Posted in book reviews, witchy book reviews

The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of Magical Plants by Susan Gregg

... edition of The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of Magical Plants

The complete illustrated encyclopedia of magical plants (revised) by Susan Gregg is a wonderful source for anyone thinking about working with herbs and plants in medicinal, metaphysical and magical fields. I started compiling several books on the subject while I was studying for my herbalism certification, and this was one of the few that survived the cut after the fact. Its subtitle is ‘A practical guide to creating healing, protection and prosperity using plants, herbs and flowers’, but in my opinion it accomplishes so much more than that.

The book provides beautiful glossy colored photographs of each plant, which helps with identification, and each plant’s magical, historical, scientific, botanical, medicinal and metaphysical properties are listed. The book is organized in two parts, Enchanting Herbs and Other Magical Plants. The sections aren’t alphabetical, so you kind of have to search for a bit (or use the index in the back of the book) to find the plant you are looking for. But really, that is the only complaint I have. I found no examples of cultural appropriation or inappropriate references or biasedness towards wicca. It approaches the subject from an unbiased and honestly very refreshing point of view.

I think that this is a vital resource for any young witch, herbalist or botanist. Its one of the only ‘complete’ sources that I have managed to find in regards to the magical properties of plants. Susan Gregg does a phenomenal job.

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The Crystal Bible 1 & 2 by Judy Hall

The Crystal Bible by Judy HallThe Crystal Bible, Volume 2 by Judy Hall (Paperback): Booksamillion ...

The Crystal Bible

1 & 2

by Judy Hall

Judy Hall is by far what I consider to be my favorite author in regards to crystal information. She approaches crystals, rocks, minerals, gems and stones from several different perspectives. She lists the history of each crystal, the science behind it, the medicinal properties, the metaphysical properties and of course, the magical properties. Crystals are listed alphabetically, and family groups such as the Jaspers and the Agates, are listed under the main family name. (example: Jasper, red. Jasper, picture. Jasper, rainforest. etc etc) Judy Hall has written several of these books (I have yet to read the third volume), but I only have the first two books of it and I absolutely love them.

The books are crammed with useful information and the majority of my youtube videos and articles written about crystals reference her work as one of my main sources. The book is beautifully illustrated with color photos of the rocks, which helps with identification and there are sections in the front of the book that discusses the origin of crystals and crystal healing and the uses for different shapes of crystals.

These are the only crystal books I actually have kept consistently on my witchy book shelf. So many others are either incomplete, don’t compile enough information to my liking, are rank with wiccan references (cough *scott cunningham* cough) or commit a lot of cultural appropriation. The only thing that I didn’t like about this book was the references made to the use of ‘chakras’, which is more of a Hindu and Buddhist belief. While western cultures do have similar beliefs, I think that the culturally ambiguous term ‘energy point’ would have been better to use. That’s just my opinion though. It doesn’t really take away from the overall value of the books and their extreme usefulness to my practice and daily life. I think every witch and witchling that is interested in working with crystals should at least read these books, if not actually own them.

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Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart

Wicked Plants. Amy Stewart | Books | Pinterest

I picked this book up at Barnes and Noble a while back while I was taking my Herbalism certification. I’m very interested in getting started with working with poisonous and more dangerous plants. A lot of my fellow witches dabble in this kind of deadly botany, and it is indeed something to approach with caution. You can’t just dive in and not expect to accidentally poison yourself. I personally haven’t ever handled poisonous plants, aside from the basics like Wormwood, Lobelia and such. I have a lot of respect and admiration for people who work with these deadly beauties, though. And I hope to be able to in the future.

Anyway! The book! I honestly believe that any witch or witchling should own this book. It is chock full of wonderful information, not just about the effects and scientific information about the most common and infamous plants (there is a part two of this book, I think), but they also provide lots of examples of interesting appearances throughout literature and history of the plants. The book has some beautiful etchings and artwork by Briony Morrow-Cribbs and Jonathon Rosen, respectively. The plants are listed in alphabetical order and each plant is categorized by whether it is ‘deadly’, ‘illegal’, ‘intoxicating’, ‘dangerous’, ‘destructive’, ‘painful’ and ‘offensive’.

I really value this book and hold it in high esteem. Its educational, entertaining and an incredible resource. It holds a place of honor on my witchy bookshelf and I refer to it often. As I said before, I think everyone interested in botany, plants, herbalism or green magic should own a copy, and if you are a witch you should read it at least once. Not just for the interesting facts, but also to keep yourself safe and prevent any accidents involving these ‘botanical atrocities’.

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The Fortune-Teller’s Bible by Jane Struthers

The Fortune-Teller's Bible: The Definitive Guide to the Arts of ...

The Fortune-Tellers Bible is a book I picked up on a whim when I first started revitalizing my practice as a witch. I’m constantly trying to find books that are as free as possible of cultural appropriation, racism, gender binaries and sexism. Let me tell you, it is NOT easy! However, from what I have read of this book, all the information is presented in a respectful and educational manner along with lovely color photographs that illustrate topics and steps. I also really enjoyed just the writing itself, it is very easy to read and easy to follow.

The book is chock full of great information that any diviner or oracle would love. Runes, Tarot,  Scrying, Palmistry, Numerology, Face Reading, and both Western and Chinese astrology are some of the main topics of this book. This is actually my favorite book to consult on matters of palmistry and runes, which I used to really struggle with before I read this.

 I highly recommend that any witch, beginner or seasoned, should acquire this book. You can find it pretty cheap on ebay, amazon and barnes and noble if you buy it used. It is such an invaluable resource and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve used it. It sits on my shelf along with only four other books that I use regularly in my craft. I’m such a picky reader when it comes to witchy books, because the vast  majority of witchcraft authors are just so grossly prejudice and either sexist, racist, anti-lgbtqa, pro gender binaries, pro-cultural theft, etc. That’s why I started reviewing witchy books, really, is so that I can provide, you, my lovely readers, with good suggestions (or warnings!) in regards to the subject.

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The Weiser Field Guide to Vampires by J.M. Dixon

The Weiser Field Guide to Vampires: Legends, Practices, and Encounters ...

 For those of you who know me well and read most of my posts, you’ll know that my spouse is what most people would consider to be a ‘modern vampire’. That is to say that he was born with a damaged or broken energy field, and therefore must take energy from outside sources to feel healthy. I knew this about him before we even started dating, and find it fascinating since energy healing and energy fields in general are an interest of mine. He bought this book after finding it at our local metaphysical shop. I remember him saying that it was one of the rare books that actually wrote about vampires as a read phenomenon and not just a myth.

The book contains a chapter on the history of vampires in various cultures, the reality of modern ‘vampires’, the different kinds of feeding, the myths, and of course how to know that you are a vampire through symptoms and signs. I read the book twice now because I found it to be so informative and so…unbiased? It came at the subject from an educational standpoint, one backed by historical facts and scientific perspectives. I found it very refreshing.

The Field Guide itself is very well written and unlike many other kinds of paranormal books, isn’t dry or dull at all. The chapters are relatively short and everything is really easy to follow. I would say that it would probably qualify for middle school or late elementary school levels of reading. The book promotes the idea of consent and healthy relationships as far as ‘feeding’ on energy and such goes, as well as self care and self awareness. Overall, its a great book, especially for those interesting in the ‘paranormal’ and supernatural. I give it a 4/5.

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The Nightmare Dictionary by Adams Media

The Nightmare Dictionary: Discover What Causes Nightmares and What ...

Ever since I was little, I’ve had some of the worst nightmares. Not just nightmares, but night terrors. In college I went through a period of about six months where my night terrors were so bad that I would go days without sleeping, or I would never sleep more than thirty minutes because I would wake up screaming and crying. It was like a living hell. Thankfully, the night terrors have calmed down a bit and I’m back to just regular nightmares. I bought the above book in the hopes of figuring out why on earth I was dreaming about my teeth rotting and falling out or why random people from high school were in my nightmares.

The book is pretty fantastic. It doesn’t just have a comprehensive list of the most common themes in nightmares, but it also has good information on what causes nightmares, how to control nightmares, how to confront fears, the difference between phobias, nightmares and night terrors, and even a little section at the end where you you keep a ‘nightmare journal’. It is the only book I keep to help me cope with my nightmares, and I refer to it every time I have a bad dream that bothers me.

The book is easy to read and pretty well written. It was printed for Barnes and Noble, so it’s really well designed and put together from a variety of sources (all of which are credited on the copyright page of the book). I highly recommend it to anyone who is more interested in learning more about the meaning of their bad dreams and how to control them, instead of letting them control you. As far as a rating goes, I give it a 4/5.

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National Geographic’s Guide to the World Supernatural Places by Sarah Bartlett

Book- NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC GUIDE TO THE WORLD’S SUPERNATURAL PLACES ...

As I stated in my review of Jeff Belanger’s The World’s Most Haunted Places review, I have two main resources when it comes to haunted places and locations around the world. Belanger fell into my second place spot, and this book, Guide to the World’s Supernatural Places by NatGeo’s Sarah Bartlett is my definite number one. I have yet to find any other book that trumps this one. It is easy to read. It has beautiful, high quality colored photos and glossy pages. It has multiple locations from all around the world, over 250 of them, and it not only covers haunted places, but also other subjects such as UFO spottings.

The contents of the book are as follows: Haunted Places, Vampire Haunts, Witchcraft and the Dark Arts, Sacred Places, UFO Hot Spots and Myths & Legends. It has long, detailed descriptions of each location, along with its known history and what makes it so spooky. It is not just inclusive of places in America (which is hard to find as far as paranormal books go because often authors seem to think that the only haunted places are American. While a lot of really awful things have happened, such as the genocide and near extinction of Native peoples, on American soil, it is definitely NOT the most haunted country in the world.) and has places from across the globe, just as the subtitle of the book describes.

I really can’t find anything wrong with this book. I wish there was more stuff from Asia, but you can’t win them all. Hah.

I love this book because its just pretty. Its so easy to read, the writing is nice, well edited and well written, the photos are gorgeous, the paper is glossy, and its just a really great resource. Its my number one haunted location reference book, and I highly recommend it to anyone with any interest in the paranormal or supernatural. Obviously, it gets a 5/5 for me.

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The World’s Most Haunted Places by Jeff Belanger

revised edition of his bestseller, The World’s Most Haunted Places ...

For those of you who are interested in the paranormal, I have just TWO suggestions as far as guidebooks on places you may want to visit. This book, The World’s Most Haunted Places by Jeff Belanger, falls into my second place slot. First place goes to NatGeo’s Guide to the World’s Supernatural Places, which is a gigantic glossy hardback color-photo guide book. It pretty much as everything. This book, however, focuses on just a one or two places from different parts of the world that are considered the ‘most haunted’.

There are 33 chapters in this book and each chapter covers a different haunted location. Among the most infamous are: The Catacomb Museum, The White House, The 1891 Castle Inn, The RMS Queen Mary, The Whaley House, The Tower of London, Aokigahara Jukai, and the Waverly Hills Sanatorium. It’s definitely a good read to anyone looking to plan a haunted vacation or a paranormal investigation. The accounts are all written really well, including history of the locations and in some cases personal experiences of the author. But, there is the downside to there only being a select number of entries, and that most of them are in America or Europe. Overall, it’s a pretty easy and interesting read, and well worth the money. It gets a 4/5 from me.

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Breathe: A Ghost Story by Cliff McNish

Teen Picks: Breathe by Cliff McNish

You know those book fairs that your school hosted back when you were a kid? That’s where my little sister and I stumbled upon a book called Breathe. We were suckers for ghost stories like books by Mary Downing Hahn, and this seemed like it was right up our alley. We stole it away into our bedrooms and read it under the blankets late, late into the night using flashlights. I still have the original copy we shared. I can honestly say that it is one of my favorite ghost stories. Not only is it easy to read, it is fantastically vivid and well written.

It follows the story of Jack and his mother, Sarah, a mother and son who move into a haunted farmhouse where the souls of four children are being held hostage by what is known as the Ghost Mother, a spirit that feeds off of other souls to prevent being taken away by the Nightmare Passage. The Nightmare Passage is an Inferno-esque plain of ice where a constant wind beats and batters its residents. It is where the souls of those who refuse to go (or are kept from going) to the Other Side eventually are taken.

The book is full of metaphors for abusive behavior, rape and sacrifice. The Ghost Mother tortures these poor children’s souls, feeds off of them, and even forces one of them to try to behave like a daughter. It is disgusting. Disturbing. And it’s not hard at all to hate her. The children, who are put through so much pain and suffering, do eventually find redemption and get a happy ending, thank goodness. As does Jack and Sarah. For most of the book the Ghost Mother possesses Sarah and actively abuses Jack, emotionally and physically. It’s gut wrenching to read as Jack desperately tries to save his own mother.

All in all, it is an incredible story about loyalty, fighting for the one’s we love, about the acceptance of death, and how death is not the end. I reread this book every once and a while, because boy-howdy is it a doozy. Talk about heavy. And reading it as a twelve year old? You can bet that my sister and I had some nightmares after the first time. Sheesh. But we still love it, and in fact, it still comes up in conversations sometimes. The deep and complex issues of abuse and consent, as well as life after death, the different afterlife planes, the inspiration from Dante’s nine circles of Hell inspiring the landscape for the Nightmare Passage. It is a really fascinating read. I highly recommend it. I give it a 4/5, just because it does have some pretty sensitive topics it covers.

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The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Book Review: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill | The Book SmugglersThe ...

I first saw The Woman in Black in theaters, when it first came out. I own it and watch it on a regular (at least once or twice a year) now. It is a very, very, very creepy movie. And I purchased the book not long after I saw the movie for the first time. Say what you will about the movie OR the book, but one thing is very true about both: they are very, very creepy. There is just such an eerie way that the story is told and presented. Its just anxiety-inducing and frankly, a little jarring. I reread the book for what I think is the third of fourth time to do this review, so it would be fresh in my memory, and I had forgotten how many differences there were to the movie.

First of all, Arthur Kipps is a VERY different man in the book than he is in the movie. He isn’t struggling, and hasn’t lost his wife. In fact, he is not even married yet and he’s practically a partner at the law firm he works at. He starts the book off telling the story from his perspective as an older man, not ‘old’ persay, but older than the events of the movie. Before the whole ordeal at the Eel Marsh House, he is a cheerful and happy person. Another key difference is that the innkeeper, the coach driver and Mr. Jerome are all very kind and polite to him in the book, whereas in the movie they are all…well…rude and cold. I think this made a pretty big difference. And while Mr. Jerome’s attitude towards Arthur does change, the others don’t. Also, Mr. Daily is actually kind of distant and cold in the beginning and then they slowly become friends.

One of the biggest things that is downplayed in the movie that is actually really important in the book is Spider, Mr. Daily’s dog that becomes Arthur’s companion in surviving the horrors of the Eel Marsh house. He becomes very, very attached to her (not in a weird way. like in a cute loyal way) and actually risks his life to save her. In fact, Mr. Daily says that he will give Arthur one of her puppies as soon as she has a litter. It is not until after Arthur leaves Crythin Grifford that he gets married and has a son (and makes Samuel Daily the godfather. Awwwww.) that tragedy strikes and his wife and son are killed due to the Woman in Black returning for revenge. Arthur, however, lives to remarry and be a father to several step children. Unlike in the movie, where Arthur dies with his son.

So, yeah, in short the movie is really good, AND the book is really good but there are definitely some huge differences between the two, to the point to where the kind of paint a different story. I think that the book had more of a slow-creepy-eerie-unsettling feeling to it, while the movie was definitely more jump-scary. I definitely recommend the book to any horror fans out there, however, especially those who like British Period Horror pieces. It’s very well written, and while it does have some slow parts, its still a fairly enjoyable and easy read. Overall, I give it a 4/5.