Book review: “The Witch’s Cauldron: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Ritual Vessels” by Laura Tempest Zakroff
Anytime anyone thinks about witches, that person is most likely to focus on three very symbolic tools: The broom to fly, the book of spells and the cauldron for potions. Those may be used in fiction, but as for real witches, they all have a place in the altar and even house, and the most iconic is the third one.
I’ve been been found in ‘witchy readings’ as it is almost impossible for me to get any because of very personal reasons. However, and since I know there are certain things only book can teach, I decided that “The Witch’s Cauldron: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Ritual Vessels ” by Laura Tempest Zakroff, could be a good option to start with, and man how right I was.
Published on May 8th, with Llewellyn Publications, the author offers an interesting and integral look into what cauldrons really represent into the witch’s world and daily life, explores the different stories, myths around it, and even the uses it can have, many of them pretty innovative.
If anyone asks me, I consider the section on the different types of cauldrons, their materials, correspondences, advantages and disadvantages, was the juiciest, which, by the way, helped me to discover the perfect option to work with; I’m sure every reader will be able to do the same.
Also, there’s a generally accepted idea that cauldrons are feminine by nature, they are directly connected with the female side of the divinity. Tempest Zakroff takes this idea and buries it ten feet underground, demonstrating that the male divine has also an influence in the sacred vessel. This is just an example on how “The Witch’s Cauldron” makes us rediscover its real nature.
As with almost all of the other books, we will find a few spells, rituals and uses for it at the end of the text, along with a complete and very useful list of references and suggested readings, but this ones, after the long documentations and learning provided in the previous chapters, become more significant and with a sense of higher power.
What impressed me for real is that I expected this to be a heavy and complicated reading, hard to follow, filled with a substance and material, but it turned out to be the whole opposite, in the good way. The author is more than able to use a simple language, a great dose of humor and a light style, making it simple, easy and even funny to read.
I’m sure it was because of this that it took me less than a week to finish it, around three or four days, and we’re speaking about an almost 300 pages long book, taking as a reference the expected print edition and its comic-style cover; I prefer the ebook for this, as it is more mysterious, but all you can feel free to disagree with me.
As a reader, I prefer to take my time and absorb as much as I can in different sittings; good things take their own time and learning is one of the best ones. However, Laura Tempest Zakroff doesn’t respect this; she seems to grab your eyes with her own hands and glue them to her creation for as long as they can handle, turning you into an addict.
Taking a few steps back, the book layout and the inner illustration should be praised just as the content. I never expected them to come on the inside, and must admit that that was a nice touch: to summarize with the drawing what the text explained.
The quality and aesthetic presented are nothing to be amazed about, it is not that remarkable, and, personally, would have preferred to see a more elaborated style, maybe some photographs that matched the cover for digital editions, but still conserve the merit, nonetheless and goes well with the comic-cover for the print edition.
We could also describe this as a great introductory book on the subject; since it didn’t bother at all, the content is easily understandable and entertaining, but it also prompts you to develop an interest to investigate beyond this single reading, and even gives high quality information for your Book of Shadows or Grimoire, depending on the path you follow.
And even if you’re not into magic, or even religion, this represents a great source of inspiration for artistic concepts to work with. We artists are always searching for something that makes the muses sing into our ears again. If this is your case, there are many catalysts inside waiting for you to be discovered, developed and used.
I cannot finish this review without thanking the publishers for allowing me to read this book. Needless to say that I’m eager for something more from the author, topic and the same witchy vein if it comes from them.
The Witch’s Cauldron: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Ritual Vessels
Print Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications (May 8, 2017)
Publication Date: May 8, 2017
About the author:
A practicing Modern Traditional Witch for over 20 years, her early days were defined by being a community leader and public spokesperson for Paganism. Laura was the Associate Editor of Crescent Magazine, A Pagan Publication of Art, Philosophy, and Belief from 1998-2004, founder of the Cauldron of Annwyn Pagan Society in New England, and the youngest attendee of the Pagan Leaders Summit in Bloomington, IN in 2001. After nearly a decade-long hiatus from being publicly active, Laura began to get involved again in 2014 – and now can be found teaching, performing, and participating at numerous events and festivals all over.
About the reviewer:
Alan D.D. is a writer, blogger and alternative journalist. He has worked with specialized publications on entertainment, comics, witchcraft, Gothic subculture and any other topic that he discovers on the Internet and finds interesting. You can visit him on his personal, bilingual blog: https://tintanocturna.blogspot.com/