Home for the Modern Pagan
Janet Thompson
Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach, ME, 1995

Janet Thompson's Magical Hearth is about kitchen magic from a Wiccan perspective. In the author's words, it "is a book about how to permeate your home with—your magic, your forces, your Self."

The magic of the hearth is one of my favorite kinds of magic. The cook's ability to transform ingredients of many flavors into a sensual journey is akin to the working of a spell or the making of a charm. In her first few chapters, Thompson evokes the essence of this kind of magic. She explains the magical use of herbs in cooking and tea making, and how herbs can be used to protect entrances to the house. The next four chapters, arranged by element, contain discussions of magical workings such as candle magic, altars, elemental spells, and scrying. The remaining four chapters are devoted to crystals and gemstone magic, the Wiccan calendar and phases of the moon, children's magic, and cats as familiars. All of this adds up to an adequate primer on Wiccan magic and its magical worldview for beginners.

Magical Hearth, however, is often inconsistent in the quality of material included. The author does the reader some injustice with her moral stance and tendency to climb on her soapbox right in the middle of otherwise good material. This preaching is simplistic at best, and some of it is downright offensive. For instance, Thompson on the need to recycle: "We must now work together to bring Her [the Earth] back to life and repair the damage that has been done. So many people think that it is not their responsibility. Especially those who are over forty." The absurdity of this statement boggles the mind!

There is also a notable lack of editing in this book. It is so loaded with wrong word usage that it is sometimes hard to concentrate on the material itself.

Thompson does provide helpful, solid advice on creating a magical home environment. If you are new to magical practice and adhere to the positive-energy, home and family brand of Wicca, and if you don't mind an occasional sermon from the author, you may like this book.

Reviewed by Myrriah Lavin

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