Book Review: Witch by Lisa Lister

 

“A witch is a wise woman, a healer. Yet for so long the word “witch” has had negative connotations. In this book, third generation hereditary witch Lisa Lister explains the history behind witchcraft, why identifying as a healer in past centuries led women to be burned at the stake, and why the witch is reawakening in women across the world today. All women are witches, and when they connect to source, trust their intuition, and use their magic, they can make medicine to heal themselves and the world. This book is a re-telling of Herstory, an overview of the different schools of witchcraft and the core principles and practices within them. Discover ancient wisdom made relevant for modern witches: •The wheel of the year, the sabbats, the cycles of the moon. •Tools to enhance your intuition, including oracle cards and dowsing, so that you can make decisions quickly and comfortably. •Understanding the ancient use of the word “medicine”. •How to work with herbs, crystals, and power animals so that you have support in your spiritual work. •How to build and use a home altar to focus your intentions and align you with seasonal cycles, the moon cycles, and your own intentions for growth. •Cleanse, purify, and create sacred space. •Work with the elements to achieve deep connection with the world around you.In addition, Lisa teaches personal, hands-on rituals and spells from her family lineage of gypsy witch magic to help you heal, manifest, and rediscover your powers. Above all, Lisa shows that we really are “the granddaughters of the witches that they couldn’t burn” – Book Description from Amazon

Book Details:
* Available on Kindle
* $15.99 for Paperback
* 304 pages long

Lisa Lister is a self-proclaimed “menstrual maven”, a third-generation gypsy witch, and the founder of something called SHE flow, a “personal invite for women to celebrate the fiercely feminine, sensual pleasure of being a woman through movement, massage, menstrual mysteries, and magic.”

I’m really on the fence about this book. Some parts of it are written well with good information, but others are full of exclusive and extreme feminism. Lisa Lister makes note in the “About This Book” section that this book will probably piss off traditional witches, Pagans, men, and the transgender community. And she’s not wrong. Even as a cisgender woman and feminist, I found a lot of the feminism-focused writing to be hard to read because of how exclusive it is. She talks of things like “pussy power” and “womb breathing”, centering the entirety of her feminism around those people who have vaginas, wombs, and a capability to menstruate. She calls these people women, but not all women have vaginas or wombs, and not all women want them or feel the “power” in their monthly cycle.

I can agree with some of her writing on patriarchy, but I disagree with her methods and teachings regarding how to combat the oppression that women have faced in the last several hundred years. She does make a good point about how, in ancient times, women were revered as magick-makers, and that our monthly cycle can be a magickal thing. Especially when you think about the fact that our cycle can align with the cyclic nature of the moon and Her phases.

Because of her style of writing and the words that she chooses, I actually decided to keep track of how many times she used the words womb and pussy, because it made me a little uncomfortable to read since I am not someone who centers my magickal experience around my menstrual cycle.

Womb: at least 77
Pussy: at least 10

She also states in her introduction that we must also connect with HE, the Divine masculine. “It’s time to connect with HE, the divine masculine, because wholeness is what we’re all seeking” (xvi), but she only mentions the Divine masculine maybe a handful of times in the entire book, surely less than I can count on one hand.

If you can get past the feminism and womb-centered idea of healing, you might like this book. I divided it into two different sections, because that’s how it appeared to me. The first half of the book is all about reclaiming the power of women using our wombs, vaginas, sexual appeal, and menstrual cycle. I didn’t like this part of the book because it is not a good representation of what I feel feminism should be (inclusive, not man-hating, and good for everyone, not just the women) and I don’t think this type of extreme feminism has a place in witchcraft.

The second half of the book has loads of good information regarding the Sabbats, moon phases, crystals, herbs, and spell work. She says some things that I definitely agree with in regards to tools, how to cast spells, and what needs to be done in terms of focus to help you be successful in your endeavors. She reminds us of what we so often forget, especially in the practice of Wicca. Working with the darkness is not inherently bad. Its like that saying in the witchcraft circles that I’ve seen. You can’t know how to heal if you don’t know how to curse. Now, that’s not something that a lot of people agree with, and that’s ok. It is a reminder that knowing the darkest parts of yourself will help you along in whatever it is that you want to do. You don’t need to embrace your shadow, but you do need to acknowledge that it is there and that it has a lesson to teach you.

“Its in the darkness that roots grow deeper…” (52)

“I invite you to feel into the truth behind the actions you hear or read about. Get curious. What was the motivation?” (61)

“We realize that we’re not separate after all. Instead, we’re interwoven; and the wisdom of Mumma Earth flows through each and every one of us.” (109)

“It’s the focus, concentration, intentions and desires that reside within YOU that are the real ‘tools’ of the witch.” (150)

“What’s important is that you cast your spell with honesty, clarity, focus, and intent.” (161)

She also says some things that I disagree with or that make me feel extremely uncomfortable. For example, the following quote in talking about five witch archetypes that she believes are part of each of us made me shudder. I don’t even want to think of anyone prodding my vagina with a broomstick, for any reason. I think she could have chosen much better words. Words that don’t bring about the shadow of sexual assault to those of us who have experience unwanted “prodding”.

“I share them as a broomstick-prod to your pussy…” (104)

She also seems to change the meaning of the word “virgin” and I’ve looked, trying to find a source for her definition (we know how much I love my sources). I found several articles that use this definition, but I couldn’t find a source for the so-called “ancient” definition of the word. Latin-Dictionary.net defines the Latin word “virgo” from which “virgin” originates as a “maiden, young woman, [or] girl of marriageable age”, so it is possible that the original meaning of the word virgin was somewhere along the lines of what Lisa writes, but it might be a bit far fetched to say that it meant sexually independent like she writes.

“Ishtar, Diana, Astarte and Isis were all called Virgin too, but that didn’t mean ‘sexually chaste’ as Christianity has had us believe. Instead, it meant ‘sexually independent’. A woman unto herself.” (66)

Overall, this book was okay. I was able to move past the feminism since I already have strongly held convictions regarding the topic. I enjoyed the writing about the different types of witches and religious paths, the section on crystals and their meanings, and the writing about the Sabbats. I also liked that she gave recipes and ritual frameworks based on her own practices so that we know she isn’t just writing to make a buck and regurgitating information.

Would I recommend this book? Yeah, but only if you don’t mind, or can get past, the way she writes about feminism, being a true woman witch, and healing from the womb and vagina. However, if you are new to the practice of witchcraft in any of its forms, new to feminism, are an identified male (or otherwise not a cisgender female), believe that trans-women are women, etc. I would not recommend this book for you unless you are capable of reading it while disregarding her unwillingness to be politically correct.

While I applaud Lisa for writing about something that she strongly believes in, and writing with such conviction, that part just wasn’t for me.

If you’d like to check out the book for yourself, click the link below.

Witch: Unleashed. Untamed. Unapologetic.


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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Witch by Lisa Lister

  1. Great review, very balanced. But I have to say this book is a hard “no” for me. Apart from the fact that my period was always excruciatingly painful (something that is then often criticized as my fault for not being in tune enough with my femininity by women who are very into this type of thing), I think it is important that we try to be as inclusive as possible, especially now that there is a worldwide populist divisiveness going on. This book sounds very TERF to me, and their aggressive attitude towards the LGBT community (who are already suffering enough persecution) is very bad I think. So I am not going to give this lady my money even though some parts of the book sound interesting.

    1. I do agree with you. It was very hard for me to read all of the extreme feminist explanations that she had for everything. One part that particularly bothered me (besides the broomstick prod to my vagina) was the idea that my PCOS and fucked up uterine issues is supposedly caused by my being disconnected from the Goddess and divine feminine. It all sounds a bit “body-policing” to me and really bothered me that she was trying to tell me that my legitimate medical issues are caused by something spiritual (as I sit here writing this waiting for my cycle to rear its ugly head, as it is well over 2 weeks late, which is totally normal for me). Don’t get me wrong, I totally believe that can be an issue, but it just isn’t relevant to me or my practice. Besides the fact that the second half of the book had good information, it isn’t a book that I would recommend to just anyone.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment <3 Many blessings to you!

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