Tuesday, November 6, 2012

REVIEWS: By Spellbook & Candle

Lucya | http://www.badwitch.co.ukCurses are a controversial subject among witches. Without doubt, the traditional image of the wicked witch has her cursing all and sundry - curdling the milk, blighting the crops and striking people down with horrible ailments just by muttering an ill-intentioned hex.
It is a depiction modern day witches have worked hard to overcome. Wiccans, and most other neopagans, like to see ourselves primarily as healers and helpers. We cast spells for good, not to cause harm. Many believe that cursing is not only pretty anti-social, it is also dangerous because the bad luck can rebound on the caster...
...Yet there are also those who say that if you can't curse, you can't cure, and that if you are going to master even the whitest of white spells it is useful to have a little knowledge of the darker arts. A new book due out this month, By Spellbook and Candle by Melusine Draco, explores that area of magic.
I'm sure this book will find critics who feel the subject matter is one best left alone - that curses are invariably evil and so it isn't sensible to publish a book on how to do them. Personally, I don't think such censorship is at all helpful. There is plenty of information on curses out there on the internet already for those who want to learn about them. Better to have a responsible book that explains the dangers of cursing and the ethical questions about them. 
Read the rest of this review on http://www.badwitch.co.uk/search?updated-max=2012-10-13T00:44:00-07:00
Personally, I hope I never feel the need to cast a curse on anyone or anything. But if I ever do, I want to know the best way to go about it. And this book would be a good one to turn to for that information.

Nimue Brown | The Druid Network
This is a book as fascinating for the ethical and philosophical questions it raises as for its content. It’s just under 100 pages of intensely delivered information, opening the reader to what is clearly a vast, complex and challenging subject. Melusine Draco puts cursing into its historical context – highlighting the widespread use across times and cultures. She offers examples of private, vengeful cursing, protective cursing, religiously underpinned cursing – as with excommunication, and formal, socially endorsed cursing. The ethical arguments for and against these variations could be discussed in a book several times the length of this one. The author makes clear that cursing has profound consequences and should never be considered lightly, but that there are times when to prevent harm or seek justice, it may be the only path available. The traps of self importance and anger are flagged up, but it does all come down to the judgement of the individual.
It’s good to see someone having the courage to take on this subject. Many writers on the subject of witchcraft prefer to say ‘we don’t go there’ and ‘just don’t and leave it at that. The history of cursing is a fascinating one though, laden with insights into other times and cultures. For that reason alone it is well worth studying. And the history of the topic makes clear that curses have been widely in use for a very long time, pretending they don’t exist won’t make them go away. In terms of how people perceive pagans, curses have always been part of the image. There’s much to be said for tackling that head on.
This is a thoughtful book, well written, full of interesting information and plenty of historical curses, as well as discussions of the context in which you may choose to use them. It’s slightly uneasy reading at times – and given the subject matter, it really should be. It asks some very interesting ethical questions of the reader. Would you? Have you?
I’m not a great user of spells of curses, but aside from wishing back any malice that has been sent, my preferences are as follows: To wish meaningful learning experiences on the person, to wish opportunities to grow and develop as a human being, to wish them insight and understanding, and an awareness of how others perceive them. I have also, at times, sought to invoke the forces of poetic justice. All things considered, the consequences of such wishing could be quite harsh on someone who deserved it, but would hardly touch someone who was doing well. In comparison, the curses in this book are a good deal more complicated, both in terms of method, and possible outcome. This is important work, for what it tells us about magic, history and the human condition. Even if you have no desire to hex anyone, there are a lot of reasons to pick up a copy.