Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Book Review: What Is Remembered Lives by Phoenix LeFae

Book Review: What Is Remembered Lives by Phoenix LeFae

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

If I am honest, I am still on an ancestor kick. I am currently on the lookout for a good altar to set up in my library and when I saw What Is Remembered Lives by Phoenix LeFae on NetGalley, I knew it would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book, and not all of them good. I'll begin with what I didn't like.

While reading through the Table of Contents and the background information on the author, there were a couple of red flags that popped up. These included cultural appropriation and her largely Wiccan background. Now I have zero issues with Wiccans. It isn't my practice but based on the title, I was hoping for a different take on working with deities, ancestors, and the fae. However, I was pleasantly surprised that Wicca was only really present in the rituals mentioned in the book, and those are easily changed to fit your own practices. The cultural appropriation, however, was less forgivable. As I began reading, my fears were almost snuffed out by her having part of a chapter dedicated to cultural appropriation where she discussed close cultures and cultural theft. However, on the very next page, she starts culturally appropriating from Hindu and Native American cultures. Each of her rituals mentions smudging, with complete disregard for Native American culture. Every time she mentioned smudging in her rituals, I cringed. I can forgive someone who doesn't know any better, but after you clearly discuss cultural appropriation then steal from closed cultures anyway, you have no excuse. There are some Voodoo practices and deities mentioned in the text as well, but LeFae claims to be initiated into Voodoo, so I can't knock her there if she is really initiated.

There were also a couple minor issues that really bothered me. First, her use of the term Godd. Originally she did this to use a gender-neutral term for the deities, and I loved it, but there were several areas where it seemed she forgot that she was using Godd instead of God and Goddess. It seemed she more often than not forgot to use Godd when talking about goddesses. This made the use of Godd seem insincere and contrived. Second, she dedicated very little of her book to ancestor work. It was a little disappointing. The vast majority of the book is working with deities, which is fine, but I was hoping for more on ancestors and fae.

Other than the above-mentioned issues, the book is overall a great read. I know it seems like I hated the book, but I didn't. There are a lot of really wonderful rituals and spells included throughout that are worth purchasing the book for. LeFae begins with a great grounding ritual and dedicated several chapters on how to connect with deities, ancestors, and the fae in a deeper, more meaningful way. For those looking into hedge riding, her pathwalking rituals are a great place to start. Furthermore, she breaks down finding your astral garden/office which she refers to as a Place of Power. No matter what you call it or how you imagine it, its all essentially the same thing. If you are struggling to travel to the Otherworld, her pathwalking ritual to reach your "Place of Power" may help you hedge cross. Her deity rituals were beyond beautiful. They all included pathwalking rituals that can be read and recorded for solitary practitioners or used in group rituals. The deity rituals were by far my favorite part of the book and her view of deities was different from what I am used to. LeFae seems to view deities more as spirits that rose to "power" through belief. I rather like this idea of deities. Furthermore, she mentions multiple different ways to work with different deities, depending on the magic you wish to sew. The rituals focused on actual magic, instead of just meeting with a deity.

While her ancestor section was rather short and lacked in rituals, it provided excellent information on the different types of ancestors and briefly how you can work with each. Her list of potential Mighty Dead to work with was fantastic and was essentially a short history of magical figures that have shaped modern neopaganism. I'll be honest; there were people and stories mentioned in this chapter that I didn't know or hadn't heard. I also loved that she mentioned that a lot of the fantastical initiation stories were likely made up, but that those fantastical stories were needed in the beginning to bring validity to the Craft. I agree with her in this regard and love her rational approach to the world and working with spirits.

The final section covers working with the Fae. She is sure to mention that the Fae include a large range of spirits, most of which are local. I am a huge supporter of practicing local witchcraft and working with the spirits of the land. When you are in tune with the spirits that live around your home, you'll notice that your magic will benefit as a whole. The spirits around you want to help you. I'm glad LeFae made this connection and encouraged her readers to reach out to these spirits and develop a practice that involves them. Furthermore, she provides a practical list of "rules" on how to work with the Fae, including being clear in your intent and not thanking them for their help verbally, but instead with offerings. Furthermore, she mentions the use of iron around Fae and how this folklore likely originated. My experiences have been rather similar to those of LeFae in that I haven't found iron specifically hurts the Fae, but out of respect, I don't bring it around them if I can help it. Overall, they dislike man-made things and prefer natural items.

All in all, this book is worth the purchase and worth the read, if not just for the lovely pathwalking rituals and guided meditations. To any witch or hedgewitch looking to expand their spirit working practice, this book offers some great suggestions, rituals, and information about a variety of ways to work with all sort of amazing spirits. I encourage you to recognize the cultural appropriation and modify those practices in your own Craft. I am of the mind that we can appreciate a book and author while recognizing their flaws. Her book will be available October 8, 2019!

Have you read anything great lately? Have a book you want me to review? Please leave a comment below!

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