The Hellebore Guide to Occult Britain by Maria J. Pérez Cuervo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Next time I'm in the UK, this book is coming with. The unstoppable crew at Hellebore have created a mostly (though not completely) comprehensive guide to magical places in teh British Isles. Sections are divided geographically, so you can pull this Baedeker of the bizzare wherever the ley lines have taken you and have a Virgil to your Dante.
The book itself is a handy size and seems well-constructed, which you'll want if you're taking it with you. Most of the place entries have a postal code listed, so if you can interpret that (or ask a local postmaster), you'll be good to go. Entries range from megalithic tombs to occult bookstores to locales tied to famous practitioners of magic (though one should take any location related to Aleister Crowley as questionable because, you know, Crowley).
Now, I have two slight complaints. First, and this one is small . . . too small . . . the print is too small! This is the case especially in some longer, colored text blocks. Pardon the old guy with eyes that are going bad who are interested in this subject matter. There are thousands of us, I'm sure. Might want to consider bumping those fonts up a point and doing a slightly longer book.
Earlier, I said that this book was mostly comprehensive. Of course, not everything can be covered in an almanac such as this, but I noted two glaring ommissions of which I am personally very aware. I won't go over details in this review, but if you read my blog post on The Priory at RAF Chicksands and The Devils Quoits, you'll see exactly what I mean. The weird thing is that Clophill Church, which I mention in my blog post, and which is DIRECTLY tied to the Chicksands Priory (albeit by an undergroudn tunnel - I kid you not; I've been in that tunnel myself) is mentioned, while the priory is not. I don't get it. The very reason that people went to Clophill Church to put up satanic graffitti and sacrifice animals was because the church was physically tied to the alegedly haunted priory. So why no Chicksands Priory? It's not about accessibility. You can arrange a tour of the Priory with the non-profit that cares for it. I don't get the ommission.
I won't spend much time on the other one, The Devil's Quoits, in Oxfordshire. Sure, it's hard to find (my wife and I got lost looking for it at first), but it's a beautiful megalithic structure that has been researched rather well. maybe it's because the archaeological dig that revealed the full scale of the Quoits was only done in 1945, so it doesn't have the old magical associations that, say, the Rollright Stones do? Again, I don't fully understand.
Perhaps one can slip index cards in with one's own entries where the Hellebore guide is missing them?
Still, it is enough. Not complete, but enough. If you are lucky enough to live in the UK, you really should buy a copy. And if you're visiting and looking for the magic of the isles, you definitely need to take this with you to read on the plane flight over. It's a long flight, trust me. Be prepared.
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