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Friday, May 14, 2021

Book Review: A Witch's Guide to Wildcraft by JD Walker

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As this year continues, my list of awesome occult books grows. Today I have yet another book review on a book you witches will want to get your hands on! A Witch's Guide to Wildcraft: Using Common Plants to Create Uncommon Magic by JD Walker covers a variety of plants most witches in North America can find right in their backyard for use in their magical endeavors. I couldn't be more thrilled with such a book as many of the herbal books on the market cover the same basic plants, many of which are not available in Georgia. While that's fine, it makes it difficult to practice more local witchcraft when every herbal spell book calls for plants I don't have easy access to.

Walker, a horticulturist, master gardener, and fellow witch, begins the book by discussing the basics of wildcrafting, including setting some ground rules for gathering from both an ecological and witchy point of view. As an environmental science teacher, I greatly appreciated her discussion of threatened and endangered species. It's important to note that not all plants are threatened or endangered in every area so prior to harvesting, you should check with your local and state governments. Thankfully in the United States, each state has a comprehensive list of threatened and endangered species per the Endangered Species Act. Walker provides detailed information on how to go about researching local and state regulations on wildcrafting, making it easy for the reader to find the needed information prior to harvesting. Walker then goes on to discuss the foundations of a magical, herbal practice, from proper harvesting techniques to planetary influences for each herb, including which signs work well together and which don't. This is something I find lacking in a large number of herbal books. Sure, the planetary correspondences are there and a reverence for the plant's spirit, but there is very little talk about how the herbs actually work together and that despite what some people may say, not all herbs play well together magically. I appreciated this deeper look into how different planetary signs and magical correspondences work or fail to work together in magical workings. Understanding magical interactions are the foundation of successful witchcraft and is often overlooked in beginner books. Building upon this, Walker suggests planetary times to harvest herbs, but also encourages the reader to accept the gifts the Universe provides, time be damned. Before covering each herb in detail, Walker provides several tables that classify the herbs based on their planet correspondence, moon phase, elemental correspondences, and magical correspondences. This makes it super easy to reference the herbs quickly to find exactly what you need without having to read through each plant individually in the second part of the book. I love that these lists make the book more accessible and useable as a reference material, one that I will likely return to often. 

In the second half of the book, Walker goes into detail about 32 common plants found in North America from boxwood to willow. For each plant, she includes a picture for identification, Latin name, location, parts used, hardiness zones, planetary ruler, uses, edibility, warnings, written description, history of use from a horticultural perspective, and finally the magical uses of the plants. Whew! You get a ton of practical information, all tightly packed into each plant section. Many sources, including my own Herbarium posts, don't often refer to which part of the plant is used magically. I appreciate Walker's deliberate inclusion of the part of the plant used and why that part of the plant is used. Each part corresponds slightly differently magically, and this should be taken into account when working a spell. The root of a dandelion acts differently than the flowers and it's important to understand this distinction. All of the book is thoroughly referenced, with intext citations and annotated sources. I greatly appreciated the references and complete bibliography at the end of the book. Finally, Walker offers a magical project for each and every plant; yes, every single plant has a spell, ritual, or craft associated with it. I absolutely loved this! Most books include all these magical uses, but then don't offer a way to practice the magic; Walker defies this trend, offering recipes and directions for runes, cherry jam, glamour toner, floor washes, bath mixtures, besoms, and asperging wands. This was my favorite part of the book, but for some of the projects, I would have liked to see the inclusion of visual instructions instead of just written ones. I am a pretty visual person, so I struggle with written directions when constructing something.

If you are looking at growing your magical practice with herbs, this is certainly the book for you. Unfortunately, the plant section will be limited for those outside of North America and Europe, but the information is still worth reading for those in other areas, as Walker offers new insight into plant magic not covered in other texts. A Witch's Guide to Wildcraft: Using Common Plants to Create Uncommon Magic by JD Walker is available now, and I promise you won't regret picking up this fantastic resource. 



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2 comments :

  1. Sometimes, I swear, it feels like your book reviews are based off the items on my witchy reading wishlist - and I'm 110% here for that fact! ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Much like many of the books you discuss with us, this one caught my eye the moment I first learned out it and is one I hope to add to my shelves (or borrow from the library) at some point. The more wildcrafting related titles, the merrier in my - *cough, cough* - books. Especially when they receive such glowing reviews from you, dear Willow.

    Autumn Zenith ๐Ÿงก Witchcrafted Life

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    Replies
    1. Of course! Those pesky publishers keep sending me up and coming books right around their publishing dates. Haha! I've been enjoying the reads this year, although I feel like I am still drowning. I need to learn to say no sometimes. Haha!

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