Book Review: Magical Folkhealing by DJ Conway

Magical Folkhealing by DJ Conway Magical Folkhealing: Herbs, Oils, and Recipes for Health, Healing, and Magic was published by Llewellyn in November 2018. Note: I recently signed up for NetGalley so I can get early copies of books in exchange for honest reviews, so, while I did not pay for this book, the opinions are still entirely my own. People always put those disclaimers at the end of the page and I feel like that’s so sneaky, so mine’s right up top. Anyway, the book! First, I love the cover and chapter headings for this book, and after reading the introduction I believe it’s meant to mimic the author’s own herbal that became the basis of this text. The introduction has a lot about the author’s background and it made me feel like the really understood the traditional folk magick behind herbal healing; the more I read about it the more intrigued I became.

The first few chapters are introductions to timing and terms with one covering flower and herb slang that presumably gave witches the reputation of “eye of newt” and other such mean ingredients. I really enjoyed seeing it all written out as a list and it gives me a little chuckle to think how these old slang terms ended up accidentally terrifying people. When covering the planets and signs I was disappointed that the author left out Pluto; even though we Scorpios are also ruled by Mars many (most) of us are very Pluto loyal. Hasn’t it regained planetary status yet? Because it will always be the planet of my heart.

Chapter 7 Herbs and Tree for Magick and Well-Being features a compendium of various herbs and their properties including planet, deities, element, gender, parts of the plant used, common names, basic powers, as well as more specific uses. This section is 170 pages long and makes up around half of the book. It’s a great reference and would make this book of the type that you keep on a shelf so you can grab it and use it as needed. It’s worth noting that this section is organized alphabetically by herb name, and not by use or any other categorization.

Chapter 8 Herbal Combinations for Spells contains recipes for various ailments primarily the cold, flu, and their associated symptoms, as well as morning sickness, and other physical ailments. This chapter does use the word “gypsy” repeatedly, which has fallen out of favor. The section then briefly discusses with crystals and planets before covering poppets and charm bags. I just finished reading Silver Ravenwolf’s Poppet Magick which is an excellent resource for poppet information. While mostly helpful, some of the recipes in this section feel incomplete, and the chapter on the whole feels slightly disorganized.

Chapters 9 through 11 cover oils, though Chapter 9 is only two pages long, which I found odd, since the whole section listed is ten pages long, and should probably be combined. Oils are organized alphabetically by name and by scent type. Chapter 12 Creating Special Atmospheres are the recipes that use oils, organized into groups by use. The way the recipes and formulas are organized, again, is a bit confusing because there are personal oils, massage oils, then rose recipes, then creams (though it’s really just saying to buy unscented cream and add herbs), and more cold and flu remedies, etc.

On the whole I wanted to like this book a lot more than I ended up liking it just because the connection to the author’s family made me have high hopes. I would recommend it to those starting out with herbal work since it has a lot of great recipes and information, despite the issues with content flow.

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