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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Book Review: Spirit Work by Sirian Shadow

spirit work, spirit communication, spirits, divination, book review, witch, witchcraft, wicca, wiccan, pagan, neopagan, witchy reads, witch book

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Late last month, I was approached by an author about a book review. Normally when I am asked, it comes from a publisher or marketing team, so I was pleasantly surprised when presented with such an opportunity. I was even more excited when I learned the title and content of the book: spirit work. Uh heck yeah! That is totally up my alley and one I know many of you, dear readers, would be interested in. Spirit Work: A Guide to Communicating & Forming Relationships with Spirits by Sirian Shadow is a short non-denominational guide to working and communicating with spirits, a guide that belongs on the shelf of any witch interested in spirit work.

The book is relatively short at only 136 pages but is chock-full of useful information. The book begins, as most books do, with a short introduction. In this introduction, Shadow makes it abundantly clear that this book is based on his personal experiences and that no two witches will have the same experience. I strongly believe this is an important statement to include in an introduction. If you have been following the blog for a while, you know I love nothing more than a well-researched book with plenty of citations. However, I also enjoy books written about the experiences of other witches. Our personal experiences are often more telling than a historical book and are just as valid. With that being said, Shadow does have a comprehensive bibliography to substantiate his practice, but it doesn't define his lived experiences.

The following chapters cover everything from describing spirits, energy, and magic, how to develop your psychic senses, how to give and gain consent, the problems of light (good) and dark (evil) thinking, an overview of spirits, protection methods, energy work, accessing the spirit realms, how to communicate and developed relationships with the spirits you encounter, divination methods, and the difference between invoking and evoking. Shadow includes excellent meditative and pathwalking exercises, ones that could help you if you are struggling with hedge riding. He also informs the reader that meditation is not about silencing your mind. I 100% agree and the misconception that meditation is prevalent in the spiritual community, especially among new practitioners. Some of my favorite sections, however, discussed demons and protection methods. Demons get such a bad rap due to Christianity and modern media. These spirits, while often trickery, are not inherently bad. In fact, very few spirits are. Shadow discusses this in his book in great detail, and I think more witches, especially those who don't practice spirit work need to hear this. Furthermore, when it comes to spirits, not too terribly much protection is needed because, as I said, most of them aren't harmful to begin with. Again, the idea that spirits are out to get you is also a misconception spread by those with little knowledge of real spirit work. That doesn't mean that spirit work is completely safe, but if you go in with clear intention, firm boundaries, and an open mind, you'll be fine. Shadow also reiterates the power of the word 'no.' Remember witches, no is a complete sentence and one of the most powerful spells you will ever mutter.

Finally, I loved Shadow's neutrality when it came to different practices. He mentions that what works for him is just one of many methods and briefly mentions the debate on open versus closed windows when cleansing as an example. This is such a heated debate in the spiritual community and it really doesn't have to be. If you believe the spirits and energy is trapped by a closed window or door, then open them when you cleanse. If you are like me, and recognize that energy and noncorporeal spirits can pass through windows and doors without them being open, then you don't have to open the doors. A large part of witchcraft is mental and your beliefs are valid either way. 

I greatly enjoyed this book, although I do wish it was longer and more in-depth. This book, however, is a great introduction and should be followed up with more advanced books for those seeking more information on certain topics. Despite loving the book, there was mention of using Palo Santo for cleansing, which is environmentally unsustainable and culturally appropriative, and chakras. Shadow actually mentions chakras multiple times and while Hinduism isn't closed, its practices are limited to those who practice Hinduism. You should also keep in mind that the western occult version of chakras is a complete bastardization of the original belief system. There is also a single use of the word 'spirit animal' in reference to animal guide, but everywhere else Shadow uses non-appropriative terms to describe animal guides.

If you are interested in getting into spirit work, or just looking to learn more, I encourage you to check out Spirit Work: A Guide to Communicating & Forming Relationships with Spirits by Sirian Shadow.


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