Saturday, July 23, 2011
Book Review: "Traditional Witchcraft, A Cornish Book of Ways" by Gemma Gary
I actually got this book some time ago, but am just now getting around to doing a full review. I'd heard so many wonderful things about it, but it's getting harder to find State-side, so I ended up ordering it directly from the website. I was not disappointed that I did so, as it's become one of my top five Witch related books ever.
The book details the history of Cornish Witchcraft and the specific deity(ies) that go to make it unique. It also explores how the local Witch or Cunning Person would have worked, and is honest about the fact that Witches did (and do) curse and do darker magic for money, though these days one can be more selective. Included as well are the names and descriptions of the traditional Cornish festivals and holidays, as well as rituals to be performed on those occasions.
I think what I like best about the book is just how practical it is. Far from being a dry collection of sterile customs, the book is actively designed for the working Witch. Recipes and spells for potions and workings, charms, the crafting and use of magical tools: it's all here. Though I am by no means a beginner, I still found plenty of new concepts and recipes to keep me busy; I especially like her recipes for Witch Oil and some of the magical powders, which I have set about making for myself. This is not the standardized religious rituals of Wicca, but a highly magical path of both practicality, and mysticism.
As I live in the Southern United States, I don't think I'll be celebrating the festivals of rural England any time soon. However, I still took an immense amount from this book, and will definitely incorporate what I learned into my own practice. This book is highly recommended to those looking to go beyond the "how to" or "101" books currently dominating the market. This book, along with Doreen Valiente's "The Rebirth of Witchcraft," is probably the closest to the Witchcraft I hoped for, believed in, and dreamed of growing up. My only regret is that it had not been written all those years ago, when I first set my foot upon the path.