Thursday, 23 February 2012

Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore - Melusine Draco

Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore - Melusine Draco

Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the publisher for review. This in no way influences my opinions; but it does increase the strain on my already heaving bookshelves.

I was born within spitting distance of Poole Harbour, and spent the first thirty years of my life living a stone’s throw from the Solent. I grew up loving the sea and the shore, and now I’m in the heart of Yorkshire, I miss it. So I was really keen to read this particular book, prepared for some seriously nostalgic moments and hoping for a few new ideas.

All in all, I wasn’t disappointed. The nostalgia was evoked by page two, with a quote from the BBC shipping forecast, the names of which I can still quote from heart after hearing them on Radio Four several times a day in my childhood!

There is a lot of concrete information crammed into this small volume. None of it is exhaustive, and much should serve as an appetiser to those who are looking to work traditional-style magic at the sea shore. From geological explanations for the creation of rock formations, through descriptions of cloud types and the Beaufort Scale, to fishing-folk superstition and folk-lore, the author has provided a firm basis for a budding sea-witch to base research and further work on. She provides practical exercises to synchronise your magic with the ebb and flow of tides, and with specific parts of the sea shore, from rock pools to sea caves. She has taken time to research and include some traditional charms (and, unlike many authors I have read recently, quotes her sources.) Her prose is lyrical without becoming insipid, and is pleasing to read. Even the chapters are named after sea-inspired classical music pieces - another titbit of information for you to build on (go listen to the music while you read the book!) She also includes an bibliography at the back of the book as further reading and sources.

The author is at pains to point out the danger of the sea in a physical manner, and continually reminds the reader to maintain awareness of incoming tides, inclement weather, and personal safety when working alone on the beach - this is not the place to lose sight of your surroundings and float off to a higher plane; you might find yourself in deep water. Literally.

There is one inaccuracy I spotted: on page 115 she quotes the lunar cycle as 27.3 days (it is in fact, a little over 29.5 days), but this does not detract from the great volume of other information she has provided. One thing that does NOT sit well in this otherwise enjoyable and useful volume is on page 9, where the author advocates throwing “an unobtrusive plastic container… containing your charm into the tide and let the natural currents carry it where they will.” This is littering, pure and simple, and humankind has poured enough rubbish into the oceans - I would urge any budding sea-witch to refrain from using this suggestion. Aside from this, I really enjoyed this book, and it did inspire a trip to the North Yorkshire coast for this witch!

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