Every state in America has sacred sites―places that change you, heal you, and make you feel alive. Magical Destinations of the Northeast details more than 300 spiritual destinations perfect for meditation, magic, and just plain fun. This hands-on guidebook also includes spells and rituals and provides tips for the magical uses of official state plants, flowers, gems, minerals, and trees.
There are pockets of magic to be found everywhere―places that make you stop in your tracks as powerful energies speak to your soul. This book is filled with awe-inspiring destinations, featuring little-known gems, natural landscapes, and manmade creations, as well as Native American and African American heritage sites. With everything from witch’s temples to Druid circles, spiritualist communities to mysterious stones, this book will make your next trip a truly magical journey. – From Amazon.ca
Years before I had any indication that being a “professional witch” was in the cards for me, I was just a not-as-quiet-as-I’m-sure-everyone-wished college student studying Tourism & Travel at St Clair College and learning how to lead tours, treat ancient and natural sites with respect, plan vacations, and write travel guides. So when the author, Natalie Zaman, emailed me and asked me if I’d like to review the book I had already compared prices, checked to see if it was at a local bookstore, and added it to me TO READ list on goodreads haha. I was eager to read it and to learn more about some of the magic I just know is hidden throughout North America (in this case the US specifically) and I wasn’t disappointed!
Listen to my Podcast Episode about my own trip to Salem Massachusetts here: Episode 2 – Witchy Wandering!
This book earned it’s 5 crystal ball rating by existing perfectly somewhere between the realm of travel guide and grimoire. While you’re totally engrossed in the stories and myths of a state you never even considered visiting, you’re mentally making note of addresses and directions. Before you know it you’ve actually read a travel guide cover to cover. I collect travel guides and I’ve never read one cover to cover like I did this book. The amazingly magical descriptions practically transport you to these locations and you can practically see the pentagram at the heart of Washington DC, and hear the magically purifying tone of the liberty bell, and feel aleister Crowley’s impromptu burial soil shift beneath your feet. Honestly, I can’t believe I was so happy to feel like I was in Delaware or New Jersey! (Though honestly? I can’t wait to check both out again with fresh eyes!)
This book covers the Northeastern United States, namely Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Conneticut, Washington D.C., Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. This is not technically my neck of the woods (which I guess in american terms would be the midwest?), but it is one I frequent and I thought I had a pretty good idea of what might be in the book, and right away I was smacked off my high horse with the information that shops would be included in the book in an extremely limited capacity, and I realized most of the witchiest things I knew about any of these locations was shops! I really appreciated this reality check and learned a ton of super interesting things I never knew.
The author does a fantastic job or not only curating interesting occult sites, or historial areas shrouded in myth and mystery, but reveals the magic in places and items that some people might regard as “mundane”. One of my favourite examples of this is near the beginning in the chapter on Washington D.C. in a section titled ‘Washington’s Gods and Goddesses’, that talks about different deities depicted all over the city! You can find roman goddess of wisdom and justice Minerva at the supreme court building, which is modeled after the Parthenon; Zeus in the form of George Washington at the Smithsonian, and Mars and Ceres (among others) at the Capitol Building. If you worship deities, I can’t imagine a cooler place to visit and pay tribute.
If you like to work with natural elements each chapter talks about the state rock, mineral, tree, or flower, where to find them, and their magical correspondences. Did you know Pennsylvania has a state fossil (The trilobite!) instead of rock? Or that Rhode Island’s state rock, bowenite, is the stuff of Lovecraftian other worlds? Or maybe that Maryland’s ancient white oaks help protect against wicked spells and negativity?
This book tells you the legends of local monsters and beasts, ghostly legends and locations, establishes sacred sites, and graves of note. If you’ve ever wanted to pay tribute to Aleister Crowley, Edgar Allen Poe, HP Lovecraft or Ed Warren, this book can not only get you there but gives advice on creative and magical ways to pay tribute.
Perhaps my favourite feature of the whole book, each chapter ends with a local witch or magical person sharing a prayer, spell, or ritual that specifically incorporates the magic of their state. Salem Witch Laurie Cabot and her daughter Penny appear at the end of the Massachusetts chapter, while the Pennsylvania Grounding Spell by Goldie Brown is probably my new favourite grounding ritual of all time.
If you’re looking for a book with a ton of photographs and maps that you can carry around on your vacation to lead you to places, this is probably not the book to start with. Rather I find that this book is less about physically bringing you there, but more about getting you to feel something when you finally arrive. What you get instead of maps or colour photos is beautifully written descriptions with just a hint of the macabre, and tons of spells and magic that you can do in all of these places while respecting the natural energy of the area. That’s not to say that you can’t easily bring it with you and reference some of the spots or addresses, because you totally can! But you can also just pick this book up when you have no travel plans to learn about some interesting cultures (or monsters!) that might live right in your backyard.
You also might do what I’m currently doing which is researching flights to Delaware or New Jersey because they’re apparently way cooler than I was lead to believe.
More from Natalie Zaman on The Fat Feminist Witch:
Listen to my wonderful interview with Natalie all about her book and how she chose some of the sites, her first experiences with magical destinations in her home state of New Jersey, being a responsible magical traveler, graveyard souvenirs, magical colouring books and not one, but TWO old episodes of the Simpsons.