Writing an encyclopedia is a daunting task, especially in our community where small omissions and mundane errors are vilified and castigated. But Ms. Illes has created a thorough reference guide, one that is as comprehensive as an Internet search, far better sourced, and much more interesting to read.

Ms. Illes cautions the reader at the outset that this Encyclopedia is for reference only and that nothing in this book be attempted nor any ingredients consumed without prior study. She offers appropriate warnings about the hazards of attempting to work with negative or "dark" forces or energy.  She also alerts the reader whenever a poisonous or toxic herb or botanical is called for, and often lists a modern or safer alternative.

One of the most useful parts of this Encyclopedia is the index. If I have a particular herb or ingredient I feel called to work with, it’s the work of seconds to look up a variety of corresponding spells it could be used in. I know my herbs and ingredients quite well, but sometimes I desire a fresh perspective. Other writers provide that and this is a perfect example of how well that creative process can work.


I believe this Encyclopedia is particularly useful for those who are interested in the cultural history of the spells and formulas (when possible). For those of us who just like to read about spells (like recipes in a good cookbook) there is excellent material information, and notes on when particular ingredients may be substituted or be poisonous.


Spells are arranged by theme, proving its usefulness as a reference guide, and the range of spells offered is breathtakingly wide. We have spells requiring no tools at all, through those incorporating chants, candles spells, herbal spells, simple rituals, making talismans and so on, even to those involving whole groups. Throughout, Illes blends old and modern wisdom from paths and traditions originating all over the world.


I am very glad this volume is in my library, and I highly recommend it to every witch.


~review by Lisa Mc Sherry


(Ed. Note: you might enjoy also our interview with Judika .)


Author: Judika Illes

HarperOne, 2009

pp. 1120, $34.99

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