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Friday, December 4, 2020

Book Review: Year of the Witch by Temperance Alden

book review, local witchcraft, wheel of the year, witchcraft, witchy, occult, protection, cleansing, spiritual, pagan, neopagan, magick, magic, spells, rituals, witchy book review

As we are settling down into colder weather in Georgia, I am happily devouring the books on my shelf. I fell behind in the Fall months due to work, but I am working diligently to catch up. Teaching in the time of COVID is no easy feat, and has resulted in much of my life being put on the backburner. But hey! Thank you to those of you who stuck around through the lack of posts the past several months. I appreciate it.

Today I have another book review for you, dear readers; a popular one at that. Year of the Witch: Connecting Nature's Seasons through Intuitive Magick by Temperance Alden has been popping up everywhere in the witch community. It's probably one of the hottest books on the market at the moment, and I was thrilled when Weiser reached out and asked if I would like to review this book. I actually had it on my Amazon wishlist, especially because I follow Alden on Instagram and love her budget-friendly witch tips. This book didn't disappoint!

Alden covers a variety of topics, not just the Wheel of the Year. She discusses creating a more sustainable, local practice, something I quite enjoyed and fully support. As an environmental science teacher and witch who advocates for local witchcraft, I was extremely appreciative of these chapters. Furthermore, her recipes, spells, and rituals also support sustainable, local practices, encouraging the reader to use local, in-season produce, local ingredients, and she is mindful of how spell ingredients should be disposed of. Alden supports working with no supplies when possible because the magic comes from within you, not from the objects you are using. These only enhance your spell work, not do the work for you. She also offers expert advice on how to create your own correspondences for your magical objects found in your area, allowing you to build a deeper relationship with and respect for the world around you. Her method is very similar to my own, so I can vouch that it works, and I second her proposal that all witches be familiar with how to create their own correspondences. 

What I loved most, however, was that she used science and history from actual scientific and historical sources to support her claims. All of these sources are cited in the back of the book for reference. As someone who loves peer-reviewed journals, I always appreciate when another witch uses such sources to support their claims. This makes the book authentic and "real." I have found that in books talking about the sabbats, that some of their information has since been debunked, but yet this inaccurate information is still floating around. This is always a sign to me that the author has not kept up with current research and I find that to be a shame. Because of the research and time put into the book, I thoroughly enjoyed the chapters on each sabbat. The rituals were simple yet effective, their intention explained, and the recipes were to die for. I can't wait to veganize her bread recipe! It was actually one of these rituals to help you banish the dust and form a new habit that solidified my adoration for Alden. She states in the spells introduction that she finds herself becoming 'lazy' and depressed in the Spring. Girl...that spoke to my soul. Spring and Summer are NOT my seasons either, and like Alden, I much prefer Fall and Winter. I am the most productive and happiest during the Fall and Winter months, especially Winter! Finally, Alden encourages her readers to adapt the Wheel of the Year to fit their needs. These holidays were created during a vastly different time in a very specific location. Many of the practices and themes of the sabbats no longer hold true in modern times or for those that live outside of Europe. Alden encourages her readers to adapt the Wheel and create your own, individualized practice, which I love!

However, as with all books, there were a couple of things I didn't like. First, Alden suggests that birth control somehow disconnects you from the natural world, as implied when she discusses how much closer to the cycles of the natural world she got when she quit taking hers. This completely disregards individuals like myself that must take birth control for health reasons. I am no less in tune with nature than I was before the pill, and this idea that man-made medicines somehow decrease your magical ability has got to stop. It's false and don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. There was also a point I felt like she was dismissing anthropogenic climate change by using the Milankovitch cycle as evidence. Yes, the Milankovitch cycle accounts for some long-term climate change, but the difference between natural and anthropogenic climate change is the rate at which it is occurring. However, I think Alden simply didn't communicate well in this section, because her later stances on sustainability suggest she does recognize anthropogenic climate change is an issue. Finally, Alden uses a ritual that calls upon Lilith, who is not a goddess open to all to use. Lilith belongs to the Jewish faith and Judaism is a closed religion. You must be born into it or convert to it. Spirit Roots has an amazing article on Lilith and why her use in non-Jewish witchcraft is inappropriate.

Overall, however, I was delighted with Year of the Witch. It's current, relatable, sustainable, local, and empowering, for new and old witches alike. I especially encourage older witches to check this book out so you can relearn some of the history of our holidays. It's always a good idea to remain current, and if something is not longer serving you or us as a community, why not create something else that's better? You can order Year of the Witch: Connecting Nature's Seasons through Intuitive Magick by Temperance Alden now.


**There is a date error in her date section. Alden lists Summer Solstice on June 6th. This is widely incorrect. It's usually around June 21st.**



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8 comments :

  1. Sweet Willow, please do not worry for a moment. Your readers are here for you and welcome your stellar posts - no matter the pace - with open arms.

    Thank you so much for another honest book review (and for specifically touching on how you feel this title is one that is apt to appeal to long-time witches). I've not read this title yet myself, but have also been eyeing it for a while now.

    What an interesting theory to put forth regarding the use of BC. Like yourself, I do not feel, especially as a multi-chronic illness warrior witch, that it - or most - medications necessarily hampers one's ability to be fully in tune with either their own body/spirituality or nature and seriously wish this mindset would. Let us firmly hope that this mindset - within the Pagan/witchy community as a whole - soon goes the way of the dinosaur.

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

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    1. The idea that I should always be hustling is real. Fuck capitalism. Haha!

      I really hope the idea that any medication hampers your magical abilities really needs to die. We should be lifting witches up for doing what is best for them and their health.

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  2. Off topic question - do you have any suggestions for online witchcraft communities?

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    1. I am apart of a number of Facebook groups, but there is only one group I adamantly enjoy being apart of and that is Witchcraft & Chill. Unfortunately they are temporarily archived, but will hopefully be back soon. Apothecary At Home has a wonderful community for subscribers of their box and The Witch of Lupine Hollow has a group called Empowered Modern Witches that is great as well. Hopefully that helps!

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  3. I had this book on preorder and I cancelled my order after she took to Instagram and said “all British people can fuck off”. Now I am in no way a patriot and am the first to say the history of Britain is awful, however her reasons were because of historical events from hundreds of years ago. It wasn’t the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last to hear of her distaste for the British people. Therefore I unfollowed and cancelled as I am sure she wouldn’t appreciate my British pound in her pocket.

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    1. Now that is an absolute shame. I tried to go back and find the post you are referring to, but I failed to find it. Would you mind sharing it with me? There is absolutely no reason to attack the British for historical mistakes. I am all for attacking the colonist nature of the white man and learning how to decolonize our witchy practices, but that doesn't justify hateful language toward others.

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    2. I am sad that I am paying for the sins of our fathers but every nation has a past .all of us need to be providing the world with positive energy /magik.I thought our next battle after we step out as witches would be convincing men that they are witches also,but no I am fighting race hate for been a married white British witch ! Really quite funny if it wasn't so sad

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    3. Most definitely. Its a shame we have to fight racism and discrimination in our community as well as outside of it.

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