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Reviews: A Witch’s Guide to Ghosts and the Supernatural, by Gerina Dunwich

By Mike Gleason | August 31, 2002 | Leave a comment

A Witch’s Guide to Ghosts and the Supernatural, by Gerina Dunwich
New Page Books, 1564146162, 2002

Every once in a while I come across a book which doesn’t really affect me one way or the other. This is one of those books. It is filled with lots of folklore, and some personal experiences, but it doesn’t really have much to offer in terms of useful information. There a couple of simple prayers, some instructions on the use of the Ouija board, and interpreting the results of spirit communications; but otherwise it is simply a rehash of things which have been covered in more detail in other works. It strikes me as a book that was put together simply to fulfil a contract.

Gerina Dunwich is a prolific author who has written on a variety of topics. My daughter wasn’t terribly thrilled with her book on love spells, although she does agree with Ms. Dunwich about the hauntings at the House of Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts

The resource list at the back of the book is, for those individuals who are really interested in ghosts, almost worth the price of the book, and contains listings from around the country, as well as a few international listings.

It isn’t a book which would make my “must read” list, by any means, but it was entertaining and, if you are looking for some light reading, by all means pick up a copy. Don’t expect great things from this book, it isn’t that kind of book. But, if it is your area of interest, or you want to give a book as a gift to someone who doesn’t have a background in the mystical arts, go for it.


Review: Herbal Magick, by Gerina Dunwich

By Mike Gleason | February 23, 2002 | Leave a comment

Herbal Magick: A Witch’s Guide to Herbal Folklore and Enchantments, by Gerina Dunwich
New Page Books, 1564145751, 2002

Herbal magick is not an area I had paid a lot of attention to until about a year ago. Being friends with a well-trained herbalist, I had come to rely on her when I needed guidance (I still do to a large degree). When my health and the health of my wife began to deteriorate, however, I became more aware of the subject. I still called upon my fiend for the mundane use of herbs, but I began to look into the magickal aspects of herbs.

This book is not an herbal. It is designed primarily as a reference work, so don’t go into it expecting to be entertained and regaled with anecdotes. The entire second half of the book serves as a reference work. This alone would be worth the price of the book.

Ms. Dunwich is coming from the standpoint of a traditional Witch, with none of the vacillation of many who claim only to be Wiccan, and hence incapable of knowing (or using) the darker knowledge which has been part of the Craft for so long.

Just to make sure you don’t miss the occasional warnings about toxicity and other potential problems, Ms. Dunwich uses boldface. She is very aware of, and makes the reader aware of, the potential “nasty” uses of some of the herbs she includes in this book. While not advocating their use, she does not deny their potential for mischief, thus placing the burden of their use squarely where it belongs – on the shoulders of her readers. By placing the warnings prominently in the text, as opposed to buried in footnotes or appendices, she assures herself that no one can later claim, “Oh, I didn’t see the warning. I didn’t know that herb was potentially dangerous.”

Ms. Dunwich is clear in his distinction between religions (which she, properly, capitalizes) and magickal practices (which she does not). While not a major point, and totally unrelated to the subject of the book, it is one that marks, in my opinion, a decently educated writer.

She lists basic dream interpretations, elemental correspondences, and correspondences to deities and planetary rulership. She tells you where you can purchase herbs for your own work. She also has a basic list of deities from many traditions and pantheons.

Her Appendix lists herbal references for many of the days of the year.

This book should, in my opinion, find a place in every aspiring herbalist’s bookshelf. It would also fit into most other Pagan’s reading list and bookshelves. The writing is crisp, the style is entertaining, and the overall impression I carried away from the book was one of having spent a pleasant time talking with an old friend, and learning more than I had expected to when I started out.