Book Review: The Woman’s Handbook of Healing Herbs

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I’m a big fan of this relatively new title by Maine herbalist Deb Soule. It strikes a wonderful balance in tone and depth: accessible to someone with little or no experience in herbalism, but specialized enough to contain valuable info for even experienced herbalists. It speaks from both the intellect and the heart, and is a nurturing and practical book for any woman interested in natural health to own.

The Woman’s Handbook of Healing Herbs covers a range of topics, and contains a true wealth of information for women who have specific health concerns as well as for women who just want to stay healthy.  Herbal formulas (with clear instructions) are set apart from the text, which makes them easy to find and follow.  The book is a trade paperback on good, heavy color, with lovely black and white illustrations by Susan Szwed.  It also contains an extensive list of resources, full citations, a Latin-to-Common-Name glossery, and a general index as well as an index of formulas and recipes.  A wonderful book to start with, these details make it all the more usable.

Author Deb Soule is the founder of Avena Botanicals.  A gardener, she teaches and consults with women and health care providers around the country.  She lives in Rockland, Maine.

Book Review: Backyard Medicine

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Backyard Medicine, by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal, is an absolutely gorgeous combination of information and full-color photographs.  It’s also my go-to book for in-depth info on easy to find (and easy to grow) medicinal herbs.  Backyard Medicine is very readable, and the bulk of the book is made up of a short chapter on each of fifty plants, including photos, description, historical and present-day uses, mythological or folk beliefs about the herb, the authors’ personal experience, and instructions for suggested preparations.  There’s also a brief how-to for basic preparations (decoctions, herbal honeys, etc) in the beginning of the book.  Backyard Medicine focuses specifically on common wildflowers, like dandelion, mullein, and yarrow, which makes it particularly useful.  A portable trade paperback with lovely paper quality, it’s a joy to use and to page through, making plans for the summer.

Book Review: A History of Witchcraft

Synopsis: The authors discuss the definitions of witchcraft, and chart witchcraft’s historical, anthropological, and religious manifestations from ancient times to the present. This book also includes an analysis of the importance of the internet and films in the dissemination of modern witchcraft – and the personal tensions as a secretive, initiatory cult becomes an open and recognized religion.

Verdict: Readable, and of a modest length. Seems to be well-researched. A nice, thorough introduction to witchcraft past and present, as well as to the power of the idea of witchcraft. Recommended for anyone interested in this subject – especially at this time of the year!

(Click on the cover image to order this book from an indie bookseller near you!)