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Book Review of The Black Book of Johnathan Knotbristle: A Devil's Parable & Guide for Witches By Chris Allaun

This book is a fun read and wonderful for anyone interested in learning a workable North American Traditional Witchcraft (sometimes called Folkloric Witchcraft) Tradition, and that also enjoys learning through storytelling. For many of us it can be a lot easier to retain information when told in story form, or it can just be a more enjoyable way to learn. It is told in a dialect which I love because a story in dialect really helps to set the time and place of a story, and it was not at all difficult to understand. To be clear, Johnathan Knotbristle is not a real person, but a character. This is a fictional tale of a real witchcraft tradition.

A fictional book is a chance to live in another world and experience a different life. Through this book I was entirely brought into the world of the American South in the 1800s and into Johnathan’s life. I could imagine his house and land, the town, without the need for extensive description. The story being told in Johnathan's voice allows the reader to share his experience of place, and his journey towards becoming a witch. 

The foreword was written by Ivo Dominguez Jr who suggests treating this book as a guided visualisation or pathworking so that the events play out in your mind, and you can really absorb the lessons in the story organically. The story begins with some trauma in Johnathan’s life, the introduction of the Devil and Johnathan signing his name in the “Devil’s book”. Each experience builds on the last, and as you follow a year in Johnathan's life, you will see his skills and talents grow as his knowledge gradually expands, partly through experience, partly through teaching.

The second part of the book is a small grimoire of Johnathan’s spells, including: how to obtain the powers of the witch, trance, obtaining a spirit familiar, flying in spirit, summoning ghosts, shapeshifting, faery magic and more. These are all drawn from Johnathan’s experiences and journey as detailed in the first part of the book.

Just a note, the devil in this story and in traditional witchcraft is not the Satan of Christianity, but rather ’The Witch Father,' 'The Old One’ or ‘The Horned One’.

Huge thanks to Crossed Crow Books for sending me a copy of this book!

Originally published in Noumenia News, Issue 67.


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