Book Review of Shadows: Utterly Wicked by Dorothy Morrison (2020)

🔮🔮🔮🔮/5!

Hexes, curses, and other unsavory notions—most magical practitioners won’t even discuss them. Why? Because they’d much rather find a positive solution that benefits all concerned. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Occasionally, though, our problems are such that nothing in the positive solution arena will handle them.

Jam-packed with more than one hundred rituals, incantations, hexes, and curses, this is the quintessential primer for learning all the magical tricks no one wants to talk about. Do you know the proper way to enter a cemetery? Utterly Wicked tells you how, as well as the proper methods for collecting and using graveyard dirt. Explore the little-known secrets of the 11-inch fashion doll, and see why it‘s become such a valuable magical tool. Learn how to prepare Hot Foot Powder, Four Thieves Vinegar, Goofer Dust, and other magical components designed to obliterate your toughest problems. Most important, you‘ll find the tools to protect yourself, your family, and your home from ever being bothered with these sorts of difficulties again.Goodreads.com

Utterly Wicked by Dorothy Morrison originally came out in 2007 and to date is still the only book on curses for modern witchcraft that I know of. By the time I started looking for it, it was sadly out of print and hard to get ahold of! No one ever wanted to part with their used copy because they knew they would never find another copy, or another book with this information all in one place. Today Weiser Books is releasing a new version with a forward by Amy Blackthorn, (whom I love) and I’m thrilled to have finally gotten to read it!

🔮 – Let’s begin with what makes this book special – the fact that cursing, binding, jinxing and otherwise casting “baneful magic” (I love how poetic that is tbh) is a rarely touched-upon subject in books for modern witches. This book covers everything from the different words for this type of magic, to common methods and ingredients, ethical considerations, and reversing hexes and curses. She doesn’t shy away from including classic ingredients like the witch’s own urine, but there are plenty of spells for most purposes and the reader can decide what they’re comfortable with. She also has a bit about calling back curses and I loved that because it always seems like an “you can unring a bell” situation, but truly if it’s your own energy you can certainly call it back.

🔮 – If you’ve read other Dorothy Morrison books like Everyday Moon Magic or The Craft, you’ll know she proudly adopts the wicked witch archetype as her own, and does it with flair. Coventry Creations has an entire line of candles and oils that are use for cursing, banishing, and otherwise bringing out the wicked witch and her flying monkeys when you need them. This attitude makes the book very empowering and inspiring, and it encourages you to harness your anger and rage and trauma in both a defensive and offensive way. It doesn’t judge your reasons, but it does give you some things to consider for yourself. Some of her personal stories cracked me up, even though they were originally written like, more than a decade ago.

🔮 – In Chapter 5 she goes through different tools like incense, powders, washes, and oils and gives you lists of different ways to use those in any type of spell. Then she gives you specific recipes for these blends like goofer dust, hot foot powder, “Queen Bitch of the Whole Fucking Universe” incense, war water, and four thieves vinegar. Many of the recipes are hoodoo and southern american staples which makes sense since she’s originally from texas! I loved the recipes, and in general I love wen books offer a seperate section for recipes that then get used in the spells throughout the book, and that’s exactly what’s done here. You’ll find many spells that feature graveyard dirt she’s taught you how to respectfully collect, or the coffin nails she’s taught you how to make for yourself. I loved it.

🔮 – The hexes themselves cover a wide range of topics from keeping an errant lover close, getting debts repaid, cursing a serial rapist to hell, and keeping the IRS off your back, to causing nightmares and insomnia, banishing predators, and getting chosen over others for things like promotions. Some are really simple and can be done on the fly with common objects, while others are more ritualistic and involve some of the magical blends from earlier in the book and personal concerns like urine and saliva. Honestly, it’s not a book on curses without urine. That’s not even a joke. This is the OG ingredient for curses and hexes going all the way back. Unfortunately, she never actually explains why urine is so popular in curses or what it’s “magical properties” are.

Like I said, I never got to read the original version, so I don’t know if anything beyond the foreward has been added or changed. That said, it did feel just slightly out-dated. In the section explaining why hoodoo is a common system of magic in the book, it really skirts around the issue of slavery. We’ve gotten to the point where new books on hoodoo make it clear this system of magic was created by enslaved people, which is why those of us who’ve never experienced that can find some methods extreme. Instead it just said that hoodoo practitioners don’t adhere to the same moral ethics as you may find in other religious traditions. This was a totally common way to broach this subject in 2007, but things have fortunately changed a little. Combined with a spell using a dream-catcher, I wouldn’t disagree if anyone from these cultures called out the book for cultural appropriation.

I also noticed that many of the curses are really individual, like they really only solve your individual problem. If you have a bad boss who’s sexually assaulting you, keeping him away from you doesn’t exactly solve the problem, does it? I would have liked some larger spells with a wider reach, or with a purpose more in line with “the greater good” than just individual issues.

All-in-all I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for information on how to cast these types of spells or work with these tools. I think you could find a spell in this book to serve any purpose, and many leave lots of room for you to improvise and personalize it further. It really is a no-nonsense book that encourages you to use magic to care for yourself and those you love, protect your home, right wrongs, and take back your power.

Get your copy of Utterly Wicked from my Bookshop.org store and support the podcast + bricks and mortar bookstores! (US Only) (For now!)

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