Occult Botany Review and Giveaway

I have got some SUPER, SUPER sexy book porn for you today! I have the translated, edited, and annotated “Occult Botany: Sedir’s Concise Guide to Magical Plants” by Paul Sedir. Sedir, pseudonym of Yvon Le Loup, passed away in 1926, but not before becoming a pivotal figure in the French occult revival. “Occult Botany” was first published in 1902 as a textbook for students of Papus’s Ecole hermetique where he was a professor. This is being presented in a 448-page hardcover tome loaded with original illustrations and built-in ribbon bookmark. I told you it was sexy!

As much as there is to applaud and celebrate with this text coming back in to print, we first need to appreciate R. Bailey, who went above and beyond in the translation of “Occult Botany”. If you treat yourself to this book, and you rightfully should, do not ignore the “Translator’s Forward”. Bailey provides us with a brief biography of Sedir and explains the sometimes-convoluted hoops he had to jump through to insure that “Occult Botany” was understood by modern readers. Bailey translated French and Latin, astrological and elemental symbols, AND used other texts that were available during Sedir’s time to help fill in any gaps that were discovered. All of this carefully noted so that the reader can clearly tell where everything is from. Seriously.

Now that I spent a whole paragraph praising the translator, let’s say we actually discuss what Sedir offers in “Occult Botany”? This book is a wonderful, if sometimes dated, resource for lovers of plants and their magical potential. Part One, “The Plant Kingdom”, discusses the vital forces at play in the plant kingdom. The assorted correspondences between individual plants and the planets, colors, aromas, and flavors. Part Two, “Plants and Humans”, explores the nature of our relationship with plants. Sedir talks about plants restoring organic deficiencies in the physical body, restoring electromagnetic deficiencies through herbal therapeutics, and help heal the astral body through their incorporation into rituals. He also suggests humans can return the favor by cultivating them using occult horticulture, restore them with vegetation magic, and resurrect them using plant palingenesis (reproduction of ancestral characteristics in the development of an individual organism). Part Three, “A Concise Dictionary of Magical Plants.” Here are individual plants with illustrations, their elemental qualities, ruling planets, zodiacal signatures, and occult properties.

“Occult Botany” has 3 appendixes. Appendix One is devoted to occult medicine. Sedir defines occult medicine as, “any therapeutic system that, when confronted with the pathological symptoms of the physical body, bases its diagnoses on an astral examination of the patient and treats the patient’s life force in its invisible form.” Appendix Two is dedicated to Paracelsian physiology, an early medical movement based on achieving balance of the body’s microcosm and macrocosm. The last appendix is “On Opium Use”. Yes, opium. I won’t tell you what Sedir says about it, you’ll have to read the book to find out!

You can learn more here.

Are you interested in the sexy hunk of book? Then I have got great news for you! The wonderful folks at Inner Traditions sent me an extra copy of “Occult Botany,” so giveaway! As usual, I’ll be using Rafflecopter. Due to the sheer mass that is this book, this giveaway will only be open to those residing in the United States and over 18 years of age. The giveaway closes on July 10, 2021 at 11:59pm eastern.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Anatomy of a Witch

Laura Tempest Zakroff set out to write a “manual to the most magical tool in your possession,” and in this, she succeeded. What is this amazing tool? Your body. Welcome to “Anatomy of a Witch: A Map to the Magical Body.”

Zakroff utilizes all the tools at her disposal: tarot, meditation, journaling, ritual, her artistic talent (including her noteworthy sigil work) and writing skills to take you on a journey through your body. “Anatomy of a Witch” begins with lungs, moves to the heart, discusses the body’s primal part (referred to as the Serpent), moves on to the bones, and concludes with the mind. The end goal is to have a better relationship with yourself and your magic.

“Anatomy of a Witch” is a triumph of blending magical modalities and self-improvement. Essentially, if you have a body (even one as dysfunctional as mine!), you need this book. I feel this is destined to be a classic!

You can learn more here.

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How Witchcraft Saved My Life

I just didn’t know what to expect from “How Witchcraft Saved My Life: Practical Advice for Transformative Magick” by Vincent Higginbotham. The title has a “very special episode of Donahue” kind of vibe to it. And truth be told, it’s hard to determine exactly what I read and how to write a review.

Higginbotham has written an incredibly frank memoir of his past struggles with homelessness, understanding his sexuality, and journey to witchcraft. “How Witchcraft Saved My Life” is a brave work and not for the faint of heart. Woven throughout this memoir are the signs and synchronicities that in retrospect showed Higginbotham the magic that had been in his life all along.

What you’ll also find in “How Witchcraft Saved My Life” is some incredibly practical, realistic, advice on how to practice witchcraft and incorporate it into your everyday life. Seriously, his approach to witchcraft, paired with his writing voice, makes Higginbotham an accessible teacher of his style of witchcraft.

“How Witchcraft Saved My Life” is a testament to Vincent Higginbotham’s perseverance and the witchcraft that he credits for it.

You can learn more here.

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The Ancestral Power of Amulets, Talismans, and Mascots

It’s safe to say that I’ve become a Nigel Pennick fan. You may remember I reviewed his books “Witchcraft & Secret Societies of Rural England: The Magic of Toadmen, Plough Witches, Mummers, and Bonesmen” and “Operative Witchcraft: Spellwork & Herbcraft in the British Isles”. His latest book, “The Ancestral Power of Amulets, Talismans, and Mascots: Folk Magic in Witchcraft and Religion” is destined to be my favorite.

“Things worn around the neck as pendants or carried somewhere on the person are generally amulets. The belief that certain objects, natural or artificial, composed of metals, stone, clay, or other materials sometimes possess occult powers capable of protecting those who carry them from danger, disease, or evil influences,” writes Pennick, “The word talisman has the meaning of objects bearing sigils, seals, or magical or religious texts that have been empowered by consecration or ritual. Like amulets, their function is to protect the person from evil, illness, and bodily harm.”

This is of particular interest to me because if you didn’t know, I make talismans. (SHAMELESS PLUG: Visit my store! Buy my stuff!) “The Ancestral Power of Amulets, Talismans, and Mascots” opened my eyes to all the ways people of different cultures and eras created and utilized amulets, charms, and mascots. As always, religion played a heavy hand in their evolution, but so has community tradition. Pennick has an impressive personal collection of these items and thankfully shared much of it as photos in the book. So many wonderful photos and illustrations!

I’m not going to say that “The Ancestral Power of Amulets, Talismans, and Mascots” by Nigel Pennick is for everyone, but if you ever found yourself curious about some of the symbols you see people wearing or adorning their homes with, this is absolutely the perfect book for you.

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.

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10 Questions with Michael William West

Author and filmmaker Michael William West wrote, “Sex Magicians: The Lives and Spiritual Practices of Paschal Beverly Randolph, Aleister Crowley, Jack Parsons, Marjorie Cameron, Anton LaVey, and Others”. Today we have some sex talk!

1. What made you decide to specifically write about individuals that are associated with sexual magic practices for your book, “Sex Magicians?”

There seems to have been a kind of passing of the flame from Randolph onwards, as far as pioneers of sex magic are concerned. Likely because practitioners are extremely few in number. So there was a natural draw to the most prominent individuals, even though certain others could have been included. I tended towards diverse people, from different backgrounds, with different political views, with different objectives.

2. Considering how sex can be a taboo subject, is it hard to learn about people who have practiced sex magic?

I don’t think sex is a taboo subject anymore. You’d have to live an extremely sheltered life to be able to continue in that fallacy. What is taboo, however, is spirituality. A lot of western people are uncomfortable with admitting they have metaphysical longings…throbbings, even. I think far more people are experimenting with sex than are with metaphysics and questions of the human spirit.

3. You live in Paris. Americans tend to view France as having a more progressive attitude towards sex. Do you find that to be the case?

That’s a very difficult question. The answer could be very longwinded, and still be unsatisfactory. They are extremely different cultures. I think Americans suffer from more psychosexual trauma than the French, on the whole. However, I think the French are surprisingly conventional when it comes to sexuality – there’s a well-established code, which seems quite liberated, but there’s not much deviance from it. Also, sadly, you are much more likely to be sexually assaulted in France than in the US, which points to some deep societal problems which might not be as apparent in the US. I think the United States is a more mystical place than France, which is a country obsessed with rationality and measure. You can measure the universe, but you cannot measure your desire to explore it – and I believe Americans are more willing to make those kinds of explorations, whether through practicing sex magic or otherwise. France does have its mystical traditions, however, and when you do encounter them, they are magnificent.

4. What can we learn from studying the lives and works of the people featured in your book?

Fundamentally, they are all adventurers. These are people who fixed their lives on a goal, whether rocketry, poetry, music or whatever, and then explored the fullest extent of the tools available to them, within themselves. This led them to revelatory experiences which improved the quality of their work and gave them one of the most satisfying types of life available – that of the adventurer, and of the informed risk taker. They were not afraid of life, that is what I think they all have in common, and there’s a lot to be said for approaching life without fear.

5. “Sex Magicians” explores the lives a diverse group of people, including Jack Parsons, Aleister Crowley, Maria de Naglowska, Genesis P-Orridge, and others. For being such a diverse group, do you find that they all have things in common?

Yes, they all strove to understand themselves, to position themselves in the universe, rather than just in their immediate surroundings. They found power in themselves to do exceptional things, they are all adventurers.

6. How were you first introduced to the idea of sex being a component of magic?

My first literal understanding of it was through reading the works of Aleister Crowley. But what he spoke of correlated to ideas and experiences I’d already had, but not yet understood.

7. When we say, “sex magic”, it’s not just heterosexual intercourse, is it?

No, that would be absurd, especially in a book featuring people like Genesis, Aleister Crowley and William Burroughs. If people are looking for arbitrary moral restrictions on their bodily functions, they are welcome to browse the Koran or the Bible. There’s no need for definitions of hetero- or homosexual in sex magic, there is just sexual; all it requires is that it be fully consensual and within the bounds of the law.

8. If someone is already a magical practitioner, how would suggest they incorporate sex into their practice? (If this is a topic you think you can speak about.)

There are magical practitioners who feel they do not need to incorporate any sexual component into their practice and that is perfectly reasonable. Sexual magic is sometimes considered as being more useful to westerners than purely meditative magic – as we might call it – as our society does not easily permit a life of free contemplation for extended periods of time. Not many societies do, but until recently enough, such things were possible in places like India. Sex magic can be a kind of short cut. If someone is already interested in incorporating sex into their practice, then I would guess they had already felt drawn in that direction, and so they should just follow their intuitive guidance system. Reading the works of Peter J. Carroll would be an excellent basis of ideas, but in truth it’s about allowing yourself to go down whichever path you are being drawn down. There really aren’t any rules when it comes to exploring the inner self, or how sex can be used to do so – apart from the obvious ones I mentioned earlier.

9. What’s next? Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to share with our readers?

My belief, which I state in the book, is that magical practice, like transcendental meditation, or anything else in the spiritual realm, is a means to an end, a way of improving what you do in life. My end is as a film maker, and I will be releasing a short film based on the experience of using a Dream Machine, as invented by Brion Gysin and Ian Sommerville – and popularized by William Burroughs, Kurt Cobain and others – in the next few months. More information will be on my Instagram page @michaelwilliamwest or my website michaelwilliamwest.com

10. Parting shot! Ask us at The Magical Buffet any one question.

What’s the greatest adventure you’ve been on from the comfort of your own bed?

Dreaming. Seriously. I have vivid, intense dreams.

About Michael William West:
Michael William West is an author and filmmaker from Paris, France. He has been a student of the occult and practitioner of left-hand traditions for almost 20 years. He writes for A Void magazine and released the film, “9 Circles: Limbo”. He lives in Paris.

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American Brujeria

There is a lot to discuss when it comes to “American Brujeria: Modern Mexican American Folk Magic” by J. Allen Cross, so let’s get this out of the way….I LOVE the cover art for this book. LOVE. IT. I’ll be taking no further questions about this.

As authors and publishers become more concerned with issues such as inclusion and cultural appropriation, we’re seeing books become more careful in the handling of these issues. Cross goes to great lengths to explain his mixed ancestry and how that affected him and this book. He also explains how he decided to call his practice American Brujeria (with no accent over the I as in the Spanish language). Most importantly, Cross identifies appropriation. As a middle-aged white woman who practices what one could kindly call an “eclectic” style of witchcraft/spirituality, I appreciated hearing some easy-to-understand dos and don’ts of being respectful.

“American Brujeria” combines research with interviews Cross did in Mexican communities, what he finds is a blend of Catholicism and folk magic. When you’re done with this book, you’ll know a lot about Saints, church supplies, Vicks VapoRub, baths, protection magic, and just so much more. It’s a great exploration of magic and Mexican culture. My review isn’t doing justice to this important work, you need to trust me on this, it is a good book.

You can learn more here.

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The Path of the Witch

When someone decides to study witchcraft, it can be a bit daunting. A practice that has ebbed and flowed based on the times is currently on an upswing and access to information on the subject is more plentiful than ever. On one hand, now is a great time to take up study, on the other, I don’t envy the newcomer attempting to discern where to start. Author Lidia Pradas does a great job trying to help seekers out with her latest book “The Path of the Witch: Rituals & Practices for Discovering Which Witch You Are.”

Pradas takes up the challenge of describing the similarities and differences between several different paths of witchcraft. Are you a green witch, kitchen witch, Wiccan, cosmic witch, elemental witch, sea witch, eclectic, or something else or combination? Pradas takes care to ensure eclectic witches don’t fall into the trap of cultural appropriation, an important issue. She is respectful in explaining the fundamentals of different branches of the witchcraft tree. Not only is this helpful for beginners, but I found it a wonderful was to reevaluate and reconsider my own current practice.

“The Path of the Witch” by Lidia Pradas is a great resource for anyone interested in the many ways you can approach the practice of witchcraft.

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.

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The King in Orange

Early on, author John Michael Greer makes sure you know that he speaks about magic following the definition provided by Dion Fortune, “Magic is the art and science causing changes in consciousness in accordance with will.” Knowing this makes it easier to see the intersection of magical influence and politics, the subject of Greer’s latest book, “The King in Orange: The Magical and Occult Roots of Political Power.” I feel like these days we’re all armchair politic pundits, I know I am. However, it takes a certain amount confidence to write a book on the divisive topic of politics and up the ante by adding magic to the mix. Since schools of magical thought are always known for being an eternal spring of agreeability (yes, sarcasm).

Greer does an excellent job explaining the primary division amongst Americans as being investment class, salary class, wage class, and welfare class. Your experience of America is greatly based on where you fall in these categories, with the investment and salary classes being catered to and the wage class and welfare class being left to fend for themselves. It is a more refined version of the “problems with the vanishing middle class” concern that politicians bandy about and that many Americans are actually experiencing. Everyone gets an opinion on why Trump won in 2016, and Greer’s is that the wage class was motivated by promises of bringing jobs back to the United States. A new generation Jim Carville’s, “It’s the economy stupid.” “The King in Orange” spends a great deal of time exploring Greer’s thoughts on the mundane reason for the Trump victory, which also include bring soldiers home and the wage class’s struggle with Obamacare.

Things get more interesting when Greer starts tracking the chaos magic of the 4Chans, and the reactionary workings of the magical resistance. “The King in Orange” does an excellent job comparing and contrasting not only the philosophies of these groups, but also their operational practices. There is much to be learned about magic, just from the author’s observations and explanations.

“The King in Orange” is a thought provoking look at the 2016 election through the prism of Greer’s political opinions and magical experience. Whether you agree 100% with his findings, you will still find yourself with much to consider.

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.

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

Superstitions in the United States

Everyone has some superstitions. Depending on the culture you or your family grew up with, where you live in the world, spiritual beliefs, etc., they can vary greatly. So, when an odd press release came into my inbox regarding superstitions in the United States, my interest was piqued.

Turns out a clever publicist for the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino put together a little report about superstitions in every U.S. state as a tie in for St. Patrick’s Day. Sadly, my email filter shunted it to a spam folder, so by the time I discovered it, St. Patrick’s Day had passed. On the other hand, as I explained to the publicist, my readers would have an interest in this subject matter regardless of time of year. You are interested, aren’t you?

Yeah, you are. And although this is hardly scientific and certainly doesn’t cover all the superstitions out there (but does cover a lot), it is still an interesting read. According to their report, their methodology was:

Using the Google AdWords platform, we analyzed search volume trends for more than 200 terms related to superstitions associated with both good luck and bad luck. The results represent the most disproportionately popular terms in every state. In February 2021, we also surveyed 1,016 Americans between the age of 18 – 75 to ask them about their belief in superstitions. 60% were female and 40% were male and the average age of respondents was 38.

A brief overview of what they learned was the most popular superstitions in America are: throwing salt over your shoulder, bad luck comes in threes, lucky rabbit’s foot, Friday the 13th, and ladybugs being a sign of good luck. 65% of Americans are superstitious. 83% believe in good luck, 50% believe in bad luck. 37% of Americans believe Friday the 13th brings bad luck. 34% of Americans believe St. Patrick’s Day is a luck day. Nearly double that amount (60%) say they wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.

You can see the full report here.


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Life Ritualized

The book we’re discussing today is “Life Ritualized: A Witch’s Guide to Honoring Life’s Important Moments” by Phoenix LeFae and Gwion Raven. If the name Gwion Raven sounds familiar, you might remember me reviewing his excellent book “The Magick of Food”. With “Life Ritualized” he and his spouse, accomplished author Phoenix LeFae, tackle many of life’s most complex experiences.

What is a milestone? There are obvious ones in American society, like birthdays, being legally allowed to drink, getting your drivers license, etc. However, LaFae and Raven explore the true complex nature of our lives and acknowledge that many things happen, big and small, and happy or sad, that mark our passage through life. It is simple to find books featuring rituals for marriage and birth. “Life Ritualized” posits that rituals can not only make the good times better and more meaningful but can also provide solace and comfort in bad times. They cover about any life event you can think of, such as: fertility, adoption, birth blessings, miscarriage, abortion, graduation, new driver, new car, new job, new home, handfasting, retirement, grief, loss of job, menopause, pet burial, self-initiation, and more.

I’m obviously impressed by how thorough this book is in examining the human experience. Raven and LeFae share intimate moments from their own lives to illustrate times when you may want to use these rituals. What I appreciated the most is that although “Life Ritualized” is a “Witch’s Guide”, most of the rituals are appropriate for any open-minded, nondenominational group or individual.

If you’re interested in adding ritual, or more ritual, to your life, I highly recommend “Life Ritualized” by Phoenix LeFae and Gwion Raven’

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.

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