The Deborah Blake Bias: A Book Review

Some of you may recall a post I wrote back in 2009 about how The Federal Trade Commission will now require bloggers and celebrities to clearly state when they receive cash or “payment in kind” for endorsing a company’s products or services. So in the spirit of 100% absolute disclosure, let me say this.

I am not “fair” or “balanced” when it comes to Deborah Blake. I guess like most media outlets these days I carry an obvious bias, and that bias is, I love me some Deborah Blake. I’ve done interviews with her, she has commented on many of the articles here on The Buffet, she’s written original pieces for me, she’s generally been a champion of all things “Buffet”, and so believe me when I tell you that when it comes to Deborah Blake, her support is definitively “payment in kind”. Oh, and by the way, I just about jumped out of my skin when I saw that I, humble little, is a featured pull quote at the beginning of Blake’s latest book, “Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook: Wonderfully Witchy Blessings, Charms, and Spells.” That’s right folks, if you go to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of “Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook” and look under “Praise for ‘The Goddess is in the Details'” you will find, “[A]n engaging read with a lot of heart.” Which reminds me, I have a pretty good relationship with some of the folks over at Llewellyn and they send me free stuff to review, including “Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook”.

Which leads us to the obvious question, why should you bother to read my review of Deborah Blake’s new book when it’s obvious without reading another sentence I’m going to like it? There are two answers to this question. One, I only publish reviews for stuff I like, so you knew without reading anything that I must have liked the book if I wrote a review for it, and two, I sometimes say some funny shit, and occasionally even insightful stuff, so you should just go ahead and read it.

Like most spiritual practices, you can ask 100 practitioners of magic their thoughts on buying spell books and probably get 200 different answers. Some practitioners love big books of spells to read over and use, some love books of spells for inspiration and innovation in their practice, some think that any spell you cast should be written personally, and many more mix and match on any variation of those themes. I don’t practice any magic myself, so I can’t speak on the topic with authority. What I can tell you is that I love reading spell books! For a person who has never cast a Circle, sparked some sage, or called the Corners, I have a hefty selection of spell books. I find them informative and entertaining. Each author brings a different sensibility to their spell book. Truth be told, I think you can tell a lot about an author by the way they discuss their spell work, and Blake’s “Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook” is no exception.

So what do we learn about Deborah Blake when reading “Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook”? Quite a bit. First, as I learned from her book “The Goddess is in the Details”, Blake is not a part-time Witch. There is no halfway, there is no subterfuge, Deborah Blake is a committed Witch and carries her spirituality with her in every thing she does, including in writing this book. How can I tell this from her book? How can you be sure I’m not just saying this because I know her? How many questions will I ask before finally quoting the author? The answer is three, and here’s the quote, “This is a spellbook for the everyday Witch: the one who lives their Pagan beliefs all day, every day, 24/7.” This mission statement guides the selection of spells the book contains. When you live in the spiritual space that Blake does, you find that you need some of the classics, such as spells to open yourself up to finding love, and some more mundane and little discussed ideas such as a spell for easing PMS.

That last spell example brings us to another we learn from Blake’s spell book, she has a sense of humor. Any author can write about working with an animal familiar, but not every author would have the familiar write their own section on working with familiars. You can tell Blake is a proud pet parent as she explains in the voice of her cat Magic, the dos and don’ts of familiars, including a begrudging wish for happiness “even if it is a dog”. By the way, spells that could be appropriate to do with your familiar are marked with a paw print. If the number of paw prints I see is an indicator, Blake’s cat Magic has a pretty busy schedule.

“Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook” is accessible to all levels of experience. There is a section at the beginning of the book that covers much of the basics when it comes to casting spells: crafting the perfect spell, when it’s appropriate to cast a spell, writing the perfect spell, casting the perfect spell, and more. Great for beginners. However, she doesn’t bog down the book with those discussions, so for those of you who know the basics you can quickly get into the nearly 200 spells contained in the rest of the book. What does this say about Blake? She knows how to write a book for everyone. I suspect that’s why she’s had several books published with more on the way (“Witchcraft on a Shoestring” is out in September!)

In my opinion, you can never own too many spell books, so whether you have a shelf full or are looking for a good start, I can highly recommend “Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook”.

By the way, did you guys know that Deborah Blake will be at the “A Magical Buffet of Authors” event September 11, 2010? Hey folks, I told you I was biased at the start of this!