Lisa Marie Basile, poet witch of the internet age and founder of Luna Luna magazine magazine, has created Light Magic for Dark Times, a self-care witchcraft spellbook for our darker moments, bursting with practical and poetic advice. Thanks to her creative writing, Basile's magic feels like a dip into The Artist’s Way for witches, structured with journal prompts to help the reader get a better sense of their goals, ailments, and passions. This allows for a good amount of self-discovery and autonomy, and the opportunity to use this spellbook like a grimoire workbook. While the book is geared toward femme spirits, Basile's language and focus is mindfully intersectional and gender-inclusive, embracing of fluid and non-binary identities, and all bodies and body types. The focus is always on self-love and self-care, particularly for marginalized people who may feel ground-down in the day to day of our, lately dark, times. There are spells for healing burnout after social justice protests, trauma, chronic illness, grief, and discrimination, and as always, the focus is on increasing love and kindness in all of its forms. In short, bringing the light in.
Basile’s voice is soothing, and she remains the perfect amount of Scorpio mysterious—she never tires the reader with long personal stories, but instead slips in little details of her interesting life, just as much as context allows. This makes her feel like a warm, curious guide who you’d want to get to know over blue lotus tea, probably served in antique Italian bone china owned by someone’s Strega Nona. All of the spells require very few tools, and are made so that the suggested materials are probably things that you likely already have at home. If you don't have all the materials, Basile assures readers, you can do without them. The incantations for each spell are where you can tell she’s a poet. Like many, I grew up pouring over spellbooks and spiritual literature, even though I come from a family tradition of Romani “Gypsy” healing and spiritual work ("Gypsy" is the word that we’re most often known by, which is unfortunately a racial slur). The rhymey-sing-songy spells I found in those books of my youth made me cringe, and I had trouble taking my magic work seriously when I used those handbook spells. Basile’s incantations, however, benefit greatly from her work as a poet, and feel authentic, powerful, and moving, rooted in the imagery of the spell. The spells themselves are simple and poignant, and often a touch luxurious. In the spirit of inclusivity, she welcomes you to make any adjustments to the ritual or incantation that you need to. Through her suggested journal prompts that accompany many of the sections, you’re likely to have a good idea what kinds of flourishes and adaptations you most need.
What I like most about Light Magic For Dark Times, aside from its beautiful illustrations and narration, is that I feel like I did a good amount of healing work just doing the exercises in the books before I even tried any of the spells. Unlike other authors on the subject of spellwork, Basile doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the naturalness and usefulness of our shadow selves, which let us know what we need, what hurts, what we’re capable of, and what we fear. She even includes a spell to understand your shadow-self better, connect with those dark parts that we all have, and meet them with love, rather than just plastering over them with a quartz and a candle, pretending we’re Glinda the Good Witch and that we’re okay. Sometimes we’re not feeling okay, and Basile knows what that’s like, too. She lets us know that the most interesting and authentic light emerges from darkness. The words over the Oracle of Delphi read, “Know Thyself,” and that is the purpose of this book: to come to the crossroads, wand in hand, and work the magic of self-knowledge. Crystals, perfume, roses, and magical baths are encouraged, not required.
Light Magic For Dark Times was released September 11, 2018.
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Jessica Reidy is a Brooklyn-based writer and adjunct English professor. She won The Penelope Nivens Award for Creative Nonfiction, and her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in Narrative Magazine as Short Story of the Week, The Missouri Review blog, Prairie Schooner, and other journals. She is a Kripalu-certified yoga instructor offering yoga classes as well as yoga and creative writing workshops. Additionally, she continues to work her Romani (“Gypsy”) family trades, fortune telling, energy healing, and dancing. She is currently writing her first novel. Follow her on www.jessicareidy.com, on Twitter @JSReidy, and on Instagram @Jezmina.Vonthiele.
Photo credit: Oscar Fuertes