This is not a typical Pagan book but it’s well worth picking up if you’d like to go beyond modern Paganism and touch the threads that lead back through the generations to a much older practice. What the author calls ‘witchery’ includes the concepts and practices that underlie several contemporary traditions but that are far older and speak to something within us that doesn’t need tools and garb, only the power within. This type of witchery includes obvious influences from Celtic folklore and ceremonial magic, as well as other, less visible traces of a variety of traditions. The author believes, and I agree, that the ultimate purpose of reviving this type of deep witchery is to heal the Earth and its living systems, including us.

The author talks about touching the spirit and being changed by it, then changing the world. This is truly the oldest kind of spiritual practice, in which we die to our old selves and are reborn anew. Witchery, in Mr. Foxwood’s terms, is more a practice, philosophy and worldview than a religion. He describes typical characteristics of this practice that span multiple traditions and offers a checklist so the reader can tell whether what they’re looking at is the kind of old-style witchery he describes. He then outlines the particular practices within witchery: ecstasy, fertility, sorcery, mystery traditions. Though the practices themselves are disparate, the worldview behind them provides a cohesiveness that helped me to understand what witchery encompasses and what it doesn’t. The author also devotes an entire chapter to the concept of witch-blood (hereditary magical ability) and how it is awakened and directed. This includes helpful advice for people who have these gifts but may not have a teacher who can guide them in working with the gifts and maintaining balance and health.

Many people think of witchcraft as human-centered, but Mr. Foxwood makes the case for it being Nature- and cosmos-centered. It must work in sync with the cycles and forces of the universe or else it has no power. Mr. Foxwood also makes an excellent case for witchery being a powerful tool that can put humanity back on track toward respect for the cosmic web.

While there is a good deal of background about witchery in this book, there are also lots of specific details and exercises to help the reader enter into the world of this type of witchcraft. The author points the reader towards subjects of study that will help them along the path: astrology, astronomy, the cycles of the Moon and Sun, attention to the seasons in particular and Nature in general. He includes a simple technique for entering the Mill that is effective for beginners and those who don’t have access to a teacher. He also gives the best explanation I have yet seen of what the Mill is, why anyone would want to enter it, and how it works in a magical sense.

The author also provides an excellent discussion of the Witch-Flame: how to understand its true nature, and how to raise and use it in witchery. He outlines the forces and tides of Nature and the cosmos and includes basic practices utilizing them. He offers an excellent section on the Devil, explaining the ways we trick ourselves both within magical practice and in our mundane lives, and methods for avoiding those stumbling blocks or working through them. He points to the need to face our own shadows so they don’t derail our life paths. The practical exercises are direct and to-the-point, and are deceptively powerful in their simplicity. They would be an excellent addition to any magical practice.

As I was reading this book, it struck me that, while the practices Mr. Foxwood describes are interesting and useful, what’s more important is the cosmology he shares. The underlying worldview of his old-style witchery, if we embrace it, will bring us into contact with the powerful forces that underlie the cosmos and allow us to become in sync with them. This is true witchcraft, becoming one with the All-that-Is.

In this excellent book, Mr. Foxwood finds a common core of beliefs among a set of widely-divergent traditions. He then looks ‘behind the curtain’ to define this magical worldview and makes a call for practitioners of all types to come together for the good of all. The practical exercises are useful and easy to understand, though it might take a lifetime to explore them fully. Most of all, though, the author says is book is less about the academics of witchery and more about the soul of it. I have to agree. No matter your path, this book provides a helpful way of looking at the world.

~review by Laura Perry
Author: Orion Foxwood
Red Wheel/Weiser, 2015
pp. 145, $16.95

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