Here at last is an outstanding book detailing the composition of ritual poetry, prose and yes, even song.  Unlike so many so called “new age” books that are more fluff than substance, Composing Magic is all about the substance. Each paragraph is a treasure trove of instruction that will aid anyone interested in writing their very best ritual, chant or poem. Further, each chapter ends with exercises and examples of composition, narration and most importantly editing your work for both private use as well as for public speaking.


Chapter one focuses on the power and complexity of the spoken and written word as well as how it can be utilized for the best effect in your ritual practice.  Chapter two discusses the writing process. Here Barrette goes over the basics of writing; things you’ve done in high school English class but have most likely forgotten.  Barrette focuses on the preliminary stages of writing, learning—or perhaps relearning—the old strategies of brainstorming, listing and free writing   Further, there are exercises at the end of the chapter to aid the reader in learning, or in most instances, relearning these practices, in a fun and interesting way.


Chapter three contains valuable information on everything from writing supplies to discussions on assonance, rhythm and meter. Again, most of this info is reminiscent of your high school English class but absolutely vital for sharpening your writing skills. 


Chapter four and five instructs the reader on how to write magical poetry.  Here Barrette shows us her vast knowledge on how to compose a magical poem. She starts with the basics, stanza, rhyme, open verse, then goes into teaching more complex poetry such as sonnets and ballads.  Her exercises offer reading examples of fine poetry as well as identifying couplets and analyzing poems such as ballads and poetic rhythm. All of this may sound intimidating at first, but Barrette is a very gentle teacher. Her methods are easy to follow without falling into personal diatribes that are popular with many Pagan writers.  She instructs, never lectures, and the voice she uses in her work never belittles the mind of her readers.


Chapter six Barrette shows us how to compose outstanding spells.  Here she takes the reader step by step how to create a viable spell.  Chapter seven instructs the reader in how compose chants. Barrette briefly outlines the history of chanting in this chapter, then moves on to analyzing chants, how to raise power, how to compose a chant and so on.


Chapter eight expounds on how to create a powerful prayer. This is probably one of the most difficult things to do in Pagan practice, but Barrette again gently instructs us how it is done through addressing the Divine, to teaching us about parts of a prayer such as addressing and greeting Deity, to talking about types of prayers.  She informs us on how to compose our personal daily devotions, how to make offertory prayers petition and intercession prayers.


Chapter Nine is about blessings. Chapters Ten and eleven teaches us how to write rituals for private, semi private and public practices. Chapter twelve involves sharing your work with the world through publishing.


Magical composition is too fully packed a book to completely talk about here. Needless to say this small outline in this review doesn’t cover everything, but I hope it is enough to set your proverbial mouth to watering. Written with a strong voice, easy to read without becoming tedious as some composition books tends to be, you will refer back this book on countless occasions whenever you want to compose something. Composing Magic is an absolute must for anyone’s magical library.


~review by Patricia Snodgrass

Author: Elizabeth Barrette

New Page Books, 2007

pp. 240 pgs, $14.95

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