The latest addition to Moon Books’ Practically Pagan series, Maria DeBlassie’s An Alternative Guide to Magical Living doesn’t exactly do what it says on the tin, but is still an informative and encouraging read. To be clear — this isn’t necessarily a book on magical living (in terms of the basics of Paganism) but it cover many aspects that underpin living a more magical life.
Many people think that living a magical life is all spells and potions all the time, but it’s more than that — and I’m speaking here as an experienced Witch with many years under her belt. It is understanding where you came from, who you are today, and where you’re going — which the author covers as she weaves her own story throughout this book. It is also ensuring that you are taking the best care of yourself as possible, so as to provide a firm foundation for any magical work that you may wish to do — so this includes things like self-care, mindfulness, slow living, being aware of nudges and winks from the Universe/Divine and so on. Reframing your everyday rituals as magical, remembering to schedule your doctor’s appointment, taking your med, challenging your limiting beliefs, finding joy in the everyday — all of this underpins a magical practice, and that’s what the author is getting at here.
There are meditations, rituals, and journal prompts in this book, but they are firmly rooted in the everyday, in the mundane and practical, such as taking care of yourself, getting used to saying no, or meditating on the benefits of doing a chore you hate. There are some energetic practices too, such as becoming aware of how you spend your energy each day, or listening to your intuition, and valuing your own instincts. However, there is a lot of emphasis on the Goddess and feminine spirituality, and therefore some readers who do not identify as female may feel alienated, which is a shame.
This book also goes into the deep work of dismantling societal conditioning that many of us take as “the norm” — such as the myth that productivity is more important that simply being; that consumerism and capitalism are the only ways to live; that being labelled as “less than” is acceptable. There are also discussions about being aware of generational trauma and working to heal it; mental health awareness and healthcare; and taking control of your own joy and pleasure without the ingrained guilt that many of us feel, amongst other things.
If you are looking for a book full of spells and rituals, look elsewhere; this isn’t it. If, however, you are looking for a book to challenge your thought processes, to help you reframe and redefine your life on your own terms, to encourage self-care and self-determination — all of which produce a good foundation for magical and spiritual work — then this is a great introduction.
Practically Pagan — An Alternative Guide to Magical Living
Moon Books, October 2021
My rating: 4 out of 5
I received an e-ARC from the publisher, Moon Books, through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.