The Modern Craft is an esoteric yet critical essay collection that calls to question the ethics and inclusivity of the modern day practise of witchcraft.
Thank you to LoveReading and the publishers, Watkins, for giving me this exciting opportunity to review The Modern Craft as part of the LoveReading Ambassador Book Buzz Blog Tour.
This broad-ranging cauldron of essays mainly spotlight the widely normalized practises of contemporary witchcraft in the West but we also read about occultism in different parts of the world from the Orishas and voodoo of West African religions to the indigenous rites of the Sámi people occupying Northern parts of Scandinavia.
Written by a cast of writers, poets, performers, educators, pagans, tarot readers and healers, these essays critically look at how contemporary witchcraft can contribute to the exclusion of minority groups. (Brass Knuckles, Broken Mirrors, Binders and Glitter Bombs by Jane Claire Bradley) They draw powerful links between magic and language (Witches and Wordsmiths, Sorcerers and Storytellers by Iona Lee) but also scrutinize the ways in which the language of witchcraft can reinforce gendered biases and the exoticization of indigenous peoples. (Witchcraft, Indigenous Religion and the Ethics of Decolonization by Simone Kotva) A look into the deeply misogynistic history of the fifteenth and sixteenth century Salem witch trials helps us understand how queer, trans and non-binary witches today are being actively victimized under TERFeminism from within the community. (A New Malleus Maleficarum by Claire Askew) And the practise of mainstream witchcraft in relation to the global ecological crisis is also put under scrutiny. (Witchcraft in the Anthropocene by Alice Tarbuck)
The editors Claire Askew and Alice Tarbuck, both of whom contributed spellbinding essays of their own to this collection, have done well to curate a body of work that showcases the range of perspectives that exists within the world of witchcraft. From the voices of Black, trans, disabled, witches living with depression and anxiety and working-class witches, we read about how those most marginalised in society have all connected with a deeper part of themselves and regained their power through the occult.
These essays are spiritually-minded, elusive, yet radical, political and empirical. They form a robust roadmap for both new and seasoned practitioners alike to ensure that their use of witchery is ethical, environmentally friendly and inclusive to all.
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