Book Review: Llewellyn’s 2018 Magical Almanac

Llewellyn's 2018 Magical AlmanacLlewellyn’s 2018 Magical Almanac: Practical Magic for Everyday Living is one of the publisher’s annual offerings and contains a series of interesting articles geared toward pagans and witches. It is Llewellyn’s longest running annual and is similar to the Witches’ Companion, though it differs in some key ways. The Almanac is divided into four sections: Earth Magic, Air Magic, Fire Magic, and Water Magic. In the center there is an Almanac Section that has information on Moon signs, Sabbats (Northern and Southern Hemisphere), and a calendar that contains Moon information and various festivals. The Magic sections are filled with 7-8 articles each with a total of 29 articles in this edition. Each article has a different author and are around 5-10 pages long apiece. There are many different kinds of articles, not all of which work for me, but there’s plenty to like. Below are my favorite articles from each section along with some information about them.

Earth Magic

“The Five Celestial Animals of Feng Shui” by Mireille Blacke

To be honest, I have never connected with Feng Shui, but I still found this article very interesting. It covers the celestial animals and their properties, as well as how to use the information to arrange your home. Maybe it’s my inner clutter bug that’s resisting, but after reading this article, I wanted to give Feng Shui another try.

“The Problem with Offerings” by Lupa

I really enjoyed this article because this is an issue that has been on my mind for the better part of the last year. Offerings are a standard piece of pagan and witchcraft practices, leaving something behind for nature to reclaim as a gift of thanks. However, every single thing has a carbon footprint, and while I do still like leaving food (which Lupa argues well against), their ideas for replacement ‘offerings’ was helpful and very appreciated. I am absolutely incorporating some of them into my practice immediately.

Air Magic

“Greek Handkerchief Magic” by James Kambos

This article was short and contains a little bit of practical magick from the author’s family. In short it involves coercing a handkerchief into helping you find a lost item. This type of old fashioned, passed-down-through-generations magick is some of my absolute favorite to work with.

“Pagan Prayer Beads” by Elizabeth Barrette

I was actually very surprised that I liked this article so much, but as I read more and more about the idea of making pagan prayer beads, the more I liked it. The article discusses uses for prayer beads as well as how to make your own, and it’s an idea I’m considering trying out.

“Don’t Be Afraid of the Tarot” by Deborah Blake

I was really enjoying this article and thought to myself “I wonder who the author is,” and flipped to the first page, “of course it’s Deborah Blake.” I have a hard time not liking anything she writes, but this article on the ‘big bads’ of the tarot deck was really interesting. It’s hard not to be rattled when certain card come up in a reading, but Blake goes through a few heavy hitters of the Major Arcana and how to interpret them in a less terrifying way.

Fire Magic

“Charming Chickens” by Natalie Zaman

I absolutely love chickens; I have no idea why, I just do. When I saw a whole article devoted to chickens I was extremely excited, then super upset by the chicken foot charm directions, but on the whole happy with the read. My vegetarian anxiety was offset by the directions for making a “witch’s ladder” with chicken feathers, which included a lot of helpful information. There is also a cute rooster meditation as well, which I enjoyed. If you’re squeamish like I am, just skip the chicken foot charm section.

“Vesta: Goddess of the Eternal Flame” by Estha K. V. McNevin

If you are interested in dedicating your hearth (aka your fireplace for most of us) to Vesta, look no further. The article has information on the goddess herself, and a ritual to invoke Vesta that I thought was both lovely and well-researched. The words of the ritual are reworkings of older sources, and I appreciate the modernization. This is specifically a modern Eastern Hellenist invocation, as the author writes, but I think it can be appreciated by many paths.

Water Magic

“A Guided Visualization through the Ring-Pass-Not: Recycling Emotional Energy” by Barbara Ardinger

Water Magic was an odd section, maybe it’s just because water is so emotional, but most of the articles were personal stories that were too emotionally charged for one reason or another. An almanac, after all, is a collection of information, and should be more fact than feeling. Because of this, Ardinger’s wonderfully odd visualization stood out, even though I’m not completely certain why it’s not in the Air section. This article takes the reader through a visualization activity, going to every planet in our solar system (why not include Pluto just for the stubborn among us?), past to the point where the universe ends, and back home. It would take some small adjustments to make into a very different and fun guided meditation, and I’m looking forward to take this one for a spin.

Conclusion

It’s not all jam, of course. There were a few articles that felt out of place such as the article about how to start a fire and the article about critical thinking. They were both loosely tied into magick at the end, but not in any way that was significant. That usually happens in these collections though, and they’re still educational.

I was somewhat put off by the final article in the book, which was anti-meditation, and had a generally negative vibe. I can’t meditate (easily or comfortably), so I don’t take issue with that, but I do take issue with the statement: “[Shiva’s] smoking pot in a cremation ground hanging out with his cremation ground bros, the ganas” (301). It felt insulting on many levels, and the reduction of the god Shiva to a drug-addled, urban (implied) youth should really insult more than a few groups of people. I was a little surprised and disappointed that the editors allowed this to pass. Interestingly enough, this author also uses several logical fallacies in their article that a read through the critical thinking article could have prevented.

In the end, however, I absolutely enjoyed this volume and was happy to have read it. I even recommended parts of it to my coven mates, with is a sure fire mark of quality (the book nerd forcing books on others), and added bits to my own grimoire. I find the Magical Almanac to be more accessible to newcomers than the Witches’ Companion and would recommend that new pagans and witches pick up this volume first (though I do enjoy reading both). I hope this review was helpful and blessed be!

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