Review Copyright 2012 Freeman Presson, all rights reserved
Firstly, I would like to thank Andrew Theitic and the rest of the Almanac staff for allowing me such extensive input into the content of the upcoming year’s The Witches’ Almanac. They even followed several suggestions I don’t remember physically writing!
That’s my silly way of saying I think this may be the best Almanac yet. It is appropriate that that distinction should go to one dedicated to the “Wisdom of the Moon.” It doesn’t matter what magical tradition you follow, the Moon holds pride of place. Channel for the higher planetary forces; guardian of Yesod, the astral plane of forms; embodiment of She of ten-thousand names; the Moon illuminates our deep mind and leads us to our psychic destiny.
Traditionally, there are three realms of magic: natural, celestial, and divine. Various traditions emphasize them differently: Witchcraft would have more natural magic, the ceremonial systems more celestial and divine. In all my esoteric contacts (and I’m sure I have as many as anyone you know who still manages to actually practice1), I have been noticing more convergence, more mutual influence, lately than in previous decades. Indeed, this issue of The Witches’ Almanac carries on that tendency: it has strong Hermetic influences through the presentation of the Sixth Pentacle of Luna by Frater P.I.E.V., and the masterful explication of the astrology of the Behenian star Alphecca by Dikki-Jo Mullen. Not to mention that her celebrity natal analysis for this issue centers on “just some guy” known also as Master Therion DCXLVI. I also appreciated keenly the interview with Peter Grey and Alkistis Dimech of Scarlet Imprint, who are themselves working in convergent ways.
The astrological calendar is as lively with esoteric and folkloric data as always (add the birthdays of Robert Fludd and Basil Rathbone to your calendar of observances! Why not?).
Prof. Mathiesen, who wrote the introductions to Aradia and The Witchcraft of Dame Darrell of York, provides an essay on the lore of “Diana, the Giants, and the Legendary History of England,” which I wish I had read when I was going through the Arthurian source material a few aeons ago.
Deborah Lipp contributes an essay on Drawing Down the Moon (the practice, not the book) which is intriguing and authoritative, albeit necessarily short.
If you have read many of my reviews, you’re probably expecting some criticisms right about here. They are so minor this time that I am tempted to disappoint you, but here goes:
- The beautiful cover by Ogmios MacMerlin features a nicely-rendered owl in front of a full moon. I just wonder about the choice of the Barred Owl for this, instead of one of the many more nocturnal owls.
- They still have that pesky “adept, occultist, witch and mortal alike” phrasing on the cover. This sounds a bit too much like “Bewitched.”
- In the letters column near the end, someone emailed The Witches’ Almanac to ask about a recipe for a “floor wash” without giving any other context. The answer given is more or less a natural substitute for Pine-sol, which is fine, but I certainly would have assumed that the reference was to the extensive tradition of cleansing formulas called floor washes in the American Hoodoo tradition and answered accordingly.
Another reader asked about e-books, and the answer is that archives are being made available electronically, which is great … but one of the major purposes of the Almanac is as an aid to living a magical life day-to-day. For me, almost all the tools for that are now on my phone, or at least my computer; so the real question is, “When will we be able to say, ‘Witches’ Almanac? There’s an app for that!'””
In short, this traditional little annual is becoming more and more useful. It is now just silly not to have it.
The Witches’ Almanac Issue 32
Spring 2013 to Spring 2014: Wisdom of the Moon
6 x 9
July 1, 2012
1. Sparing Christopher Penczak, of course. He’s an outlier.
[Complimentary review copy from Red Wheel/Weiser gratefully acknowledged, opinions my own, your mileage may vary, etc.]