This book almost needs a caveat emptor. This is for the REALLY (sotto voce) serious practitioner. It's definitely not for Wiccan wannabe's or the faint-of-heart. This isn't a big book but it's packed with pertinent information. It's not a comprehensive tome, covering a wide array of subjects. Rather, it hones in on one specific part of spell-crafting: the four elements that are used in nearly all the avenues of magic; fire,earth, air and water.

The authors start you at the beginning with Casting the Magic Circle and precise, detailed instructions are given. In fact, it is so ritualized it may scare off many readers. But that's what will separate the serious practitioner from the let's play and see if this works variety. The authors know their stuff and they expect you to also. This is not Wicca 101. In the section on herbs, they caution you that some are toxic. Unfortunately they don't tell you which ones those are. That's a little disappointing when everything else was so detailed.

Absolutely essential is the reading and re-reading of cautionary advice concerning the mischief and real harm that can be caused by not fully completing any ritual. If you open a circle, you close it. If you invited any entities, bid them farewell and good journey at the close. "I forgot" will never work as an excuse. The section on the past pilgrimage debriefing sounds very similar to a past life regression. It, too, requires an altered state of consciousness if you're not undergoing hypnotherapy by a trained hypnotherapist. Aside from the heavier, more serious rituals, thereĀ  is other useful information. Like planting by fruitful days and hours. The authors give you a method for calculating them.

The highlight of Royal Roads: Pilgrimages Through the Four Elements and Beyond is the section on Elemental Vocabulary and the Uses of Elemental Knowledge. This alone is worth the price of the book. Those who work with Elementals will probably consider this a mini-instructional of information and refer to it often.

The only jarring note is at the end where Hartsvfang gives new meaning to the word "dark." The black and white picture is dark, his head is down with his face only partially visible. His only book dedication is to his life partner and he states that he's a very private person and doesn't want to be contacted by anyone.

As I said before, the authors know their stuff. They taught what they felt they needed to teach. They told you what you needed to know----- period. There was no fluff, no extra words, no empty words trying to fill up a page, no trying to impress you with how knowledgeable they are. And they had the common sense to try to protect you if you're new at this.

~review by Judy Blackstone

Authors: Dana Corby and Bjoern-Erik Hartsfvang
The Rantin'Raven, 2020
p. 106, pp. $9.95