I recently read a wonderful book called Invoking Animal Magic: A Guide for the Pagan Priestess by Hearth Moon Rising. I’ve encountered other guides to working with animal totems or animal energies, and most often they are encyclopedic lists of attributes for each creature. Useful, perhaps, but dry reading. Not this one! I was captivated by the skillfully-woven mix of myths, facts, ideas, stories, opinions, and questions for further thought. This is a book to curl up with and savor.

Invoking Animal Magic includes a wide variety of photos and images and each chapter, based on a particular type of animal, contains colorful stories and myths from diverse cultures. There are also questions, exercises, and suggested rituals near the end of each chapter, and the reader is encouraged to gain hands-on experience with the material.

The author has clearly done her research, and she also shares fascinating personal stories of working with various animals.  She also contributes to the discourse on several important issues within the Pagan community, such as misinformation about the continuity of ancient practices, the importance of personal experience alongside traditional practices, and the misunderstood art of shape-shifting. This book is bigger than its subject matter, and I also learned new things about history, particular deities, and the origin of some common superstitions in the process of reading it.

I highly recommend reading this book and embarking on its journey through the world of animals and their interactions with us. It’s entertaining, educational, and inspiring as well – I now have several new ideas for further research and practice, and I can definitely see myself referring back to Invoking Animal Magic in the future. If you love animals, work with nature and energy, and/or just enjoy good stories, you should have this book in your library.

~review by Nikki Starcat Shields

Author: Hearth Moon Rising
Moon Books, 2013
pp.  $

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