Book Review : Christian Day : The Witches’ Book of the Dead

 

“The tides of ancient magic still flow in the world and the spirits of the dead await those brave enough to call them up and seek their wisdom” Christian Day, The Witches’ Book of the Dead.

Necro-mancy : Death – Divination
Thanks to Hollywood and various other religious ‘preaching’, the world conjures up dark arts and evil workings. The truth is Necro-many simply means communion with the spirits.  How you chose to commune, or where you take that connection, becomes an individual process.

Christian Day’s book spends an appropriate amount of time delving into the history of Necromancy, pointing out that in all things, there will be some who use these gifts for not so pleasant outcomes and those of us who chose to commune for guidance, healing and respect of the world we live in, and the life that comes after it. If you call to your ancestors, and have an ancestral altar… if you call to your animal guides or speak to the Spirit within the Plants, you are performing Necromancy.  ~ Bet you didn’t know that 😉

He also outlines the history with respect to Greek, Roman and more European based Necromancy, and while he does not speak in depth about other paths, he does briefly mention the fact that these practices existed (and still do) in Shamanic and other aboriginal tribes and cultures around the world. China, Japan, India, Central and South America as with as the Native Americas all place ancestors in high esteem and hold to rituals to commune with them. Our ancestors, regardless of where they were from, or what they were called, all seek to commune with the Spirit world. This longing seems to be a genetic trait for we all still look to those who came before for guidance and healing.

I also respected his reminder in the book that our ‘ancestors’ are not simply those of the “human” variety, but also calls to those of spirit totems, for which I extend this concept out to the plant and mineral kingdom as well. Shamanic practitioners believe that there is a spirit in all things, and as such we can connect to and commune with these energies and entities.

In his words:
“Our ancestors understood the world to be both light and darkness. It formed their magic as it formed their worldview. Witchcraft is a system that balances light and darkness, and its practitioners know the ways that heal and the ways that harm. The Witch stands between the worlds and acts to restore balance whenever it is disrupted.” ~ (I add that this is true in other cultures as well, and definitely speaks to the Shamanic practices around the world.)

One way to do this is to seek the council of the spirit world.

NOT FOR DABBLERS – A SERIOUS PRACTICE – A LIFE LONG COMMITMENT

The other thing I truly appreciate about this book is his attention to the serious nature of opening a portal to the spirit realm. As I have mentioned through various sources, you are not doing yourself any favours by assuming that the spirit world is all love and light. In ALL things, energy seeks a balance, that includes the spirit realm, dimensions etc. There is both positive and ‘negative’ entities which are lingering at portals waiting for an opportunity to come through. If your space, and your body and mind are not prepared, strong and ready, if you hold any fear or doubt in these practices, you are opening up yourself to parasites or full on possession. Having had both experiences when I was still in single digits, I can assure you, it is not pleasant and there are few people who truly know who to deal with clearing these situations from your life. I was lucky, I had my grandmother.

Christian provides a firm foundation and set of rituals to help you with the practice of Necromancy. While my path has been established for a few decades, and I do some things different than he outlines, the basic concepts are very similar. He does speak to the fact that after having a close call with a possession situation himself, he altered his own practice, taking protection precautions up a notch. Since I have had a full on possession, I have taken my practice up yet another notch 😉

ON THE CONCEPT OF BLOOD MAGICK:

Christian address this in his book as well. I wish to state a disclaimer that neither he, nor I, am advocating that it is required or necessary in magical workings. The choice to draw blood is yours and yours alone. You take ownership of these decisions. All I am doing is sharing my journey with you. The choices you make, you are responsible for.

That said, I do agree with him on the use of blood in certain types of rituals and communications and it is something I work with myself. He provides suggestions on the safe use of pharmacy purchased sterile lancets (used by diabetics for drawing blood for blood sugar testing) to add a very personal connection, and energy to your rites. I believe that our blood is our life source, akin to the waters that run through the earth. It provides serious protection directly to you, and calls blood to blood acting as a filter in your spiritual workings. It also ties ritual energy to you specifically, which is great for manifestation rituals and healing rites. I also use it as an anchor when doing journeying and for soul retrieval and as a very intimate sacrifice for specific workings. Now as Christian notes, you don’t have to cut yourself, nor should you ever in my opinion. This is a simple prick of your finger using sterile methods. In addition, being a woman, I will often use my menses blood, for there is a power in this offering that is beyond words.

ON THE CONCEPT OF SKULLS:

Christian also speaks of the use actual human skulls in Necromancy work. He even provides a website where you can legally purchase such skulls that were originally donated for scientific research. He also does provide alternate recommendations including the use of crystals skulls.

This is one instance where my opinion does differ from Christian’s, and this is okay as well. In his books he indicates that because the skulls were donated by their ‘owners’ for science, there is good intentions attached to their offerings. This is true, but what we don’t know, and what can come forth from the spirit skull, is the energy attached to the life experiences they may have lived. That skull could be from a war hero who has been traumatized and was living with PTSD, or from an abused spouse who lived in fear of men. Both of these could taint messages brought forward, and hold their own negative energy upon your sacred space. The abused spouse, for instance, may even block the energy of your own partner from coming through because of their experiences. There is also the potential ethics in allowing spirit to move on, when they are ready. Do we anchor them to this realm through the skull?

What I use instead are ceramic skulls, and crystals. Crystals are amazing conduits. We know they can hold and retain information, so they sit within the centre of my spirit wheel and act as the portal to hold any messages from the spirit world. I think work with that crystal in retrieving and integrating the information into my practice and life.

ON THE CONCEPT OF ASKING FOR AID, NOT DEMANDING SERVITUDE:

Another aspect of his book I can give my full support to is the notion that you do NOT own spirit, and have no right to conjure spirits to do your bidding. They are not your slaves. In fact, they are your betters. You are asking them to join you in ritual and in healing. You are asking them to share their wisdom and love, and in turn, you should be doing the same.

Before any of this, you need to first build your relationship with the spirit world. Look at it from this point of view. If you need to borrow $100, are your changes better or worse if you go up to a stranger, or if you ask someone you have an established positive relationship with?

Be prepared to give back. Don’t always be about the ego at your altar. Don’t always be about taking. In the morning I do a gratitude puja/ritual simply to call forth their energies and sit with them in communion, to give my love and gratitude for their existence in my life. We often take for granted those in our mundane world, hopefully we won’t do this with our spiritual kin. In fact, that daily reminder of gratitude might help us to view the mundane relations we do have with more compassion and truth.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK.

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