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Thursday, February 10, 2022

Book Review: Wild Witchcraft by Rebecca Beyer

foraging, gardening, wildcraft, Appalachian folklore, plant magic, herbalism, herbal remedies, folklore, folk magic, book review, witch, witchcraft, wicca, wiccan, pagan, neopagan, witchy reads, witch book

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've been doing a lot more reading lately, especially compared to last year, but I have been focusing on books I want to read instead of just books I've been asked to review. Still, I always find time to read new and upcoming occult books so I can let you know if they are worth the purchase or not. Today I come to share the upcoming book Wild Witchcraft: Folk Herbalism, Garden Magic, and Foraging for Spells, Rituals, and Remedies by Rebecca Beyer.

First and foremost it should be noted that Beyer is an expert in her field. Not only is she a skilled witch, herbalist, and forager who routinely teaches classes on such topics, but she also holds a B.S. in Plant and Soil Science as well as a Masters in Appalachian Studies and Sustainability. This is a woman after my own heart and means that she is one of the most qualified witches out there to teach sustainable folk herbalism, garden magic, and foraging. Furthermore, she teaches with respect to indigenous cultures, taking a decolonized approach to sustainability and land management. This is so uncommon in both the occult and environmentalism worlds that seeing it show up in a book about both was a breath of fresh air in a room full of stagnation.

Wild Witchcraft is divided up into four sections. The first section covers a brief history of witchcraft and foraging, particularly in the United States, followed by sections on sustainable gardening and foraging, plant folklore, and herbal remedies and spells using the Wheel of the Year. Beyer, who lives and works just outside of Asheville, North Carolina in the Appalachian Mountains, takes a very local approach to her craft, as she should since she is teaching witches to practice sustainably. Practicing local witchcraft is also much more powerful than trying to import ingredients from thousands of miles away and much more environmentally friendly. This means that many of the plants and fungi mentioned in the book are found in the South East. Of course, as someone residing in Georgia in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, this spoke to my soul. These are plants that grow in my backyard, which is not something I often find extensively talked about in many herbal books. Many of the plants discussed in other books are based on more traditional European and Northern climates, meaning that not all of them are accessible to me. While this may put some readers off, the information offered by Beyer is still valuable. Many of the plants mentioned in the book extend far north or have similar counterparts in other regions. Furthermore, Beyer includes so much folklore and medicinal history, folklore not even I have heard, all of which is well-sourced and documented at the end of the book. The bibliography for this book is extensive and one I will be referring back to while doing research of my own. For obvious reasons, the plant folklore was my favorite part of the book.

As mentioned earlier, Beyer takes a very decolonized approach to land management, foraging, and sustainable gardening. Many of her techniques are modeled after indigenous practices, thus showing respect to the land and the people who came before us. She is sure to call out cultural appropriation when necessary and offers alternative practices, plants, and spells to use instead. I am excited to implement some of the strategies for foraging and gardening outlined in her book in my own garden. Honestly, it convinced me to go ahead and order seeds and start looking at some new raised bed and composting options. My goal is to continue to grow my little farm to eventually sustain me and my family, thereby shrinking my ecological footprint.

The book ends with a dive into the Wheel of the Year, with spells and herbal remedies for each. Some of the spells are relatively common with a distinct Appalachian flare. It was the remedies and teas I liked best and look forward to trying in my own home. This section is a beautiful guide to living more in sync with the Earth's natural cycles. This book combines incredibly well with Seasons of a Magical Life by H. Byron Ballad, who is also from Asheville, NC. The South behaves so differently from more northern climates, that it's nice to have two books discussing these differences.

I highly recommend Wild Witchcraft: Folk Herbalism, Garden Magic, and Foraging for Spells, Rituals, and Remedies by Rebecca Beyer and know it's a book many of you will want to add to your shelf, even if you are not from the South East. Wild Witchcraft is available for pre-order now and will be released May 10, 2022. If you are interested in learning more about Beyer, signing up for one of her classes, or interested in her other works, visit her at Blood and Spicebush



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1 comment :

  1. This book caught my eye like the twinkling gem that it clearly sounds to me like it is the moment I caught wind of it last year.

    Knowing that it finds favour with you and that author tackled subjects that - if brought up at all - are often not respectfully and/or ethically approached to the max by any means, only makes me all the more keen to pick up a copy (especially since forging is part of how I help to put food on our table, particularly during the summer and early autumn months).

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

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