City Witchery Book Review
I was lucky to receive my preordered copy a week before the book’s release. If that wasn’t blessing enough, it came just before visiting another city for work. I read a good chunk while en route, then spent the weekend trying to embody some of the lessons and practices. I honestly feel it helped me experience a familiar city in a different way.
Genre: Witchy Nonfiction
Rating: 5/5 stars
“On the surface, a city appears to be one thing, but they are complex and layered. Cities are also made up of what we don’t or can’t see. Or what’s not remembered anymore.
We can intuit a place’s secrets and energies if we tune in to the current; the more you learn about a place, the deeper that connection gets. This can reveal yourself to yourself and deepen your experience of being alive and present, which, to me, is the very essence of magic. It can make you feel at home. It can give you purpose and drive and a sense of connectedness.”
City Witchery is a beautiful blend of Light Magic for Dark Times, with its soft colors and healing aura, and The Magical Writing Grimoire, which focuses on written practices and shadow work. Much like her first two book babies, City Witchery is an aesthetically pleasing book that features quotes from notable authors, watercolors, and sketches of various cityscapes around the world.
Similar to "An Inspirational Zodiac Practice for When You Need Some Celestial Mojo” found in Light Magic for Dark Times, there is a section called “Moon Magic for City Dwellers." In this section, Basile provides examples of how to use the energy of the moon in each sign to create magic in a city, whether it’s your own or one you’re traveling through.
City Witchery brought to my attention how many cities I’ve visited and the ways they have affected me on a very deep level:
New York City, my first big city, reassured me there was life beyond the rural south I’d always known.
Nashville showed me how an idea or shared art/value can create a city.
Atlanta taught me that sometimes it’s best to not meet your heroes.
Las Vegas told me it’s okay to indulge in sensual pleasures—so long as you don’t lose yourself to them.
Los Angeles allowed me to begin unfurling the layers of my self, encouraged me to embrace my shadow and to become more of who I always wanted the courage to be.
Tokyo was the first place in which I was in the minority. It showed me new ways of living, reinforced the importance of keeping in contact with our past, and asked me if my ways really were the right ways of doing things.
“Cities are multicultural, richly lived and loved places where people are born and bred and sculpt the ever-changing fabric of its story. Cities are life-changing places where others go to create themselves, to embrace their identities, to form new communities and find chosen families, and to seek access to the things they may have lacked before. But cities are also beasts.”
Once the initial wow factor has subsided, living in a city can feel very un-magical, especially between the lack of nature and the constant feeling of having to be ON. It can seem hard to fit rituals into your schedule or search for supplies, especially if your energy or health are affected. The cost of living can make purchasing supplies extremely difficult, or feel like too much of an indulgence.
For these reasons and more, Basile (as always) emphasizes the importance of accessibility on a number of levels. This book, like her others, offers a sort of liberation. Basile proves you do not have to have tons of money and space, fancy supplies, elaborate rituals, and whatnot to create change and magic. Whether you’re suffering from chronic illness, financial hardship, or limited space in which you can (and feel safe to) practice, Basile has rituals, writing prompts, and more that you can incorporate into your daily life. There really is so much you can do with just your mind and maybe a journal.
“In a ritualized journaling practice, we make space for our truth, a space that can be opened then closed. The page has the strength and the love to hold your wounds, demons, secrets, and wishes; and if you come to it with honesty, it won’t let you down.”
Journaling and ritual aside, Basile provides correspondence charts, ideas for researching and shadow working your city and its writers (which is genius, in my opinion), embodiment exercises, thought-provoking questions, and so much more.
While reading, I felt a flood of inspiration on many levels. I got ideas for deepening my practices, connecting with my environment, making mundane magic around my small apartment, and even elements for an urban fantasy I’m writing.
Speaking of writing: I love that Basile provides her own incantations but also encourages readers to create their own, supplying them a structure to build upon. This is a great way to help people who (like me) become intimidated when writing or working word magic (which is why we all need The Magical Writing Grimoire on our shelves!).
City Witchery is perfect for witches dwelling in or traveling to cities, still in the broom closet, or anyone who feels a limitation to their power and flow—be it health, financial, space, environment, etc. It’s also beneficial to those who have an abundance of resources and safe spaces, for it will open your eyes as to how much you can do with so little.
For that shift in perspective alone, City Witchery is a seriously magical book that will make a fantastic addition to any witchy library or shelf.