by John M Morris, Ph.D.
Elizabeth Barrette Composing Magic: How to Create Magical Spells, Rituals, Blessings, Chants, and Prayers Franklin Hills (NJ): New Page Books, 2007. 240 pp., $14.99.
Here, at last, is a guidebook for all of us that are called upon to create some kind of magical working, whether in a formal ritual or in a private ceremony. Barrette's approach is inclusive, meaning that there is no single "tradition" that she is following, but rather the broad path that we sometimes call "spirituality," the path that is never restricted to a single set of relligious beliefs.
For those that have never written poetry, this is a particularly useful guide, in the preparation of poetic approaches and appeals to spiritual forces around us. We so rarely hear poetry in our rituals these days, and we need some help in writing it. Barrette tends to use traditional poetic forms, but these can inspire us to write in looser, unrhymed verse, if we want to. One chapter, "Creating Colorful Chants," was full of fun things to do with your own rituals. "Bestowing Beautiful Blessings" gave hints for these specialized forms. Finally, there were some suggestions for getting your work published. Commercial publishing is highly competitive, meaning that you may find it difficult or impossible to interest a commercial publisher. But there's no harm in trying.