Slavic Witchcraft is a fascinating book which provides a comprehensive introduction to Slavic paganism, witchcraft, magic, folklore, and divination. Helvin provides us with a brief overview of her life growing up in the Soviet state, details of some of the cultural beliefs and practices, and the concept of “dual faith”, where there is a blurring of lines between the old paganism of Russia and Christianity. This I found really interesting, and I would have liked a bit more on both the cultural and religious background here and of Helvin’s own experiences whilst growing up. She has a deep love and respect for her upbringing, her elders and ancestors, and the magical practices shared within the family, and this shines through the text.
The latter part of the book is separated into chapters for spells and charms — love, money, protection, house and home, health, dreams, divination, and cemetery traditions. Helvin also covers superstitions and burial practices of both Orthodox traditions and more regional, family groups. She does not shy away from more difficult subject matter and does discuss darker aspects of sorcery and magic, including graveyard spells, crossroad curses, and more. I found this book to be refreshingly balanced in that the more baneful magics are covered as well as the benignant ones, showing maturity and depth.
Slavic Witchcraft reminds me of elements of Corinne Boyer’s Under the Witching Tree and Judika Illes’ Element Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells, in that it blends folklore with witchery, culture and magic, spellcraft and religion in a cohesive way. I learned a lot about Slavic practices and, at the same time, recognised a lot of my own beliefs and practices within these pages. I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.
My rating: 5 out of 5
I received an e-ARC from the publisher, Inner Traditions, through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.