Modern Witchcraft Book Review & Giveaway - A Witch's View

Today I'm kicking off a book giveaway with a review of both books.  Thanks to the wonderful people at Simon & Schuster we have two wonderful books by Skye Alexander to review and giveaway.

Photo Credit Renee Sosanna Olson

About the Author

(from her Google Profile)

Skye is the author of more than two dozen fiction and nonfiction books, which have been translated into ten languages, and is best known for her work in the body-mind-spirit field. An artist, astrologer, feng shui practitioner, tarot reader, and drummer, she was featured in the Discovery Channel's TV special "Secret Stonehenge." A founding partner in the publishing cooperative Level Best Books, she also helps other authors get their work into print.

You can find books by Skye on her website and on her Amazon Author page.

The Reviews

The Modern Witchcraft Book of Tarot (available in Hardcover and Kindle)

I know you have all heard the old saying "Don't judge a book by its cover", however I can say that the aesthetics of a book are very important to me. When I first picked up this book I was happy that it was a hard cover book but that is where it ended. For some reason they decided to stagger the pages in the book in such a way as to created a layered page layout.  It really bugs me. I can't stand to try to work with the page, some bending down some standing up.  While most would probably not have an issue with this it is one of my biggest pet peeves. 

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

Next they did another one of my no no's when they decided to switch up the font sizes and face for no apparent reason throughout the book.  One page is one size, and the page facing it another. It is distracting and annoying. I did managed to finish the book but still I really wish book printing would go back to creating works of art and not just toss together some pages haphazardly and then butcher the fonts.  To look at book making as an art I recommend checking out LaPulia Book of Shadows

Screenshot from LaPulia Book of Shadows Website

The author starts out with a solid history on the book, explaining the origins of the Tarot and how to understand the symbols and the language used within. The first chapters are short and very direct providing insight on different divination devices including i Ching, pendulums and crystals. I found it refreshing to see an entire chapter on Numerology related to the Tarot. Most know that their is a five of Cups for example, but the meaning behind the number is so often overlooked in some of these books.  I found myself making connections simply from reading this section and referring back to previous readings.

Part II of the book takes us into the cards themselves beginning with the suit cards.  It breaks down each one including their upright and reversed meanings.  Think of this section as that little handbook that comes with your deck. It gives examples about what the card means in relation to our modern daily activities. The Major Arcana follows with quotes from assorted magical and non-magical people, which I found delightful.
"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.  Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." ~Helen Keller

Chapter 12 jumps into Tarot Spreads.  This section is pretty straightforward and offers a series of card layouts that are easy for the layman reader to understand.  

The World Tree Spread has always been my favorite.  Below you can see the layout from Google Books. If you do not see the tree simply use the search box to type in World Tree and that image will be displayed.

Part IV of the book is called Using Tarot Cards in Magick Work.This section takes the cards and puts them in as ingredients of the spell work in question.  Love spells, Money spells and so on.  One stood out to me in particular. On page 247 the author pens a Goodbye Debt Spell using cedar, fire and the Five of Pentacles.

Rider-Waite - Five of Pentacles

In this spell we're asked to take this card and and visualize our debt "going up in smoke" if you will as we light fire to the card.  I have found that decks can be a bit pricey and I would recommend if you're going to do magic using the cards as ingredients that you think about other ways to incorporate them in order to save your deck. You could for example, make a photo copy of the card and use that copy or maybe pull in more of your own energy by drawing a likeness of the card and use that instead.

The last chapter of the book gives us a bit of direction on what we should do moving forward as a reader. It recommend two very critical steps in my opinion.  First and foremost, practice practice practice. I cannot emphasize enough how often I have had readings from individuals who all but pulled the book out to give me a reading.  I could have done that myself. Knowing your tools is one of the most important parts of a reading. Being able to connect with your cards and speaking with confidence will make your client feel satisfied in your reading and help encourage them to follow your advice. She also recommends working with a professional reader.  Go out and find a great reader and buy readings from them. Watch how they work.  Learn from them. In some cases you may find a shop or even someone online who may be interested in mentoring you.  At the very least get a professional reading.  My experience in the Tarot is limited. I rely heavily on my sister Kallan for these types of needs. My divination skills lay in photo (aura type) readings.  She, on the other hand is quite gifted in reading the Tarot and Totems. You can find her on her Facebook Page and see all the reading packages she has to offer on her website.

Over all, I'll give this book a thumbs up.  I think it is clear and concise and a great start for the beginner and a good reference for the experienced Tarot reader.

The Modern Witchcraft Book of Love Spells (available in Hardcover and Kindle)

As many of my avid followers know, I don't do love spells. To me love spells are just not worth the trouble they create. That being said I went into this book with the idea that I was learning love magic for the first time. The author takes the time to explain what magic is and how important our intention is. She says that a spell is not a religious act, though some choose to work through a God or Goddess. They are a natural, intentional and time honored method for directing the course of your life. To me that explains magic completely.  I think this was a really great thing to put in the mind of young crafters. She also covers the basics of days of the week, elements, creating an altar, casting a circle and all the "Everything You Need to Know to be a Witch"  categories.  I found this to be an excellent addition.  Unlike the other books that I have read that simply toss out an ingredient list and don't address the actual ethical principles behind love magic.

Altar Photo - Renee Sosanna Olson

The next few chapters delve into working with candles, colors and crystals. There is a two page crystal and gemstone table on page 50 that aids in selecting the correct crystal for the right job. Pearl to strengthen self esteem, jade to enhance beauty and coral to attract love. Cleansing the stones and care is included as well. Which many books tend to leave out.

Crystal Magic - Renee Sosanna Olson

The section to follow includes a plant and talisman magic. Working with herbs and runes are the hallmarks of heathen witchcraft.  I have a friend who spends a great deal of time working in these elements.  I thought of her immediately when I stumbled across the "Attract Love with a Rule Talisman" spell on page 88.  This spell tells us to use the Old Norse rune Gebo (symbolized as an X) to make our talisman.

This is a Gebo Talisman created by Loren for her Primitive Witchery shop.  You can find this and many other Old Norse design items for sale in her shop on the web and on Facebook.

Art & Design by Loren Morris

The X we see used today when we sign letters "hugs and kisses" using the X to represent kisses "xoxo".

The author wraps up this book with a chapter called "What's the Next Step?".  This section summarizes what I believe is missing from magic today in three very clear steps.  One, Learn about different schools of thought.  No one is the be all end all on any particular subject.  We need to take the time to learn about other cultures so that we can grow.  Second, Work with other people.  To me this is hand in hand with number one.  We need to be able to meet and grow. We cannot grow alone.  Be it in an online community or in a coven reach out to those around you and see if there is something more you can add to your plate to enhance your life experiences. Finally, three - craft your own spells.  This is so very important. While anyone can recite a spell from memory it takes cunning and craft to create your spell using your words. Your emotions and your intentions. Take the time to become familiar enough with your magic that you are able to write your own spells.  This will be a skill that you will use for your entire magical career.

Over all, this was a very well written book. There are elements for the novice and the expert. There is indeed, something here for everyone. Even the avid "no love magic" caster can jump into Chapter 8 under the Editable Spells page and whip up something good for the cauldron. I recommend the smoothies. Just substitute that yogurt for coconut milk yogurt and you're good to go for a vegan surprise for your sweetheart!

The Giveaway

For the giveaway I will draw 4 names using RaffleCopter.  You can enter one time or daily by coming back and tweeting about the giveaway.  Each winner will be notified via email and will have 24 hours to respond with their shipping information.  If a winner does not respond within 24 hours a new winner will be chosen at random.  Each winner will receive one book (of my choice) either The Modern Witchcraft Book of Tarot or The Modern Witchcraft Book of Love Spells AND something special from my shop, Baublesmith.

You must be 18 to enter this drawing, materials are intended for adults, please use common sense when working with these tools. Not responsible for results of these spells. No purchase is necessary to enter. Void where prohibited.

Rafflecopter, Twitter, Facebook, the author or publisher are in no way associated with this giveaway.

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