It should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever met me that I LOVE Walking the Tides. Its one of those books that completely changed me and my practices.

Perhaps it was the time of my life which I read it. When I was questioning everything and looking for something which better aligned my head and heart.

Perhaps it was because it spoke a deep resonating truth which reflected what I was feeling in the land around me in words way more elequant than my thoughts could hope to be.

But whatever it was I opened this book and knew I had found something special.

Actually I only needed to read the introduction to Walking the Tides to know how important this book was going to be to my developing practice of Traditional Witchcraft.

The 8 pages which comprise the introduction to the first and second editions where absolutely the most important 8 pages of the book.

I’d go as far as to say you only need to read those and then put them into practice and your golden.

You are set on your path of working with the seasonal energies and rhythms.

 

The rest is your own hard work.

 

And even if you read the rest of the book (which I do recommend) you still need to do that hard work.

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The opening line of the Preface sets us up perfectly for the journey ahead:

 

“Behind the seasonal calendar celebrated by most modern pagans is an ebb and flow of natural energies that is seldom mentioned and whose meaning is very little understood.”

 

Walking the Tides requires us to pull away the covers and dig underneath to feel and to sense and to experience the natural energies.

It very cleverly manages a difficult balance – a criticism of blind following of a sanitised calendar of seasonal festivals without coming across as preachy or rude. I like that.

He educates us, expands our knowledge and understanding in a simple and gentle way. But with a very ungentle effect!

In giving us instruction to celebrate the changing season when we “feel it” though there is an important caveat.

 

This is not a modern, laize faire, fluffy, ‘I’ll do it when I feel like it’ type of sentiment.

 

It’s a highly honed skill to feel the energies of the season. He goes a little deeper into this in the summer tide chapters, where he cautions us against mistaking the physical attributes of summer – the heat for example – for the esoteric and magical energies. And this is the trap the beginner can easily fall into.

My own view is that  it does not matter hugely if we fall into this trap as long as we recognise the trap. If we know we are tracking the physical seasons alone but strive to feel the undercurrents we will eventually grow and perceive a wider range of magical energies. As with all aspects of the craft PRACTICE and ACTION reward us.

 

Overall Walking the Tides gives us an overview of the seasonal cycles – the tides of energy – which are present throughout the year.

 

I love the description of tides. Of Walking the Tides. It sets up the perfect imagery in the head.

The energies of the land don’t build up and up in a liner manner for 6 months and then Ebb away in an equally straight line for another six months. Or simply move through 4 different seasonal energies in a nice orderly fashion.

They are up and down constantly. Some tides higher than others. Every high inevitably followed by a low.

And to Walk these Tides we must tread the liminal between the land and the other. Exactly the path of the witch.

But I digress.

 

The structure of the book is one of its greatest strengths.

It is not necessary to start at the beginning of Walking the Tides and read it cover to cover. You can dip in to match the point of the year you are currently in.

The best way to read this book in my opinion is to make it a monthly ritual.

To read the appropriate chapter at the beginning of every month and then to let it guide you through the month. Maybe try out a couple of its recipes or charms. Watch out for some of the folklore it mentions (this month I’ll be keeping a very close eye on the weather on July 15th in case it rains!)

At the end of the month or season it’s a really nice exercise to reflect on the month. To note if the chapter spoke of energies you felt and experience.

Did it match what you actually experienced?

If it didn’t then BINGO!

You’ve hit on exactly the point Nigel Pearson is making in this book.

You need to rely on what’s actually happening in the world – not on what I book told you would be happening!

 

The monthly chapters are further subdivided – covering the ‘Times and Tides’ (the traditional customs and festivals), the fauna, the astronomy of the season, the flora and ‘Hearth and Home’ (domestic traditions, and my favourite addition, recipes!)

Its an incredibly user friendly book in this way, whilst still maintaining a constant narrative that guides your naturally through the story of the energies of the year. There is a real practical feel to the whole book. Little nuggets of practice, small ritual suggestions and so on peppered throughout.

 

It’s a very easy read in many respects.

The language is clear and not overly complicated and it peaks the interest enough that you want to keep consuming the information. But the concepts may not be easy to swallow for some readers…..

One of the criticisms I’ve seen of this book, is in my opinion one of its strengths. It pushes you to throw away the calender in many respects. To stop celebrating summer on X day, and instead celebrate seasonal changes as and when they happen. In today’s busy world many people find that concept too hard. Too inconvenient.

 

But when was magic supposed to be convenient?

When did you ever grow from comfort? From routine? Or from easy?

Its something to reflect on.

 

Another point to note is that this is very much a British book. It’s a book about the traditions her in Britain, and will not necessarily translate if you live elsewhere.

Of course a number of bits will be relevant – the seasonal skies will not massively differ for other parts of Northern Europe for example, but will not work at all for readers in Australia! You may still get a lot out of the book – especially if you are prepared to take this approach and do the hard work to apply it to your part of the world – but its something to note.

 

So, in summary, Walking the Tides is an excellent book.

Its not path specific. It can appeal to the traditionalist witch, the druid or the general pagan alike. Its easy to read and I guarantee you will learn a huge amount of information no matter what point of your path you are on.

 

The Hearth of Brighid Magical Book Club

This is my initial review of the book ahead of our month of discussion and study. If you would like to read along with members of the Hearth of Brighid then please join us over in our facebook group. Or check out one of our previous Books of the Month

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