Thursday 17 February 2011

Review: Mean Streets Witchcraft

Note: Since I wrote this review the book's title has changed to Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living.

Mean Streets Witchcraftis about being a witch in a big city, with all the problems that brings.

It is about being far away from open countryside and so learning to recognise wild plants growing on railway embankments and derelict building sites; about cherishing neighbourhood parks and cemeteries as places of contemplation; about appreciating urban creatures such as foxes, magpies and starlings as animal companions.

Modern life also puts pressures on the city witch. We might work long hours in air-conditioned offices with a crowded commute at each end of the day, meaning we hardly get to see daylight in winter. We might live in tiny flats or share crowded homes with others who are not sympathetic with a witch's needs for time and space to perform magical rituals. Mean Streets Witchcraft suggests that you actually don't need much space to do magic. You can cast a small circle just around yourself and say the words of spells quietly – you don't have to dance about wildly accompanied by loud chanting and drumming likely to alarm the neighbours.

Cities – especially London – do offer one thing that can be harder to find in the countryside – a bewildering array of moots, workshops, lectures and conferences aimed at teaching every type of pagan, magical or spiritual thing you can think of. Although such events can be very useful, they can also be a huge trap for the city witch.

It is easy to convince yourself that you are progressing swiftly along your path of magical learning because you are attending talks on a huge variety of occult subjects and socialising with all the other city pagans, when in fact you would do better spending much of that time by yourself, honing your own psychic abilities.

Author Mélusine Draco also points out that – unlike Wicca - traditional witchcraft is not a religion. You can follow any faith that is right for you - whether that is Christianity, neopaganism or something else entirely – and still be a witch. Witches have existed in almost all cultures and eras; what identifies them is their set of skills. A witch needs to know herb lore, how to perform divinations, create amulets and talismans, contact the spirits of the dead and cast spells for such things as protection, love and success in ventures.

Mean Streets Witchcraftoffers a starting point for how to do this in a modern city environment. It is very much about my own kind of magic, the kind I try to write about in A Bad Witch's Blog – practical witchcraft for the real world. I recommend this book for any witch who is struggling to find their magical way in the big city.

Publisher O Books says on its website: "Writing as Mélusine Draco, the author has been a magical and spiritual instructor for over 20 years, and writer of numerous popular books including Liber Ægyptius: The Book of Egyptian Magic; The Hollow Tree, an elementary guide to Qabalah; A Witch’s Treasury of the Countryside; Root & Branch: British Magical Tree Lore and Starchild: a rediscovery of stellar wisdom. Her highly individualistic teaching methods, as used in Mean Streets Witchcraft, draw on historical sources, supported by academic texts and current archaeological findings. The Dictionary of Magic & Mystery is the result of 10 years' work that was originally compiled for purely personal use"

Mean Streets Witchcraft

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