If you are lucky enough to live near a bookstore that carries “our kind of books”, how often do you make the trip to browse the shelves? Do you head straight to “our section”, peer closely at the spines to see if anything new and magical is to be found? How often do you sigh, disappointed, at the books that are designed so well and with such bright colors, that always seem to carry names like Spells for the Beginner Witch and Magic for Newbs? You may be frustrated, thinking you know all this, you’ve read it over and over … where are the books geared towards advance practitioners? Where is all the “deep magic”?
You’re looking in the wrong section.
When was the last time you browsed the poetry? When did you last flip through the pages of a book on the native animals of your area? Are you well-stocked on books that teach you about the dance of the stars and the way the blood sings through the veins? Child, what have you been reading? There is wisdom to be found in Pagan books, but there is wisdom, too, to be found in what you may have discarded as “mundane”.
Then, too, there is this problem: a book is only a guidepost. It cannot practice the craft for you, cannot praise the gods and spirits in ecstatic moonlit rites. It cannot bind a sickness, nor can it part the veil and ease you into the land of the dead. Most importantly, a book is comprised of a beginning, middle, and an end; it can only hold so much. Because we have lost so much, it is necessary that, once you have been provisioned with “the basics”, that you go out and seek out the remnants of what was lost.
One excellent place to begin looking is in fairy tales. Once you have a grasp of the natural world, a grasp of actual history and physics and science, folk stories and myths become all the more rich precisely because you can better appreciate the fantastical. Once you’ve accepted that you are never likely to meet a talking raven, learning about seven men who became seven birds opens you up to new dreams and possibilities. You are free to question and weigh, and decide what is true, what is symbolism, and where is the magic that lies in between.
Skip Disney. Delve straight into the Brothers Grimm, and then, farther back, into the stories the monks wrote down when they were all but assured that the old gods were gone. Slip into those pages, delve deep, and see what magic you find.
[Written by Ashley Nicole Hunter.]