📝 Spells8 Book Club XXXII - Readers' Reviews

This Readers’ Review has closed- please go to Activities to find and join the current session and current Readers’ Review post. You can also view all book club reviews in the Book Review Collection :books:

Wishing a very warm welcome to all of the Witchy Readers! :open_book:

The latest reading period for Book Club [Oct 6 - Nov 3] has now ended - thank you to everyone who joined in!

Members & Their Books This Reading Period:

  • Llewellyn’s Little Book of Halloween by Mickie Mueller
    @Amethyst

  • The Complete book of demonolatry by S Connolly
    @tracyS

  • The Complete Guide To Astrology: Understanding Yourself, Your Signs, and Your Birth Chart by Louise Edington
    @Eliza_01

  • Draugadróttinn: Lord of the Undead by N.D. Blackwood
    @starborn

  • Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth by Benebell Wen
    @BrightBear

  • Witchcraft Unchained by Craig Spencer
    @MeganB

  • Betwixt & Between: Exploring the Faery Tradition of Witchcraft by Storm Faerywolf
    @Jewitch

  • Honoring Your Ancestors: A Guide to Ancestral Veneration by Mallorie Vaudoise
    @starborn
    @Sivonnah

Even if you are not listed above but you read a book during this reading period/ you decided to read a different book than listed- you are very welcome to share and discuss here too!


Time to share your thoughts with your coven! :star_struck:

This discussion post will serve as a place to share your thoughts and opinions on the book you chose.

  • :heart_eyes: If you loved your book and think everyone should read it- awesome! Talk about your favorite points or something you learned.
  • :woman_shrugging: If you didn’t connect with the book- consider explaining why it wasn’t for you.
  • :angry: Absolutely hated your book of choice? Warn others to stay away!

This is a great place to share your love for books and find recommendations for new books to read :+1:


Picture from Canva

Your book review can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like :writing_hand:

If you’re not sure what to talk about, here is a suggested format you can use. Feel free to write as little or as much as you’d like!

Book Title and Author:

Status? : Finished / Still Reading

My overall rating of the book : ???/10

How does this book relate to my magickal practice?:

My personal thoughts/opinions:

An interesting quote from the book: " "

All in all, would I recommend this book?: Yes / No

Remember that your review is uniquely yours- this is a chance to let your opinions and voice be heard :raised_hands:

Please keep in mind that others may have opinions that differ from yours- when responding to the thoughts of others please always show respect! Remember that 100 people will read 1 book and have 100 different experiences. That’s what makes sharing interesting :heart:


What if I didn’t finish my book / joined late? :raised_hand:

No worries!

You are welcome to share your thoughts about the part you have read so far. If you joined the session late and have just started, feel free to talk about your expectations for your book. You can continue reading it into the next reading period.

And whether you read a book or not - you are very welcome to jump in and discuss what others share about their books! :handshake:


Picture from Canva

Deadlines and Dates :spiral_calendar:

You have 5 weeks to share your thoughts and discuss (until the next Readers’ Review Post appears in the forum!)

Deadline for Reviews for this Session: Friday, December 8th

While you have plenty of time for reviews, know that the next reading period will begin in one week:

The Next Reading Session will Begin: Friday, November 10th

On this day a post will appear where you can announce your next book (or continue with your current reading!).

Until then, you can find more info about the club in the Book Club FAQ.


Picture from Canva

It can be hard to find the time and motivation to read on your own- hopefully book club helped provide a bit of motivation and that it led to some wonderful new knowledge and discoveries in your Craft :books:

Thanks again for joining in and being a part of Book Club! I am so excited to read your thoughts and learn more about the book you spent time with :blush::open_book:

Blessed be! :sparkles:

:books: :heart: :infinite_roots:

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Book Title and Author:
American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Status? :
Finished

My overall rating of the book :
8/10

How does this book relate to my magickal practice?:
It doesn’t, not really. It’s a fiction book about ancient deities that came to North America, mainly the US, when their followers arrived here. It follows the main character, Shadow, and his boss, Wednesday. Throughout the book, Wednesday has an elaborate and mysterious plan to save the Old Gods from disappearing due to the New Gods taking over. Shadow is his man-for-hire and follows him along, doing what Wednesday tells him and earning money at the same time.

My personal thoughts/opinions:
I know there’s at least one other person reading this book, so I’m going to hide my thoughts due to spoilers.

thoughts are here... read if you dare! lol j/k but yes, spoilers!

I like how the book started out. It’s slow to progress, but it’s about the story at that point. I love a good story, and the more detail included, the better. Over the course of the book, I was trying to piece together what the heck Wednesday’s plan was. It was also really fun to piece together who the different Gods were based on their chosen names and personalities, plus the different clues that were included throughout the book. For example, I could immediately tell who Wednesday was because of the name he chose, his comment about it being his day on Wednesday, and the clues that Shadow picked up about a potential glass eye.

The book was really interesting, following Wednesday and Shadow all across the United States. On their path, they encountered many different Gods and Spirits, some of whom were here first. Shadow had continuous dreams about a buffalo-headed God. He also had several encounters with Native American Gods and Spirits, one being named Wisakedjak (frequently called Whiskey Jack as a bastardization of his name). In the book, he shows up as an old Native American man who lives in a mobile home near a Lakota reservation with Johnny Appleseed (yes, Johnny Appleseed). In mythology, Wisakedjak is known by similar names in many different tribes. He is thought to be one of the beings that created the world, either by his own power or power given to him by the Creator for that purpose.

Anyway, so much went on and we met so many different beings that I was really looking forward to the resolution in the book. However, I was very disappointed with the resolution of the book! I don’t want to give everything away, but it turns out that the whole plan by Wednesday was actually a two-man con the entire time… :face_exhaling: I did enjoy the book though, and I think listening to the audiobook helped me enjoy it more. There was also a chapter in the end that was cut from the main book where Shadow met Jesus. That was interesting :joy: and the entire time, I kept imagining Jesus as a hippie who couldn’t be assed to do any of the work he was tasked with doing.

An interesting quote from the book:

For context, Wednesday and Shadow are sitting with Easter discussing how people may celebrate her festival, but no one knows who she actually is. The girl Wednesday is speaking with is one of the coffee shop employees. Wednesday asked her and the other employee what the word “Easter” meant.

The girl stared at him as if green toads had begun to push their way between his lips. Then she said, “I don’t know about any of that Christian stuff. I’m a pagan.”

The woman behind the counter said, “I think it’s like Latin or something for ‘Christ has risen’ maybe.”

“Really?” said Wednesday.

“Yeah, sure,” said the woman. “Easter. Just like the sun rises in the east, you know.”

“The risen son. Of course - a most logical supposition.” The woman smiled and returned to her coffee grinder. Wednesday looked up at their waitress. “I think I shall have another espresso, if you do not mind. And tell me, as a pagan, who do you worship?”

“Worship?”

“That’s right. I imagine you must have a pretty wide-open field. So to whom do you set up your household altar? To whom do you bow down? To home do you pray at dawn and at dusk?”

Her lips described several shapes without saying anything before she said, “The female principle. It’s an empowerment thing. You know.”

“Indeed. And this female principle of yours. Does she have a name?”

“She’s the goddess within us all,” said the girl with the eyebrow ring, color rising to her cheek. “She doesn’t need a name.”

“Ah,” said Wednesday, with a wide monkey grin, “so do you have mighty bacchanals in her honor? Do you drink blood wine under the full moon, while scarlet candles burn in silver candleholders? Do you step naked into the sea-foam, chanting ecstatically to your nameless goddess while the waves lick at your legs, lapping your thighs like the tongues of a thousand leopards?”

“You’re making fun of me,” she said. “We don’t do any of that stuff you were saying.”

I couldn’t pick just one quote because there would be too many. I picked this scene in particular because it stirred something deep within me. It was a reminder to me of the raw beauty and power of faith, and faith given ecstatically without fear of judgment; faith given freely through worship with body, mind, and spirit. It made my heart rise in my chest, an expression of the lost faith and energy that had escaped me for the past several months. Though this book is fiction, this scene here, the words spoken by Wednesday, awakened the passion of my faith in a way that’s hard to describe.

The fact that the girl he’s speaking to in this scene thinks he’s making fun of her makes me sad. I want faith and power, the utter joy in freely expressing emotions and showing devotion to something higher than myself. Many times, though, I find myself more like the girl with the eyebrow piercing rather than the worshippers Wednesday describes.

All in all, would I recommend this book?:
Yes

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This is one I’m reading with @Sivonnah. :black_heart:

Book Title and Author: Honoring Your Ancestors: A Guide to Ancestral Veneration by Mallorie Vaudoise

Status: (Generally) Finished

My overall rating of the book: 8/10

How does this book relate to my magickal practice:

I’m trying to figure out where ancestors fit into my life. It’s an area that’s been mentally tugging at me throughout this year, but I hadn’t known where to start.

I haven’t been able to get through any of the prayers, rituals, and spells, but I’m keeping them around for when I need them. :black_heart:

My personal thoughts/opinions:

  • It’s nice that it goes into many types of ancestors, not just those of blood relation! I learnt a lot just from the basics here.

  • The journalling prompts are really useful. There are only a handful at the end of each chapter, but they’re quite open questions. They help us reflect on what we’ve just read and apply it, allowing us to better absorb the information in a way meaningful to us. For example, one of them is this:

What would happen if we defined ourselves by our ecstasies rather than by our traumas?

  • Their approach to healing ancestral trauma is really nice and similar to how we often deal with other traumas. So, while it might not be anything new, it’s nice to have it in this context.

  • The sections on mediumship have some lovely exercises to help develop mediumship abilities. There’s a really nice one involving honing the physical senses.

  • There are a lot of template prayers that can be very useful for someone just getting started.

  • The spiritual hygiene rituals and selection of spells are lovely! :black_heart:

  • There’s a wonderful amount of detail on herbs for ancestor worship. It’s not a massive list, but the information on each is great.

An interesting quote from the book:

Over the years, I’ve noticed that even people who claim to do magic regularly have some very funny ideas about how it works. It’s a lot like mediumship in that regard. I’ve heard people insist that you can’t do magic for personal gain, an idea that I think originated as a plot device on the TV show Charmed. (If that were the case, I doubt that magic would be so popular across so many cultures throughout history.) I hear people saying that magic must “harm none.” Harming none sounds simple but is much more difficult to do in practice.

We are constantly doing harm to others. Returning to our earlier dream job example: a spell to get that job is also a spell that no one else get the job. Any other candidates applying for it may want or need that job more than you do. Whether you like it or not, whether you mean to or not, you are harming others all the time. And yet, the world does not collapse in on itself in a fit of despair. Whoever doesn’t get the job keeps applying for other opportunities, and maybe one of those other opportunities will actually be better for them in the long run. Maybe the hours will suit their schedule better. Maybe they’ll meet their future spouse there. Their life will not be derailed because you did magic to get a job.

When we sit with this thought, about how it’s impossible to truly “harm none” for a moment, we realize the truth of these ideas about magic. They’re not really rooted in moral philosophy or concern for others. They come from a very specific wound: the wound that tells us we can’t have what we want because we don’t deserve it.

Most if not all of us carry this wound. It can come from different places. Some of us acquired it from organized religion. Others acquired it from our parents or from cruel peers. In case no one else has told you recently, let me assure you: you can have what you want. You can have good things, you can be loved, you can eat a second slice of birthday cake. And when you truly realize that you can have what you want, whatever that is, it will lose whatever obsessive hold it might have over you. You become liberated from the cycle of desire and denial.

All in all, would I recommend this book?: Yes

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TLDR: I didn’t finish Betwixt and Between during this reading session – life sort of got in the way, so I had to put it down for a little while. I do intend to get back to it and finish it, but it may take me a while. From what I read of it so far, my interest in the Feri/Faery/etc. Tradition has been piqued even more.

I hit a point in my reading, not just in Betwixt and Between, but in pagan and witchcraft books in general, where I am like “I want to find a specific tradition and actually join a community of that tradition – I’m tired of just reading books.”

Last night, I signed up to take the Black Rose Witchcraft course (which is a tradition created by Storm Faerywolf!!, Chas Bogan, and Devin Hunter). I’m going to work through that course. So far, it looks like the community of other Black Rose students is almost as amazing as the Spells8 community, so I’m looking forward to where studying in a specific tradition takes me.

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I’ve barely made it through two chapters of my book - and honestly, I’m probably not going to make it much further anytime soon :joy: but it’s there waiting for me!!

I get like this, too! :heart: I’ve looked into joining OBOD and ADF, but it’s a bit out of my current price range. Hopefully, I will be able to join in the future, though. I know ADF has a free section of being a Hearthkeeper. I may do that!

In any case, I hope you enjoy the classes and that it’s everything you’re looking for! :clap:

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I’ll have to look into OBOD and ADF too! Both of them keep popping up in my studies, so that must be a sign! :smiley:

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The Complete Book of Demonolatry Excellent. A good introduction to demons and who they are, origins, brief information about the old grimoires, the Demonic family groups, hierarchies etc. It takes the fear out of demons very well. It’s a book to study more than read, so I’m constantly refering back to it, and there is still so much more to learn from it (I’ve barely scratched the surface :grin:).

I would absolutely recommend this book. She tells it like it is, deals with all the possession stories and shows what they really were! She explains what a demon is (basically the gods of the world before Abrahamic religions), and how to safely interact with them.

You won’t find any monsters in here. Just good old fashioned gods, angels and any other divine intelligence that has made itself known.

It’s not a demon bible, so use what works and do you’re own interaction with these beauties to get to know them. They won’t disappoint you.

10/10

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BRW is an awesome tradition that blends Sacred Fires, Faery and others. The community is also extremely warm & welcoming. The courses are extensive, and combine several other traditions with their own unique rituals as well.
Another one you may want to think about later, if you haven’t already & it’s within budget, is Penczak’s Temple of Witchcraft. They have scholarships & will work with your budget too.
The Spells8 coven is, without question, outstanding and unique in that it’s a heterogenous coven. Few of us practice the exact same & are welcomed each to their own.
It’s vital, I think, to continue learning and growing in your magickal practice so that it’s fresh, dynamic and exhilarating!
Great good luck to you! I bet you’ll love it :kissing_heart:

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I love it here because everyone has such different points of view — I can’t imagine where I’d be spiritually if I hadn’t found this coven :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

I’ve been looking into the Temple of Witchcraft too — I have book for the first level of TOWC and started reading it and so far it’s resonated with me too — I think because even though it’s Wicca-leaning, it still feels “non-denominational” enough that it sits better with me than some Wicca stuff does :sweat_smile: (not that I have anything against Wicca — I just don’t “vibe” with it as kids say these days haha)

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Book Title and Author: The Complete Guide To Astrology: Understanding Yourself, Your Signs, and Your Birth Chart by Louise Edington

Status? : Finished

How does this book relate to my magickal practice?: I started last year learning astrology, and this book was recommended to me by a member and moderator of this group @Susurrus, so I bought it last year. I lightly read certain parts of the book, jumping here and there, but not in its entirety. So finally feel if I want to learn astrology concretely, it would be a good idea to read books on it in its entirety. So I did this with this book.

My personal thoughts/opinions:

An excellent book for beginners and those with more astrological experience. This book emphasizes on taking a non-binary approach to describing the astrological signs, instead of using masculine/feminine, the author uses night/day and exhale/inhale. I liked that very much, it made me experience the zodiac and astrology a lot better and more enjoyable.
How so more enjoyable? When I hear/read masculine /feminine in other astrological works, I understand it’s just terms of opposites, not dealing with a man or woman, but my mind sometimes can’t help itself from doing that when I hear feminine/masculine. But instead using night and day, exhale and inhale, it was much better, made it a lot clearer and easier to read through and absorb the information presented by the author. Bravo to the author. I love it! That’s an approach I like to use when learning astrology, I swap masculine/feminine with day/night inhale/exhale.

This author touched on in good detail Decans of each astrological sign, which was a very new area for me. “A decan is a subdivision of 10 degrees of an astrological sign.” Reading the decan within each astrological sign helped reinforce the elemental attributes of each sign.

The only change or critique I have of this book, is with Chapter 7 on the Houses, a few pages into the chapter, on page 71, it boxes out the explanation of the Quadrants of Houses, such as angular, succedent, and cadent. I recommend moving this explanation to the front of the chapter, because as I was reading the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th house , it states each of these houses are either angular, succedent, or cadent, but with the underlying explanation of such later on that I was not aware of, I ended up looking these descriptions up on the web. Then 7 pages into the chapter, or by the time I reached the 11th house, the underlying explanation of the Quadrants were then provided, it a very nice and concisely done. So those who do decide to read this book, just make note for Chapter 7 to read page 71 along with the opening to this Chapter on Houses.

All in all, would I recommend this book?: Yes!

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Book Title and Author: Llewellyn’s Little Book of Halloween by Mickie Mueller

Status: Finished

How does this relate to my magical practice: I love Halloween and Samhain and wanted to learn more about it.

My personal thoughts, and opinions of the book: This is a great book, filled with little tidbits and ideas for the holiday. A nice read!

An interesting quote in the book: “Halloween has grown into a celebration that brings us together. We celebrate in costume and can become anyone; in a way, it equalizes us all. It makes us recognize the masks that we wear every day – and hopefully, we realize that beneath those masks we aren’t that different at all. Can we humans of differing backgrounds find common ground in the joy of Halloween?”

All in all, would I recommend this book: Yes.

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Wonderful way of looking at Halloween, love the quote!

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I loved that quote too! Halloween can bring us all together as long as we’re not stupid about costume choices. LOL!

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I finished my book. I’m just ytrying to get my thoughts together. I haven’t been sleeping well for quite some time and my brain is mush :exploding_head: :sleepy:

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Hopefully, you can get some rest soon. No worries, there’s no rush.

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@Eliza_01 so interesting that you read this book also! We actually have a thread about this book from a previous book club where several of us had read it at the same time…

:notebook_with_decorative_cover: The Complete Guide to Astrology by Louise Edington

This thread may interest you too from others that have read it in the past! :hugs:

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This book was recommended to me by you last year, I finally got to reading it. Very cool, I read through the reviews. Thank you for sharing the link to these reviews on the same book!

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@Eliza_01 I thought so when I saw the cover :hugs: I’m so glad you liked it! :revolving_hearts: I linked the reviews so you could see the what myself & others had thought too. I hope you have a great day! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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The 32nd session of the Spells8 Book Club and its review period have closed. But no worries! You can visit the Activities Category to find and view the current session of Book Club :open_book: