Mike Gleason


The Real Witches’ Book of Spells and Rituals by Kate West © 2009 Llewellyn ISBN: 978-0-7387-1511-7 304 pages Paperback $21.95 (U.S.) $25.50 ( Canada)

I need to point out that, while this is the first publication of this book by Llewellyn, this book saw print originally in 2003 (by Harper Element) and thus some of the contact information and such in the back of the book may need updating. Take a few minutes to check things out.

I find myself saying this every time I review, or discuss, and of Kate West’s books, but it bears repeating: The “Real” in the title does not imply that this is the only way to “do it.” It implies that this is the way witches in the “real” world (with families, work outside the home, social obligations beyond the coven, school, errands, etc.) deal with things in the opinion of the author. Your way of dealing with issues may, and probably will, vary. Ms. West simply provides one option.

Unlike many “Wicca 101” books (of which this is definitely one) which focus most heavily on the arcane aspects of how and when to do magick, this book emphasizes the why and when – with the primary emphasis on the WHY. As well as the usual suggestions for attracting new people into your life, and finding work (especially relevant in today’s economy) there are suggestions for improving communications with family members, improving your memory, and other day-to-day topics often overlooked in other books.

Perhaps the single most surprising sections of the book occur on pages 149 through 152 where Kate gives advice on coming out of the broom closet (she doesn’t recommend it) and ways of keeping your personal beliefs hidden from public notice.

Like the majority of “basic,” “101” books this one contains a large variety of sample rituals which are designed to stimulate the reader to modify them and create their own personal variations. With these, however there is an emphasis on practicality – not only creating and dismissing sacred space but physically preparing before and cleaning up afterwards.

I thoroughly enjoy Kate West’s writing. Every single book is a source of inspiration and completely enjoyable reading. If you haven’t read any of her other books, this is an excellent place to start. If you have read others by her, you will still want to add this one to your collection.

The Soul Collectors by Charles Quince © 2009 ISBN 978-1-4327-1123-8 78 pages Paperback $11.95 (U.S.)

While I admire the determination it takes to write a book (even a short one such as this one), I often find myself a little put off by the lack of attention to detail that I find. This book, unfortunately, showcased such inattention. On the very first page one of the characters is address (by his wife) as “Winston” by which name he is referred to throughout the book except at the end of that same page, where she calls him “Wilson”. It is just a minor glitch; to be sure, but for it to occur on the first page did not bode well for the remainder of the book.

On the very next page is a shift in location and character with no discernible break. Again, it is a minor detail, but troubling nevertheless. And the transitions continue to occur without any indicators. A break of a couple of blank lines would easily provide such an indicator, and make the story easier to follow.

As I was reading this story I wondered to myself if the characters (primarily college students) had ever heard of a story called “The Monkey’s Paw”? It seemed so obvious to me that all of the “good” things they got would come with a hellish price. My only major question was how bad things would get be3fore someone figured it out and corrected the problem.

The presentation of the actions, motivations, etc. of Hecate and her “minions” was extremely simplistic and was, obviously, part of the dichotomy of “good/evil” and “dark/light” which formed the basis of the final confrontation. It was a fun little book, but not one I would strongly recommend.



Soul Wide Open CD by Katrin Roush © 2009 10 tracks approximate running time: 40 Minutes $15.99 (U.S.)

I had never heard Katrin's music before I received this disc (this is her third release). I don't get a chance to listen to many new artists (or even old, established artists, for that matter). But I am glad I had the opportunity to sit down and listen to the engaging lyrics and compelling music presented on this album.

The songs are universal in their appeal with a strong country/blue flavor. Even if you don't think you like that style of music (it's not one of my personal favorites) you may be surprised to find yourself tapping fingers or toes as you listen. The words and music kind of creep up on you and guide you subtly into Katrin's world.

There is something here which is sure to resonate for you. Whether it is the overcoming of misfortune ("One Year's Time" or putting your life together from many little things ("Steppin' Stones"), or any other number of life experiences, Katrin offers her take on it and shows an appreciation of those components of life.

Ms. Roush's debut album was released in 2001, her next came out in 2005, and this third one was released this year, so it looks like I will have a four year wait for the next release (I really hate waiting), so it seems I will have to scrape together a few dollars and get the earlier releases to add to my musical library.