Monday, 18 April 2016

Review: The Magical Year by Danu Forest

Anyone who is starting out on the spiritual path of modern paganism needs at least one book that teaches ways of celebrating the eight festivals that form the wheel of the year. The Magical Year by druid and shaman Danu Forest does just that – it is also well written and has a very pretty front cover.

The book includes rituals to honour the seasons as well as guided visualisations, recipes, things to make, tales from mythology and what to look out for in nature and in the sky at night. It starts at Imbolc, the celebration of the first stirrings of spring in early February, and continues through Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lughnasadh (the start of the harvest), Autumn Equinox, Samhain (or Halloween) to the Winter Solstice.

The reason I mentioned that all pagans need at least one book about how to celebrate the wheel of the year is that there are actually lot of them already out there. Pretty much every beginners’ book on modern paganism has at least a lengthy section in how to do just that. Just a few popular examples include Kate West’s The Real Witches’ Handbook, Rachel Patterson’s Grimoire of a Kitchen Witch and Glennie Kindred’s Earth Wisdom. So why should you choose The Magical Year?

Well, to some extent it depends on who you are and what you are looking for. Kate West’s book, for example, is mainly aimed at young witches working solitary, Glennie Kindred is best for those who want nature-based spirituality without too much emphasis on ancient pagan gods and goddesses, Rachel Patterson is a Kitchen Witch and her book primarily focuses on stuff you can do around the kitchen table. Danu Forest’s book, I would say, is aimed at adults who are interested in Celtic mythology and who want to get outside and experience rituals in nature as much as they might also like to bake and brew in the kitchen. And, while it doesn’t reinvent the wheel of the year, it is written in a way that is engaging and easy to follow.

What I also like about The Magical Year is that it has lots of different ideas for seasonal activities. There are simple guided visualisations for those who just want to sit quietly and tune in to the season, things to make for those who prefer to get crafty and both solitary rituals and group rituals for every festival. There are also spells to cast throughout the year - most of which are candle magic spells. This particularly interested me, because candle magic is my own area of expertise. Oh and all the recipes have both UK and US measurements – very useful.

Even as an experienced witch who has been practising paganism for decades, I found plenty of appealing suggestions for things to try out and I am very likely to dip into The Magical Year for inspiration in the seasons to come.

Publisher Watkins says about The Magic Year on its website:
The Celtic seasonal wheel is based on eight festivals – Winter Solstice, Imbolc, Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lughnasadh, Autumn Equinox and Samhain. Together, these lead us through the cycle of the year, aligning our awareness with the seasonal pattern of the earth beneath our feet. In this book on the solstices, equinoxes and other festivals within the sacred cycle, Danu Forest reveals the secrets of each festival in turn and skilfully revives ancient traditions, encouraging us to reconnect with nature, and ourselves, with a host of practical ideas and rituals.
Decorate your home with beautiful seasonal crafts and altars to manifest sacred space. Make gifts to give to friends, cast spells for creativity, fertility and blessing, and use the abundance of nature in recipes that can be enjoyed as part of your seasonal celebrations or for self-healing and empowerment. Meditate on the changing heavens throughout the year with Celtic star lore.
Deepen your experience of the turning seasons, from the rest and renewal of winter through the revels of spring and summer to the soul or spirit nights of autumn with magical guided visualizations. This cycle of conscious celebration helps us, year on year, to align with nature’s rhythms with greater wonder and insight.

Danu Forest's previous books include The Druid Shaman. You an order The Magical Yearfrom Amazon.

Links and previous related posts
The Magical Year

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