Oddly, that was what put me off buying a copy until I picked one up at a charity shop the other day. I had always assumed they were coffee-table mass-market books rather than useful collections of spells that a witch might actually want to do.
Appearances can be deceptive. When I read Hocus Pocus I found it not only looks good but contains some simple, practical and potentially effective spells. They use ingredients you can easily buy at a supermarket, such as herbs, honey or wine. Many are recipes for potions or massage balms with an effective ingredient that would probably do the trick without any magic, such as lavender to cure a headache or scented flower petals and a bottle of champagne as an aphrodisiac.
The book starts with an introduction to magic. It offers a short but commonsense description of how spells might be thought to work as well as pointing out that you don't need to be a witch - or a pagan - to cast spells. Folk magic has been done for centuries by people of all faiths. It often works through a mixture of herbalism, psychology and belief even if you don't want to call upon the power of any deity for assistance through prayer or ritual.
Hocus Pocus contains a selection of spells covering the main things people ask for magical help regarding: love, healing, family problems, beauty, success at work, protecting the home and general good luck. One that could be easily done in July or August involves trailing a golden cord around in your house, putting a bunch of sunflowers in each room, then lighting a golden candle while wishing for the optimism of a sunny day to enter your home.
My secondhand copy of Hocus Pocus had clearly belonged to another witch. An inscription at the front, written in gold ink, gives one dictionary's definition of a witch: A sorceress, a hag, a fascinating girl, a fish... This is followed by the dedication:
"To XXX, wishing you a lifetime of magic moments! With much love, XXX, '97"I've subsitited XXX for the two names involved. Many witches still prefer to keep their beliefs secret and I'm not going to out anyone against their wishes. However, I can't help but wonder what has happened to these two girls in the 11 years since this present was given by one to the other. Perhaps they feel they have outgrown magic, hence donating the book to a charity shop. If they are reading this, I hope they are pleased their copy has found a good new home.
Hocus Pocus: Titania's Book of Spells by Titania Hardie was first published in 1996 by Quadrille Publishing Ltd. You can buy secondhand copies on Amazon for as little as 1p plus postage. I would say that is a bargain!