The Witch’s Book of Self-Care by Arin Murphy-Hiscock
5/5 – The Preciousssssss. [Crown’s Book Review Guide]
TL;DR: It’s more than just “take a bubble bath and meditate”. It covers real self-care and includes a ton of spells too! No errors or issues that I could see.
I love this book. I’ve heard great things about it and it had been on my wishlist for a long time. My library network scored a copy, so I borrowed it Halloween week… and didn’t read it until mid-Novemeber the night before it was due back. (Which is kind of ironic, given the book’s content and reading is one of my self-care methods.)
This book covers true self care. Not the bubble baths and binging chocolate cake, but actual self-care. What it is and what it’s purpose is. Respecting yourself. It’s quite great. It doesn’t linger or drag out details, but it covers what self-care is and isn’t and moves on. It differs itself from the self-care media presents and breaks down why the image of binge eating and marathon watching TV while the chores go undone is a BAD and harmful image of self-care.
The book introduces a bit of advice or a self-care goal, such as accepting failure, then offer a spell or ritual to do just that. It’s kind of an amazing design and you end up with a book PACKED with gentle advice and spells.
It’s not just about mental health. There’s also advice and spells for physical self-care, such as enchanting a reusable bottle of water to encourage you to drink more water (and be happier). Recipes are also included in the physical health section. Soups, breads, and main dishes. There’s not a ton of recipes, but there’s a handful for you to try out. Tea’s covered a bit too.
If you’re into making body care products, like sugar scrubs or body butter, there’s recipes for this too. Quite a lot of recipes, actually. I was really impressed with the amount. Many of them are also magical recipes for courage, serenity, and more. So if you’re a potions class fan, you’ll like that section.
The book up until now, by the way, has been completely secular. All the spells and ritual, all the advice, totally secular.
There is a section of the book covered the spiritual and it starts by giving some brief intro of gods (including some deities to check out that would be helpful in self-care). The extra nice part is the book empahsises that you should develop a relationship with your deity. I’m a secular witch, but I’m also an animist pagan. (Secular isn’t atheist, they’re just separate parts of my life.) I really appreciate books that cover spiritual or divine subjects and don’t say “summon up this deity to do X, Y, or Z”. Animal energies are also covered by this, without ever saying the super controversial words “spirit animal” (in fact, that’s never published in this book), with the same advice as the gods. So refreshing to run into and I am HERE FOR IT.
The advice covered here is all good. Community, reconnecting with yourself, and more. The spells and rituals are similar. Spells to review your spiritual beliefs, for example, might be something long-time practitioners would enjoy. It also gives some ideas for daily rituals.
I’ll be honest, I don’t do daily rituals. Magic is a daily thing for me, but beyond meditation (which is more about mental organization than magical practice for me), some cleaning, and exercise, I do NOTHING daily. Some mornings I’ll get up, make my bed, have tea, and crawl right back onto my bed to write for the day. Other days, I’m out the door to run errands as soon as the shops open. Or I’m at my desk with a pile of work and a huge cup of coffee. My days aren’t standard, so I don’t bother with daily rituals beyond what I know is 1000% practical. Hell, even my workouts and meditations aren’t the same. I just don’t like routine, so I don’t do daily rituals or daily draws (for tarot cards). It’s simply not something I’m interested in.
That being said, the daily tips and spells would be really useful for pretty much anyone but those like me. They are a bit more elaborate daily rituals than I’d be willing to do, even when I had a set schedule. Lighting candles and so on is right up this book’s alley. Because it’s about self-care, these rituals are designed to take a moment out of your daily routine to focus on your spiritual health.
The section on meditation is nice because, meditation is so commonly prescribed for all that ails you and while, sure, it probably can help with issues, it’s not the be all that ends all. Some days, it’s a struggle just to stay in the meditation. Sometimes you’ll fall asleep. Sometimes, it’s not working for you. Sometimes, you just do not have the time. All of that it A-OK and this book is totally real about that. There’s also some meditations offere there for you to follow. This includes meditation teas and even meditation incense recipes. And info on how to make your own set of meditation/prayer breads. (As an aside, if you do decide to make some prayer breads, perhaps do a bit of research on different types. Malas are not rosaries after all and their structures are different for different reasons. Maybe after the research you’ll have an idea of how you want to construct your own beads for your own magical or spiritual reasons.)
A lot of the spiritual self-care is practical. Sit in nature. Do something creative. Sounds simple, but it’s often something we don’t do. This book gives you inspiration to get out there and try stuff. Or crafts and spells to encourage and inspire you to do creative things.
There’s also chapter on household self-care and this is my particular jam. When I advise cleansing, I always advise cleaning too. Nobody likes it, but I find it to be as useful as cleansing and the combination can be extremely powerful. Household self-care is the next step beyond cleansing and cleaning. It’s making your home good for you. Create comfort, elemental balancing, and so on. And yes, even a mention of cluttered space and cluttered energy makes an appearance.
Cleansing is covered, along with protecting your home’s energy. Creating altars and shrines, including a gratitude altar and an altar to yourself. The chapter ends with recipes for aromatherapy blends (make sure those blends are diluted and safe for both yourself, others, childrens, pets, and personal belongings before use!) and incense blends.
And that ends the book! It doesn’t have a final or closing statement, which is kind of weird. One page is incense recipes and the next is the bibliography. The book is also so jammed packed with that it will be hard to find the exact spell or recipe you want without heavily using the index (which I always support) or bookmarking different pages. Still, the book is truly great and I recommend it to anyone who wants to look into self-care on a magical level. Just check the book out the spells alone is worth it. This book is officially on my to-buy list.