Thursday, March 12, 2020

Book Review: Water Witchcraft- Magic and Lore from the Celtic Tradition by Annwyn Avalon

book review, water witchcraft, witchcraft, water magic, elemental magic, witchy, pagan, occult books

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Keeping with the theme of Water, I recently finished Water Witchcraft: Magic and Lore from the Celtic Tradition by Annwyn Avalon. Avalon is the author of the amazing Patheos blog, The Water Witch. I used Avalon's book to help me write some of my water folklore, specifically the part about wells in water witchcraft. While working with all the elements is beneficial, some of you may wish to focus more on the element Water than others and that's where this amazing book comes in.

Avalon digs deep into the history, folklore, and science behind Water, specifically bodies of water such as wells, rivers, lakes, marshes, and the ocean. Avalon begins by introducing the concept of water witchcraft and gives a basic overview of how water witches practice. I love that she makes notes about how, like most paths, no one water witch practices the same way. After discussing the basic similarities, Avalon begins discussing different bodies of water and how water witches have historically and modernly used them for magical purposes. The history is sound, and while there are no in-text citations, the digging I did to confirm her folklore turned up to be highly accurate. Its obvious Avalon spent extensive time researching prior to writing the book which I greatly appreciate. There is nothing I hate more than cross-checking information to find an author made some egregious errors, especially when it comes to folklore.

Scattered throughout the book are a series of exercises to help you set up a water altar, connect with local water sources, and even "hedge ride." I think Avalon's clear references to hedge riding and crossing over to the Otherworld is what ultimately won me over. There are so few books out there that cover or even mention hedge riding or hedge crossing, and it was fantastic that Avalon specifically discussed how water, especially lakes, wells, and mists, can act as portals for both spirits and humans alike to pass. For those struggling with my more Earth-centered approach to hedge riding, water may be a better option for you. Apart from the exercises, Avalon also offers extensive lists of tools, deities, nature spirits, and spells to get you started on your path. I enjoyed her spell section and it sparked a lot of great ideas for future spells and potential blog posts.

However, there were some problems I had with the book. I was most surprised by the lack of editing in some sections. Weiser Books is normally really great about catching grammatical errors and repeating phrases or sentences, but they dropped the ball in some sections. Avalon also has a habit of rambling a bit in some sections, repeating herself multiple times within the same paragraph. This may be because she took breaks in the middle of chapters from writing and forgot what she had written, or she was just so excited to be writing a book about her favorite topic that she wanted to make her point. Either case, it was at worst annoying, but usually easy to ignore. There is also a discussion of snakes and how they are poisonous and this biologist nearly threw the book across the room. Have we not figured out by now that snakes are venomous? This is honestly what angered me the most about the book, but I'm sure most people would gloss right over it without a second thought. My science heart died a little. But apart of those issues, the book is sound and well worth a read, especially by those wishing to spend more time with Water than I have time for in my Elemental Magic Series.

Water Witchcraft: Magic and Lore from the Celtic Tradition is available now. You can also find her on Patheos at The Water Witch. Whether you purchase the book or just follow her blog, I'm sure you will find her writing extremely useful and well worth the attention.

Have you read anything lately? Is there a book you are thinking of purchasing but are unsure of that you'd like me to read first? Please leave suggestions in the comments below!

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  1. I poured (water pun mildly intended) over this terrific review with rapt attention. Water Witchcraft has been on my witchy reading wishlist since the moment I first caught wind of it last year.

    As a Cancer (sun sign) and someone who otherwise relates most strongly, amongst the various elements, to water, this book seems right up my alley.

    Thank you very much for your honest review. I'm not a professional scientist or animal expert, but I too would have cringed and sighed over the mistake.

    By and large, it still holds a lot of appeal for me and will remain on my "hope to read" list - especially knowing that it delves into hedge riding (agreed completely on the relative dearth of books that discuss this hugely meaningful and important topic).

    Autumn Zenith 🎃 Witchcrafted Life

    1. I think you will really enjoy this one! Her blog is also fantastic and full of excellent information about water witchcraft. She is truly talented!


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