Being that I’m constantly creating new spells and rituals, I’m much more likely to pick up a title like Spells from Scratch: How to Craft Spells that Work by Phoenix Silverstar than a book of pre-written spells. Even if I end up using a spell from a plug-and-play style spell book, I usually end up riffing, improvising, or adjusting based on what I have. So it’s really helpful to keep books like Spells from Scratch and Arin Murphy-Hisock’s Spellcrafting on hand.
Phoenix Silvestar does a great job of summarizing basic spell theory and collecting basic correspondences in one place. It really feels like a book that any type of witch could benefit from keeping on their shelf. There are a handful of spells that are ready to perform, as long as you have the requisite materials. There’s tons of reference material for correspondences, suggested timing for spells, etc. And it gives you lots of rules of thumb to follow as you’re developing your spells.
Let’s look a bit deeper, shall we?
As I said, I think it’s excellent that a good chunk of the book is devoted to basic correspondences. For those who aren’t familiar with the lingo, a witchy correspondence just means the type of energy/magic that any given item, time of day or year, etc. might be associated with. So for instance, amethyst crystals correspond to intuition, magic, and introspection. Part Two: Magical Bits and Pieces provides a wealth of these correspondences for everything from herbs and crystals to chakras and colors. On my witchy bookshelf (which is rapidly growing…I may need to buy an additional bookshelf) I have a gigantic encyclopedia of correspondences that I reference when I’m developing spells. Having this kind of reference guide on hand can be really helpful, but it can also definitely be overwhelming–especially if you’re a newcomer, or you don’t have a lot of money to spare on magical bits and bobs. Faithful readers of this blog will know that I prefer spells that don’t require a lot of crystals, herbs, candles, and so on. But with that said, it can be nice to add a single crystal or a handful of herbs to a ritual or spell. Spells from Scratch gives you a good sense of what a witchy starter kit might include. That way, if you find yourself in a metaphysical store and only have the budget to buy a crystal or two, you have ideas of which crystals might give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Something else I deeply appreciate about Spells from Scratch is how many small but powerful tips Silverstar shares. Even practiced witches will likely find a few new ideas within its pages. Two in particular jumped out at me as great spoonie witchcraft tricks. First, in a section about sigils and symbols, Silverstar suggests drawing sigils in the air as a quick method of spellcasting. Somehow I’d never thought of this! I love working with sigils, and my usual methods are to draw them on my skin or put them on a sticker I can slap onto something that needs to be charmed. But drawing them in the air is even quicker. It reminds me of the Christian tradition of crossing oneself to ward off bad energy. But more versatile, since you can create a sigil for pretty much anything.
The second tip that I love for spoonie magic involves number correspondences. Silverstar lists quite a few energies/intentions that correspond to different numbers, and then goes on to recommend incorporating those numbers into your spells. So for instance, if you’re performing a spell to improve your work/life balance, you might repeat your intention or invocation four times to evoke the magic of the four elements working in harmony. Or for a spell to find a more fulfilling career path, you might use ten sprigs of an appropriate herb to call in the energies of wholeness and fulfillment. Again, this is a straightforward method of layering your intention with more energy, and it doesn’t require ten different crystals or a cabinet full of appropriately-colored candles.
Honestly, there aren’t a ton of cons for this one! My only caveat is that this isn’t necessarily a book to be read cover to cover. I certainly suggest reading the entirety of part one, as this gives you a great deal of foundational knowledge that will be useful in developing your spells. And chapter eight (Preparing for Magic) is worth reading fully as well. The rest of the book mostly consists of correspondence listings, astrological information, and a handful of basic spells to start with. And that’s not to say that these sections aren’t useful–I just spent several paragraphs gushing about these sections! But rather than reading the book cover to cover, I recommend using the correspondence and spell sections of the book as reference material. Keep the book on your shelf, and when you’re trying to figure out what elements to include in a spell you’re developing, take the book down and flip through the correspondence section. Or take a peek at the pre-written spells for inspiration.
This is a slightly shorter book review than usual, but suffice it to say I can wholeheartedly recommend this book. Spells from Scratch is perfect for the spoonie witch who wants to craft their own spells but doesn’t quite know where to begin. Silverstar arms you with just enough information to feel capable and confident, but at the same time doesn’t overload you with too much involved spell theory. It’s definitely worth keeping around!
Thanks so much to Llewellyn for giving me this copy for review! What other witchy books would you like to see me review from the POV of a disabled witch? Let me know in the comments, or feel free to contact me directly as well!