Book Review: The Modern Witchcraft Guide to Fairies
Posted by Michelle Gruben on
What if you could peek into a world of enduring magick, wisdom, and beauty? What if you could visit fairyland and return safely to being a human Witch, forever changed and empowered? The Modern Witchcraft Guide to Fairies (June 2021) is an invitation to anyone who’s ever been drawn to the fairy dance. Popular witchcraft author Skye Alexander has just come out with a thorough and accessible guide to connecting with the magick of the Fae.
Part encyclopedia, part grimoire, this book is packed with information. (It’s subtitled Your Complete Guide to the Magick of the Fae—and while it’s laughable that any volume about this mysterious topic could be considered “complete,” the book is comprehensive enough that a little overselling can be forgiven.) It’s divided into two major sections, which together cover the theory and practice of fairy magick.
Part One is entitled, “Communing with Fairies.” For the first 80 pages or so, we learn about who fairies are and how they may aid the Witch. We learn about their special powers, including shapeshifting, healing, and divining the future. There’s a summary of the various types or classes of fairies, as revealed through the fairy stories of different world cultures. (This section has a strong Celtic bent, which the author readily acknowledges.) We’re reminded that Fae folks run the whole gamut—they may appear as large or small, noble or capricious, seductive or terrifying.
Next, there’s a discussion of some of the precautions a Witch should take when reaching out to fairies or visiting their realm (more on this later). There’s a section on where to meet fairies—places and times that are most advantageous to the fairy seeker. Part One concludes with some guidance for developing a regular practice of fairy magick. Skye Alexander recommends creating a fairy door, garden, altar, or specially programmed crystal. Any of these objects can become a personal doorway through which energy and thoughts can be exchanged with Fae allies.
Part Two, which is the thickest section of the book, is “Spells, Rituals, and Practices for Working with Fairies Throughout the Year.” First are spells for that fairy specialty—love, seduction, and glamour. Then there are fairy spells for prosperity, for protection, for healing and relaxation, for personal success and power. There are spells for traveling in spirit, and for connecting with Fae to reveal the next steps in your spiritual journey. The final entries in this section are eight simple seasonal rites—one for each Sabbat on the Pagan Wheel of the Year. Finally, there’s a short appendix of gemstones, flowers, and herbs that are most useful to the aspiring fairy Witch.
When The Modern Witchcraft Guide to Fairies landed on my desk, I wasn’t sure what I would think of the contents. It’s part of a series of books on various magickal topics—a big trend in occult publishing these days—and such titles can seem rushed or hit-or-miss. It also has a rather precious cover (with cherubic flower fairies) that belies the nuanced understanding of the Fae revealed within its pages. But as I read more, I was won over by this broad and balanced introduction to fairy magick.
Part Two—the compendium of spells and rituals—was an especially pleasant surprise. As a Witch who prefers to write her own spells (and who’s currently staring at a sagging shelf full of witchy reference books), I’m in the habit of skipping the grimoire sections that round out the back pages of many witchcraft titles. But far from filler, the spells in the Modern Witchcraft Guide to Fairies are just as strong as the rest of the book. They’re well-organized, concise, and powerful. Most don’t require lengthy preparation or exotic tools. They speak to the Witch’s most universal needs: love, money, protection, wisdom. I could definitely see incorporating some of these spells into my own practice, or adapting them for small group rituals.
Part One—the discussion of fairy nature and its intersection with human magick—was also an enjoyable read. It addresses many of the most common questions about working with fairies—what they (perhaps) are, where they live, and what we may learn from working with them. If you’ve been studying the Fae for a while—if you know, say, your sylphs from your salamanders, your brownies from your bean sidhe—most of this information will be familiar to you. If you’re a newbie, it’s a bright and breezy introduction to some of the most important topics in fairy magick. The text is interspersed with little bits of poetry and fairy stories from classic literature. It reminds me—and I mean this is an absolute compliment—of the Time-Life Fairies and Elves volume I once kept on my nightstand as a kid. It’s easy to read, and beginner-friendly without being watered down. There’s very few personal anecdotes (which are distracting and way too common in contemporary witchcraft books). Instead, the book delivers what it promises: Fairy lore and spells to enhance your practice of witchcraft.
My very favorite part of this book is its balanced approach to the hazards of meddling with Fae folks. If you write a fun, relatable book about fairies—which this is—someone is bound to accuse you of being irresponsible. What about the dangers, huh? Do you want your readers carried off to the Underworld, or be driven insane, or have their collection of heirloom silver spoons mysteriously stolen by tiny unseen hands?
To be clear—there are real risks in working with the Fae, and I don’t believe that fairy magick is for everyone. But The Modern Witchcraft Guide to Fairies is neither a fluffy, white-light-and-rainbows kind of book, nor an alarmist screed that leaves you wondering why anyone would mess with fairy magick (or bother to write a book about it), if it’s all so awful and dangerous.
Instead, the author gives a few precautions informed by common sense and respect: Create a protective talisman. Use offerings to build trust. Practice grounding and cleansing. Don’t try to trick the Fae. (Fairies are psychic, she reminds you, and they’re also older than you by many human lifetimes.) And should your spoons indeed go missing, see "Spell to Find A Lost Item" on page 119.
In short, this is a book that I would happily recommend to beginners, and it has plenty to offer more experienced Witches, too. To all who are called to fairy magick, may you be inspired and guided on your journey!
Owner, Grove and Grotto
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Disclosure: I received a copy of this title from the publisher (Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster) in consideration for a review. All opinions in this article are my own.