Posted in [witchy reviews]

[Witchy Review] “The New Aradia” by Laura Tempest Zakroff

Full Title: The New Aradia: A Witch’s Handbook to Magical Resistance
Author: {edited by} Laura Tempest Zakroff
Published: September 2018 by Revelore Press
Genres: Nonfiction, Paganism, Wicca, Witchcraft, Spirituality, Occult, Magical Resistance
Edition Details: 106 pages, trade paperback
Source: Purchased
Rating: {5/5 stars}

First Glance

This summer I went hunting for books about magical resistance. With America being full of unrest and injustice, I wanted to do something! This book came up on more than one suggested reading list, so I decided to grab a copy.

Positive Bits

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or hopeless, this book is for you. Thanks to the variety of writers who pitched in their works, the handbook serves as a pep talk across diverse angles of approach. There are rituals and sigils to work toward change, but there are also reminders of our inherent power laced throughout.

I’m pleased to say that the focus isn’t so targeted to 2020 that the book will lose value with time. While highly applicable to today’s problems, I feel like the writers made smart choices in providing ideas and spells that can be molded to any working angled toward justice, positive change, and community. When I bought this book in June, I imagined I’d make the most use out of the sigils included. However, here I am in November embracing the self-care rituals and reminders of my personal power as a witch. Clearly, the topics covered flex with your needs.

As a poet and longtime witch, I don’t often use other people’s spells as written. I tend to rework the wording, paraphrasing the original in my own syntax. However, I found myself impressed with several of the workings as written; I find myself wanting to use them “as is” rather than transforming them, and that’s a good thing. Well-written magic is beautiful and powerful!

Less Enjoyable Bits

This book should be three times bigger than it is! In all seriousness, I wish the book had been delayed a bit longer to allow for more content inclusion; the introduction mentions how rushed the creation process was, and I feel like we missed out on an opportunity to truly build a social justice handbook for witches everywhere.

The title made me think there’d be more of an embrace of Aradia’s mythos, but she was minimally included. As I don’t connect to her story, it didn’t bother me; however, newer witches less familiar with her might wonder why she was used as a lens to view magical resistance through in this book. Aradia’s mythos is very focused on using witchcraft to fight oppression, particularly when wielded by the minority against a powerful majority. I think including a bit more explanation of her history might’ve been helpful for some readers coming in blind.

There’s no organization to this handbook. My brain works the same way, where most thoughts are only tangentially tied together. If you prefer linear thoughts and patterns, then this book might frustrate you. Fair warning!

Tidbits Worth Repeating

Calling oneself a Witch is in itself an act of defiance, a statement of going against the grain and the status quo of society. – page 16

Set your face against the gathering cold, the meanness of spirit that threatens to wither us before our time. Dig your heels into the good old Earth. Remember who you are. Consider your deepest birthright as witches. Gather your allies. Sharpen your tools. – page 25

Go ahead and burn me. The fire will change me, transform me to ash. […] Burn me and I shall be everywhere. The air you breathe, the water you drink, the earth that nourishes you, and the fires that keep you warm. These will all bear my mark. – page 90

Is it worth the coin?

Yes – I needed this. Of all the books I purchased with magical resistance in mind, this is the first one to give me something back: hope.