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The Not Recommended List

tilted bookshelves full of very old, worn, leatherbound books.

I love books, I love reading, I love authors, and, in my day to day life, I am one. I write reviews because I know how much it can matter to the authors and to the readers. I do not tend to post negative reviews for books I don’t like. But there are exceptions.

It take a lot – egregious issues in content or safety or something like that for me to go out of my way to mark something as Not Recommended. Generally speaking, I’ll read anything. I think there is as much to be learned from bad books as good books so long as you have some understanding of the concepts and safety issues. I do have books I don’t care for because they are entirely wicca based, those won’t be included as that’s a personal gnosis thing and not a bad book thing. I’m not even included books that are just super poorly written as generally, they have good information to offer.

I will tuck a book into the list that feels like it’s just a money grab book with no care to actual content but not just because I disagree with it.

Witchcraft Books:

If it came out in the mid-90s, riding the wave brought on by movies like The Craft and it isn’t by a well-known, respected author, probably skip it. There was a LOT of dreck being released at that time to make money off the rising interest and fad. Most of the worst are no longer in print.

Ancient Wisdom: A Master Grimoire by Pat Kirven Sawyer. Don’t. Just don’t. There are many things in this book that are offered up as recipes that are just wildly unsafe. There is a lot of interesting if not good information in it but it has many many safety issues. Essential oils should ALWAYS be diluted, never ingested unless under the care of experienced herbalists. There are plants that should never be ingested, smoked, or bathed in. There are things in the plants and charts that are just WRONG – Dittany of Crete is not Mint for one. Palmarosa and Castor oil are two VERY different things. Knotweed is of no relation to white peppercorn (peppercorn color depends I think on harvest/processing, it is NOT a different plant). If you want to and can find a reasonably priced copy – read it for the magic but if you’re going to use the recipes, make sure the plants are what they’re supposed to be and not what this book says they are and double check on their safety. Terrible things can happen to a person’s body if they misuse or ingest the wrong kind of plants.

Herbalism Books:

Native American Herbalism for Families by Kit Nick Herbs. This book is a rehash of other people’s work with no personal connection. It is a diatribe about how much the author hates doctors and the medical community entirely. Get the books in the bibliography instead or literally any other book on north American herbalism. There is no hint at all that the author knows anything about plants or herbalism or botany or has done any real studying of same. If I’m going to buy a book on Native American Herbalism, I really want to buy it from a Native American herbalist or at least someone with real knowledge of the folk uses and mythology around the plants as it relates to the indigenous cultures of the Americas.

Garden Books

There are a couple I’m not a fan of but not because they’re bad, they’re just so Wicca and Only Wicca is the Right Path that they irritate me. Witchy garden books are really mostly miss for me. But my favorite gardening book is the Healing Garden book I reviewed a few weeks ago.

Mythology Books:

Celtic Magic by DJ Conway – at the time I first purchased the book in 1994 or 5 and I had no clue, I took it at face value only to find the actual mythology to be incredibly different and presenting Celtic paths as purely Wiccan is nothing but misinformation. Reconstructionist at best. Here is a much more succinct explanation of why this book is bad and should be avoided.

Though I’ve done one review of Mari Silva’s books and I have another coming up which I’m still going to do, I did discover that she has some apologist tendencies toward the folkish group of Norse paganism and given how racist that group tends to be, that leaves me with a less than great taste in my mouth in recommending her work. I’ll likely flag it with a note on same in the future.

I may do a new list every few years (depending on how many get tucked into that category in my yearly reading). I won’t edit this list but do a whole new post with just the years not recommended list. I’d be surprised if there are more than a handful in a year.


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