Author: Edain McCoy
Trade Paperback, 240 pages
Publication date: October 2001
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Walk into any department store in the western world and you are likely to find counter after counter of beauty aids for women. Perfumes, soaps, oils, shampoos, hair conditioners, makeup, and more overflow into the aisles ready to lighten the pocketbooks of all who believe that just a bath with this and a dab of this will make them truly beautiful. Edain McCoy's Enchantments: 200 Spells for Bath & Beauty Enhancement provides homebrewed, magically enhanced alternatives to buying expensive, name-brand beauty products.
The first few pages of Enchantments discuss the nature of beauty in legend and in reality and the ingredients which will be used in the rest of the book. Appropriate warnings that herbs are not automatically safe because they are natural and that negative magick usually causes as much harm to the caster as to the victim are given.
The next eight chapters, the remainder of the book, are full of magick. "The Magickal Bath" has recipes for magickal bath oils and bath salts. "Soap and Shower Magick" provides recipes for solid soaps, gel soaps, soaks, splashes, and scrubs. The "Lotions and Potions" chapter gives recipes for magickal lotions, face masks, facial steams, and massage oils. "Magick Hair" lists recipes for magickal shampoos and conditioners. The chapter on "Perfumes and Aromatherapy" has recipes for magickal perfumes as well as general instructions on using scents in magick.
Given all the recipes in previous chapters, it may surprise some that the author just provides spells for use with commercial makeup in the "Ritual and Magickal Makeup" chapter, but McCoy admits that commercial makeup and makeup removers simply work much better than anything homemade. The last chapter of the book covers Glamoury, the art of projecting a changed appearance. The author admits in the chapter introduction that some consider this type of magick manipulative and others consider Glamoury bunk. Enchantments concludes with several appendixes: one on locating materials, one provides brief information on the known side effects of many common herbs, and a set of frequently asked questions (and their answers).
While the magick in this book is all beauty product related, the actual recipes and spells are not strictly beauty oriented. There are recipes for bath oils for purification, courage and fertility and for prosperity and finding a job soaps, for healing and spirit contact lotions and many more such needs. This wide variety of magickal purposes makes the book much more useful than its title suggests.
While I am not usually a fan of Edain McCoy's books, this book is not bad at all. It provides useful magickal recipes and beauty-related information. Only a few points really annoyed me about this book. One was the unnecessary reference to "patriarchal rule" in the introduction that manages to imply that there was a period of non-patriarchal rule before that, when there's no real evidence to support that belief. Another was the usual problem I have with many books: the author often manages to imply that witchcraft and Paganism in general are somehow just variations of Wicca. Finally, while this book provides more information on the possible side-effects of herbs than many books on magick, I believe even more detail would have been helpful given that most of the recipes in the book will come into contact with lots of skin, sometimes for long periods of time.
While I certainly cannot call Enchantments a must have book that every person (or even every woman) interested in magick needs, it is a nicely done book of magical recipes for beauty products with no really stand out problems. If you are looking for information on beauty-related magick or on making your own herbal soaps, oils, lotions, and perfumes, Enchantments is a useful and affordable addition to your library.
Reviewed by Randall
Additional Books by Edain McCoy