Posted in [witchy reviews]

[Witchy Review] “Modern Witchcraft” by Deborah Blake

Full Title: Modern Witchcraft: Goddess Empowerment for the Kick-Ass Woman
Author: Deborah Blake
Published: July 2020 by St. Martin’s Essentials
Genres: Nonfiction, Wicca, Witchcraft Religion & Spirituality
Edition Details: 256 pages, trade paperback
Source: ARC [requested by me]
Rating: {3/5 stars}

First Glance

I was curious about this book, as I haven’t picked up many beginner-focused books lately. I figured it would be a good peek into that side of available witchy literature, and luckily it was available on NetGalley as a reviewable ARC to request. I’m not receiving anything for this review, other than having a digital copy of the book in my possession.

Positive Bits

This book is for those interested in goddess worship and Wicca. I’ll get into that shortly. However, from that perspective, the information it contains is just enough to wet your whistle. The topics all have a minimal amount of details provided, but I believe this works to give an overview of each topic rather than a deep dive that would come with later research.

My favorite section had to be Five-Minute Rituals to Connect with the Feminine Divine. Contrary to the title, the suggestions lean toward small acts of spirituality you can add to your mundane moments in life. I personally love these kinds of lists, because I’m a firm believer that you’re a witch in and out of the circle. Using an evening shower as an opportunity to cleanse both physically and energetically just makes sense, as does the simple act of thanks in the morning. When you first approach Wicca and/or witchcraft, it can feel like everything is loud and big and bright and overwhelming. The Five-Minute Rituals are ideal small steps to bring spirituality into your life without getting bogged down in checking every single box.

The same applies to a section on Practical Suggestions for Creating Positive Change. Blake describes the ways we can use our own focus to build our experience of the world. If you think negatively all of the time, you reinforce the negativity around you. By working to change your inner thoughts to something positive (like affirmations and noticing the positive around you first), you can gain a more positive outlook. This, in turn, pulls more positivity into your life – like attracts like. My favorite affirmation reminded me of the witchy animism I currently practice: “I come from the earth and the stars. I am filled with elemental power.”

Less Enjoyable Bits

This book is for those interested in goddess worship and Wicca. It isn’t for secular witches or polytheists, as it has a hard focus both on the spirituality behind worship and the idea that all goddesses are faces of the same Goddess. Considering the modern witchcraft movement and overwhelming amount of information online, this book is written in a way that would help someone interested in Wiccan-flavored goddess worship and witchcraft as a focus. I don’t think it’s good for a broader audience than that.

That said, I started off my witchcraft journey as a Wiccan and trained in a Wiccan-derived coven, so the content provided fit into my past experience. Actually, this book comes across like those from the early 2000s when I started my studies; the attitudes and beliefs match with the Wiccan witchcraft of that time period.

The resources in this book are dated. Based on my own experience, I’m going to guess that Blake stopped buying/reading introductory books after a certain point as they were no longer necessary. However, that means she references WitchVox (a defunct website that used to be helpful for finding fellow witches nearby) and no books other than her own that were published in this decade (the newest is from 2008). This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, as Wicca itself has a core of beliefs that haven’t changed since its introduction to the public, but Witchcraft has evolved and changed in so many ways that these aged resources don’t represent the variety and depth of information now available in print.

Tidbits Worth Repeating

When Witches talk about the power of words, it is another facet of the idea that what you put out into the universe is what you get back.

The goddess loves you. Even when other people let you down, the goddess accepts you just the way you are. She doesn’t care that you aren’t perfect. She doesn’t care what color or size or age you are, whether you are gay or straight or bi or asexual. No matter what gender you were born to, if you consider yourself a woman, so does She.

And when I feel powerless or frustrated or angry, I can listen to the rain and the wind and remember that in the smallest element, there can be found the potential for incredible power. After all, a drop of rain seems innocuous until it becomes a flood, and a gentle breeze can change into a tornado that wipes out everything in its path. We may seem as tiny as a single drop of rain, but together, we can move mountains.

Is it worth the coin?

No – There are plenty of well-written books on Wicca, including many focused on specific traditions within Wicca itself. This book is just too broad in its focus to be useful, especially with the lack of current resources for a new witch to look into after reading.

Author:

bookdragon, poet, witch

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