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Friday, January 14, 2022

Book Review: The Witch at the Forest's Edge by Christine Grace

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I'm not going to lie; I finished The Witch at the Forest's Edge: Thirteen Keys to Modern Traditional Witchcraft by Christine Grace at the beginning of December and have been sitting on it ever since. This is partly because I don't know how I feel about it. I didn't particularly enjoy the book, but I didn't hate it either. I've read countless other reviews praising the book and thought maybe I was missing something. So I sat and reflected and reread trying to find what everyone else loved so much, but my feelings never changed. So here I am, writing an honest review a month and a half later.

The Witch at the Forest's Edge: Thirteen Keys to Modern Traditional Witchcraft by Christine Grace briefly covers modern traditional witchcraft in thirteen chapters. This includes how to commune with spirits, your spiritual ancestry, creating rituals, how to practice locally, design spells, and even a bit on hedge riding. Unfortunately, none of these chapters go into great detail which was disappointing. This is most certainly a beginner book and after spending the year reading more advanced and specific material, I was disappointed that there wasn't much new information presented. However, I do think the content is valuable to a new witch, and therefore worth the read if you are interested in traditional witchcraft. The chapter on hedge riding provided some wonderful tips and tricks and the chapters on magical theory, spellcraft, and magical ethics were a great refresher, even for a seasoned witch like myself. I also enjoyed the chapter on green and local witchcraft, as it reminded readers to remember to work locally, reduce their impact on the environment, and get to know the spirits of the plants and objects we are working with. Plants do not exist to be used by you, but instead an ally to be respected. At the end of each chapter, Grace includes a set of reflection questions to help you on your journey. These questions are great for shadow work and got me thinking about parts of my practice I have ignored or let go by the wayside. It was nice to revisit these and work through the questions. Furthermore, she provides an ample list of resources on each of the topics discusses in the book, allowing readers to find reliable information to further their study. This book alone, however, is not enough to get you really going, but instead a stepping stone to more advanced or specific information; a preview if you will.

My biggest complaint about this book is, again, that it offered nothing new. In fact, some sections were so glossed over that they bordered on dangerous. Grace discusses different forms of spirit communication, one of which includes spirit possession, and encourages readers to try it at least once a year. However, there is very little information offered regarding how to go about this safely which is concerning. Spirit possession is not a practice to be taken lightly and definitely should not be done by a new witch with no other practice in spirit communication nor a witch who hasn't developed a relationship with the spirit in question. Opening yourself up to any old spirit can have catastrophic results. I think a combination of the lack of new information and the fact that Grace only scratches the surface on multiple topics is what left a bad taste in my mouth. As I mentioned earlier, I spent all of 2021 reading some amazing books that dove into topics rarely discussed or rarely discussed in detail. As a witch of almost 20 years, I am tired of introductory books. I want to see something more, something new, something that reignites the mystery of witchcraft. Unfortunately, this book was not it for me. However, there are tons of witches that loved this book and there are certainly some great nuggets of information throughout which would make it a worthwhile purchase. If you're interested in adding this book to your collection, The Witch at the Forest's Edge: Thirteen Keys to Modern Traditional Witchcraft by Christine Grace is available now.

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