REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
Review from Andy Lloyd’s Book Reviews
Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore
I recently heard a presenter on Radio 4 say something like “Of course, there weren't any real witches” as a throw-away line, as if assuming that the whole movement itself was something dreamt up by misogynistic religious nuts with pyres in need of human kindling. Yes, the genocidal witch-hunters hated the old religion and drove it to extinction. But there was actually an old religion there to destroy. Gradually, that movement is re-emerging, mostly in the form of Wicca. And what a wonderful thing it is - devoid of the dogmatic power-trips of monotheistic religions, immersed in science and folklore, and most of all promoting a tangible connection to the environment. Surely it is a religion for our times? Yet it treads warily. There is still much prejudice - even fear and loathing - aimed at witches, who are generally grossly misunderstood.
The ‘Traditional Witchcraft’ series provides varied information about what it means to be a practising witch in modern times. In places, it feels like a guide, or self-help book. But there is much more to it than that. What strikes me is the amount of science running through the book. To understand nature is to live as a part of nature, and ultimately to become one with its changing patterns and cycles, to synchronise one’s own psychic or magical energy with natural tidal forces and the elements. So a witch, like no other religious practitioner that I’m aware of, must study her environment carefully, and attune her life to it. For a witch devoted to the sea and seashore, that involves learning much about the tides, weather, flora and fauna of the coastline, lunar cycles, as well as the folklore and myths of the sea:
"The world of the sea-witch is not confined to the shore and the water margin. It is a multi-dimensional world of light and shadow, of reality and illusion, where we have moved into the subjective world of the spirit - a rich fishing-ground for those who trawl in these inner seas. The Mystery is now within and around us. By immersing ourselves in the world of myth and legend to such a degree, it has become as tangible to us as the 'real' world, forming a continual back-ground to our daily life." (p133)
The learning is multi-disciplinary, and feels almost as if one was studying a textbook written by a poet. Yet the science collated in these pages is interesting, and pragmatic. Intermingled with the factual information is much about rituals, superstitions, beach treasures to collect for magical means and, of course, spell-casting. The witchcraft seems real enough - the engagement in the rituals and practice requiring as much faith as any other religion as to its efficacy. The author warns against the use of black magic, but does not shy away from revealing some of its secrets.
Each witch finds their own path, and the sense here is mostly of a solitary journey rather than the work of a coven. Indeed, many times the author cautions the reader about how to conduct her craft in public spaces so as not to draw attention to herself. That wariness is still very much apparent, and after centuries of religious persecution perhaps that is wise counsel. Yet, the old religion is never far from the surface even in everyday life - you just have to know where to look. The book shows how seafarers and those whose lives depend on the sea, cling to superstitions deeply entrenched in the old lore. The crafts of sailors of yesteryear are closely related to the spells and rituals of the sea-witch e.g. the tying of knots. Witches, through their personal study and observation of the coastal environment, were able to attune themselves to the weather, and thus predict in-coming storms - very useful for local folk before satellite/computer based forecasting, but this was also a knowledge that created a sense of unease. Knowledgeable women made the local patriarchs uncomfortable, of course - plus ça change.
Not everyone tuned into the sea can physically live near it, of course, and the book also provides advice for the budding sea-witch who lives inland, even in an urban environment. Much information is provided on how to build a sea garden sanctuary, away from prying eyes, to conduct ritual and relax in. The tides still extend their reach inland, as science has shown through its study of the remarkable tidal recalculation made by inland oysters (p115-6).
Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore is like a Radio 4 feature about witches - not that one could ever imagine that happening, or imagine a witch providing ‘Thought for the Day’ on the Today programme! But it has that sense of quiet wonder about it, supported by education, knowledge and, above all, wisdom.
~ Andy Lloyd Book Reviews, On-line
Once again, Melusine Draco has delivered an important contribution to the study and practice of traditional witchcraft.
This work contains a wealth of information on harnessing the magical power of the sea and its flora and fauna. As in Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living, the magical theory and practice outlined is solidly grounded in natural phenomena experienced by everyone. The usual neo-pagan and new age fantasies are replaced with solid information on oceanography, meteorology, and nephology in a way that is not only useful to a magical practice but very interesting. A thorough catalog of plants and animals and their magical uses, as well as an extensive selection of spell work and spiritual exercises, make this a valuable resource for beginners and seasoned practitioners.
The book is not just for those of us fortunate to live close to the sea. A person living in any location can benefit from making use of the natural tides that are an important feature in the practice that is thoroughly explained by the author.
The writing is accessible, thought provoking, and often humorous. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
~ Chris Grabarkiewctz, Amazon rating
TRADITIONAL WITCHCRAFT FOR URBAN LIVING and TRADITIONAL WITCHCRAFT FOR THE SEASHORE Melusine Draco (Moon Books/John Hunt Publishing Ltd www.moon-books.net £9.99/US$16.95 each 143pp and 149pp)
The author of these books was an initiate of the late Bob Clay-Egertons Coven of the Scales and she has been a practising occultist, magical teacher and writer on esoteric subjects for over twenty years. These two books are the first volumes in a series on modern traditional witchcraft for beginners.
Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living, as the title suggests, is a guide to being a witch today in a town or city environment and still connect to nature, the elemental forces and the land. The other book is for those who live near or often visit the coast and wish to magically commune with the sea and its energies. You will not find any Wiccan Rede or invocations to Cernunnos and Ceridwen here and the featured charms are mostly Christianised ones as traditionally found in historical witchcraft. Both of the books are written in a down-to-earth style with a refreshing commonsense approach and are rooted in the folk traditions and Old Ways of the British Isles.
The next two volumes on traditional witchcraft in the forest and on the field will be published in March by the same publisher.
~ Micael Howard, Editor - The Cauldron
It recognises that we can't all live in picturesque cottages by the coast and that if we light a huge Fire of Azrael (made famous in Dion Fortune's Book The Sea Priestess) on some popular tourist beach we are unlikely to be left alone to peacefully scry into its embers.
Instead, Melusine offers a selection of easy pathworkings and visualisations plus traditional folk spells and that you can whisper quietly or just go through mentally without saying anything aloud while sitting by the seashore or standing before the waves. The book also suggests creating a small garden containing such things as shingle, bits of driftwood, shells and plants that are happy growing on dunes and shingle or inland. Even if you live in a town or city, you can spend time in your sea garden and imagine you are by the coast.
Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashorebmakes a useful companion volume to Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living. ~ Lucya Szachnowski, Badwitch
Now have 10/10 customer reviews on both amazon sites. SR 25/9 ~ Customer reviews, amazon.com and amazon co.uk
“The majority of books I encounter on the subject of witchcraft and Wicca fall into one of two categories: they are written for rural witches, or for urban witches, as though those are the only two options. If you believe the stories of how things were in the “bad old days,” witches were seldom found in either of those two settings. They were most often found in the transitional (or “liminal”) areas – the last house in the village just before you entered the countryside, or the first house after such a point. They weren’t living in the wilds, but they weren’t comfortable in the daily to-do of the village centre either.
This book addresses another transitional space: the seashore. If you live on the coast, you are aware of that particular space between high- and low-tide: it isn’t always land and it isn’t always water, but it shares the characteristics of both. You know the effects the tides have on daily life (even though you probably are only concerned with the tides of the water not with atmospheric and terrestrial tides), as well as how they help to sculpt the environment in which you live. You are undoubtedly aware of the winds and their potential benefits and hazards.
This is not a book for those who are new to witchcraft. In fact, even some folks who have spend years in the Craft may find themselves wondering what they have stumbled into. Within the first dozen pages of the book I found myself exposed to ideas I hadn’t considered in years (even though I had been exposed to them in theory during my early involvement with the Craft) ...” Mike Gleason - Spiral Nature online magazine.
~ Mike Gleason, Spiral Nature - online magazine
"Melusine Draco, as her name suggests, has long been plugged into the powerful currents of traditional witchcraft and ritual magic. She is one of the real ones. Her provocative titles, Mean Streets Witchcraft and Sea Change will show how to move between those inner and outer worlds. Follow along behind her if you dare..." ~ Alan Richardson, Author of biographies of Dion Fortune and W G Gray