Due out in October 2011, the next Witches’ Almanac shows great consistency with previous numbers (it seems like about six weeks since I wrote my review of issue 30). The masthead is unchanged except for the loss of the late Barbara Stacy.
The theme of issue 31 is “Radiance of the Sun.” It will be seen as extremely ironic if the expected solar maximum comes during the span of this Almanac and is as devastating as some have predicted. In line with the theme, we have a page of notable quotes referring to the sun, an excellent essay on the Tarot Sun card by Paul Huson, and various bits of solar lore throughout.
The astrological biography this time is on Charles Leland, celebrating the release of his monumental The Witchcraft of Dame Darrell of York (watch this space for an upcoming review, but Bob Freeman has already weighed in on it).
Dikki-jo Mullen’s series on the astrology of the fixed stars continues in this issue with an essay on Spica. This is a frequently-neglected area of traditional astrology, along with the Mansions of the Moon, into both of which I intend to look more deeply in the upcoming year.
I keep the Almanac out and actually use it somewhat regularly. For example, I noted that issue 30 said that August 25th was a good day to buy salt for magical purposes (I wouldn’t mind knowing how that became the hint for that particular date). I lost my mental note and didn’t buy the salt, and darn it, it turns out I don’t have any … no, that can’t be. There are at least three places I might have hidden some. Just a minute … yes, good, there is salt in my magical “little black bag,” there with the blessed water and cornmeal where it belongs.
Other noteworthy items: the calendar is threaded through with English translations of appropriate Orphic hymns. Even though the lines are rhymed (making the translation suspect) and the deities Romanized (your mileage may vary on how strange that seems), they are still delightful in content. Nyx Reed contributes an essay on the magical use of tattoos, which is thought-provoking as far as it goes, but it trails off at the end as if the author decided to be nice instead of going where the logic led (I personally have only two tattoos, and both have to do with spirit work rather than decoration). Ogmios MacMerlin’s cover picture, of a Golden Eagle with the Sun in its eye, is outstanding visionary art. The piece on St. Germain’s astrology (of houses corresponding to years of life) by Dikki-jo Mullins is very interesting (which means I now have to queue up a search for St. Germain lore behind everything else). The interview this time is with Judika Illes (who is also on the masthead as Copy Editor, but she writes a fair amount in each issue as well).
I found three minor errors on the way through (which is hardly damning, since I could find three errors on the back of a Tarot card): on p. 48, we have “Obsience” for “Obeisance” in a piece credited as a Tantric prayer; on p. 58, “… the fixed stars — members of distant galaxies …” (our naked-eye stars are all nicely within the Milky Way galaxy); and on p. 59, a reference to Arcturus as being part of the handle of the Big Dipper (it is actually Alpha Boötis).
In summary, this is another wonderful Witches’ Almanac, continuing the lovely tradition. I don’t know who wouldn’t enjoy it; if you are too hard-core for folklore, don’t you need to lighten up?
The Witches’ Almanac, Issue 31: Spring 2012 to Spring 2013
Radiance of the Sun
Hampton Roads Publishing Company
October 1, 2011
[Complimentary review copy from Red Wheel/Weiser gratefully acknowledged, opinions my own, your mileage may vary, etc.]