Reviewing this work is almost a no-brainer. I say that because there are very few magical books that so many people have to own year after year that are more popular than Llewellyn’s annual magical almanac. I can’t think of one I’ve ever read when I didn’t find at least one of two articles that resonated well with me. I’m happy to report that this year’s was no exception, but let’s take things one step at a time, shall we?
 
There are those who buy it only for its “informational” value, and if it’s unclear, I’m talking about that section in the middle with the gray pages. Llewellyn calls it the “Almanac Section” in the table of contents. It’s an entire calendar for the year with moon phases and their respective dates, good days for communing with the earth, and the dates for festivals and holidays. I also like the little reminders, like giving a list of astrological correspondences for the days of the week. Sometimes you forget that Friday is Venus’ day, for example.
 
If you’re only in it for the information in the gray pages, you won’t be disappointed, but I’m not being honest with you if I don’t tell you that you’re missing out on quite a bit if that’s its only purpose on your bookshelf. There are some fantastic articles in here that you won’t want to pass up.
 
The table of contents is set up by elemental magical themes: Earth magic, air magic, fire magic, and water magic, in that order. In each section, I found at least one article that I really enjoyed.
 
The earth section’s highlight for me was “The Lure and Lore of the Graveyard” by Susan Pesznecker. As a sun sign Scorpio, graveyards have always been interesting to me, and the Paris catacombs fascinate me. The article gives us an interesting historical perspective on graveyards, catacombs, and mausoleums.
 
In air magic, I couldn’t choose one; there were two that really hit home for me. The first one was, “Conflict Resolution for a Magickal Community” by Emily Carlin. She presents some practical solutions for spiritual communities when conflict arises. You’ll note that I didn’t say “if” but when; this is a must-read for anyone in a Pagan or Wiccan community. As a professional tarot reader, “The To-Go Tarot Kit” by Deanna Anderson was wonderful as well.
 
For fire magic, even though I am myself melissophobic—afraid of bees—I really loved the article by Natalie Zaman entitled “The Blessed Bee”. I’m not in a position to create a spirit hive for them in my current living situation, but it’s a great reminder of how important bees are to us. Given the colony collapse syndrome that honeybees are facing now, building a hive like Zaman describes is a fantastic way to address an important environmental need as well as a spiritual one. If you work with the Goddess, you will definitely want to check out this article.
 
Finally, in the water realm, I have to give major kudos to Lisa Mc Sherry, as both her articles were the tops in my book. “Wedding as Ritual” is an excellent primer for people trying to create their own wedding or handfasting, with plenty of her own experiences woven throughout. As an interfaith minister, I plan to recommend the article to couples I marry, especially the part about creating your own vows. This is definitely a delicate dance, and couples should heed Mc Sherry’s practical advice on the topic.
 
Mc Sherry’s other article about Brighid’s Well was a great travel story that discusses sacred wells, and gives their locations throughout Ireland. Warning: Do not read this article if you’ve always wanted to go. It will just make you want to go that much more. You have been warned.
 
A close second for me in the water realm was “Tarot’s Crystal Allies” by Lunaea Weatherstone, and explores correspondences between tarot and gemstones. I work with a gemstone altar in my professional tarot practice and understand the powerful link that can be created between these two disciplines. No matter what your experience level with either, I’m sure you’ll find something to take away from this article.
 
Speaking personally, I’d love to see a similar offering by Llewellyn on spirit magic. But the Magical Almanac’s byline is “Practical Magic for Everyday Living”. While I believe that spirit is an important part of everyday life, that’s not really the purpose of this particular guide.
 
One final important note: Many of these articles are sourced, either in the article, in a list at the end, or both. Honestly, that’s one of the ways that the Magical Almanac keeps on giving: If you want more information, the authors have graciously provided you the opportunity to find it.
 
I’m going to be keeping my copy of the Almanac handy, for many reasons. This one is definitely a big winner.

~review by John Marani
Llewellyn Worldwide, 2014
$11.99

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