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Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > Embracing the Moon Search

Book Review:
Embracing the Moon: A Witch's Guide to Rituals, Spellcrafts and Shadow Work

Author: Yasmine Galenorn
Trade Paperback, 312 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn
Publication date: March 1998
ISBN: 1567183042
Price & More Info: Click Here

Additional books by this author

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 it...

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

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