Book Review of Shadows: Italian Folk Magic by Mary-Grace Fahrun


51B1dlpBZtL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Italian Folk Magic is a fascinating journey through the magical, folkloric, and healing traditions of Italy with an emphasis on the practical. The reader learns uniquely Italian methods of magical protection and divination and spells for love, sex, control, and revenge.

The book contains magical and religious rituals and prayers and explores divination techniques, crafting, blessing rituals, witchcraft, and, of course, the evil eye, known as malocchio in Italian–the author explains what it is, where it comes from, and, crucially, how to get rid of it.

This book can help Italians regain their magical heritage, but Italian folk magic is a beautiful, powerful, and effective magical tradition that is accessible to anyone who wants to learn it. –

I am absolutely in love with this book, and with Mary-Grace and her website Rue’s Kitchen. Like, in love. This book is packed with information but is still very personal. You feel like a member of the family. Being Italian, I saw tons of traditions and personalities I recognized from when I was young. I didn’t get a chance to spend time with our learn from my Italian family and so I’ve always felt kind of disconnected. This book made me feel more connected to myself and my family, and actually gave me the info I needed to do some research about my own ancestors!

The Gobbo, my personal fave of the Italian talismans mentioned in the book. Yes, it’s a hunchback in a jaunty cap and jacket, with a horseshow, and doing the “mano cornuta” or bull horns with his fingers to ward off the eye. In the book, she warns against going up to people with actual humps and touching. How polite!

Of course if you’re not Italian your experience with the stories and spells in the book might feel different, but you’ll still get tons of spells and rituals for the home, food, and family, learn all about the evil eye and the associated Italian superstitions and talismans, recipes for really good and authentic Italian food, insight into communing with the natural world through ritual, and new divination techniques. If you love kitchen or cottage witchery, hoodoo and voodoo and their connection with the saints, superstitions, or even learning new languages (there’s a lot of Italian in the book!) you’ll love it.

The evil eye is a hot topic lately, and the Turkish Nazar amulets are a popular protection item even in North America with people wearing them and putting them in their cars and homes. I’m not going to lie, I am obsessed with them. I have a blue evil eye pendulum! That cobalt blue glass is like, my aesthetic. BUT what you may not know is that the evil eye is not just a middle eastern superstition – the Italians have tons of methods for diagnosing, preventing, and removing “the eye”. Not only is chapter 11 completely devoted to the evil eye, but the book opens with a story about the author at her family’s home when she was 6 years old, and she watched as her family quickly diagnosed and removed the eye from her cousin, who’d been touched by the lovely but mischievous Signora Christina. Scandalous! Italian drama is so intense, let me tell you.

My dad straight up goes to the Italian Club (Fogolar Furlan) for Sangweech!

One of my favourite things about the book is that Mary-Grace does her best to explain which region of Italy a particular practice or prayer or dish is from. Many people kind of picture all Italians as Sicilians, you know? Really gorgeous and tan and swarthy, but Italy is really big and covers a lot of different kinds of regions with different traditions and even languages. My Noni was 100% Italian and she had alabaster skin and bright orange-red hair! It was great to see different parts of Italy represented and laid out, and to hear about her actual family members from those areas and their actual practices and lives.

I highly recommend the book. To everyone. I loved it so much I chose it as the featured book in the Witch n’ Bitch for September, and all month we’re talking about kitchen witchery and Italian Folk Magic. I’ve already scrubbed out and re-arranged my kitchen, put up a new ancestor altar, made rosemary “smudge” bundles and bought a garlic braid and a big mason jar of dried peppers. My plants are all doing better, especially my little olive tree! And I’ve started carrying evil eye talismans she describes in the book and have had great luck ever since!


Do you have any idea how many magickal herbs you already have in your kitchen?!

3 thoughts on “Book Review of Shadows: Italian Folk Magic by Mary-Grace Fahrun

  1. I’ll be on the lookout for this one! I love reading about different folk magic traditions, especially since you can find more practical magic there than in many, “How to be a Witch!” books that cram the shelves of bookstores. Plus, it’s always good to learn about the cultural roots of different folks.


  2. Added to my wishlist 🙂 My background is Greek, but I suspect there are a lot of similarities (the evil eye, for example). Either way, this subject is right up my alley.

    Liked by 1 person

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