Nahmad, Claire. Earth Magic: A Wisewoman's Guide to Herbal, Astrological and Other Folk Wisdom. (Rochester, VT: Destiny Books,1994) 195 p. Index.
ISBN: 0-89281-424-1

Both charming and colloquial, Earth Magic reads like the 'reciept book' of a 17th or 18th century witch or wisewoman. This is both a virtue and a stumbling-block. While the volume is crammed full of spells, instructions, charts, and folklore, it is difficult to read in large doses. The material conforms to no particular tradition or believe system, except perhaps that of Elizabethan hearthwitches, stillroom keepers, and herb grannies. Angelic and astrological correspondences rub shoulders with goddess lore, and references to both the Goddess and Jesus Christ are common.

The book is divided into twelve chapters, each covering one month and/or one sign of the zodiac. The Angels, Spirits, and Stars section for each month includes meditations on the spirit of the months, zodiac profile (on the sign itself, not necessarily a person "of" that sign), starwatching information, and invocations to related spirits. The Wisewoman's Journal section includes folklore, spells, and charms. Also for each month there is the Wisewoman's Weatherbook, with related weather lore. June, July and August feature "Witch's Garden" sections with information on a few garden features. Spells for love, for divination, for healing and protection are mixed with practical medical herbalism and weatherlore. Especially useful for those who use angelic and astrological magic, or who are looking for "traditional" women's magic.

It is clear that the information was gathered and written up by someone who was an avid student of the out of doors, including gardening, weatherworking, and astronomy. The text, though dense with symbolism and thick with information, is in a lyrical, flowing, and tender tone that is worth the time required to comprehend it. While few of us may be able to study under a genuine traditional witch in the old sense of the word-- herbwife, charmcaster, wisewoman-- or, in fact, to study their reciept books, this may be the closest to the old knowledge we will get.


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