Author: Yasmine Galenorn
Trade Paperback, 312 pages
Publication date: March 1998
Price & More Info: Click Here
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After a good ten years of being terminally enrolled in the Wicca 101 universe,
Llewellyn has finally graduated to Wicca 102. I enjoyed this book mostly because
of its lack of extreme basics. Galenorn has a nice writing style that reminds me
of the pre-patronizing Silver RavenWolf, with a few small differences. Galenorn
doesn't claim to be your mother, and doesn't claim to be confidante to the
world. She's also not into whitewashing her experiences. She freely admits that
yes, she's made her share of mistakes, but she doesn't gloss over them.
For the beginning student, I recommend reading this book after you've read the
average 101 book. Galenorn bluntly states that yes, this is her individual
tradition, no, she's not a Wiccan, and yes, she made most of it up. What makes
her extremely credible in my eyes is the amount of relevant personal information
she includes. She starts out by explaining how she got into the craft--a
late-night walk in the woods during college, and the resulting experience of
seeing a unicorn. Screamingly flaky? Not in the way she writes it. She doesn't
analyze, explain, or rationalize it, she simply states what happened to her and
how it affected her. She doesn't ask the reader to believe anything other than
the fact that she thinks she saw a unicorn on a moonlit night and it changed her
life forever. Unlike some of our local color, she doesn't tell us a fantastic
story and wait expectantly while we come to the conclusion that she is Special.
As far as the usefulness of the book goes, it's more useful than the average
Llewellyn shelf liner, in a conventional manner. She covers all the typical
basics--circle casting, calling elements, et cetera. The usefulness here is in
the volume of variety she provides. She doesn't bother deconstructing and
analyzing rituals--she'd rather give the reader a bunch of different ways to
cast a circle--it's up to you what you want to do with it once you've cast it.
Refreshing, in my humble opinion. If I wanted high ritual, there are ceremonial
magick books out there who can blow the most elaborate Llewellyn ritual out of
the water. And I don't know how big the average Llewellyn Author's living room
is, but there's no way I can fit that many people in *my* house!
Galenorn is also nuts about oils. If you're into mixology (not the bartending
kind) and want your house to be filled with smells other than Eau de Cleaning
Solution, or Essence of Pets and Kids, then pick up this book solely for the
cauldron-load of oil recipes in there. She gives fairly good directions for
mixing them, as far as I can tell in my limited oil-mixing experience, but I
don't use oils in spellwork, so I'm not the person to ask. I will warn you,
though--some of the mixtures use some pretty exotic-sounding oils, so your cash
investment in this could very easily go through the roof. Essence of new-mown
hay? If anyone knows how to put that in oil form, I'd be interested in hearing
Speaking of spellwork, her method of practicing magick seems down-to-earth, and
a little greenpeacey. She uses a lot of short chants, which is nice for those of
us who dislike the chanted-spell equivalent to the extended remix of "Freebird."
Some of the more memorable chapters in the book include that of "Shapeshifting."
Apparently, there was a time in her life when she was into heavy trancework, and
had what she believes are a few shapeshifting experiences. Again, I hovered on
the edge of disbelief, but her description of the experience wasn't for the
purpose of convincing the reader. The mystic in me had no trouble believing the
tale, and yet the scientist in me was left with enough evidence to explain it
away rationally, which, in my experience, seems to be the way most magick really
happens. The nice thing about this chapter was her honesty about the
experience--she doesn't infer that she did this on purpose, or she knew what she
was doing, or that she does this all the time. This writer is very emphatically
not one of the reincarnated Atlantean Dolphin Potato Masters, unless she's
hiding it very well.
I, personally, loved another chapter regarding love and beauty magick. Contrary
to the usual Llewellyn template, it's not filled with silly love spells. It's
filled with statements like "love your body" and "accept yourself" and "if
you're in an abusive relationship, you need a cop and a lawyer, not a witch"
which is my personal favorite.
All in all, she doesn't talk down, shoot sunshine, or wax very flaky, which is a
refreshing change. She touches on the darker aspects of the Goddess, with abuse
recovery and justice rituals that would make me think twice about recommending
this book to a teenybopper, or even a rank amateur.
Warning: don't read the bibiliography, 75% of it made me flinch, with the
requisite Llewellyn mutual admiration society. Personally, I don't think she got
much out of all the DJ Conway and Edain McCoy books--I think they're a template
added in by Llewellyn during publishing.
At the end, she does include some goddess and god rituals, along with a very
Sierra-Club friendly Save The Endangered Animals ritual that, quite frankly, I
found only entertainment value in. Imagining adults doing this gave me a laugh,
but then again, I am a cynic. With a little adaptation, I'm sure it would make a
nice ritual for kids, but again--can you fit that many people--even small
fries--in *your* living room?
All in all, this book would make a useful work book. I expect I'll be using it a
lot more for the oil recipes and quick, 4-line cantrips for elements and
circles, than I will for the longer spells or as a serious trancework guide. It
won't become a classic in the way of early Starhawk, but it isn't a wallbanger,
either. I'd recommend this book to kitchen witches, hedge witches, and people
interested in practical, earthy, yet quick magick intended to effect personal
change. I would not use this book for summoning or banishing demons, smiting
cities, or stopping the Y2K bug, unless it serves as an adequate prop-up for the
short leg of my altar.
Reviewed by Athenaprime
Additional Books by Yasmine Galenorn