Hermione Granger meets Emily Post in You Are a Great and Powerful Wizard, Sage Liskey’s appealing grimoire-cum-self-help guide for the magically inclined.
Forego expectations of elemental incantations and bubbling potions—at least, in the stereotypical sense. Here, to be a wizard means that one has harnessed the power within all beings, cultivating self-awareness, self-control, and concern for relationships and communities beyond oneself. The spells that Liskey forwards rest in the realm of mantras, healthy habits consciously adopted, and activism: “spells to empower yourself, uplift your community, and transform unhealthy and destructive cultures.”
Reigning magical metaphors become lenses through which to discuss intentionality (or, a wizard’s highest form); meaningful undertakings, from artistic endeavors to community participation (or, quests); and gift-giving and meaning-making (or, magical objects). In place of fog-emitting cauldrons, the book’s discussions of potions include ingestibles with health properties, like marijuana and anti-inflammatory foods, while also warning against substance abuse.
What arises are common sense recommendations that draw upon a number of established sources, including The Five Love Languages and medical journals. Because being a wizard is all-encompassing, this guide covers dating, raising children, exercise, and depression and loneliness. Its coverage of such topics is sometimes swift, but always encouraging and conscientious: for those looking for love, the text emphasizes consent as foundational; for depression, it includes encouragements to confront sadness with positive activities, therapy, and, when necessary, medication.
There are a few outliers in these prompts—propaganda and violent direct action both appear in the book’s otherwise positive examples of activist alchemy; and peacocking, a term most associated with pick-up artists, is featured in its notes on dating—but the advice is most often nurturing and warm, designed for people at all levels of wizardry.
Magical potential is everywhere and in everything, suggests You Are a Great and Powerful Wizard, making its advice not only practical, but enchanting.
Michelle Anne Schingler
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