For a practice based on nature and the things in life that are free, witchcraft as a practice can get expensive. What starts with finding a stick in the woods for a wand can somehow take you down a path where you need exactly this rare and expensive root and you must use handcrafted silver for that athame. Combine this hunting feature with the near universal neopagan obsession with books and you can all too easily see a religious demographic filled with maxed credit cards.


If you can afford the rare, handcrafted, and esoteric, you do contribute to the lives of the artists and wildcrafters that make your complicated magical style possible. However, it’s more important than ever to plan and finance your future yourself, and this means that you need to minimize the cost of the witchcraft solutions you use to alleviate the problems of now.


On this issue, Deborah Blake steps in with her book Witchcraft on a Shoestring. She cites many sources you can find your information free, and she offers long lists of magical approaches using low-cost ingredients like needle, thread and herbs purchased at the grocery store. To use this book, a reader needs a simple and imaginative understanding of correspondences. Red relates to Mars, for instance, and garlic too falls under Martian energy.


Blake makes an exception in reversing the Pagan largesse for books. Authors, she argues, need money as motivation to keep writing books about witchcraft. While amusing and somewhat self-serving, Blake has a point: the majority of authors on witchcraft do so as a second or side career because the money made from said books barely pays off a used car loan. Major publishers avoid “fringe” spiritual practices during times of economic pain, and without at least a small token of support, the well of easily available material could run dry.


Blake also satisfies the socialite kitchen witch, closing with a series of recipes that can feed a small coven for less than $10. This book comes in handy for someone stumped on one of the most common of Craft dilemmas: the short budget. Using resources on-hand, as Blake suggests, brings us full-circle: our witchy predecessors also used what they had for magical tools. Yes, we can too.


~reviewed by Diana Rajchel

Author: Deborah Blake

Llewellyn Publications, 2010

pp. 210, $15.95

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