If you spend much time in online witchery (magick-related subreddits, facebook groups and so forth) you've seen uncountable examples of people asking questions about curses, crosses, and hexes - am I being crossed? Can I get some help crossing my stupid ex-girlfriend? I've been seeing a crow on my car every day for a month at lunch time, he's a servant of some evil spirit that somone sicced on me, right? That's fine, new people are supposed to ask questions. But if you've seen these things, you've seen the answers to them. So, so, so many of them are just terrible. Not only that, but even the bad answers often contradict one another, leading to a tornado of bad information plus confusion. If only there was a clearly-written, cogent book you could recommend to these curious souls, one that explores the ins and outs of "negative magick"!

I hope you will forgive my dish-detergent commercial theatrics, but such a book now exists. Author Diana Rajchel has written Hex Twisting: Countermagick Spells for the Irritated Witch and it is everything you could ask for. If, that is, you were asking to know a) what negative magick really is and is not, and b) what to do about it once it has entered your life. Rajchel is an author whose work I'm familiar with, and so I was set up to enjoy this book when it reached me; I was not disappointed. With candor and clarity, she digs into how negative magick might enter one's life, how to recognize that it's happening to you, how to identify it, and what to do about once you have. And, while I wouldn't call this a manual on dishing out the magickal pain, she doesn't shy away from discussing what to do to someone who has crossed the line with you.

An interesting point that Rajchel makes early on in Hex Twisting is that having access to hexes, curses and the like has long provided a lever of influence to disenfranchised and marginalized people. A woman enduring slavery (pick your situation, you have an infuriating selection to choose from), for example, deprived of agency in practically every aspect of her life could nonetheless enforce some form of justice upon her tormentors with the proper application of cursing. This doesn't immediately sit well with those practitioners who shy away from this part of the practice (and I will admit here that I am often one of those people) but Rajchel makes a compelling argument that I can't (nor do I sense a need to) refute. Still, like a lot of weapons this sort of thing is moralistically agnostic. The enslaved witch and the mean-spirited harridan have equal access to these things. So, what if you are suffering wrongly at the hands of such a person?

According to Diana Rajchel, the answer (in severely condensed form) is to get smart, get educated, and then get cracking. The early chapters of Hex Twisting are dedicated to getting your head right on the subject and getting to know the terrain (i.e. your own magickal footprint and spiritual natural state). After that, she moves on to very specific strategies, clearly explained and often with detailed instructions, for dealing with minor annoyances all the way up to Crosses and Curses. If you truly are suffering from such things, these chapters are a genuine blessing. If you aren't suffering, they say that forewarned is forearmed; learning what could happen and being prepared just means that you won't be on the losing end of these things for long. Besides which, Rajchel spends time going over essential magickal/energetic hygiene, things that are useful to anyone whether they are ever hexed or not.

Even acknowledging that this an end of the magickal pool that I don't swim in often, I can't help but applaud the quality of Hex Twisting, and recommend it to you readers as an invaluable tool to have available in your magickal library. If you ever need it, you'll want it close to hand and will thank your past self for being well prepared. The absolute worst case scenario is that you'll read a very interesting book that has left you more educated about the world around you.

~review by Patricia Mullen

Author: Diana Rajchel
Llewellyn Publications, 2021
pp. 264, $17.99