Incense, photo by BuniDThe Witches' Almanac, issue 35The Witches’ Almanac, Air: The Breath of Life, Issue 35, Spring 2016-2017
The Witches’ Almanac Ltd., 9781881098324, 198 pp., 2016

The Witches’ Almanac was founded in 1971 by Elizabeth Pepper Da Costa. She was well-versed in the occult as a reader and a practitioner. This publication was inspired by the Old Farmers’ Almanac. However, as well as having the more traditional almanac aspects, The Witches’ Almanac contains information on Wicca, legends and folklore that will appeal to the Craft community and the general public.

The peace found within grows to affect the world without. This is the way true harmony will prevail. We must use our skills and talents in the astral and beyond to affect the conventional world.1

The subtitle of the Spring 2016-2017 edition is “Air: The Breath of Life.” This theme is threaded throughout the book in a number of the articles, such as “Herbs of Air” by Lilith Hearthstone, a guide to using herbs for healing, meditation and formulating oils; “Notable Quotations — Air,” a series of delightful quotations in keeping with the theme; and “The Akashic Records,” by Mario Salazar is an interesting article on the ethereal repository of all experience.

Like the traditional almanac that inspired it, The Witches Almanac contains a weather outlook for the coming year. In this case, it is set out in a monthly review. Later in the book there is also an annual calendar of weather law, which sets a nice juxtaposition. Monthly moon phase calendars are laid out as easy to read charts, which also include inspirational messages and a quick guide to planting by the moon.

The 12 month horoscopes for each astrological sign are detailed without being generic. For each sign of the zodiac there is a general aspect as well as subsequent outlooks for health, love, spirituality, and finance.

One of my favourite things about this almanac is the article on folklore and mythology.  Entitled “Velines: Lithuanian Death Customs and Day of the Dead,” by Demetrius Santiago, the piece is an intriguing exploration of an ancient tradition which describes Velines, a creature that comes to us from the Ancient Baltic worldview. Velines was a serpent that coiled around the roots of the great cosmic tree and ruled over the dead. The article also discusses the Lithuanian concept of dying and the traditional celebration of Day of the Dead. This, along with the many other articles, provides a fascinating insight into ancient cultures and folkloric traditions. Other subjects include: “Mexico’s Night of the Radishes” by Elaine Neumeier; “The Fire of The Gods” by Ian Corrigan; “Sonics and the Magic of Sounds” by Gwion Vran; and “Green Tea and Qingming day: Celebrating Tomb Sweeping Day,” by Grania Ling.

Whether you are a practitioner of the Craft, have an interest in folklore and Wiccan tradition, or simply love a good almanac, you will find The Witches’ Almanac, Air: The Breath of Life enjoyable. It’s an indispensable guide for the coming year and has been a source of wisdom and humour for decades. It’s particularly useful if you follow the moon’s phases for astrology or gardening. It also makes a nice collectible as part of the Witches’ Almanac series.

Image credit: BuniD

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