Review: The Secrets of High Magic (Vintage Edition)

51OHQFp-m2L__SX258_BO1,204,203,200_I bought this at The Works a few months ago.  When I thumbed through it, I struck at how familiar the contents was.  I wondered where I had read this book before.  Then I remembered.

As a teenager I had my eye on a book in a discount book shop; it a had a deep red and gold cover with a picture of a wizard (an bearded man with a pointed hat) embossed on the cover.  I remember asking my parents to buy it for me since at that time they bought most of my things for me but they never did.  But one of my classmates who, like me was inclined towards the occult, did buy it themselves and would occasionally let me read it during morning break when he brought it in.  I remember he brought in this tiny little vial of what looked like ashes.  He told me that he had made it using the instructions  from the book.  Reading through the chapter dedicated to Alchemy, it was probably sal salis (“salt of the salt”), which is a water-soluble salt created from wood ash; and is the first step in creating a planetary tincture (a liquid imbued with the cleansing and fortifying powers of one of the planets, as far as I understand it).  I never actually learned which tincture he was making.

Before I really read the book I didn’t really understand what they meant by they referred to High Magic.  After skimming through this book, I’ve come to understand it as an umbrella term that encompasses practises like as Angel magic, Astrology, Alchemy, and so on.  Like most of the magical arts, there is usually some form of ceremony in the magical traditions, and the practises depicted in this book are no different.  Not only are there western rituals there was also a subchapter dedicated to several Far Eastern practises, mainly Buddhist.  While the practises depicted in this book are a bit too complicated for me, it’s still a fascinating read.  And it has given me a few ideas for my creative writing.

Though it’s an almost brand new book, it smells like an older one which is one things that I love about it.  I have to admit I prefer the old cover but I suppose that the new cover would appeal to a younger audience.  A lot of the illustrations are in a slightly different style than what I remember in the old edition, but the diagrams are pretty much the same.

Its author, Frances Melville is, according to the blurb at the back of the book, a “student of theology and a practitioner of medical alchemy”.  She has also written Defence Against The Dark Arts (another book I own a copy of) and other books on magic and myticism.

At the end of the book, there is a bibliography of sources that Melville used to write this book, if readers wished to read further on the subject.

Conclusively, The Secrets of High Magic will make a great addition to any occult library, especially as an introduction to High Magic.


Where to buy pagan books

If you do not have much money for buying spell books and other texts on witchcraft and paganism, charity stores are excellent places to shop at. You never know what wonderful things you can find, are an absolute treasure trove!  Not only are they cheaper than if you bought them at the mainstream bookstores, the money also goes to charity!

You can also buy pagan books cheaper from the internet.  The only problem with this is you don’t know what you’re buying until it arrives, so be careful which ones you buy, as some authors are only in the business for the money they get from selling their books.  Most have been categorised as Mind, Body and Spirit.  Here are a few good writers on pagan books:

· Cassandra Eason

· Judika Illes

· Silver Raven Wolf

· Jane and Stewart Ferrar

Some good books to start your library

·The Book of English Magic, by Phillip Carr-Gomm and Richard Heygate

· The Crystal Bible, by Cassandra Eason

· The Essential Guide to Tarot, by David Fontana

·366 Celt: A Year and a Day of Celtic Wisdom and Lore, by Carl McColman


If you want some older, more detailed texts and don’t mind spending a bit more, antique and rare book stores are another place to buy books on the occult, witchcraft and paganism. Here are a couple of titles that I found by chance:

· The Occult Experience, by Nevill Drury

· Magick, by Aleister Crowley

Review: Love Potions

This is one of the commercial ‘magick’ books that you’d probably see on display in the bookstore windows around Halloween or Valentine’s Day.  Some more experienced witches and pagans may think that it’s the kind of book that only those desperate for love would think of purchasing.

I bought Love Potions in a charity shop, where I paid roughly a fifth of the original price.  If it were in a bookstore, I wouldn’t even think of buying it at full price.  And before purchasing, I skimmed it, and was surprised at its’ contents.

While it contained ‘love potions’, they weren’t potions in the showy magickal sense.  Love Potions is more of a recipe book for beverages (mostly alcoholic) and cosmetics.  These recipes are designed to tantalise the senses of taste and smell, which are our most powerful sense as they can trigger thoughts and memories; and what better way to make a memorable impression that to tantalise someone’s tastebuds or intoxicate their noses.

It certainly brings to mind the idea that any solid or liquid is potentially a spell.

Even if one does not have a significant other, recipes like Titania’s Blackberry Brew or Morrocan Mint Tea are wonderful choices to share with family, friends or even by yourself; particularly if you’re spending Valentine’s Day by yourself.

Review: The Little Book of Pocket Spells

Though not my favourite book on magick, The Little Book of Pocket Spells is a convenient size to carry around, particularly when you’re travelling and don’t want to drag a large volume like the Element Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells  around with you.  It’s easy to slip into your handbag, or pocket.  My copy is worn and bent from the many times that I’ve taken mine with me on holiday, or just out with friends or family.

Because it’s such a small book,  The Little Boof of Pocket Spells summarises a lot of what is written in the larger books into one or two pages, such as the correspondences, the lunar cycle and candle magick.  However the spells aren’t categorised in any sort of order, which makes it bothersome to find the spell you want.

Most, if not all, of the spells within this book are quick and easy to perform, provided that you have the necessary ingredients.  And if you feel it necessary, you could add to these spells to make them more personal to you.

This would also make a great beginner’s book on magic and witchcraft.  Also, the little cat printed in the corner of each right-hand page that wags its’ tail if you flip the pages like a flipbook is a nice touch, particularly for slightly older children from around twelve years.


Now available as an eBook on Amazon. Click here.

Review: Pagan in the City

Though the title gives the impression of a fictional book, it’s subtitle more than corrects you on that note–‘How to live and work by natural cycles in the everyday world’.  Now, the word pagan,  actually comes from the latin word paganus, which means ‘country-dweller’.  Nowadays it is a generic term used to describe those who practise pre-Christian ideals, particularly those who live in countryside.  Going to university in Central Lancashire, which is to the North of England and considered more rural, I did notice that paganism seems to be more widely accepted than in the South where I live with my parents.

When I first started reading and learning about paganism, I thought it was a religion albeit an informal one, but after reading this book, it made me realise that it was also a way of life, or rather how you choose to live your life.  A philosophy of life in other words, much like Taoism in a way.

The language that the author, Cassandra Eason, uses is easy to understand with none of the flowery language you often see in mainstream pagan texts, and uses examples from everyday life.  The author also gives alternative suggestions to things that may not be possible given the lifestyle of the reader, such as if one cannot create a magical hearth (which requires either a grate or a brazier if one doesn’t have a hearth) , the alternative is to create a sacred place (which can be a coffee table that you decorate to your tastes). 

Like any other pagan text you find on a chain bookstore shelf, it does include rituals that one can do, the Sabbats and some basic information on crystal healing.  There is also a little about divining with water and the clouds.  However, unlike other books I’ve read, Pagan in the City also explain in depth the pinciples of paganism.  A couple of them are similar to Wiccan beliefs, but life many religions in the world, there are some similarities in how they view things.  Eason also makes a few references to Asian cultures, to which I was disappointed that there were not more of them.  As this is a book on living in the city as a pagan, Eason gives pointers on creating a harmonious home and workplace.  The latter is stated as being more difficult to keep the harmony, mainly due to work colleagues.

Because this was mainly written from the writer’s own experience’s as pagan living in a city, one doesn’t have to completely follow the ideas and suggestions in this book, but adapt them to suit your own lifestyle.  So it is more of a guidebook than an instruction manual on how to live your life in a certain way.

While reading, it would be  good idea to have a notebook handy to jot down anything in the book that appeals to you, so you can incorporate them into your routine or just use them to make an anniversary or party a little extra special.

Eason has also included useful contact information for pagan groups and organisations, as well as lists for further reading on subjects mentioned in Pagan in the City.  Eason has included her own contact information ( her website), and the titles of some of her other works.

Witchcraft and Pagan Book Recommendations

When studying magick, one should not limit themselves to just one book as their Wiccan or pagan “bible”.  It’s better to read more than one book on the subject, as different people will have different opinions and methods on the practise of magick.  Some you may agree with and others you may not, but it’s good to be well-informed.  However, you have to be careful on which books you buy, as some are not as accurate as others and have mostly been written for the sake of money.

I would like to recommend some of my favourite books on magick.  I hope you find them as useful as I did.

The Real Witch’s Handbook by Kate West

This is much easier to digest than some other books I’ve read on the Wicca and the Craft.  It’s not that it’s shorter or simpler, rather it uses language that is easy to understand, especially for someone who has only just started learning about the Craft, so it’s good for both teenagers and adults.  It also gives examples of how to celebrate the Sabbats in a non-magical way of you don’t really have the time to be casting spells or performing rituals during those times, as well as basic information about Wiccan principals and beliefs, the coven initiation system, herblore and spellcraft.  Kate West also includes a section on ‘coming out of the broom closet.’

A Witch’s Grimoire: Create Your Own Book of Shadows by Judy Anna Nock

As a comprehensive guidebook, A Witch’s Grimoire is a wonderful addition to any Wiccan or pagan collection whether as a study aid to those new to the study and practise of magick or as a companion for the more experienced practitioners.  This text is broken down into sections that one can easily follow, from the making of your own personal book of shadows to exercises on writing your own spells, rituals and invocations, with additional information on commonly used gemstones, magickal herbs and herb blends, spells, recipes and rituals.

Anyone wanting to have a look at my video on creating a Book of Shadows, please click here.

The Element Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells by Judika Illes

An excellent compilation of spells and rituals from cultures around the world.  A great reference book any Witch or pagan.  The categories of spells and other magickal practises are broken down into many subcategories, which is a bit of a bother but worth it.  I really like the fact that it includes spells from other countries, not just from around Europe.  The book also gives a long bibliography of the different sources that the author used to compile this encyclopedia, which is great, particularly if you’re trying to find a book on a subject that is a bit more obscure than the topics you usually see in bookstores.

If you would like to look at my more detailed video review/recommendation, please go to

10 Minute Magic Spells by Skye Alexander

A very useful book, if you don’t have very much time on your hands, especially if you’re a student at university, or have a demanding worklife.  The book is broken down into two parts; the first, explaining the workings and theories of magick, and essential steps that have to be taken when performing a ritual or spell; and the second part gives you the actual spells.  This is great for the absolute beginners, to give them the gist of what magic is about.  Just don’t go straight to the second part of the book, as I have been guilty of in the past.

Choosing Your Own Path


If you are very unsure about what path of witchcraft to choose, take some time to think about some of the following things:

  • What culture or religion are you interested in?  Research about the different cultures with their Gods and Goddesses.  See what appeals to you.  Some pagans and witches pick and mix what paths they choose to follow, others mainly follow one set of deities, with one of them as their patron, but still pay respects to other deities.
  • What do you enjoy doing?  Things like singing and dancing you can incorporate into your rituals.
  • Look into your family tree.  It’s good to know where you come from, and draw from it.
  • Talk to pagans.  Ask questions about their beliefs and lifestyle, most will talk to you if you show a genuine interest.
  • Read, read and read!  A lot of books written by pagans are from their own experiences, and take bits and pieces from them and incorporate them into your own lifestyle.