Baby things, photo by arch190

Witchy Mama by Melanie Marquis and Emily A. FrancisWitchy Mama, by Melanie Marquis and Emily A. Francis
Llewellyn Worldwide, 978-0738748306, 312 pp, 2017.

There are many parenting books aimed towards different lifestyles and stages, but one thing that we don’t see often are books meant for parents who approach things from a magical perspective. Witchy Mama by Melanie Marquis and Emily A. Francis aims to meet this need and, for the most part, hits the mark.

First and foremost, this is a baby book. and as such has a ton of standard information for babies and new mothers. Advice about feeding, diapering and even prenatal stretching can be found in these pages. Even the familiar warnings to ask a doctor before engaging in different activities, as one would find in mainstream baby books, are here. These things are well covered and clearly written throughout the text. From that vantage point, this book is no different or better, than any other baby book on the market.

It incorporates nontraditional spirituality into standard baby practices. The strength of this book is the way it takes normal baby things, such as deciding on what solids a baby should try first, and turns them into an opportunity for everyday magick. In deciding on food, for example, it provides magical correspondences for common first food options.

The chapters, which are focused on mundane things such as preparing for a new baby, bath and bedtime, or cleaning are all presented in such a way that even completing chores can become small magical workings. These suggestions are very welcome, as many parents find that they have a hard time fitting in any sort of practice with young children.

This book really focuses on practicing everyday magick, which some practitioners may not be familiar with. Kitchen and hearth witches may see some of the suggestions as old hat, as their practice likely involves a good deal of the same type of work, but for people who are used to more ceremonial workings, this may be a refreshing take.

The authors offer a good deal of rituals for various stages of someone’s journey into motherhood and the development of their child. These rituals are shared from a variety of cultures, and the authors encourage readers to style their own rituals that will work well for their family and personal history.

One of the best parts about this book is that it includes some fun and easy ways to do magick with your children as they get older, so they may discover their own magical selves. This was an unexpected section and I felt that it really adds to the work as a whole, making this book one that will stay relevant long after your newborn has been potty trained and can make their own snacks.

Witchy Mama is well written, and works as both a baby book and a book on magick. The spells and rituals are easy to follow and don’t rely on any obscure supplies. It is very diverse in representing different types of practices and doesn’t rely too heavily on one path to impart information, which is refreshing.

I have two major issues with the book, however. One, it is very cis-hetronormative. It talks about fertility spells that allude to hetrosexual relationships, as well as the overall notion that “women have babies.” It’s pretty clear that this will be the case with the title “Witchy Mama” instead of “Witchy Parent” or some gender-neutral variation. Although it does start from a place of pregnancy and birth, it is also important to remember that not everyone who does these things identifies as a woman.

My other issue was with the breastfeeding section. When listing reasons why it was good to nurse, the book immediately covers that it helps weight loss and regaining that “pre-baby body.” That can be an extremely harmful narrative for many people who are pregnant and dealing with body image issues. This passage, small as it may seem, actually stopped me from recommending this book to two expecting friends. Later on it talks more about self-acceptance, but the stage has already been set for those negative thoughts to enter and stick.

Overall, Witchy Mama is suitable for a new parent who dabbles in witchcraft. The information it covers is varied and includes helpful suggestions from trying to conceive, all the way until your child is walking and talking on their own. This book is suitable for people who are sure they want to be parents as well as people who have just found out they are going to be a parent. Despite its failings, this book is a fairly solid baby book for people who want a bit more magick in their lives.

Image credit: 190.arch