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The Real Witches Garden

Spells, Herbs, Plants and Magical Spaces outdoors

Kate West
178 pages

I was all excited when I received my review copy of The Real Witches Garden. I hoped for valuable insights into spiritual approaches to gardening and creating sacred spaces, or traditional gardening lore and a discussion of magical herbs and herbalism. Of course, I would not expect a scientific treatise or anthropological study, but, some substance, nevertheless. But I ended up not finding the book as useful as I had hoped. I have tried to put my finger on what exactly I felt was lacking. The author covers a lot of ground. I think my fundamental criticism of this book is that it is trying to be too many things to too many people. It is difficult to see who exactly it was written for, but it seems mostly to address those that are quite new to both, gardening and the Craft. I cannot imagine that an absolute novice of either art would buy this book, yet, there is even a glossary of the most rudimentary terms and a section about witchcraft in general. I would have thought 'A real witch' would be familiar with this basic terminology?

The book presents a healthy mixture of magical advice tempered with common sense, though sometimes it is rather overstating the obvious. There are some good ideas sprinkled in amongst it all, if one has the patience to sift through it all. Though I felt a little put off by the author's over emphasizing of common sense safety issues, as if the book was written for 8 - 15 year olds. Once upon a time this kind of tone on product labels was a laughing stock among self-respecting and self-responsible adults. It now seems to have insidiously crept into and invaded the public sphere to a worrying degree. I could write a book on this topic, but I shall restrain myself here...

Unfortunately, I can't say that this book really inspired me either for its gardening advice or for its magical guidance. But maybe a beginner at either craft might gain more from this book. One aspect in particular I felt was sadly missing was a discussion of the doctrine of signature and the magical uses of certain herbs in traditional Craft and herb lore. There is a brief mentioning of astrological gardening principles, but not enough to really be practical. Invocations and spells are spelled out in cookbook fashion. Associations of plants and various Deities, elementals or festivals are given without further explanation. There are separate chapters dedicated to the festivals, which include suggested rituals, practices and craft projects. In some ways this seems the most interesting part of the book, especially for those who want to interest children in the idea of magical gardening. For the novice who needs or wants everything spelled out this book may be useful, but personally I felt it to be too insubstantial. On a scale of 1 - 10, I would give it 3 stars.

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This Article was originally published in the Sacred Earth Newletter. The Newsletter is a FREE service containing articles, news and reviews on all things herbal and/or ethnobotanical, with an approximate publication cylce of 6 - 8 weeks. If you wish to subscribe, please use the subscription box to submit your e-mail address.


Please note that although all the references to edible and medicinal herbs are tried and tested, their efficacy cannot be guaranteed and has not been approved by the FDA. Furthermore, everybody responds differently to various plants, and adverse reactions cannot be ruled out. Historical information regarding poisonous plants is included for educational purposes only and should not be tried out at home. Everybody uses herbs at their own risk and thus must make themselves fully aware of their potential power. Any information given here is educational and should not replace a visit to the doctor should this be necessary. Neither Sacred Earth nor Kat Morgenstern accepts responsibility for anybody's home experimentation. Links to external sites are included as pointers to further resources - we do not endorse them or are in any way responsible for their content, nor do we thus verify that their content is accurate.