Banned Books Week 2022

It’s that magical time of year again, when all of us book nerds join together to celebrate Banned Books Week, an annual event to draw attention to the constant threat of censorship that schools, libraries, universities, comics publishers, and more face. It’s a large coalition, featuring the efforts of American Booksellers for Free Expression, American Library Association, Amnesty International, Association of University Presses, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Book Foundation, National Council of Teachers of English, and more that help put together the event.

The American Library Association works to ensure free access to information. To that end, every year their Office of Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top ten most challenged books to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools. The lists are based on information from media stories and voluntary reports sent to the Office from around the United States. In 2021 the Office tracked 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials. Of the 1,597 books that were targeted, here are the most challenged books, along with the reasons cited for censoring the books.

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images
Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for depictions of abuse and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, violence, and because it was thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references and use of a derogatory term
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and degrading to women
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it depicts child sexual abuse and was considered sexually explicit
This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
Reasons: Banned, challenged, relocated, and restricted for providing sexual education and LGBTQIA+ content.
Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit.

What now? Well, for starters, you might want to read one, or all, of this year’s most challenged books. I maintain a list in my Bookshop that contains the most recent top ten most challenged books for your convenience. The American Library Association has a great list of other ideas that I encourage you to check out! There are even more ideas at the Banned Books Week website!

You can find the top ten most challenged books of 2021 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 Little Book of Satanism

Not to sound too much like Jerry Seinfeld, but what’s the deal with Satanism? Particularly, what’s the deal with our culture’s hang up about it? The answer seems obvious to most. Satan equals evil, so Satanism equals bad. It appears to be basic math, but it’s not that straightforward when you look closer at the history of Satan and those who have chosen to ally themselves with the Devil. Fortunately, alternative culture journalist La Carmina has laid it all out for us in her book, “The Little Book of Satanism: A Guide to Satanic History, Culture, and Wisdom.”

It is no easy task to unweave the tapestry that creates what Satanism is today, but La Carmina does an excellent job untangling the web and laying out a timeline for us to follow. “The Little Book of Satanism” begins in a time when there was no Satan, takes us to Satan’s Judeo-Christian debut, discusses some name branding with Lucifer, explores how “others” were by default tools of Satan in the Middle Ages, more branding courtesy of Dante and Faust, the witch hunts, the Hellfire Club, Satanic Panic, and public practitioners and organizations of today. It is an interesting journey, and once given context from the author’s research, it seems inevitable that there would be Satanists today.

La Carmina’s work explains many of the common symbols and beliefs of the modern Satanist, and highlights individuals and organizations of the past and present. You’ll find LaVey and the Church of Satan, the Process Church of the Final Judgment, Aleister Crowley, and The Satanic Temple. In fact, Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves provides an elegant foreward for “The Little Book of Satanism.”

In “The Little Book of Satanism,” author La Carmina makes a compelling argument for modern Satanism and the role a modern take on Satan could play in your personal spiritual practices. If you’re even slightly curious, I highly recommend getting yourself a copy of this book.

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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Banned Books Week 2021

As you may or not know, yesterday was the start of Banned Books Week! We always celebrate here at The Magical Buffet. The American Library Association, along with assorted schools, stores, authors, and more, come together for one week to bring attention to continued attempts to limit what people can read.

This year’s theme is, “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” Sharing stories important to us means sharing a part of ourselves. Books reach across boundaries and build connections between readers. Censorship, on the other hand, creates barriers. – from the ALA website.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. And just like in year’s past, I’m here today to make you aware of the top 10 challenged books of 2020. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 156 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2020. Of the 273 books that were targeted, here are the most challenged, along with the reasons cited for censoring the books:

George by Alex Gino

Reasons: Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community”

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds

Reasons: Banned and challenged because of author’s public statements, and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism, and because it was thought to promote anti-police views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now”

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint and it was claimed to be biased against male students, and for the novel’s inclusion of rape and profanity

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct by the author

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin

Reasons: Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote anti-police views

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Reasons: Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message

If you want to support these authors, independent bookstores, and myself, consider visiting my online bookshop where for your convenience you can shop all these titles. (You’ll also find the beginnings of other book lists. I add to the shop as time allows.)

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Who Legally Owns Your Tweets

By Aron Solomon

I started thinking about this lost in a Twitter black hole about the future Trump Presidential Library. As the meme goes, people like to poke fun at him because while other presidents eventually have an important library of materials to memorialize their presidency, the outgoing 45th President of the United States has tweets.

A lot of them.

President Trump has tweeted over 30,000 times since becoming a candidate to become president in 2015. His account currently has just under 87 million followers. As you can imagine, this has taken a significant amount of time over his one term as president.

If you appreciate how social media works, a Twitter account with 87 million followers is a valuable digital asset. The value comes from two sources: the tweets themselves and the followers.

For any social medium – Twitter in this example – having close to 100 million people follow an account is absolutely massive. This means that close to 100 million people are regularly visiting your platform, in part, to view this person’s tweets.

So, if they’re coming to see what President Trump is saying on Twitter, the tweets themselves are a form of digital currency.

But who owns President Trump’s tweets, and, for that matter, who owns yours?

Like anything else you write, you can actually copyright your tweets.

A tweet is protected by copyright if:

1. The content is original to its author, meaning the expression cannot be copied from someone else, and it must possess at least a minimal amount of creativity. So if President Trump sends a tweet that lists the names of the 6 ideologically conservative justices who now sit on the Supreme Court, that doesn’t clear the creativity bar. Yes, if President Trump were to analyze from his perspective which of those judges are the best and worst justices and why, these opinions would clear the bar to allow this to be a copyrighted tweet.

2. The tweet contains something more than simply a name, single word, or short phrase, since these are not protected by copyright law. While some have complained that the 140 (now 280) character limit on a tweet dramatically limits how much original thought can be communicated in a tweet, it is now commonplace to string tweets together in a series, often known as a tweetstorm.

But the fundamental question remains as to whether you would own the copyright to your tweet or Twitter would.

Twitter’s Terms of Service state that as a user you:

…retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services.

What’s yours is yours — you own your Content (and your photos and videos are part of the Content)….

While you own the copyright, you are granting Twitter an irrevocable license to use your content, by making “it available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same.” This is the entire nature of how the service works: You tweet, someone likes and retweets your tweet, someone else sees it on their feed and retweets it as well. This is, when you think about it, not only Twitter granting an ability to other users to use your content, it’s essentially allowing them to share a kind of a transactional and temporary copyright.

Part of the notion behind copyright is that you are copyrighting something of value. Many skeptics still believe that Twitter is little more than an art project, a useless digital pool in which to wade away the hours.

Yet imagine if Mr. Trump left Twitter and went to a competitor, such as Parler. Parler, while founded in 2018, has only very recently begun to significantly grow. Parler differentiates itself from Twitter as being an online locus for free speech, read: right-wing people who want a pretty much unedited place to communicate often false and potentially dangerous theories and worldviews. Parler has been in the news a lot these past week, most recently for having received investment from the Mercer family to position the company for what they expect to be exponential growth.

Without regard to how one might feel about Parler, which has recently been publicly touted on live TV as the new Twitter by personalities such as Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, one feature that Parler has and Twitter doesn’t is the ability to give a financial “tip” to the person creating these micro-messages.

Let’s imagine that President Trump decided to leave Twitter for Parler and his followers migrated along with him Next imagine if he can motivate them to donate/”tip” on average only $1 per year per follower. With a natural rate of growth as the platform scales, that could quickly equate to a revenue stream for Mr. Trump of $100 million per year, not even counting how Parler could add value in many circles to the brand that is the Trump name.

Expect more and more dialogue around this issue in the coming months, especially as some pundits believe that Mr. Trump’s next endeavor might be founding a media company. Imagine the immediate value of his tweets, followers, and brand goodwill to this new company and whether any potential legal dispute could arise over who owns the intellectual property he has created to date on social media.

About Aron Solomon
Aron Solomon is the Senior Digital Strategist for NextLevel.com and an Adjunct Professor at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University.

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Banned Books Week 2020

As we all know, 2020 has been a dumpster fire. We are essentially a nation on the brink. I was expecting some sort of aggressive, war footing for this year’s annual Banned Books Week. Freedom of thought and expression is vital in times like these. However, we’re getting a relatively bland, kind of dorky theme. That said, don’t let it dissuade you from observing and participating in, this important annual event!

Banned Books Week is an event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

Banned Books Week 2020 is from September 27 – October 3. The theme of this year’s event is “Censorship is a dead end. Find your freedom to read!”

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The American Librarian Association Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles lists of challenged books as reported in the media and submitted by librarians and teachers across the country. The Top 10 Challenged Books of 2019 are:

(clicking on the book images will take you to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use these links to purchase a book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

George by Alex Gino
Reasons: challenged, banned, restricted, and hidden to avoid controversy; for LGBTQIA+ content and a transgender character; because schools and libraries should not “put books in a child’s hand that require discussion”; for sexual references; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint and “traditional family structure”

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, for “its effect on any young people who would read it,” and for concerns that it was sexually explicit and biased

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
Reasons: Challenged and vandalized for LGBTQIA+ content and political viewpoints, for concerns that it is “designed to pollute the morals of its readers,” and for not including a content warning

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth
Reasons: Challenged, banned, and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content; for discussing gender identity and sex education; and for concerns that the title and illustrations were “inappropriate”

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
Reasons: Challenged and restricted for featuring a gay marriage and LGBTQIA+ content; for being “a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children” with the potential to cause confusion, curiosity, and gender dysphoria; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
Reasons: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content, for a transgender character, and for confronting a topic that is “sensitive, controversial, and politically charged”

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones”

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: Challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and for concerns that it goes against “family values/morals”

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
Reasons: Banned and forbidden from discussion for referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson illustrated by Henry Cole
Reason: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content


You can learn more about this event and the work they do here.

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The Satanic Temple’s Reproductive Rights Campaign

Press release from The Satanic Temple

The Satanic Temple (TST) has announced that its religious abortions during the first trimester are exempt from state regulations that hinder access to pregnancy termination services and serve no medical purpose. TST has expressed concerns about the opportunity for its members to perform certain voluntary religious practices, specifically its abortion ritual. Currently, those seeking to terminate a pregnancy around the country may be required to endure unnecessary waiting periods, mandatory counseling, unwanted sonograms, and may be given unscientific reading materials that are designed to elicit shame and sway their decision.

TST argues that these requirements, as well as other legal obligations, are not medically necessary, and insists that Satanists are exempt from these regulations if they undergo first-trimester abortions in accordance with TST’s religious ritual. The satanic abortion ritual involves the recitation of TST’s Third and Fifth Tenets, which celebrate bodily autonomy and the adherence to best scientific practices, along with a personal affirmation that is ceremoniously intertwined with the abortion.

TST bases its assertions of abortion mandate exemptions on the protections provided by State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA), which generally prohibits the government from substantially interfering with a person’s free exercise of religion. This law was famously affirmed in the 2014 Hobby Lobby case, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, 573 U.S. 682 (2014). Hobby Lobby successfully argued that it did not have to cover the costs of certain contraceptives for their female employees despite being mandated to do so under the Affordable Care Act because its owners held a religious belief that the contraceptives were abortifacients.

TST’s reproductive rights spokesperson, Jane Essex, notes, “Many states have laws that interfere with our members’ ability to practice their religious beliefs. No Christian would accept a mandatory waiting period before they can partake in Communion. No Christian would tolerate a law that insists state counseling is necessary before someone can be baptized. Our members are justly entitled to religious liberty in order to practice our rituals as well.”

Essex adds, “The law is clearly on our side. If RFRA states do not want to recognize our rights, they will ultimately have to claim that our abortions are not satanic. Given that many people fanatically insist that all abortions are satanic, the states’ argument will be very unpopular. Not only will those who deny Satanists their religious freedom be denounced by defenders of liberty, but they will also be detested by those who demonize abortion. Hopefully, states will do the right thing and respect our legal rights.”

These kinds of hijinks that highlight hypocrisy are common of The Satanic Temple. They are probably best known for their work in attempting to get their statue of Baphomet displayed in states that erect monuments of Ten Commandments at court houses (in violation of the separation of church and state). This kind of declaration is all well and good, but it is when a member of the Temple tries to invoke it that the rubber meets the road.

About The Satanic Temple:
The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate for practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will. For more information on The Satanic Temple, visit https://thesatanictemple.com/.

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Docu-mania!

Have you been spending more time at home? Well, you should be, there IS a pandemic going on after all. I should be using this time to accomplish loads of things, but honestly, I’m not. Sure, some people are learning new skills, or getting shape, but there is nothing wrong with just maintaining. That’s pretty much what I do…. maintain.

An odd, but welcome development is that I have been all about watching documentaries. In a world of limitless new entertainment content, for some reason I have settled on this. I have been watching loads of them, from various streaming services. In case you have been looking for a diversion from your usual entertainment I thought I would highlight the tons of documentaries I have been watching.

Remastered: Devil at the Crossroad (Netflix)
Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil to become the greatest bluesmen to ever live. This fantastic documentary dives into the life, death, and legend of Robert Johnson, who was one of the greatest bluesmen to ever live.

Kathy Griffin: A Hell of Story (Amazon Prime)
I have ALWAYS loved Kathy Griffin, and this “docu-comedy” just makes me love her even more. Follow the fallout from the publication of the infamous photograph of her holding Trump’s severed head and into her comeback. All of it culminates with a fantastic stand up special that is not to be missed!

Bill Nye: Science Guy (Netflix)
An intriguing look behind the scenes of Bill Nye’s life. It covers his roots as the “Science Guy” to his strong second act of becoming the public face of science in the climate change debate. What’s nice about this documentary is that it shows Nye as a human being, prone to ego and fear as well as a kind-hearted proponent of science.

Tickled (Hulu)
This documentary begins with the directors attempting to make a film about the world of “competitive endurance tickling”. Believe it or not, it gets jaw droppingly weirder from there. Welcome to the unintentional conspiracy film you never knew you needed.

The Brink (Hulu)
This film follows Steve Bannon from getting booted from Donald Trump’s administration through his attempt to create an international super group of nationalist world leaders, and the United States mid-term elections. It is presented judgement free, but trust me, you will judge him.

Get Me Roger Stone (Netflix)
Some people love to be the villain, and Roger Stone is one of them. This neutrally presented documentary will leave your jaw on the ground…. or else you might not have a soul.

Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski (Netflix)
A genius sculptor, the underground comix scene, Nazis, redemption, the nature of language, and more are to be found in this riveting documentary. Hands down an amazing story. It is hard to encapsulate, you will just need to trust me when I say, watch it.

Have you seen any of these? If you have, or watch some of them, leave me on comment on The Magical Buffet’s social media letting me know what you though!

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

Banned Books Week 2019

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

For those of you who are curious, this short video shows the 11 most challenged books of the past year.




You can learn more about Banned Books Week at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks

Want to support independent bookstores and shop the top 10 most challenged books of the past decade? Then shop the links below! (These are affiliate links to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use these links to purchase books, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

NUMBER ONE
NUMBER ONE

NUMBER TWO
NUMBER TWO

NUMBER THREE
NUMBER THREE

NUMBER FOUR
NUMBER FOUR

NUMBER FIVE
NUMBER FIVE

NUMBER SIX
NUMBER SIX

NUMBER 7
NUMBER 7

NUMBER EIGHT
NUMBER EIGHT

NUMBER NINE
NUMBER NINE

NUMBER TEN
NUMBER TEN

Hail Satan?

I received a press release about a documentary that I definitely want to see! Check it out!

Chronicling the extraordinary rise of one of the most colorful and controversial religious movements in American history, Hail Satan? is an inspiring and entertaining new feature documentary from acclaimed director Penny Lane (Nuts!, Our Nixon). When media-savvy members of the Satanic Temple organize a series of public actions designed to advocate for religious freedom and challenge corrupt authority, they prove that with little more than a clever idea, a mischievous sense of humor, and a few rebellious friends, you can speak truth to power in some truly profound ways. As charming and funny as it is thought-provoking, Hail Satan? offers a timely look at a group of often misunderstood outsiders whose unwavering commitment to social and political justice has empowered thousands of people around the world.

Hail Satan? will be in theaters April 19th! You can learn more and find tickets at https://www.hailsatanfilm.com/.

Witchcraft Activism

Not too long ago I posted a photo on social media of all the books/decks that I have yet to write reviews for and asked for people’s opinion on what they’d like to see first. The overwhelming response was to review “Witchcraft Activism: A Toolkit for Magical Resistance” by David Salisbury next. I can’t say as I blame anyone who voted for it. In this time of political upheaval people now, more than ever, are looking for a way to take action.

The good news is, “Witchcraft Activism” gets the job done. Obviously if you’re a magical practitioner, the idea of effecting change with magic isn’t an outlandish idea. However, I was happy to see Salisbury clearly show the similarities (similarities that never occurred to me) between magic and activism. Both require a serious reflection on intention and the work of follow through. Salisbury has a background in activism and takes you step by step through any type of activism that may interest you: lobbying, letter writing, marches, and more. Then add to that an inspiring number of ways you can utilize magic to reinforce and improve on those actions! He discusses sigils, candle spells, spirit servitors, and of course, more.

David Salisbury has created a great guide for aspiring activists. You could ignore all the magical elements and still walk away with a fantastic book on activism. As far as I’m concerned, the informative magical information is just icing on the cake! Highly recommended!

You can learn more here.