Book Review: The Witch’s Book of Self-Care by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Book Review: The Witch’s Book of Self-Care by Arin Murphy-Hiscock February 4, 2019

This book came to me at the right time. I suck at self-care. Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s new title, The Witch’s Book of Self-Care: Magical Ways to Pamper, Soothe, and Care for your Body and Spirit  (Simon and Schuster) was exactly what I needed. When I first received the book, I first imagined it might be a sweet reminder to get to yoga more often, but it turned out to be deeper and more holistic, and fully helpful for a sad, tired Witch like me.

I wrote a couple of blog posts last month (Healing from Magickal Burnout: How it Happens and After Magickal Burnout: 5 Ways to Get Your Power Back) about my own road to burn-out. Many of us, myself included, are drawn to Magick and Witchcraft because we want to help people–either ourselves or others. But Magick is hard work and it often drains us before we realize it. By the time we feel burned out, the recovery is hard. It isso much easier to refill our drained selves before we get to that point. This book helps us do that.

Like many, I struggle with the idea of self-care. In an age when caring for yourself is far too often conflated with expensive trips to the spa or unrealistic expectations of how many hours one is supposed to meditate per day, most people may feel they are too busy and financially strapped to attempt a self-care routine. Right away, Murphy-Hiscock pokes a hole in that. In the first paragraph, the author asks: What exactly constitutes self-care? Is getting a mani-pedi or a new handbag actually self-care and if not, what is? Simply put, self-care is any activity that you do deliberately to take care of your mental, emotional, or physical health. Murphy-Hiscock then explains how magic partners with self-care, pointing out that both involve listening to your inner voice in order lead a more balanced life.

“What exactly constitutes self-care? Is getting a mani-pedi or a new handbag actually self-care and if not, what is? Simply put, self-care is any activity that you do deliberately to take care of your mental, emotional, or physical health.”

Murphy-Hancock breaks the book into important sections on different kinds of Self-Care: Mental and Emotional, Physical, Spiritual and Household.  I am guilty (as I’m sure many are) of focusing on some of these, but not all. One area I’ve been personally trying to improve is in Household Self-Care (thank you, Marie Kondo!!!). I’ve always known that having a disorganized and messy house was a bit stressful, but I always assumed it was a simple quirk of being a busy Witch, writer and worker. The book’s section on Household Self-Care was an important wake-up for me–pointing out that our homes are our spiritual retreats and that treating it as such through rituals, minimizing clutter, and even elemental balancing within the home makes us stronger magic practitioners as well as Witches.

Each section also includes daily rituals which are simple and restful. Murphy-Hiscock takes the reader by the hand to help them craft a feasible, helpful self-care routine. The book include caveats to each suggestion. For example, the Spiritual Self-Care chapter, Murphy-Hiscock asks: Do you work nights or swing shifts? These aren’t necessarily morning or evening rituals; use them before you begin your daily activity, whatever time that may be. I could hear sighs of relief from Witches I know (particularly those who are parents) who often feel constrained by Magick books that encourage long rituals at strange hours of the night.

This may seem trivial…but the book is just so damn pretty! It’s small, light, and lovely. As someone who tends to value efficiency over aesthetic, I found myself enjoying a book with gently colored text and other shading. It made reading this already lovely book even more delightful. It made me think deeper about the nature of beauty and how creating more beauty in our lives is yet another method of Self-care.

Whether or not you are into the concept of self-care (but perhaps if you resist self-care…this book is even more important to read), I do recommend it for any Witch’s library.

One added bonus is the plethora of incense recipes and information on herbs that can be used for self-care. I’ve already recommended this to friends and will probably be gifting it to many as well!

Have you heard the latest episode of That Witch Life podcast? In honor of Valentine’s Day, we talk all about Love Spells!

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