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Elemental Magic: Traditional Practices for Working with the Energies of the Natural World, Nigel Pennick. NIGEL PENNICK’S succinct but authoritative guide to doing magic with the natural world is available at last in a U.S. edition! First published twenty years ago in the U.K. under the title Natural Magic, this work is based on the author’s experience with land-oriented magical practice in Britain. However, it is fully applicable in the United States as well! While the specific plants and animals discussed are just as accessible in the Midwest or New England as in Kent or Yorkshire, even readers in dramatically different climes will fully benefit from the work. Its true value lies is its gentle, direct instruction in the nature of the relationship between the inner self and the outer world.
Elemental Magic remains simple and practical even while discussing timeless metaphysical topics such as the origin of power and the meaning of being human. Directions for elemental balancing, talisman construction, and dowsing might seem superficial, but in Pennick’s hands these are not just useful methods, but also paths to fully embracing spiritual existence in a material world. He does not use the material as a means to access the spiritual or vice versa, but empowers the reader to fully occupy and employ both realities.
For example, a reader might consider using wood for magic. Pennick doesn’t simply list various kinds of trees and their magical properties—neither does he ignore the lore of specific tree species. He provides that information and also reminds the reader that trees outlive us and are witnesses to both our physical and spiritual lives, and he equips the reader to encounter the magical landscape of their own immediate surroundings.
It is clear that Pennick’s primary concern is that magic should work. Texts on physical magic risk being too specific to apply broadly or too universal to be immediately useful. Pennick avoids these pitfalls by focusing on practical concerns within the context of lore and experience, while being fully open to the spiritual implications of his techniques. All magic is ultimately about transformation, and both the outer world and the magician change through the process. Whether you are looking for techniques to deepen your relationship with the natural world or just need a really effective binding pattern, Elemental Magic deserves a spot on your shelf.