Did you know…that the thickness of the layers in a locally grown onion will indicate the severity of the coming winter? Magic is all around us in stones, flowers, starts, the dawn wind and the sunset cloud. All we need is the ability to see it, understand it, and apply it. Magic works because of nature’s laws, not in spite of them and Doreen Valiente shows how to practice the age-old white magic which has been familiar to the Wise Ones for centuries. This book helps you tap the magic of: herbs and flowers; amulets and talismans; Water, Air, Earth, and Fire; card reading; numbers and colours; weather predicting; love relationships; dreams; birds and animals; traditional Spells; and much more. Magic is meant to help people and “Natural Magic”, essentially a practical treatise revealing the magic inherent in human life and nature, shows that magic can be for everyone. Both those who are new to the practice of magic and those with experience will find it to be delightful reading and an informative handbook for use in daily life. -Blurb from Amazon
We decided to read Natural Magic by Doreen Valiente as part of my book club over on Patreon. As a general note, I purchased this book with my own money and have not received it for the purposes of a review.
Doreen Valiente covers a lot of ground in one little book, giving us a brief explanation of more than 10 different subjects we might encounter in modern witchcraft. Each chapter is dedicated to one subject, allowing the reader to stay on topic before moving on to the next. I would also argue that the most important chapter is the first one, Magic of the Mind, which very simply drives home the fact that a strong mind is vital to a witchcraft practice.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that discernment also makes an appearance in this book. Though this book was written more than 20 years ago, I find that many of the same issues we deal with today were present then. I see this in Doreen’s chapter on the elements when she’s speaking of pyromancy — divination by fire. She speaks about how we often look for signs and symbols where there aren’t any, and that sometimes the omens we see correspond directly with their natural associations.
“To see a ship or an aeroplane also means a journey, probably overseas. Flying birds mean letters on the way. A horseshoe means excellent good luck. A bell means news of a wedding, a cradle means news of a birth, and so on — most omens of this type can be easily interpreted by their natural associations.”page 29
Throughout the entire book, Doreen really drives home that magic is simple and all around us. We don’t need fancy tools, expensive plants, or hard-to-find herbs to be a witch. We just need our intention, our will, and a bit of practice. This is refreshing, honestly, because we are inundated with images, ads, and products meant to make us better witches or give us some sort of magic that we supposedly don’t have. Truthfully, though, we don’t need any of those fancy tools to practice witchcraft.
There are, however, a few things to be cautious about if you decide to pick up this book. You need to remember that this book was written in the 70s. There are many things that were a normal part of life then that are now problematic and looked down upon. One main issue that I ran across was the use of a slur that refers to the Romani people. We know now that this is problematic and harmful to the Romani people, yet in the 70s, that wasn’t a well-known issue.
There also aren’t a lot of citations or sources, which I didn’t expect, and a lot of information is presented as fact. Again, as a product of the times, that doesn’t surprise me coming from this book.
Overall, it was interesting to read a book written by someone so influential to the modern practice of witchcraft. Reading her words and seeing her thought process is like looking through a window to the past. We can see how much of modern witchcraft was inspired by how Doreen thought and how far it has spread. Context is important, though, and we can’t expect this book to be up to our modern standards for what is right and wrong when it comes to societal issues. If you choose to read it, keep this in mind.
Grab Natural Magic for yourself: https://amzn.to/3q7MLPt
Official Doreen Valiente Website: https://www.doreenvaliente.com/
Join me on Patreon for the next book club: https://www.patreon.com/roundthecauldron
This post may contain affiliate links. Any purchase made using an affiliate link may earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you.