Book Review: Lisa Chamberlain’s Wicca for Beginners and Wicca Book of Spells

I had already read a couple of Lisa Chamberlain’s books, (five, actually!) and so was very happy to review the new editions of Wicca for Beginners and Wicca Book of Spells. My favourites to date had been Wicca Finding Your Path: A Beginner’s Guide to Wiccan Traditions, Solitary Practitioners, Eclectic Witches, Covens, and Circles and especially the audio version of Wicca Living a Magical Life: A Guide to Initiation, Self-Dedication and Navigating Your Journey in the Craft. These new editions from The Mystic Library (Sterling Publishing) did not disappoint.

First of all, I LOVE hardcover books. These little introductory books (they stand at around 130 – 160 pages) are beautifully bound in hardcover, with gorgeous artwork throughout. I love a book that also has illustrations and artwork, as I believe it’s important to engage the imagination and appreciate more than just the written word. Good artwork can lift a book, as anyone who has worked with colour correspondences alone can testify. Wicca for Beginners has a lovely blue theme running throughout, and Wicca Book of Spells a purple and pink theme. They are just so nice to hold in your hands, hardcovers. And they last a whole lot longer than paperbacks.

Wicca Beginners GuideWicca for Beginners: A Guide to Wiccan Beliefs, Rituals, Magic and Witchcraft does just what it says on the tin. It’s a great guide for someone new to the path, or for anyone who wants to refresh their learning. In fact, if I were to recommend a beginner’s book to anyone new to the path, this book as well as Scott Cunningham’s works would be my first choice. Chamberlain goes into history of the tradition, which is something that Cunningham’s books are seriously lacking. She uses language that is easy and flowing, friendly and unassuming. I really like that in books that teach about anything, as I am easily put off with pomposity and obscurity.

Indeed, this book covers everything neatly and precisely: how the path evolved, the history, core beliefs, working with the divine, the altar, tools and clothing, ritual components and magic, as well as advice for aspiring Wiccans. It really covers a lot of material in an easy to swallow format. The author has really done her research, and has walked her talk, sharing and expressing her knowledge with skill and clarity, as well as her plain common sense.

Wicca Book of SpellsWicca Book of Spells: A Beginner’s Book of Shadows for Wiccans, Witches and Other Practitioners of Magic again covers a wide range of material. While a couple of paragraphs on what a Book of Shadows is would have been nice, this tome dives straight into spellwork such as love spells (with the usual caveats on manipulation of individuals), prosperity spells, health and well-being spells and an eclectic mix of spellwork in the final chapter that includes kitchen witchery, elemental magic and more. Again, there is common sense and a good framework throughout this book to help the reader on their forays into the realms of spellcrafting. One small critique is that I would like to know if the spells included in the book are traditional, or if the inspiration came from somewhere historically. I have no qualms in new spells vs old spells, and I am a strong believer in working with what you’ve got to hand. This information may have been left out in the editing process, to keep the book to a size that works for beginners, though this is purely conjecture on my part. The spells were easy to follow and understand, and Chamberlain, like myself, is not averse to substitutions to make it work on a more personal level.

All in all, I found both these books really charming, and well written. Lisa Chamberlain was a pleasure to correspond with as well via email, and I look forward to more of her work in the future. I think she is a real asset to the Wiccan community, providing good information delivered in a friendly manner that everyone can understand and work with on any level. If you are just starting out, or know someone who is, or simply want to add to your book hoard of good books, then look up Lisa Chamberlain and her work – I recommend it all.

Capturing the moments…

I’ve spent this last week getting some footage and trying to capture the moments of early August in the rural Suffolk countryside, so that I could share them with you all. Blessings of the harvest season!

If you’d like to support me and help me to create more videos and other content for my various social media sites, please do visit my Patreon Page.

The Importance of Lammas/Lughnasadh

P1050820 (3)I recently read something in a new Wiccan book release that made me sad and a little frustrated. In this work, the author stated that Lammas/Lughnasadh celebrations on the Wheel of the Year in Modern Paganism can feel like an outlier, a festival that for many people is hard to connect to, understand or celebrate. If you do not live in a rural area, why celebrate this festival at all? As such an important festival to our ancestors, we have to realise the importance of this festival not only in this context, but also in the modern day.

Historically, Lammas/Lughnasadh is the celebration of the first harvest, or games/festivals occurring just before the first harvest. It was an opportunity for people in a rural setting to meet others from the surrounding countryside, often from many miles away, in order to make trade deals, marriages and also enjoy games of competition. When your world is quite small as you live and breathe your farm/village life, the chance to get out and meet others is so very important, as I’m sure we all have experienced during the various lockdowns since the COVID pandemic. Imagine if that was your world all year round, and this was your only chance to see people outside of your village.

As well, the taking in of the first crops is something that should be celebrated in any nature-based tradition. Whether you live in an urban setting or not, what happens to the harvest in or near where you live, or in your own country on a wider scale does affect you, even if you are in the heart of a downtown metropolis. If the wheat harvest is bad, you will find bread and other wheat-based products go up. Same for any crop, whether that is apples, onions, potatoes, carrots – you get the idea. Not only does this affect you financially, but it can also affect you physically. If you are not supporting organic and locally produced crops as much as is possible within your capability, then you are effectively saying that nature doesn’t matter, and how we get our food is more important than the overall effect on the environment itself. This sort of thinking has led to genetically modified food, the long-term consumption of which we will only begin to notice in the coming years. The vast industry of monoculture crops requires much more pesticides and fungicides than a diverse or organic crop, as permaculture has shown us time and again. There is strength in diversity, and great weakness in monocultures. This applies not only to agriculture, but to all culture.

Everything is connected. Everything is related. To think that you are separate from something is mere illusion. Just because you might not live in a rural setting, doesn’t mean that what happens there has no effect on your life. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and how we treat our environment all affects us every second of every day.

Let’s remember this when it comes to Lammas/Lughnasadh; let us remember the interconnectedness of all things, and the sacredness of all things. Let us remember how important this time was for our ancestors, and how important it is still, today, wherever we live. It’s not an abstract concept, especially if we follow a nature-based tradition. It is a real, living, breathing, contributing part of our world, and should be one of the most important festivals in the Wheel of the Year.

To find out more about Lammas/Lughnasadh, I have written about it and the other festivals celebrated in Druidry and much of Modern Paganism in my book, The Book of Hedge Druidry: A Complete Guide for the Solitary Practitioner.

Book Review: Your Moontime Magic

It may seem strange, after just having a hysterectomy to be writing a review for a book about menstruation, but I had wanted to review this book before I knew I was to have this surgery. Maureen Theresa Smith’s Your Moontime Magic: A Girl’s Guide to Getting Your Period and Loving Your Body is a great little book that I wish I had in my hands when I first began menstruating. Though I’d had all the facts, and had support from my family and doctor, still my periods were a difficult and painful time, every month, since the age of eleven (I’m now 45, going on 46). Perhaps this book could have helped me, at least in a spiritual sense, to come to terms with my monthly periods when I was younger, the pain and the release, the cycles within cycles.

Published by New World Library, this book was previously released as First Moon in 2005. However, the information and advice go far beyond the first moon, and can help you throughout your life in working with your cycle, or helping someone else understand and see the spiritual nature of this women’s journey.

My own journey began early, a couple of months before my twelfth birthday (I had not yet started high school). Very painful, each month they would put me out of commission for a few days until I got some high dosage painkillers from my doctor when I was fourteen, and then later put on the pill when I was fifteen (for medical reasons). But when I went off the pill when I was 21, everything came back just as before. Little did I know that I suffered from endometriosis, as well as fibroids and ovarian cysts later in life (which is why I had to have a hysterectomy this year). Getting my period each month was a lot of work, both mentally and physically, as I prepared myself for the pain and the hassle of trying to deal with this and also with life in general.

Had I set up a spiritual practice around this monthly cycle, perhaps things might have been different. Your Moontime Magic definitely could help with that – it is filled not only with biological facts and information, but also rituals, crafts and imaginative ways of working with your monthly cycle. It discusses the oft taboo subjects of PMS and body changes, as well as going deeper into self-image and how that creates the world that you inhabit in this body. What I especially enjoyed was the fact that Smith included things like how your dreams change when you menstruate, how to work with that and allow them to inspire your own creativity. She also talks about how your friendships will change and grow as you develop into your own power as a woman, connecting to your power as well as connecting to nature. She uses language that is easy to understand, and it’s like having a chat with your cool aunt at the dining table about all these things.

If you have a daughter who is coming to this time in her life, or know someone who is, I highly recommend this book. It is also helpful to have others in the family read it, to understand more about women’s cycles and what they go through in their lives. It teaches us to take care of ourselves, our physical and inner selves, and to shine – “like the moon, there are times when you can be hidden from the world, and times when you can shine full and bright”.

Blessings to all women out there, wherever you are in your life’s journey.

A Small, Beautiful World

Though my world is very small right now as I’m recovering, it is still beautiful. Sunset walk tonight down the lane from my house, across the stream to the meadow.  My husband helped out with the long-range shots of me 🙂

Women in Druidry Online Conference

Hello! It’s my great pleasure and indeed an honour to share with you the details of this upcoming conference, of which I’ll be a panelist. While I’m still recovering from surgery, I won’t be presenting a workshop, but I can still participate in the discussion, and so I’m very much looking forward to it! Here are the details from the website – I hope to see you there!

Women in Druidry

If you were to ask someone to describe an historical Druid, most would overwhelmingly paint a picture of a wise old man with a long grey beard and white flowing robes, but this tells only part of the story.

An elite and learned social caste in ancient Celtic cultures, Druids enjoyed many privileges – such as exemption from taxes and from serving during war – and were accorded a great amount of honor and social power.

They were priests and augurs, teachers and judges, transmitters of history, and holders of sacred memory.

They were educated and deeply respected men, to be sure…

And, they were also women.

As part of an effort to broaden the general understanding and depiction of ancient Druids to include the women who earned this status, as well as to amplify the voices of women who walk a modern-day druidic path, The Coracle and the Sisterhood of Avalon are proud to be hosting the Women in Druidry Conference 2020.

In this first of what we hope will become an annual offering, we have gathered together accomplished women practitioners, leaders, authors, and teachers representing a variety of modern Druidic (and Druid-adjacent) orders and traditions. Together, we will explore Druidic beliefs and traditions, discuss the differences and similarities between these modern pathways, and share some personal experiences and insights about walking a Druidic path as a female practitioner.

This year’s panelists will be:

Danu Forest

Kristal Jenks

Bonnie Lynn Landry

Cerri Lee

Jhenah Telyndru

Joanna van der Hoeven

Our panel discussion will be followed by several workshops, including:

The Faery Faith in Gaelic Folk Magic, presented by Danu Forest

Ritual as a Tool for Magical Archeology, presented by Cerri Lee.

Detailed information about our presenters and their offerings can be found on our website:

Conference and Registration Details

The Women in Druidry Conference will take place on Sunday, 19 July 2020 from 10am to 4:30pm EDT (3:00pm – 9:30 GMT). This online conference will be recorded and audio will be made available to every paid attendee.

Conference admission is open to anyone of any gender or spiritual tradition.

Tickets for the conference are $20.00, with 80 spots available. Should we encounter a greater demand, we will consider expanding the amount of people we can accommodate.

For more information and to register, please visit: https://tinyurl.com/WomenInDruidry2020

Thank you for your interest! We hope you will be able to join us for this exciting event!