After I enjoyed last year’s volume so much that I was looking forward to reading the 2017 installment of Llewellyn’s Witches’ Companion: An Almanac for Contemporary Living; apparently the reviewing part just took a little while. However, my goal was to get this review up before the end of the year, and I did, but expect a review of the 2018 edition much sooner next year. This is the 9th installment in the Witches’ Companion series, and it has a very lovely urban witchcraft themed cover illustration. Can we get a foldout poster? The Companion series is a set of interesting articles, ranging between 8 to 13 pages long, that take up debates and interesting issues in the pagan and witchcraft community, and explore them in a well-written and thoughtful way. Not all of the articles will resonate, but the wide variety of articles means that something will almost certainly interest you, and you might learn about something you have never considered before. It’s also diverse enough that an eclectic pagan witch, like myself, will feel welcome. Instead of speaking in endless generalities I’ve decided to give more information and specific reviews of my favorite articles, just like last year. They are reviewed in order of appearance in the book.
“The Dark Aspects of Bright-Siding” by Charlie Rainbow Wolf
This article discusses a concept known as ‘bright-siding’ ie: always looking on the bright side of things despite that facts that life isn’t always so sunny. This article addresses the many downsides of having a relentlessly positive attitude, including the ways that it can lead to failure. This article is definitely worth a read, and a lot of it can be applied to non-magickal folks. I am decidedly not a ‘look on the bright side’ kind of person, and it’s nice to see someone extolling the virtues of this view. Everything in moderation, though, of course. If you don’t like this article you can read “Good Vibe Badass” in this same annual instead for the positive side of positive thinking.
“The Dark Goddess as Initiator: Reading into Fairy Tale and Myth” by Jane Meredith
I absolutely love fairy tales and teach them in my classroom whenever I can, so this article resonated with me. It explores the way dark goddesses appear in myth and fairy tale, and offers a lens through which to re-interpret them, not as ‘bad women’, but as dark goddesses. The article sets up a much more interesting reading of these characters, not viewing the young princess as opposite the ‘bad’ queen, but seeing them as connected and existing on the same path. This was my favorite article in the collection.
“Speaking with the Gods: Omens in a Modern World” by Stephanie Woodfield
This article actually inspired me to write down my own method of animal divination that I was then too shy to publish (I will though, I promise). The article is very helpful and gives personal examples, which I feel are necessary when explaining the concepts presented. The author works specifically with the Morrigan, but the advice in the article – which is quite good – can be extrapolated to work with any path. This article was very influential to me in my own Craft, too, which I really appreciate.
“Under a Blood Moon: A Family Ritual” by Monica Crosson
My coven has child/ren of various ages and incorporating them into a ritual is not always easy (sigh, teenagers). This article gives some advice for having children participate in rituals, and a lot of the ideas were things I had not thought of before. If you have witchlings around this is a helpful read.
“Children of the Reeds: Adventures in a Not-So-Imaginary Place” by Linda Raedisch
This article is quite short, but the story itself, which is about a mystical childhood experience, was absolutely wonderful. It reminded me of some of my own mystical childhood experiences, so often dismissed or forgotten, and it made me want to write some of them down before they were forgotten completely.
The Witches’ Companion never disappoints; the great thing about this annual is that the collection of topics is extremely diverse, so I truly believe that there’s something to be found for every witch. I also like reading opinions that I simply don’t agree with, because they helps me clarify my own beliefs even more. I highly recommend this book for pagans of all paths, new practitioners and seasoned witches alike. Blessed be, friends.