Pagan, Shinto & Spiritual Book Reviews September 2016

Pagan, Shinto & Spiritual Book Reviews September 2016 September 27, 2016

WitchAthame Jason Mankey, The Witch’s Athame: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Ritual Blades (The Witch’s Tools Series)
(Llewellyn Publications, 2016)

Readers of Patheos Pagan should be familiar with Jason Mankey. He’s the Managing Editor of Patheos Pagan, and writer of the Raise The Horns blog. If you haven’t read Raise the Horns, now’s the time to start! If you do read Raise The Horns, you’ll already know that Mankey is an excellent writer; his articles are always clear, informative and interesting. It’s therefore great to see that he’s published a book – and it does not disappoint.

The Witch’s Athame is a detailed look into the history, symbolism and use of the sacred blade in Wicca and other forms of witchcraft and magic traditions. It’s well-researched and I discovered an awful lot about the athame that I didn’t know before. Perhaps surprisingly for a handbook on a specific tool, The Witch’s Athame is quite a personal work, following Mankey’s own journey in using sacred blades both in his solitary work and within his coven. For me, this makes it all the better; the personal story adds a lot of warmth and passion to a book that might otherwise turn out rather clinical and similar to what’s already out there. I also like the attractive line illustrations, which really add to the text.

What’s great about The Witch’s Athame is that, for all its fascinating historical analysis, it does not neglect the practical aspects of the athame. There are a lot of suggestions for rituals and magic for working with your athame, including rituals for purification, consecration, and using the athame to achieve specific ends (both solitary and group rituals are included). Additionally, I loved the fact that Mankey includes an annotated bibliography at the back – always a welcome addition to any book on Paganism/witchcraft and one that seems far too underrated.

Friendly, detailed and never lapsing into pretentiousness, The Witch’s Athame is an excellent first book from Mankey – great for both beginners and more experienced magic workers. I am truly looking forward to his next work,  The Witch’s Book of Shadows which comes out next year. I really hope he keeps on writing; his voice is a bright and distinctive one in the world of Pagan writers, and I feel he still has a lot to say.

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