Saturday, August 29, 2020

Book Review: Elemental Magic by Nigel Pennick

book review, witchy book review, elemental magic, Nigal Pennick, witchcraft, wicca, wiccan, witch, witchy, book, reading, pagan, neopagan

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 was provided a copy of this book for an honest review.

Hey everyone! I am sorry for the long leave of absence. I needed to take a step back from the blogging world for a little while to get things sorted in my personal life and work on myself. It's been a long month and a half and if I am honest, things are not going very well. Despite this, I have definitely been missing blogging and connecting with my readers and enjoying the world of witchcraft. If I am completely honest, I took a step back from everything witchy the past month, except a little bit of light reading here and there. I'm glad I took the break as I simply couldn't handle another thing on my plate. Hopefully, the rest of the year will go a little bit smoother than they have recently, but I digress. I am back today to share a very short book review on Elemental Witchcraft: Traditional Practice for Working with the Energies of the Natural World by Nigel Pennick.

Honestly, this book was extremely disappointing. It is Wicca in disguise but doesn't cover anything in great detail. Furthermore, there were several statements that were judgemental or dismissive of those that are trying to perform witchcraft on a budget. For example, he says you can't use tap water because it's magically void, but there is nothing to substantiate this claim. I use tap water all the time for magical workings; it is not magically void and is the only source of affordable water for many witches. We have to recognize the privilege in claims like these and that not everyone has access to the same goods and services. To add insult to injury he misuses several common witchcraft terms, including fetch and familiar. A fetch is NOT an animal guide. A fetch is usually a human spirit, often a doppelganger, that assists in various things. A familiar, on the other hand, is not an animal that works with you such as your pet cat. Familiars are spirits that CAN take the form of an animal but are generally not your pet. This is the most common misconception in witchcraft and its disappointing to see this misinformation spread by such a prolific author. Finally, he calls snakes poisonous....they are not poisonous. They are venomous. This is the section book I have reviewed recently that lacks scientific accuracy. It's extremely disappointing that in this day and age we are still running into people claiming snakes are poisonous. 

 Despite the many, many issues I had with this book, the section on trees is good. I would have liked to see more herbs covered as it mostly covers mandrake, but it was still enjoyable to read and accurate, both magically and scientifically. I have never heard the year broken up into two halves known as The Flower Year and Harvest Year, but I am intrigued by their roots. Further research will give me a better idea of how accurate this information is. 

Overall, I was very disappointed in this book, especially by the title. I was hoping to learn more about the actual elements, not green Wicca. However, I recognize that this book may help others on their path, especially those looking for a brief introduction to the elements of witchcraft, not to be confused with the Elements (earth, air, fire, water, and spirit). Pennick's book, Elemental Witchcraft: Traditional Practice for Working with the Energies of the Natural World will be available on October 6, 2020, and can be preordered now.

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  1. Sweet Willow, I'm deeply sorry that things have been rougher than sandpaper for you on certain fronts lately. I can relate, in part at least, and sincerely understand. Indeed, much of the first paragraph here feels as though it could have come straight from my own mouth or fingertips as well.

    I don't quite know where this August (and summer as a whole) went to, but I know that it wasn't spent online in my case. I have managed to blog a bit, but almost every other (personal) online activity, including IG, went on a wholly unplanned hiatus. I've begun inching back on the ol' interwebs a bit this weekend, which has been lovely and welcome. Too soon to say though if anything approaching my usual levels will be possible again during these final days of summer.

    Thank you very much for sharing this honest book review with us. It is, both visually and based on the (claimed) subject matter, a title that would have caught my eye at once. Knowing your frank views on it is welcome and appreciated.

    Thinking of you and hoping that the universe blesses your days with far more serenity, wellness, positivity, and reasons to smile as we transition from one season to the next.

    Autumn Zenith 🎃 Witchcrafted Life

    1. Thank you, Autumn. Summer always seems to be a very difficult time for me. I read two books in the Spring by Rebecca Campbell called Light is the New Black and Rise Sister Rise. I believe in Rise Sister Rise Campbell discusses we all have parts of the year where we are on fire and other parts where we must rest based on our astrological sign. Accordingly, I am a Fall and Winter person. I am most relaxed, productive, and happy during those months. Late Spring and Summer are always extremely difficult for me, even though everyone seems to adore Summer. I have always struggled during these months, and every year it seems like the struggles become more difficult. Having COVID-19 this year just made things increasingly worse. I just want to disappear into the woods never to return, if you know what I mean.

      I sorry you have been struggling as well. I am seeing that more and more people are in the same boat as us. I knew 2020 would be a year of transformation, but I was hoping it would be a little less brutal. I pray the coming months are easier on us all and that they bring the much needed reprieve we all need. Its about time, right?

      I have missed you dearly and think about you often. Sending you all the love in the world my dear friend. <3

  2. Willow, it's so good to hear from you again. I watched your second Apothecary at Home unboxing video om Instagram and was aware you were going through a number of personal issues, and am sorry things haven't yet calmed down for you. I can't even imagine the added stress of being a teacher during this time, especially now at the start of the school year.

    I'm really intrigued to read the books you mentioned above to Autumn, especially Rise Sister Rise. Too bad about the book you actually reviewed in your post, but I certainly appreciate you giving frank and honest opinions.

    1. Thank you Adrienna! It has definitely been a trying time. I am ready for 2020 to be over with, but again, I knew before hand this year was going to be rough. My tarot cards are screaming I TOLD YOU SO to constantly...they mock my pain. Haha! Rise Sister Rise and Light is the New Black were both good overall. There were some ableist language and some fluffy new age stuff, but overall, the books were inspirational. I hope you enjoy them!

  3. I found this blog entry during a search for info on Nigel Pennick. He wrote a book in 1989 about the origin of cards and board games in divination practices. Your review is a lot more erudite than I'm used to from New Agers, though Wiccans do seem the smartest of the bunch. I know that's condescending, but I truly don't mean it that way.

    My interest in the occult is mainly to create a new system of knowledge by replacing the materialist foundations of ideology and practice with a magical one. I'd be interested to read how you and Wiccans generally are coping with the pandemic and its increasingly serious effects.

    1. Well thank you. I am very well educated with my degree and background being in evolutionary biology and paleontology. I originally went to school to study the origin and evolution of birds before going into education where I now teach high school students environmental science. Critical thinking is key when reading any material, New Age or otherwise. I am not Wiccan however. I find it funny you think Wiccans tend to be smarter of the bunch. I find practitioners of folkcraft and traditional witchcraft to be among some of the most education people I've ever met.

      How those in the New Age community are coping with the pandemic is just as diverse as those outside of our community. Some are doing very well while others are struggling. I've personally had many ups and downs, but overall I think I have faired well through the entire ordeal. I've spent more time reflecting on what I want out of my life and it has given me the opportunity to practice saying no more often which ultimately lead to my partner of 3 years and I separating permanently. I have set clearer boundaries than I ever have in my life and I am keeping those boundaries, even when others are unhappy with it. I wrote a book and continued to grow my blog. Played the hell out of World of Warcraft, read, watched my chickens molt for the first time, and buried my grandmother. I was also able to conquer my depression and anxiety with the help of my spiritual practice. But not everyone has made it out okay. Its a complicated situation to say the least.


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