Larkie’s Library: “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” by Scott Cunningham

Finally read my first Scott Cunningham book this Summer and decided to go with the ever popular and always recommended “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” as my intro to his writings. Before I go any further with the review I’ll give a disclaimer that I am NOT Wiccan. My Pagan practice is eclectic and takes a few notes from Wicca (mostly the Wheel of the Year), but it is not very much related to the religion itself. With that being said, just remember that my review is coming from someone who is not involved in this specific practice.569e7bf3-ae55-4b49-99d6-a59c5c06bd0c
I can see the usefulness of this book as a beginner’s intro into Wicca specifically (not as a general Pagan book), but that’s about where it ends for me (which is fine, since it’s supposed to be introductory in a way). It is written based on Cunningham’s views on Wicca and his own beliefs, complete with examples of his craft, so it’s not super educational on the history of Wicca. It’s possible you could offer it to family or friends who don’t “get it” as a way to further explain what Wicca is for you, but that’s if you’re okay with some of the potentially embarrassing moments in the book, which I will get to next!

There’s a tiny bit of shade thrown at Christianity in the book, which may or may not upset more sensitive family if you do so choose to share this book with them. It’s not hateful, but it does come off a bit “this way is better” which isn’t necessarily true; the faith that speaks to you (if any) is the path that’s truly better for you and if Christianity is not it, that’s fine. My biggest issue with the book, as far as cringe-worthy notes go, is the woo-woo. Some of the things, or really examples, he claims are magic is so out there. For instance, claiming that rubbing your hands together really fast, then holding them apart and feeling a tingling is magic energy shooting from your palms. While, yes, the heat you’ve activated by rubbing your hands together is a form of energy, it’s not magic…this is simple physics. He also used an example of casting a spell to obtain the funds to pay your phone bill, but pretty much leaves it at “do this spell and the money will come eventually” whereas really you should focus intention and motivation to pay the bill, but still put work in to actually getting money to pay it (like saving up, selling items you don’t need, etc). That was just too much for me.

Other critiques I have are that I felt his section on the tools, while easy to understand, were too simple. Not much information on the history of the tools or anything. I also disagreed with his views on dark/black magic. He constantly talks about the duality of Wicca, but once light and dark are there, he kind of pushes dark away and claims it as a no-no for good Wiccans. There’s a saying I heard somewhere that goes “If you can’t hex, you can’t heal,” a much better example and embrace of duality, in my opinion. Now, I’m not saying you should bind, hex, and curse after every little slight you experience, but I don’t view dark/black magic as an ultimately bad thing either.

All-in-all it wasn’t a terrible book and I do see value in it for a beginner Wiccan, but I wouldn’t recommend it alone; it’s definitely not a text that stands on its own for Pagan study. I will be reading more by Cunningham eventually, as this book didn’t totally turn me off to him and I’m interested to read some more of his work.

Keep reading and learning, everyone. Blessed be!

~Larkie

 

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Lark’s Library: “Equal Rites” by Terry Pratchett (from the Discworld series)

Merry meet! It’s been over 8 months since my last post, turns out I was not finished with self-care, self-reflection, and general life craziness, but I’m back and starting out simple with a book post. Now, I finished this book last month, so it’s been awhile since I put it down, but I remember enough to be able to form a coherent, but quick review.
image“Equal Rites” is the third book written for the Discworld series. It is my absolute favorite book so far, which I know isn’t saying much since it’s only book 3 of 42 (or however many), but it is fantastic and an awesome read for those interested in feminist sic-fi/fantasy genre. It follows new characters this time: Granny Weatherwax (a witch) and a young girl named Eskarina Smith (the first-born/appointed female wizard). The “natural” law is that only women can be witches and only men can be wizards; a law that even Granny Weatherwax herself tries to strictly follow by attempting to train Eskarina in witchcraft to stave off the wizard powers, though you can tell she see’s silliness in it.
Eventually, she has to reveal the truth to Eskarina and decides the only way to best control her powers is by challenging the law and sending her to the Unseen University. They have adventures and arguments along the way of course and Granny Weatherwax goes from being a woman who accepts societal norms to one Hell of a badass feminist hero and challenges them in hopes to get Eskarina the education and training she has deserved since her birth essentially. It’s an easy and amusing read (as all of Pratchett’s works have been) and I enjoy the bits of patriarchy smashing that takes place. It’s obvious change doesn’t happen quickly or easily, but Eskarina seems like a strong and admirable character to trail blaze the way for future female wizards (and perhaps male witches).
Overall, I give the book high marks for being entertaining and readily applicable to issues we see today. Terry Pratchett seems like he was as true an ally as the feminist movement could have for the 80’s and a bit ahead of his time. I truly enjoyed this book and think many others would as well; highly recommend!

Side note: Since I’ve been away for more than half a year, I will try to get out another Larkie’s Library post that I really want to discuss and is very much of the Pagan/witchy variety. Until next time…merry part and blessed be!

~Lark

 

Larkie’s Library: “The Secret Garden”

Hello again, sorry for the disappearance, once again life happens and I have been focusing more on building up/writing in my Grimoire. However, I have been trying to keep up on my reading as well and finished “The Secret Garden” this week (finally), so I thought I would make a return with a book review.
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The story begins with a young, orphaned girl named Mary Lennox who is sent to live with her wealthy uncle in Yorkshire, England after the death of her parents from a cholera outbreak in their home in India. She’s a sour child and spoiled beyond belief, but eventually decides (after some persuasion) to explore her new home and soon discovers a secret garden. She also discovers more secrets around the manor and slowly becomes a much happier, healthier child and is even a positive influence to another peer, her cousin, Colin. She shares the wonder and the “magic” of the garden with trusted friends and it has a ripple effect over everyone at the manor. I don’t want to give too much away for anyone who hasn’t read it, so I will leave the description at this point.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story. I’m almost disappointed that I didn’t read this earlier in life, but I still got a lot out of it now. (There is a bit of India-bashing, so just a head’s up there). The “magic” theme was wonderfully done and isn’t Hollywood magic, but more earthly, everyday “magic” you can find in nature. The descriptions of plants coming back to life as Spring arrives, the mist over the moors, the sunshine, the buds sprouting from the ground, the animals coming out, and birds building nests; it was the true magic and wonder one can find every year with the changing of the seasons (yes, it’s not “magic” but the look and feel is quite wondrous at times). And given that I read it during Fall, it really made the seasonal change I was seeing around me pop out. The fading of the leaves from green to orange. The grass becoming blanketed by the same orange, yellow, red, and brown leaves. The chill in the air. It was/is magical.
The theme of secrets really flows strongly through the book. Whether it’s a secret garden, a secret room holding a secret person, a secret “miracle”, etc. And what I noticed was the effects secrets can have, both negative and positive. Keeping things secret due to shame only makes it worse and sours more than the secret itself…it can also influence gossip. More harmless secrets can be fun when kept to oneself, but are made more so when shared with people you trust/friends and can actually be like a gift which strengthens bonds. Not all secrets are bad, but in the end, no secret should be kept that way for long.
There was also quite a lot about positivity and how one can attempt to change how they see the world. A glass half full vs glass half empty thing. I don’t think it necessarily promotes blind optimism, but instead trying not to let yourself be bogged down with negative thoughts all of the time. It’s not just a physical garden they tend to, but the gardens in their minds (I know that sounds hippy and weird, but Mr. Rogers used that term once, so it stands as forever cool, IMO). Of course, we know just thinking positively can’t solve all of our problems and is definitely not a cure-all, but it can have an impact. “Where you plant a rose, a thistle cannot grow.”
Finally, there was a great line in this book about children that I thought was very smart. While I have no intention to ever have them myself, I think it’s great advice for anyone who would so desire some. It goes like this, “Two worst things as can happen to a child is never to have his own way or to always have it.” It speaks for itself.

So there you have it. 4 out of 5 stars from me, would definitely recommend for just about all ages.

Hope everyone had a blessed Samhain. Happy reading!

Lark

Larkie’s Library: “The Modern Guide to Witchcraft: Your Complete Guide to Witches, Covens, & Spells” by Skye Alexander

I finally finished reading my first witchy book and I really liked it. I’ll admit, part of my choosing it was due to convenience (it’s currently available on Amazon for Kindle for free if you have Amazon Prime!) and that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to buy a book to have in my home yet.51ds31x1kfl-_sx334_bo1204203200_ As mentioned in previous posts, I’m still in the broom closet with basically everyone except my husband and I just wasn’t ready to have an actual book here.

So, based on no previous reading material of similar nature mind you, I thought this was a really informative guide. Definitely fairly basic 101 stuff, but not boring. Skye’s writing is well put together and thought out and I liked how technical it was instead of being overly opinionated. While I did know most of this from previous “studies” in my teens (I put studies in quotations due to the fact that my work in learning more about it was minimal and half-assed), I still found it to be a good refresher.

There is a small Grimoire at the end of the book which I also found helpful. The affirmation practice is definitely something I will incorporate in my own Book of Shadows, which I’m still working on as far as correspondences go. I definitely feel a lot more confident in having witchy material in the house now and already have a book list started (Scott Cunningham is in there, of course), so this was a nice baby step for me. I’m excited to really start diving into my studies and see what I can find that speaks to me and can be applicable to my path.

If you are newer to Paganism/witchcraft or if you just like to keep different 101 books around for reference or variety, I would suggest checking this one out. Like I said, if you have Amazon Prime and a Kindle (or Kindle app); this book is available for free through Amazon.

Happy reading and blessed be!

Lark

Larkie’s Library: “The Color of Magic” by Terry Pratchett (Discworld #1)

Another quick “witchy” type book review comes from none other than one of Terry Pratchett’s books and the first in his famous Discworld series “The Color of Magic.” I have never actually read any books from the Discworld, so this was a long time coming. I also did not realize just how many books there are in this magical universe and I am hoping I’m not in over my head because of it! 😉 51chrfxhmnl-_sy344_bo1204203200_
In “The Color of Magic” we are introduced to the Discworld which rests atop the backs of three large elephants who are riding on the shell of the Great A’Tuin (a large space turtle) who swims steadily through vastness of space. The Discworld is flat and has a very literal edge to it; it also has an eighth color in it’s spectrum, called octarine, which happens to be associated with all things magical. Wizards, barbarians, monsters, and real-imaginary dragons exist in the Discworld which is watched over by multiple Gods/Goddesses (or really entities); Fate, the Lady, and (of course) Death are just a few who watch the drama unfold and even play into it a bit.
The main players are Rincewind, a sort of wizard who only knows one spell, and a traveller from the other end of the Discworld named, Twoflower, who is an eternal optimist and dangerously curious about everything which gets them into trouble. It is written in such a fashion that I picture everything playing out as an almost Monty Python type set-up. They get into situations that you see almost no way out and somehow manage to eek by, but not through skill. Usually they find themselves victorious through perfectly timed clumsiness or just plain dumb luck and I found it to be hilarious at times.
There were a couple occasions that I laughed out loud, ran to my husband, and read the excerpt to him just so I could share the ridiculousness of the situation. And say that last part with love. It definitely wasn’t a 5 star book (there were a couple moments where the story jumped from one perspective to another, which can be confusing and during one of them I actually felt a little lost which resulted in me having to read a bit more carefully to be sure I didn’t somehow miss something), but I’m more than happy giving it a 4. It was a quick, enjoyable read and if this was any indication of how the rest of the series will go, then I’m really looking forward to it and am happy to add it to my Spring/Summer reading list.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Blessed be!

Lark

Larkie’s Library: Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Trilogy

Thought I’d end my blog absence with a quick book review…well, more like three book reviews. I recently finished the Peculiar Children Series and thought it was “witchy” enough that it might be fun to mention here. It didn’t take long to finish and was actually pretty scary at times, which I rather enjoyed.e6d2ff9dbd6d031bc65de02047a01af8

The first, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” was probably the ‘scariest’ for me. Maybe because I wasn’t yet used to the creepy photos in the book or the description of the evil creatures hunting the children known as hollowghasts. The writing wasn’t spectacular, but it definitely drummed up excellent imagery for me (highly active imagination as it is) and my heart picked up speed at the dramatic points in the story. You follow the story narrated by the main character, Jacob Portman, as he discovers the peculiar past of his grandfather. He meets Miss Peregrine and her wards, gets into trouble with hollows and wights who hunt peculiars, and then goes on a journey to save Miss Peregrine’s and the children’s home/lives. (I know that’s not a great summary, but I don’t want to give too much away). It ends with Jacob and his new friends heading out on their mission and left me excited to start the second book.

The second book, “Hollow City” was actually my favorite. It felt action packed from start to finish and was nearly impossible to put down (the first was much the same as far as difficulty in putting down, but obviously not quite as gripping since, as it should be, the first book in a series has to set up the story). It was less scary, but more mysterious and filled with a lot of close calls and not-so close calls. You learn (along with Jacob and the other peculiar children) a bit more about the world of the peculiar in this book. The ending was such a twist that I went out and bought the third book the very next day.

The third book, “Library of Souls” is the conclusion of Jacob Portman’s story in his mission to stop the wights and hollows and essentially save all of Peculiardom. I finished this book in about 24 hours. It was no longer so much scary as it was frustrating; it seemed at every turn they were hitting roadblocks or perfect chances were slipping from their fingers. There are a couple of battles and a few more twists in this story. You’ll meet characters you aren’t sure you can trust and learn if your gut was right or not. And once everything seems to be fairly packaged up, another wrench is thrown in the gears. Ultimately, I loved the book and thought the story was well put together.

The series as a whole was a lot of fun and a great escape from reality. The world is not only peculiar, but magical and helped me get back to a more witchy mindset. As a result, I’ve started reading my actual witchy books again and am feeling motivated to keep on myself in doing weekly meditation and yoga sessions to keep my mind clear and at more peace (which has been a difficult feat as of late). So if you haven’t read these books yet, I definitely recommend them for an easy and exciting read to clear your mind and escape for a bit.

Blessed be!

Lark