Telesco, Patricia. Spinning Spells, Weaving Wonders: Modern Magic for Everyday Life. (Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, n.d.) 241 p. bib. ill.
ISBN: 0-98594-803-6

Ever felt nervous about doing ritual spell work? Or at a loss for ideas on creating a spell or ritual for a specific purpose? Patricia Telesco, magic researcher extraordinaire, has produced a useful compendium of spell elements, both a reference work and introductory text, that you may want to consult.
Part One of Spinning Spells is "A Spellcraft Primer", a short text on folk magic and spell craft, covering history, descriptions, ethics, attitude and components, as well as advice on how to personalize a spell or create a folk spell from scratch. Part Two consists of entries on a variety of topics, from Abundance to Zeal. Each entry includes not only suggested spell components, but also sample spells using those component. Notes include General uses (a kind of scope note), Timing, Props/Focals, secondary entries to consult, and sample spells. This section is of special use because it covers a wider variety of topics than most works usually do, including extensive entries on separation, overcoming prejudice (in oneself!), nightmares, tenacity, doubt (overcoming of), and more. Appendices list components, symbols, and associations, as well as gods/goddesses and heroes/heroines. A final Appendix gives clear directions for making magickal 'craft' items, such as robes, candles, etc. There is a nice bibliography, though no index.
The spells themselves are very clear demonstrations of the psychological/ritual nature of spellcraft, as shown in this spell for 'heartbreak':

Cut a red heart out of fabric and tear it into two pieces. Next, by a waxing moon, stitch together the parts using green thread (or another healing color). While you so, add a chant that you repeat until your work is finished: "What was ripped asunder, let magic restore; return happiness to me, even greater than before." Keep this with you in your wallet, pocket or near your heart to continue the flow of healing energy.
A simple application of the principles of sympathetic magic, with the binding elements of sewing, plus color and chant elements to create an 'amulet'. But it gives the worker something to focus on, an activity that will create a corresponding mental state in the doer and thus encourage psychological healing. There is even-handed coverage of the use of herbs, both symbolically and in 'herbal medicine,' as well as aromatherapy, stones, colors, numbers, and symbols. (This is the only work I have found that gave solid suggestions for herbs for sleep pillows -- anti-nightmare -- as opposed to 'dream pillows.') The author of course encourages the readers to use the provided spells and elements, but also to find their own and use components as they appeal to the worker, not necessarily relying on 'book definitions.' The section on 'Ten Steps to Create Personal Spells' is an excellent checklist.
This book would be especially useful as a text for a study group on folk magick or a 'magickal crafts' book. It's also an excellent reference work, and far surpasses the usual quality of Crossing Press's New Age selections. The beginning practicioner of folk magick can start with given spells and move on to creating their own; experience practioners will find this a useful compendium of suggestions, though by no means comprehensive. With it's emphasis on folk magick and the use of household items, it will be especially applicable to hearthcrafters. Highly recommended.


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Copyright, J. Heise, February 21, 1997