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Witch: Unleashed. Untamed. Unapologetic. Paperback – May 9, 2017
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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For one thing, the book opens with a disclaimer that the writer does not care to be politically correct. That set off some warning bells but I figured, hey, I'm a white woman, how offensive could it be to me?
It turns out all witch powers come from your uterus, and your connection to your uterus. So someone like me, with a dysfunctional one? Guess I'm out of luck. However it isn't just one section of the book that talks about this uterus power. At least every chapter it's referenced. Which wore me down to a level of insecurity I thought I overcame years ago.
Aside from the PC and uterus issues, the book is just written in a strange format. The writer accents some sentences by bolding/centering them in the page, but this is used to often it just seems like there isn't a format. Much of the book is anecdotes or stories of the writers witch escapades. Regularly the writer attempts to convince the reader that she is a powerful strong woman witch, with a heavy implication that feminism is linked with being a witch. Considering I'm a feminist I didn't disagree, but it was almost... patronizing? As if the writer assumes the reader isn't already at all aware of feminism, and therefore the book spends a lot of time trying to beef up the readers self image/confidence/feminist level. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, but it was a waste of my time to read this stuff over and over again.
Of the whole book I only found about 5-10 pages useful or interesting, so my conclusion is that this book was simply not for me.
If you are:
-New to feminism
-Cis female WITH a healthy functioning uterus
-Interested in hearing about how strong and great you are
-Interesting in hearing about how cool the writer is
-Are already pretty well learned about magic/wicca/paganism
Congrats! This book is for you!
However, if you:
-Want to learn about magic/wicca/paganism
-Think trans women are women
-Have a dysfunctional uterus
-Are a dude
-Are sensitive to culture appropriation
I would steer clear. When I ordered this book (because the cover looked nice, tbh) I also ordered "The Wicca Handbook" by Eileen Holland, and boy is that a complete 180 from "Witch". The handbook was what I was ACTUALLY looking for, dense with great information, not condescending, objective information instead of subjective.
If "The Wicca Handbook" is an encyclopedia, then "Witch" is your weird aunt trying to hype you up about her way of life. You politely listen to her experiences, get a pinch on the cheek, and then go back to studying what you really wanted to learn.
We read witchcraft books for a variety of reasons, primarily a thirst for knowledge and ways we can start or enhance our own practice. If you are looking for a good introduction book on how you can start witchcraft and learn basic terms and skills to do this, this book is NOT for you. If you are looking for a feminist perspective of witchcraft, this is NOT the book for you.
Let me be clear, I think stories of women being mad as hell and who are not going to take it any more are great, but there are better, more concise, and less problematic articles about the problems of patriarchy, misogyny, and the oppression of women available, not to mention the blogs available for free on social media by actual activists and feminists who are more inclusive. If your feminism is not inclusive, it's not feminism.
I do not recommend this book to you. Let me tell you why.
The entirety of this book is meant to inspire or anger you, and to awaken the call to seek witchcraft as a tool for female empowerment. I quite like what the author was trying to go for, but I believe she fails for a few reasons.
1. Her idea of womanhood is not intersectional in anyway. Worse, she absolutely realizes it and says sorrynotsorry in the first chapter. I mean its refreshing to hear someone own up to their bigotry outright without trying to hide behind vague language and pretend to be a good person. This book is for you if you are a reasonably wealthy, cis, straight woman, who menstruates and is capable and wants or has children. Otherwise the author makes it pretty clear this book is not for you. She makes frequent references to yuppie trips and retreats to exotic places that are inaccessible to most people. Additionally her magic is focused on menstruation and wombs capable for bearing children. That's great for those people, but defining womanhood on that criteria is SOOO hurtful to millions of woman who are not capable of bearing children or live childfree. Also, it's important to note that if you call out trans women, and specifically state that your book is for women but not them, you are using poorly coded exclusionary language whether you are aware of it or not. Look, I could write forever on her lack of inclusivity, but the author says she doesn't care about being inclusive, so I'm not going to waste my time convincing you of something the author says outright herself. When a person tells you who they are, believe them.
2. The book is just a long personal autobiography written like a Facebook rant. I think that a chapter about the objectification and discrimination against women is an appropriate topic when discussing the history of witchcraft, but I am disappointed at the format of the writing and that it takes up more than half the book. There is basically no clear structure or format. Again, I can read better, more inclusive, less problematic feminist articles. Chapters 1-7 are just a waste of time, honestly.
3. The actual information included on witchcraft is brief and without a clear structure. For example, chapter 8 is where she jams all her basic 101 information about witchcraft. There's info on Sabbats, brief mention of Esbats (focused on how to work with a menstruation cycle), explanations of what spells are and manifestation, intention, and visualization, ideas on what to put in your BoS, standard section on tools, spell timing, elements, color correspondences, circle casting, spell casting, how to set up your altar, mojo bags, and sigils. She clearly knew what a 101 should include, but these could have been chapters in and of themselves, not small paragraphs on each. If you need to learn more about one or all of these topics, there are better books or there that can do that. Hell, google it. Check the Wild Hunt, Patheos, or Spiritual Magazine. Don't pay for 2 sentences on a topic you are just starting to learn. You need more info on it than what this book offers you.
4. Some of the information the author provides is dangerous or misinformation. There are no clear warnings about certain crystals and their sensitivities to sun, water, or salt. Do NOT put your amethyst crystal outside to charge it in the sun, it will fade. Do NOT place your selenite stone into water to cleanse it, it will dissolve. Please read about crystals before you attempt to use them. This is basic witchcraft 101 knowledge and safety, except for the author who seems unaware or negligent by not conveying this info.
Additionally, the story about how the author and her grandmother bonded over making tea out of random plants without checking what they were was supposed to inspire the reader to use your witchy intuition. It just left me balking at her hereditary witch elitism, and alarmed that this kind of behavior is being indirectly encouraged by the author. Do not grab random herbs and just start ingesting them or making tea out of them. Plants and herbs can be harmful to you. Just because it came from nature, does not make it safe.
What I did like:
1. Look, I love books by women calling out the patriarchy. Again, I see what she meant to do with her book, and I give her credit for trying.
2. The sections on Sabbats and divination are much more useful and comprehensive than nearly anything else in this book. She gives info on each sabbat and includes a few exercises and altar ideas for each. Points. For divination she includes information on scrying, tea leaf divination, and pendulums. I don't think the book is worth buying just for this info though.
3. The book was only 99cents US on Amazon for the ebook. Thank goodness because honestly I feel like she should have paid me for my time.
4. I recognize that the author poured her heart into this book. She laid bare her pain and personal power. She gets my acknowledgement for that, and I applaud her for her courage.
So to conclude, I give this book 1/5. I wanted to like it so much, but there's just too much wrong and not enough the author did right. Please save your time and money, and go actually read something worth reading or learning something useful. I wish you well.
The language in this book did not appeal to me, and overall I found it very inauthentic. Quite frankly it is very fluffy, and there is far too much of the author's ego being put on display.
I felt there were some things included that were poorly researched or that the author is just not knowledgeable on. For example, including a section on how to make a "witches' ladder". The first account of one of these items was in a journal written by Dr. Abraham Colles in the 1880s in a house that was rumored to have been formerly inhabited by witches. However, at a later date it was noted by locals to Dr. Colles that this item was actually a garland (called a sewel) made to keep deer out of an area. A "witches' ladder" is not folk magic. It is one of those things that fluffy wiccans picked up somewhere along the way and tried to pass off as folk magic, but in reality there is nothing to back this up as having any true roots in folk magic.
The overall tone and language of this book was both preachy and immature. Again, I like the way Lisa *speaks* but the writing in this book is overly casual and conversational. Example: using abbreviated words such as "obvs" is fine an Instagram caption, but in a book that one wants to be taken seriously, it feels intensely out of place.
I also find it embarrassing that any one of Roma lineage would refer to themselves as a "gypsy" when it is well-known to be a slur, but I suppose that is just a side note.
I think this book will appeal to a young (teenaged) beginner/curious audience. I hate giving negative reviews, but I do wish I had saved my money on this one.