It’s the beginning of a brand new year and time for me to think about the kinds of things I want to learn and experience this year, the things I want to leave in 2021, and where I’m going to go looking for magic. In a bizarre bit of irony, over the last 2 years of being even more AT HOME ALONE I have actually read way less than… well, literally ever before. Maybe it’s because I spent so much time writing books, or because nothing caught my interest (ok we know that one’s a lie) or maybe I just didn’t have time? Who knows. This reading slump actually gave me a chance to look at how and why I read the witchy books that I do and how it affects me.
I noticed that when I read a book with my patreon suporters in our little book club I don’t consume the entire thing is this super fun honeymoon period and write a glowing review for a book that might have just been like, ok. I’ve liked way fewer books this year and when I asked myself why I noticed that for at least 6 straight months the books I read were all about wonderful and fascinating practices and types of magic that I would never use myself and had no long-term place in my practice. That’s ok! You know? I learned a lot about voodoo and vodou and I loved every minute of it, but afterward my practice was unchanged, static. I honestly hadn’t noticed. I’m so used to flitting from cool thing to cool thing that when I had to go slow I found that what I liked most about that was the novelty, the flitting itself was what I was giving 5 crystal balls to. (In case you hadn’t heard– I was diagnosed with ADHD last year which was a huge shock until I thought about it for even 1 single minute. oops!) My love of novelty, of bouncing around the globe getting these peeks into other cultures and people and practices is not a character flaw by any means, but it can definitely over-shadow other things that are maybe a little less exciting like my own backyard and the practice I’ve, well practiced, for years.
So this year I want to balance novelty and learning new things with a focus on the mundane, the real, the familiar. I want to read books that will help me expand my understand of things I’ve already dipped my toe into, and that give me new ways to making and experiencing magic. I don’t just want to KNOW things, I want to understand things and do things! I can already tell I’ll be looking for books that teach me how to make things and get a little hands on, that encourage me to go outside and explore the world I already have access to, and look at it in new ways.
I made a list on Goodreads with the books I’m planning to read and explore here on my website and on The Fat Feminist Witch this year, and I’d love to share a few I’m already ITCHING to dive in to.
City Witchery by Lisa Marie Basile – September 14, 2021
City Witchery is an accessible, inclusive, and intuitive guide to making and finding magic as a city dweller, traveler, or someone living in a small apartment.
In this gorgeous book, author of Light Magic for Dark Times and The Magical Writing Grimoire, Lisa Marie Basile, shows how you can maintain a practical, potent, and poetic practice when nature, time, space, and resources are scarce. (Goodreads)
I love the hell out of Lisa Marie Basile and her books so I’m always excited to see a new title, but this one in particular is a book after my own heart. I’m a city witch! I was born a city girl, suffered through more than a decade living in the country, and then became a city woman and I’ll never look back. I love the serenity of the country, but when I look at a city I really do see a massive jungle or forest. I see mystery and a million habitats and secrets hidden inside. Stepping outside my door and seeing nothing but options and possibilities is just a vital part of my life. That is to say – I am excited. At the beginning of the pandemic I moved to a new apartment in a slightly different part of town where I’m not very happy, and where the environment around me isn’t very interesting at all and so I haven’t felt like a city witch. I feel like a sitting in my apartment in front of the TV witch. My hope this year is to move and to rekindle my love of my city and I know this book will be an an excellent companion for that journey.
Buy on Amazon.com | Buy on Amazon.ca
The History of Tarot Art: Demystifying the Art and Arcana, Deck by Deck by Holly Adams Easley, Esther Joy Archer – November 30, 2021
The History of Tarot Art offers a fresh and accessible look at the art styles, artists, and history behind more than a dozen of the world’s most noteworthy tarot decks.
The History of Tarot Art shows how tarot morphed from a fifteenth century card game to a popular modern activity. Learn more about the stories behind the art of tarot’s most influential decks, like Rider-Waite-Smith and Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot, as well as the female artists whose work was often overshadowed in their time. (Goodreads)
I had actually forgotten I had pre-ordered this book earlier last year, and when more than $60 disappeared from my account suddenly, which I couldn’t really spare, I was so mad at myself. That anger disappeared the moment the book actually arrived. It’s huge – coffee table book size – full colour and comes with a reprint of cards from the Sola-Busca Tarot, a very old deck from Italy. It’s a stunning book, and when I did my initial flip-through I was impressed with the combination of history and modern practical usage! Every chapter ends by telling you what modern decks you may appreciate if you like the vibe of the historical deck. The variety of art and individual symbolism from deck to deck is the thing I love most about tarot, and I’m excited to see more of it up-close.
Buy it on Amazon.com | Buy it on Amazon.ca
Empty Cauldrons: Navigating Depression Through Magic and Ritual by Terence P Ward – January 8, 2022
A Pagan Guide to Coping with Depression
Whether is it impacting you or a loved one, depression can be difficult to discuss or even acknowledge. Empty Cauldrons explores the isolating influence it can have and why many people resist professional help. With contributions from Pagan clergy, depression sufferers, and therapists, author Terence P Ward creates a picture of depression that draws upon both science and religion. He also shares his own experiences with this common affliction and the spiritual methods he has used for relief. (Goodreads)
Wouldn’t it be lovely if books like this weren’t really necessary? That said, I am of course grateful books to help you deal with depression and your mental health via spiritual means exist because I need them! This book has a specifically Pagan slant, meaning it will be theistic and religious, but that’s ok. Since getting interested in the goddess Voluptas and feeling like she has a connection to ADHD, I’ve wanted to read a little more by folks who do have experience with deities. Also, I think that if someone who is a little less theistic like me can get something out of it a lot of you will too! So let’s keep our fingers crossed and mind open to some new techniques and beliefs.
But it on Amazon.com | Buy it on Amazon.ca
Art Magick: How to become an art witch and unlock your creative power by Molly Roberts – March 8, 2022
This inspirational grimoire invites you to the shimmering primordial crossroad of the imagination where art and magick meet. Discover the basics of art magick: what art magick could be, how to enrich your life with art magick, how to cast potent spells for yourself, loved ones and community, and enjoy the energizing thrill of a creative magickal practice to call your own.
With step-by step instructions and illustrations for over 15 projects, Art Magick reveals how to make an array of bewitched objects and establish your very own art magick practice, including your own pop oracle set, scrying mirrors, magickal mandalas, protection plushies, healing weavings, ensorceled altar boxes, print process sigils, manifestation mobiles, spirit statuary, dream incubation eggs, otherworldly wands and more. (Goodreads)
I don’t think I need to explain the astronomical level of boredom I have felt for the better part of the last 2 years to any of you. I mean, my god, I am so bored. I’m bored with my apartment, my clothes, the internet, my phone, my face, my routine– everything basically. The thing with boredom is that the longer you stay bored, the more bored you become and the less inspiring anything around you seems. No inspiration = no magic, for me anyways. Inspiration and imagination are everything, and I need to stretch mine, which is why I picked this book – it just looks FUN. Not only is making magic with art fun, but the book itself seems to have a really fun and lighthearted tone along with lots of colours and illustrations, which always inspires me. Plus, I dropped like hundreds of dollars on different art and craft supplies last year and only did a few brief experiments. My home is filled with paint, brushes, clay, candle making supplies, essential oils, incense-making supplies, markers, crayons, canvases etc etc etc and damnit, I intend to enjoy them!
Buy it on Amazon.com | Buy it on Amazon.ca
Flower Essences from the Witch’s Garden: Plant Spirits in Magickal Herbalism by Nicholas Pearson – March 29, 2022
In this practical guide to using flower essences in witchcraft, alchemy, and healing, Nicholas Pearson provides detailed instructions for making and using flower essences based on traditional Western magick practices. He shares new magickal uses for essences, from creating sacred space to dressing candles to preparing incense, as well as how to use them in meditation, potions, spells, spagyrics, and ritual. He shares exercises for attuning to plant spirits, finding your plant spirit allies, and connecting more deeply to the energies of the green world as well as exploring how essences can be used in traditional sacraments of witchcraft like the Great Rite. (Goodreads)
My skeptical capricorn self was initially a little confused by essences – which are a liquid potion that contain the spiritual essence of a plant or crystal in water, without containing any actual physical matter from them. Jasmine flower essence doesn’t look or smell like jasmine, but it can be used in any spell that calls for jasmine. Sounds fake, but ok. When I tried making my own crystal essence (or elixir, as I prefer) I finally got it – it’s all vibes, man. That water suddenly had the vibe of pyrite. I can’t explain how, but it did. When I sipped it I felt like I was drinking in the quixotic slightly chaotic positive energy of pyrite with a burst of energy and inspiration! I think seeing the whole process did a lot for me, so I’m excited to try it with plants and find new ways to work with botanicals that don’t really work in incense or baths or as oils but still have a lot of magical energy. I’m also interested in connecting specifically to the spirit of plants, and forming stronger relationships with some in particular.
Buy it on Amazon.com | Buy it on Amazon.ca
The Night School: Lessons in Moonlight, Magic, and the Mysteries of Being Human by Maia Toll – August 9, 2022
For anyone interested in spirituality, folklore, mysticism, witchcraft, healing, and self-exploration, The Night School is a highly creative journey into the magic of the night. Organized as an enchanted course of study, with semesters and subjects for exploration — ranging from Midnight Foundations (Philosophy 101) to Divining the Night (Divination 101) to Harnessing the Celestial Tides (Energetic Engineering 101) — this illuminating manual offers short nightly lessons complete with reflections, exercises, homework, and even extra credit to help readers connect with the power of the night and explore the deeper mysteries of being human. In an era when our daytime hours are increasingly uncertain and people are turning inward to reevaluate what really matters, The Night School encourages us to slow down and contemplate our dreams, relationship to the natural world, and the ancient traditions of mystical thinking — all by the light of the moon. (Goodreads)
Ok, so I’m a nerd and SCHOOL sounds fun as hell. Maia Toll is the one who brought us the illustrated Herbiary and Crystallary, which I loved despite not using them as a direct reference book. They’re beautiful and poetic and get me thinking creatively, which is exactly what I’m expecting here. This is one of a few books specifically about night time magic I’ve seen coming out this year, and I think I’d like to check them all out, but this sounds the most interesting. As it says in the description, the last few years and our changing relationship to day and night has been on my mind a lot. I’ve always loved going out at night because it’s so quiet and still, but after seeing how quiet and still the days can truly be (and not always in great ways) I’ve been thinking I need to find new ways to love and appreciate the night. I used to be such a night owl and now I wake up early in a pool of sunlight and bounce around until the sun starts to go down and so does my desire to do… anything. I’ve even been doing my full moon rituals before the sun goes down! This book comes out as summer, an obvious solar/daytime season, comes to an end and the nights get long and cool and dark. Just in time for spooky season. I can’t wait!
Buy it on Amazon.com | Buy it on Amazon.ca
You can find the rest of my list on Goodreads, where I’ll be posting a lot more of my book reviews this year since it seems to be the favourite places for witches to do their book research! If you friend or follow me there you’ll be able to get updates about which ones I’m reading and when reviews are available.
Paige Vanderbeck on Goodreads.com
There is one other book I’m excited for this year – MINE. The details are still under wraps, but I will have a new book coming out this year on the summer solstice, June 21, 2022! Like many of the books listed here, it’s a book of creative and hands-on magical techniques for spellcasting with a bit lighter of a vibe than Witchcraft for Emotional Wisdom, which was very…. emotional is honestly the best word to use there. I’m pretty excited about it and can’t wait to reveal more! So keep an eye out here and on Twitter and Facebook for updates about the book and of course some fun giveaways and livestreams!