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The Witch Compass: Working with the Winds in Traditional Witchcraft
Traditional Witchcraft has seen a renaissance of fine writers illuminating topics that are not as easily grasped from outside the community of practitioners. Ian Chambers has given us a window into one such topic in The Witch Compass: Working with the Winds in Traditional Witchcraft. While the title is certainly accurate with regard to the content, it has not in any way been limiting in scope.
Chambers begins his work with a sturdy look at the two dominant systems of Witchcraft in the West—Wiccan Traditions that arose out of the work of Gerald B. Gardner and those that are self-described as Traditional Witchcraft, many of whom arose out of the traditions of Robert Cochrane. While he does not delve deeply into the philosophical differences, he immediately turns his attention to the creation of sacred space in these two different currents of Witchcraft. One does not get the sense that Ian is rendering a judgement in his assessment of differences in approach—rather he captures the essence of the two divergent methods for comparison.
Chambers then takes the reader through an overview of the compass in history, discussing both the physical and otherworldly uses—practical and mystical alike. In doing so, he does not limit the discussion to western history. Indeed, he takes a good amount of space to discuss the use of the compass in Feng Shui and other practices. Chambers does not allow himself to become stuck in the rut of forcing connections where none exist, though. Instead, he uses other systems to illuminate his understanding of the matter at hand.
With the differences of the two systems explored early, Chambers turns to the meat of The Witch Compass. While there was much substance to his foray in the first few chapters, Chambers picks up the pace as he explains the ins and outs of the compass and the magical implications of its use. He begins the latter half of the book with a look what the concept of the horizon and its relationship to the compass and the magical practitioner. Each chapter from this to the last takes the reader deeper into the magic of place and the compass. At each bend, Chambers provides a set of exercises that only serve to deepen the understanding of the material.
In The Witch Compass: Working with the Winds in Traditional Witchcraft, Ian Chambers has taken on a subject that can be highly nuanced and made it wholly available to the greater public.