Review: Encyclopedia of Spirits

Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses by Judika Illes is one of my most used reference books, both for writing research and for my own magickal practice. Illes presents a very comprehensive range of different spirits as the subtitle of the book suggests. This isn’t just a reference book though, the first 110 pages are her discussing spirits and how to work with them. These topics include but are not limited to explaining the realms of spirits, communicating with spirits, creating altars and shrines to the spirits, why spirits want to help us, how to care and feed spirits, etc. This alone is worth buying the book as it has some of the best information on the topic that is printed and presented in such a way that is readily understood by any reader.

Image Credit: Dustin Lee | Edited by: Mat Auryn | CC0 License
Image Credit: Dustin Lee | Edited by: Mat Auryn | CC0 License

A lot of the information within the entries are rare. I used this book as one of the references for a piece I wrote about Cybele in an anthology on goddesses and I was going insane trying to figure out where she was getting some of her information. Another Amazon reviewer rudely demands where Illes is getting her information from, and whether its from a commonly mistaken ”perversion” of history. Well, since I wanted to find the sources for some of the information that she provides that I couldn’t find in any of my books (and my library is pretty extensive) or online, I began digging through academic papers and archeological surveys with the help of a ancient pagan history expert and there I found my answers. The information she provided was indeed correct, although obscure. On one hand, yes it would have been amazing if she listed all of her sources. But coming in at 1,072 pages it would be almost impossible to cite all of sources without adding a few hundred more pages. Despite this, she still cites about 300 sources in the Bibliography at the end of the book.

A typical entry consists of the spirit’s name, other names they’re known by, place of origin, iconography, manifestation, history, myths, offerings, sacred animals, sacred plants, sacred numbers, elemental, planetary and color correspondences, as well as a “see also” for related spirits. Each spirit may have more or less categories within the reference just depending on what is known about the spirit and which culture it comes from. The book comes in a nice sturdy hardcover, which is great because if you’re anything like me, you’ll be referring to the book often and the hardcover keeps it from wearing out from use.

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