cover image Burn a Black Candle: An Italian American Grimoire

Burn a Black Candle: An Italian American Grimoire

Dee Norman. Watkins, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-78678-698-2

Part family memoir and part introductory spell book, the warmhearted debut from witch Norman details the Italian American practical magic she learned from her mother and grandmother. Reflecting on growing up in a magical family, the author describes the practices she learned from her female relatives, including how to ask dead family members for advice, make offerings to saints, and cast spells for protection and good fortune. Her discussion of how to dispel the effects of the “evil eye” utilizes such traditional methods as wearing protective charms and using an egg to absorb negative energy. She shares simple methods for divining the future that include asking a question while holding playing cards and then pulling three from the deck, using the color of the suits to determine the answer (red suits mean yes, black no, and mixed indicates a possibility). Her family stories are filled with nostalgia, as when she recounts how her grandmother would bless her friends to protect them and how the author learned to make an altar by observing her mother. Additionally, novices will appreciate the straightforward methodology and the easy-to-find ingredients (a recipe for house blessing oil calls for olive oil, salt, bay leaves, rosemary, and a jar). This cozy manual breathes life into an often overlooked magical tradition. (Sept.)