Oh gods I hope it’s almost over.
Accessible? If you have limitless time and energy
This isn’t a comment on any one chapter. It’s a comment on all of them.
He states at the beginning his goal was to make magic more accessible with this book. He did…for able-bodied suburbanites without money issues. In fact this book should probably be called Supermarket Magic For Suburbanites In Good Health and With No Money Troubles.
A good chunk of the recipes are pretty good, and fairly easy to create. The rest, however, aren’t accessible if you’re low on time, energy, or even money.
Not to mention, at least twice I had to search on the internet to figure out what something was in a recipe. I don’t know about you, but “chervil” and “bulgur” are not on my usual shopping lists. He could have put “French parsley” and “a type of whole grain from different wheats” in parentheses after these things, but he didn’t — leaving it up to the reader to figure it out themselves.
That’s not really accessible.
His recipes for oils all require you to cook them on the stovetop. Even the vinegar recipe requires cooking on the stovetop. He never mentions cold infusion techniques as an alternative for people who might not have the time to cook their oils, or maybe might not have a stove? Or can’t use one safely?
The book assumes you have your own place and the luxury of doing all this witchcraft whenever, wherever, with the “basic” resources that come with having an actual home. He gives lip service to the idea of living with people not aware of your magic, but doesn’t really give alternatives (aside from “just tell them you’re making a culinary oil!”).
He continually harps on the REAL, WHOLE FOODS bullshit horn, to the point of telling you to squeeze the juice from half a lemon over a sieve into your brew — because apparently the pure lemon juice in a bottle you can pick up isn’t good enough? (But then other recipes call for “lemon juice” so apparently you need to have both whole lemons and lemon juice on hand to be ready for any of these recipes, because who knows what will be called for! He certainly won’t give you the alternative measurement and I’m sorry, I picked up this book for one-stop recipes, I shouldn’t have to google “How much lemon juice is in one half a lemon?” to do a “simple” brew.)
All the food recipes call for you to make everything from scratch using whole, fresh foods. No frozen veggies or fruits; no pre-packaged anything. Spend several hours of your day making this from the ground up. The one bread recipe that I saw requires, of course, you to make the bread by hand. Which, hey, I personally wanna get into that, but an alternative for bread machines would have been nice. (Wait, let me guess, he probably believes that bread machines won’t make “real” bread.)
One recipe calls for saffron. He admits this is super expensive, but includes the recipe anyway. Saffron is not accessible. It’s not even sold in all grocery stores. You can get it here if you PUT A SECOND MORTGAGE ON YOUR HOUSE (assuming you’re lucky enough to have one!).
A spell calls for you to sew a poppet and then set it on fire. He says you should do this spell outdoors or “in the garage” because of the smoke. How many assumptions can we spot?
- That the person can sew — a HUGE assumption these days. I sew, and many people look at me like I’m a witch when I say that. Which, ok, I am, but you know what I mean.
- That the person can afford fabric or to cut up a piece of clothing. Also a big assumption.
- That the person has access to a safe outdoor spell-casting spot or a fucking garage (sorry, is my bitterness as a Vancouverite bleeding through?) in which they can SET FIRE to the poppet that they just spent a while making with fabric that cost either money or old clothes.
This same spell calls for a whole nutmeg. Nutmeg is not the cheapest of spices — pre-ground it’s something like 5 dollars an oz. Whole it’s slightly cheaper — about four dollars for 1 oz, and you can get that down if you buy more than 1 oz. But still, not the cheapest, and not the most common. I’m fairly certain the grocery store near us doesn’t carry whole nutmeg and honestly, I’m not sure when I saw it in any store last.
Not to mention, if you’re buying it for witchcraft it mostly makes more sense to get it pre-ground because the vast majority of these recipe calls for it ground.
So the fact that this spell calls for a whole nutmeg (and doesn’t say “Or this much ground nutmeg” at all) PLUS setting fire to a poppet? Say it with me, kids: NOT ACCESSIBLE.
Honestly, in any other book, I’d be like, “Ok, cool spell, won’t be doing it till I own my own place.” In a book that’s supposed to be all about making witchcraft accessible? What the actual fuck?
In this same chapter on money spells (yes, the “BURN YOUR POPPET” spell was a money one) he has a spell called “It Takes Money to Make Money Spell” that calls for “the highest denomination of paper money you have (a hundred dollar bill is excellent, if possible)”. Now, normally I wouldn’t harp on this at all…except at the beginning of the chapter he goes on this big rant about how money itself is inherently worthless which means we can’t actually draw money energy to us, and instead need to focus on what money gives us (security, food, meds, etc).
So…if money “has no endemic power” then why do I need money for this spell?
Also who the fuck has paper money these days? Certainly not me. The lowest denom of paper money in Canada is a 5 dollar bill and I’m lucky if I have one of those, and when I do it often gets spent pretty quickly.
Later, in the divination/psychic ability chapter, he gives you a recipe to make your own pendulum…using a hazelnut and thread. He mentions that it might be difficult to punch a hole through the nut and you might have to go through several.
The reasoning for using a hazelnut is because of their traditional connection to wisdom (see: Celtic shit), but seriously…there are so many easier ways to make a pendulum and they will all work. I literally once made a pendulum while I was in class using a string of paperclips and an eraser and it worked FINE.
This is the fanciest recipe for a pendulum I have ever seen and it’s just not necessary. Or accessible.
The divination chapter also has this weird thing where he’ll give you a a way to divine and tell you that you need to find your own meaning in the symbols, but then say that consulting a book on tea-leaf reading could be helpful. When you’re not doing tea-leaf reading at all, you’re doing divination with wax and powder or the yolk of an egg in water. I’m pretty sure you can’t just map on the meanings from tea-leaf reading to literally any other divination system, but then again I don’t know that much about tea leaf reading. It seemed weird though.
Finally, another couple of MAJOR ways these recipes are not accessible? Complete lack of correspondences and alternatives.
He gives you recipes with certain ingredients, but doesn’t tell you the *why* of each ingredient except in a very few cases. He also never gives alternatives/substitutions.
So you’re given a recipe that apparently is good for luck, but obviously, some of these ingredients are going to have different associations that work well together — otherwise the recipe would just be one thing. But say you’re allergic to one of them — well, without knowing the actual magic abilities of that ingredient, how do you know what to sub in instead?
This is especially egregious in the food sections of each chapter — he mentions allergies in passing, but never really does more than that. He just expects you to figure out this shit by yourself. Which again, defeats the stated purpose of “This book is going to make magic accessible!”
There are a few recipes in this book that I cannot have because of allergies, sensitivities, or I just hate that particular ingredient. I have no idea if I could successfully sub things out unless I spend the time looking up the correspondences in my other books.
That doesn’t make this book accessible for me; it makes it more work than if I did nothing from it at all. And for someone who isn’t as lucky as I am to have built up a large library of witchcraft books, including multiple ones with food and supermarket goods correspondences in them? It would be impossible.
No, Really, All Witches Are One Witch
The last chapter is called “Miscellany” and the second-to-last chapter is “Sabbats and Esbats” — so you can already guess where we’re headed!
Did you know ALL witches celebrate the Sabbats and Esbats? And that ALL witches see Samhain as the new year?
You didn’t know that? Well that’s because IT’S NOT FUCKING TRUE.
Pardon my yelling and cursing, though if you’ve gotten this far in this 3-part review you obviously don’t mind it that much. I am very frustrated by this book.
Even reading this chapter as a witch who does celebrate the eight holidays often called Sabbats, this chapter was frustrating — though, to be fair, not as frustrating as other parts of the book. In point form, the problems with it:
- “People nowadays have no idea of the TRUE significance of Halloween!” — anytime someone starts talking about the ~TRUE~ significance of a modern holiday in regards to an ancient, pre-Christian festival that occurred around the same time, that’s a red flag.
- What a thick coat of Wiccish this chapter has!
- Samhain is all about the Crone Goddess! (See above, re: Wiccishness.) Though at least he doesn’t say Hekate is a good example. Points for that, I guess.
- There’s a spell for planting seeds of magic. No mention of making sure that the seeds you choose to grow and then transplant to your garden are safe to use in your area.
- I’m probably nitpicking at this point.
- I don’t care. I’m tired and this book has made me so angry.
- Heteronormative ‘Beltaine is for “the God” and “the Goddess” to fuck’ BS.
- A spell for Beltaine calls for you to hop over a plant while riding a broom. No alternative given for those of us who cannot physically manage that.
- Ok there’s a lot of “the goddess” and “the god” in this chapter.
- …including a spell where you say “My loyalty and heart you have always and forever / My devotion is eternal, ceasing never” to said goddess and god. Yeah, that’s totally something you wanna say to two nameless and generic deities! BIND YOURSELF FOR ALL ETERNITY TO THESE POWERS is totally something that should be in a 101 book.
- Lunar = “the goddess” in the Esbats section. To his credit, however, he does caveat his practices with “in my tradition”.
- Infinity of Solution full moon spell to resolve something with everyone being happy. Nice thought; see my comments on the Infinity of Solution earlier in this review.
That said, the chapter isn’t all bad. A lot of the recipes look pretty awesome, and he doesn’t really fall into the trap of “OMG THE CHRISTIANS STOLE OUR SHIT”.
The final chapter is Miscellany and finally we get some correspondences! Except they’re not the kind I want for this. The correspondences listed are astrological, planetary, and elemental. Useful, but also something I can get from one of my other books that also tells me the uses of each herb/food.
Oh wait, I’m wrong; there were correspondences at the beginning too — for days of the week and meanings of colours. Again — not what’s really needed for this book.
Finally, I have to note something about this entire book: Furie’s tone is super paternalistic. He constantly goes on “rants” (ho buddy, you have not SEEN a rant if that’s what you think they are) about his shitty opinions, and those opinions always come across as “I know better because I’m older and wiser, so just trust me when I say I’m right.”
After reading this tone for the entire book, it became very hard for me to give him points where they were deserved, because I felt like I was being lectured by an older man who didn’t know the first fucking thing about me, and moreover didn’t care.
If you’re going to buy ONE book to aid you in your kitchen/domestic/hearth/house witchery, don’t buy this one. Get the infinitely better Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery (my review here), or A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook by Telesco, or even Cottage Witchery by Ellen Dugan which I actually haven’t read but I can tell you it’s better than this book.
(Since writing this review I have started reading it and it’s been like a balm to my angry mind — while Dugan does do some of the same things Furie does in his book, I don’t care because her tone comes across as a kind aunt who’s offered you a cup of tea and is listening to you spill about your problems, and after she’s going to invite you to help her weed her garden so you can really rip those plants out and get out your anger, and her house smells so nice and you could stay there forever. So what if she does the “all witches” thing? This tea is fucking excellent.)
If, however, you want to add to your library, have money to burn, and are curious about the recipes that I say are actually interesting or good — go for it.
(The links to these books on Amazon are affiliate links, by the way; you don’t get charged extra, but if you buy anything I make a little bit of money.)
I’m not going to burn my copy or throw it out anytime soon. I don’t really regret getting it, though if I’d paid my own money for it I might. (It was a gift from my mom. I picked it out; she paid.)
There are several recipes that look useful that I want to try. It’s not a complete loss. So if you want it for those recipes and don’t mind owning a mostly bad book to glean the good out of it, go ahead, and just…skip large chunks of it. And keep the whiskey handy.
Rating: 1 out of 5 broomsticks.
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