The Witches’ Almanac Issue 30
Spring 2011-Spring 2012, Stones and the Powers of the Earth
152 pages, Paperback
Goe, and catch a falling starre,
Get with child a mandrake root;
Tell me where all past things are,
Or who cleft the Deville’s foote.
— John Donne
Review by Freeman Presson, 10/20/2010
At a nice handbook size of 9 inches by 6 inches (and 3/8 inch thick), bound in slick cardstock covers with a light wood-grain pattern, this is a very attractive book. Dipping inside, one is struck by the richness of the content. There is line art throughout, mostly of the witchy-old-woodcuts variety, which was nicely chosen by Art Director Karen Marks. The table of contents identifies some 50 articles including the centerpiece, the Moon Calendar.
The calendar is organized by Sun signs, so it actually covers Capricorn 2010 through Pisces in 2012. It has Moon signs, Moon phases, eclipses and other significant sky events, and it is festooned with interesting trivia (want to celebrate Cicero’s birthday? Virgil’s? J. B. Rhine’s?), quotes from The ABC of Magic Charms, bits of advice from Almanac astrologer Dikki-Jo Mullen, and information about stones, aligning with this Almanac’s theme of “Stones and the Powers of Earth.”
Near the end is a traditional astrological outlook by Sun sign for the period covered by the Almanac. I suppose this is de rigeur in such a book, but it could have been skipped as far as I am concerned. It is written well enough, referencing the house structure of each sign and sounding quite like the voice of experience, and I will probably check mine against the actual events of the year; but ultimately, I am not expecting much.
There is one other tiny detail I would happily do without: where the cover blurb recommends “the indispensable guide … for adept, occultist, witch and mortal alike…” If I’m not going to die just because I’m an occultist, I need to revise a lot of plans!
The variety articles are generally a delight. Subjects are all over the map, from ruminations on ancient Gods to an article about hobos (which, by the way, contains a trivial arithmetic error, where 0.05% appears in a context where it is obvious that 0.5% was meant).
A brief notice by Robert Mathiesen of the upcoming The Veritable Key of Solomon by Skinner and Rankine will be very interesting to students of the grimoire tradition.
Yes, there is poetry, powerful and lovely poetry by Louise Glück, plus one piece with folkloric witchcraft elements by Thomas Campion. My epigraph from Donne is not in the Almanac; it’s just a favorite snippet that fits.
Of course, this edition of the Almanac contains an obituary of long-time editor and contributor Barbara Stacy, whose work still graces the present edition.
At the back, there’s homage to the periodical nature of the book, as a section of book reviews, letters to the Editor, and advertisements has a distinct “magazine” feel. Even the advertisements are of generally high quality: it looks like all the “best” witchy shops, readers, etc., advertise in the Almanac.
There is so much here, in such little bites, that it makes the mind reel after a while. The variety guarantees something for every interest; the brevity will send us off to other sources, including, perhaps, the gallery of Almanac extras on the Witches’ Almanac web site (three items for 2011, plus various for past years).
Recommendation: if you have any interest in any of the subject matter, it’s just silly not to have this book.
[Complimentary review copy from Weiser Books gratefully acknowledged.]