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This is a hefty tome, with excellent binding and high-quality (copius!) illustrations. Moreover, The Goodly Spellbook is a really good book. Yes, the extra ‘e’s in the title are pretentious, but I urge the reader to overlook them, or at least look at them with humor, because the verbiage within is excellent. This is a well-thought-out, comprehensive guide to spells within a traditional framework – the God/dess and other powers are alive and present and fundamentally necessary for working magic. It is not just a collection of recipes, but a guide to the thinking behind what works – and why – when casting spells.

Lady Passion and *Diuvei are Gardnerian witches and co-founders of Coven Oldenwilde (North Carolina). Together, they have created a history of spirituality that manages to not denigrate either our Christian-based forefathers nor elevate the herb-wives our fore-mothers before moving on to discuss what a spell is, exactly. (“A spell is anything you do with magical intention… p. 44.”)

The “Skills” section is the largest, and covers the philosophy behind correspondences, the Art of Divination, the Magic of Counting, the Power of Words, secret alphabets, music, and movement, including hand gestures (mudras). The section finishes with examples of spell crafting (things to make, like cooking, poppets and talismans) and a discussion of how to know you are properly doing a spell. Several hundred spells follow, broken into categories of healing, protection, attraction, discernment, concealment, and repulsion. There are few surprises in the spell topics, although a few are thoroughly modern (To Prevent Your Phone from Being Tapped, pg. 306, for example).

It is not without its flaws, however, even though they are mostly minor. I winced when the Harry Potter books were described as “…fiction closely based on authentic magical tradition…” The use of ‘goodly’ and ‘olde’ throughout the text was annoying (despite my attempt at humor about it). Their tone can feel pretentious or condescending at times, although in the end I think that was just the authors’ style – much like James Michener, or Anthony Trollope. Most worrying was their statement that their tables of correspondences are reliable, others’ are not. That is a lot of data to toss out the window, especially when the truth is that trial and error will teach what works far better than a recipe.

Written with joy and poetry, The Goodly Spellbook is one of the best additions to your magical library that you can make this year. It is a solid book, full of information and easily worth twice the cover price.

~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author:  Lady Passion & *Diuvei

Sterling Publishing, 2005

pp. 496, $19.95

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