

2. Qabalah for Wiccans: Ceremonial Magic on the Pagan Path by Jack Chanek. I cannot stress how envious I am of Chanek. His intelligence, his insights, and his ability to just explain things in a way that I can understand are all what makes him one of my new favorite authors. Not only does Qabalah for Wiccans show pagans ways to incorporate ceremonial magic traditions into their spirituality, but it also finally explained Qabalah in a way that I fully understood. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that I also reviewed and loved his next book, Tarot for Real Life: Use the Cards to Find Answers to Everyday Questions, that was also featured on my site this year. You can see my review of Qabalah for Wiccans here and Tarot for Real Life here.

3. King Solomon the Magus: Master of the Djinns and Occult Traditions of East & West by Claude Lecouteux. Anyone who has read The Magical Buffet for any length of time knows that I love Lecouteux, and when I found out he wrote about Solomon, I may have actually yelped out loud. You can read my review here.

4. The Weiser Tarot. Weiser took on the challenge of updating the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot, keeping it as true to its original form while attempting to update the representation. It could have been a lazy cash grab, but instead Weiser created the new traditional tarot deck. Read my review here.

5. Secrets of Santa Muerte: A Guide to the Prayers, Spells, Rituals, and Hexes” by Cressida Stone. Stone discusses a frequently misrepresented deity that is experiencing rapid growth. Her book does an excellent job highlighting the diversity and versatility of the goddess and the ways She is worshipped. You can read my review here.

6. The Other Side of Nothing: The Zen Ethics of Time, Space, and Being by Brad Warner. Magical Buffet readers know that Warner is one of my favorite authors on the subject of Zen Buddhism. The Other Side of Nothing is the book I had been waiting for, where Warner takes his informal voice to explain the formal intricacies of Zen Buddhist ethics. It just might overtake Sit Down and Shut Up as the most essential Zen Buddhist text. You can read my review here.

7. The Bavarian Illuminati: The Rise and Fall of the World’s Most Secret Society by Rene Le Forestier and translated by Jon E. Graham. From my review, “This is 912 pages of pulse pounding intrigue and yawn inducing bureaucracy that was originally published in 1915 and hasn’t been available in English until now.” Yes, it is a pricey spend, but if you’re interested in occult societies, this is an interesting look at the OG of societies. You can read my full review here.

8. Paganism for Prisoners: Connecting to the Magic Within by Awyn Dawn. This is an important work that is well past due. Frequently, Pagan authors tell me that inmates reach out to them for resources and they don’t know what to say or do. Awyn Dawn’s book is an excellent resource. If I had the funds, I’d try to get a copy into every prison in the United States. Until then, get a copy and examine Pagan practice from a new perspective. You can read the review here.

9. Goddess Magic: A Handbook of Spells, Charms, and Rituals Divine in Origin by Aurora Kane. I like goddesses. This book has goddesses. Honestly, sometimes it doesn’t take more than that for me to get excited about a book, however, Kane’s curation of goddesses and the litany of ideas offered to work with them makes this a stand out in the collection of goddesses genre. You can read my review here.

10. The Watkins Tarot Handbook: A Practical System of Self-Discovery” by Naomi Ozaniec. I’m no stranger to books about tarot, but I’ll be damned if this one did not exceed all expectations. As I said in my review, “I was expecting a vaguely new age, self-help book that utilized tarot. What I got was a jaw dropping, initiatory experience.” This book is not to be missed. You can read my review here.

Shop my Favorite Things 2022 Here! (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, 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.)

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! Https://www.patreon.com/magicalbuffet

Sacred Lamb

I’m a huge fan of the horror genre, however I’m a big scaredy cat. I will spend hours reading plot synopses of horror films and novels, reveling in the versatility of the genre. That’s why when given the chance to review “Sacred Lamb”, a slasher movie inspired comic by Tim Seeley with illustrations by Jelena Ðordevic and lettering by Steve Wands, I said, “Sure!”

What happens to the lone survivors of horror movies? Usually they kill their pursuer, shamble towards the police cars conveniently rolling up just after the kill, and the screen fades to black. Of course, many times there’s a post credit scene establishing the potential of the killer returning. In Tim Seeley’s world these are endemic victims, EVs, that are taken to a secret government run town to reside in witness protection to stop innocent people from being murdered when the inevitable sequel occurs, and the slasher returns from the dead.

The story follows social media influencer Kellyn West, who live streamed killing her fan, turned stalker, turned slasher killer, by beating him to death with a backhoe. And thus begins her journey to Sacred Lamb, a quaint town that no one knows exists, where West, and survivors like her, are locked away to be forgotten by the outside world and any would be copycat slashers, or killers back from the dead. Once in Sacred Lamb we’re introduced to a trope’s gallery of survivors of assorted killers. In town, our EVs go to group therapy, terrorize each other, plot escapes, and mostly, wallow in their fate. However, when killings begin to occur in the government’s best kept secret location, we start to see what makes a “killer” and what makes a “victim.”

I choose to read Seeley’s “Sacred Lamb” expecting a two dimensional, but fun, meta horror romp. Instead, I got a crazy examination of feminism, pop culture’s effects on each generation, and the human condition. With chainsaws, blood, and explosions. It’s hard for me to find fault with this wild ride of a graphic novel, although I must admit that Dordevic’s art style isn’t my cup of tea. That said, it did not take away from my enjoyment of this wonderful book.

Preorder your own copy here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, 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.)

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! Https://www.patreon.com/magicalbuffet

King Solomon the Magus

It’s no secret that I love medieval literature academic Claude Lecouteux. I’ve reviewed most of his books and have appreciated them all. However, nothing could prepare me emotionally for how psyched I got when I received his latest book in the mail, “King Solomon the Magus: Master of the Djinns and Occult Traditions of East & West.” That’s right bitches, Lecouteux takes on Solomon. As a crafter of talismans, the highly recognizable symbol, the Seal of Solomon is featured heavily in my work, so I was excited to read more.

And if there’s one thing Lecouteux does, it is MORE. All of his books are dense with just everything to be found on the subject matter smooshed into a binding, and “King Solomon the Magus” is no exception. The author uses The Bible, the writings of Yosef ben Matityahu HaCohen (better known as Flavius Josephus), and the classic book “The Thousand and One Nights” as primary sources to demonstrate the universality of Solomon the King and Solomon the Magician. No stone is left unturned. Solomon’s relationships with animals, with the djinns, and with his people are explored. The places he lived, the magical talismans he created and used, and more are all discussed. The text is fully illustrated, including images I’ve used myself in crafting protective talismans.

What can I say? Claude Lecouteux is the master of consolidating information from varied sources for research and enjoyment. All of his books are fascinating reads. The combination of history, legend, and religion makes “King Solomon the Magus” an important work for anyone who interested in Arabian or Western magic.

You can learn more here.

Get your own copy here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, 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.)

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! Https://www.patreon.com/magicalbuffet

Astrology for the Cosmic Soul

Long time readers know that I don’t discuss astrology books or review them very often. Astrology is hard and feels an awful lot like work to me. However, when the publicist at Rock Point (an imprint of The Quarto Group) emailed me about “Astrology for the Cosmic Soul: A Modern Guide to the Zodiac” by The Pulp Girls, I was sold.

I’m not going to lie; it was the artwork that drew me in. The Pulp Girls wrote and illustrated “Astrology for the Cosmic Soul” and went with an adorable and psychedelic vibe. It turns out that their art is what they’re known for, running a business that sells their creations. (And holy crap do I want EVERYTHING on their website!)

Art aside, it turns out The Pulp Girls are also effective communicators. The book is written in a friendly, sassy voice that makes for an entertaining read. The authors also do a great job breaking down the complexity of astrology into easy to digest parts. Once you catch the basics of sun signs, moon signs, and rising signs, they discuss the practical side of astrology such as compatibilities and the stereotypical sign tropes versus the actual more nuanced way signs define people. After that, things get magical with tarot, lucky amulets, and grounding exercises. The end the book with “Just for Fun”, which is a whole lot of fun! Mixology for the signs (which sadly doesn’t involve actual alcohol), the signs as fairies, the signs as movie genres, and more!

“Astrology for the Cosmic Soul” by The Pulp Girls is a fun introduction to astrology that would also be an excellent gift for an astrology enthusiast. If nothing else, this book has converted me to being a big fan of The Pulp Girls! It turns out they have a tarot deck that just released in October and I may have to check that out too!

You can learn more here.

Get your own copy here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, 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.)

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! Https://www.patreon.com/magicalbuffet

Happy Witch

More and more often, I’m finding books about witchcraft intersecting with self-help. It is an easy fit, but I always carry a bit of skepticism when approaching a self-help/wellness book and dressing it up in a witch’s hat doesn’t change that. Fortunately, there are authors out there doing it right, and today’s book, “Happy Witch: Activities, Spells, and Rituals to Calm the Chaos and Find Your Joy” by Mandi Em is one of them.

“Happy Witch” comfortably walks the line with being positive without becoming toxic and being realistic without discouraging aspirations. Em divides the book into six chapters, which breaks down as:

Be Free by laying the groundwork for a magically empowered mindset.
Be Wild by connecting with nature and leaning into rewilding as a source of joy.
Be Playful by inviting play and creativity into your life through spells and rituals designed to heal and delight your inner child.
Be Still by unearthing bliss in the quieter work of your witchy practices, exploring your shadows to find the light.
Be Connected by using relational magic to enjoy your connections with yourself and others on a deeper level.
Be Soulful by embodying the magic you want to see in the world.

The subtitle is accurate, Em provides a bevy of spells, activities, and rituals in each chapter. They generally feature readily available items and utilize beginner friendly magical concepts. In “Happy Witch”, witchcraft is a tool, not a religion, that when used effectively can positively affect your life. This book is certainly beginner friendly, being perfect for those looking to dip their toe in witchcraft, or for a witch looking to integrate a little more self-care into their practice.

You can learn more here.

Get your own copy here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, 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.)

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! Https://www.patreon.com/magicalbuffet

Kitchen Witchcraft for Beginners

I’m not going to be coy, I’m a huge fan of Dawn Aurora Hunt. Not just as an author, or as an olive oil entrepreneur, but as a person. If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to spend any time with her, you get it. Hunt is the embodiment of the kitchen witch: warm, funny, and always wanting to feed you. And so, to make a long book review short, I obviously loved her new book “Kitchen Witchcraft for Beginners: Spells, Recipes, and Rituals to Bring Your Practice into the Kitchen.”

“Kitchen Witchcraft for Beginners” is just that, a perfect book for beginners. What is kitchen witchcraft? How do your practice it? How do you incorporate it into your daily life? Hunt answers all these questions and more in just under 140 pages. Hunt also offers additional resources, which is nice because the only my complaint about this book is that I wanted more. More recipes, more information, just more, and the additional resources can provide you with that.

If you’re looking to explore how to bring witchcraft into your kitchen, “Kitchen Witchcraft for Beginners” by Dawn Aurora Hunt is the perfect book for you.

Learn more here.

Get your own copy here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, 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.)

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! Https://www.patreon.com/magicalbuffet