I love books. I love beautiful design. I love Witchcraft. I especially love when these things collide.
And right now, we’re experiencing an amazing moment in time when the printed book and indie bookstores are making quite the comeback. Plus Witchcraft is trending again. Not only that, but these two things go together perfectly. Outside of the cauldron, few things are more evocative of Witchcraft to the public’s mind as a beautiful, old-school grimoire or classic book of spells.
So of course I should absolutely love all of these things together, seeing well-designed, visually appealing books on Witchcraft adorning the shelves of my local bookstores. But here comes my confession: a fair amount of them make me cranky AF.
Why? Because while so many of them are so tantalizingly beautiful, so very attractive – there’s often not much actual substance once you get past the pretty covers or spacious images. Not only in terms of content that is relative, original, or actually applicative to Witchcraft, but in word count! I expect when I pick up a good chunky book that makes a lot of promises on the back to have more than 25-50 words per page. It can be done folks, really.
To compare, the Witch’s Tool series from Llewellyn are chunky little books. They all now sport grimoire-inspired covers that are very attractive and are beautifully illustrated by Mickie Mueller on the interior. AND they are still chock-full of well-researched content – and FYI The Witch’s Cauldron and The Witch’s Altar are approximately 50K and 60K respectively. The books that are making me cranky are about close to same size and spine thickness (or bigger). By my rough estimate, are barely half that word count, and I’m being generous.
It’s not only the problematic and lacking content that makes me cranky, or the use of design to cash in on a trend (this is a known factor going back centuries, if not longer) – it’s that folks who are brand new to Witchcraft are being suckered in. My heart aches that it’s going to take them that much longer to figure things out – once the cult of personality has faded away and the shiny edges have worn off. That is, if they aren’t totally frustrated, disillusioned, and have just give up on finding real substance.Which should totally not be my problem right? Why am I worrying about these newbies? But I do, even though other folks who will say, “Well, that’s what they get. Perhaps it’s just not meant to be for them.” I can’t help it. It’s one of my Gemini tendencies to provide helpful information to people, and so I despise people being misinformed and fooled by packaging to top it off.
But here’s where my cranky confession runs into hard truth: I still have to recognize the wonder that books on Witchcraft are everywhere. I don’t believe at all that it’s a bad thing more people are interested and becoming aware of it. The more chances people have to better understand themselves and connect with the world around them, the better. So even if new folks have to spiral around a few times and lick a lot of sugar before they finally get to the chewy center of Witchcraft, at least things are more accessible than ever.
Another truth: bitching about a problem does little to change it. The best thing I (or anyone else) can do rather than being cranky about those books is continue to keep putting solid information out there. Which doesn’t mean you have to become an author and write books (unless you want to!). No, it means: support and promote the work you DO enjoy.
How? Tell others about the work you have found personally useful, reliable, and worthy of sharing. Metaphysical publishers of all sizes (and again, what we consider “big” in our community is still pretty darn small) don’t have the same budgets or global reach that the big publishing houses have. Your reviews and recommendations on sites like goodreads, amazon, and social media can go a long way to help support your favorite authors, illustrators, and other content creators. This kind of support – just a few minutes to write up what you liked or found useful about a book, deck, or blog – goes a very long way. It’s the perfect antidote to content-less glamour.