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Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > American Folk Magick Search

Book Review:
American Folk Magick: Charms, Spells & Herbals

Author: Silver Ravenwolf
Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn
Publication date: December 1998
ISBN: 156718720X
Price & More Info: Click Here

Additional books by this author

American Folk Magick is Llewellyn's new title for what used to be known as Hexcraft: Dutch Country Magick. While I've never seen this book under the original title, I suspect that not much beyond the cover and title pages have changed as the left page headers still say "HexCraft."

I like this book. Silver Ravenwolf has written a fairly straightforward beginner's book on the art of Pow-Wow. Pow-Wow is a magickal system brought to America by settlers from the Rhineland area of what is now Germany to Pennsylvania. I've always thought Ravenwolf was in her element when she talks about magick. This book proves my point. Her explanations are clear, and for the most part seem to be complete. I believe her style of mixing anecdotes with instruction works far better with magick than it does with religion.

As Pow-Wow is primarily a healing system, several chapters of American Folk Magick are devoted to Pow-Wow methods of healing. Other chapters cover tools, warding magick, divination, cursing and banishing, hex symbols, and even the "dark" side of Pow-Wow (which seems to be its generally misused ceremonial magick connection).

While I consider this one of Ravenwolf's best books, I do have two real problems with it. First, the author intermixes her theory that Pow-Wow is actually a version of the Old Religion disguised by a Christian overlay in with material on the history of Pow-Wow. While the author's speculation in this area is interesting, I believe it should have been kept a bit more separate from the history. Second, instead of providing instructions on one of the more well-known and interesting parts of Pow-Wow, the "hex symbols," Ravenwolf simply refers the reader to another Llewellyn book for this information. One more minor problem is that while she sometimes provides both Christian and Pagan versions of chants and spells, she often only provides Pagan versions. This is true even when it seems obvious that she converted a Christian version into a Pagan version. This makes the book somewhat less useful than it could be to a Christian wishing to learn the system.

I find Pow-Wow a fascinating magickal system. If you are interested in it, Ravenwolf's American Folk Magick is one of the few books in print devoted to the subject. It's probably the only one readily available.

Reviewed by Randall

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