Book Review: The Witch’s Cauldron by Laura Tempest Zakroff

The Witch's Cauldron by Laura Tempest ZakroffLlewellyn’s Witch’s Tools series contains six small books, one for each of the major tools in witchcraft (athame, book of shadows, broom, cauldron, mirror, and wand) though I hope more are forthcoming. The author varies by the book with no author having more than two books in the series at the moment, similar to the Sabbat Essentials series. “The Witch’s Cauldron: The Craft, Lore and Magick of Ritual Vessels” is sixth book in the series and was written by Laura Tempest Zakroff. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this book far more than The Witch’s Book of Shadows, which is the only other book in the series that I have read thus far.

You may notice that this book looks different than the others in the series, and that is because Llewellyn decided to change how the covers looked before the publication of this installment. All of the covers are going to be changed as they are reprinted, so if you like the original covers, buy the first five books as soon as you can. By the by, I know this because of an Amazon comments conversation with a Llewellyn rep that I jumped in to because I really do care that much about book covers.

Strange as it may sound, I really love the original covers; it was the cover of “The Witch’s Mirror,” which features a tattered crow looking at a magickal, beautiful version of itself in a mirror that made me pick up the first book. Alas, the eternal bane of book collectors is the non-uniform set, which seems to be part of our destiny. The original cover, for the record, is super cute; I put it below so you can decide for yourself, but I like it much better than the final release version of the cover above.

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Book Review: The Witch’s Book of Shadows by Jason Mankey

The Witch's Book of Shadows by Jason Mankey Llewellyn’s Witch’s Tools series currently contains six small books, one for each of the major tools in witchcraft (wand, broom, mirror, athame, book of shadows, and cauldron) though I assume more are forthcoming (familiar, I hope, will be on the list). The author varies by the book with no author having more than two books in the series at the moment, similar to the Sabbat Essentials series. The Witch’s Book of Shadows: The Craft, Lore and Magick of the Witch’s Grimoire was written/compiled by Jason Mankey, who also wrote The Witch’s Athame. Unfortunately, I was not thrilled with Mankey’s book, and I think it was largely due to the author’s personal magickal path more than anything else.

Since the book series is presented as a general guide to major tools in witchcraft, I feel that it’s important to not have one particular path emphasized. In this book, the author adds in a lot of Christian information that I feel does not belong, talking about Jesus and angels frequently. Mankey himself started on a Christo-pagan path, but that certainly doesn’t mean it belongs in the book. The book is based heavily around Mankey’s own experiences, perhaps more than it is on research on the Book of Shadows and/or Grimoire tradition, and he uses more examples from his personal life than I feel is appropriate. In that same vein Mankey is Wiccan, and much of the book is influenced by Wicca due to that fact. There are many witches, myself included, who are not Wiccan at all. Since these are general guides, or at least are presented as such, it would be nice if it wasn’t so specific as to a certain path. Additionally, and this is a writing gripe, he breaks the third wall and talks about his editor’s suggestions, letting the reader know that he was forced to add things. It felt out of place, but clearly the editor had no issue with it, since the passages were published. Still, it felt odd.

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