Here is a select list of books we highly recommend for delving into African mysticism, magic, and religion, along with books by our brilliant speaker, Lilith Dorsey.
Timothy R. Landry - both practitioner and anthropologist - gives a thorough and spellbinding account of contemporary Vodún in Benin, West Africa. Examining the growing popularity of Vodún in our transnational world, he explores how traditional practitioners and priests meet the challenge of the increasing popularity of the religion. Highlighting the legacies of colonialism and racialization, he shows how both priests and tourists negotiate the transfer of secret knowledge, and the relationship between authenticity, secrecy and monetary value.
Rara is a street festival celebrated in Haiti by adherents of Vodou that takes place over the six weeks of Lent. Elizabeth McAlister is an ethnographer and Assistant Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University and has written this study of the festival and its different aspects, such as the dances, the songs and the spirits involved. The importance of themes such as gender and sexuality are also explored. In the later chapters McAlister looks at the political meaning of Rara and its role in Haitian history, before turning to the festival's celebration by diaspora communities outside of Haiti, in particular New York. This is a book that will be of interest to anyone looking to delve into the deeper history of Haitian Vodou and its beliefs and practices.
In this book, the author, an acclaimed clinical psychologist based in the US, traces the roots of human culture and the shared collective consciousness in the African continent, from the profound influence of Egyptian Nubia and Kemetic Egypt on the early development of religion, mysticism and civilisation, to modern-day Black spirituality springing from the African diaspora. Subtitled The Black Origins of Mysticism and Psychology, this fascinating and much-needed work offers a counterpoint to the often implicitly white and Eurocentric narratives that dominate conversations about the evolution of human culture, and is recommended reading for anyone looking to decolonise their understanding of spirituality.
Weiser Classics have refreshed and reissued Baba Ifa Karade's classic introduction to Yoruba religion, from which much of today's African diaspora spiritual and religious traditions were descended. The author explains fundamental principles such as ifa, and the sixteen orisha, and also touches on the history of slavery and its impact on the enslaved populations and their religious beliefs and practices. The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts is an accessible and practical work that includes prayers, dances, songs, offerings, and sacrifices to honour the orisha and egun. We would recommend this for anyone interested in African traditional religions, in particular those who are keen to honour their history, the communities to which these traditions belong and the voices that are empowered to speak on their behalf.
Night of the Living Dead: BFI Film Classics - Ben Hervey - £11.99 (Sadly not sold at Treadwell's)
Ben Hervey’s illuminating study of the movie traces Night’s influences, from Powell and Pressburger to fifties horror comics, and provides the first history of its reception. Hervey argues that the film broke cultural barriers, fêted at New York's Museum of Modern Art while it was still packing 42nd Street grindhouses. Scene-by-scene analysis meshes with detailed historical contexts, showing why Night was a new kind of horror film: the expression of a generation who didn't want their world to return to normal.
Subtitled, 'The Divine Feminine in African Religious Traditions', this long awaited book offers a readable, intelligent path into the female powers - divine and human - in the African diaspora traditions. Lilith Dorsey is a priestess of Lucumi (also called Santeria) and Voudon as well as New Orleans Voodoo. Thus, their writing is grounded in long personal experience as well as wider research. The book interweaves Dorsey's introductions to the powers with practical recipes and simple workings. Throughout, they show sensitivity to the cultures and traditions from which these come. It is both informative and practical; it is inclusively feminist as well as deeply respectful of Black culture.
Water Magic: Elements of Witchcraft - Lilith Dorsey- £14.99 (Sadly not sold at Treadwell's)
Water Magic reveals the amazing possibilities of using water in your modern practice. Once you access the depths of this mighty and life-giving element, it will enhance your magic and transform you into a better version of yourself. From washes and baths to spells and rituals, Lilith Dorsey helps you bring this element into your magic. Learn how to use the symbols of water and the wisdom of rivers, lakes, and oceans. Explore water s relationship to the wheel of the year and its manifestations in mythology and lore. You'll also meet the gods and goddesses who rule over the element. Cleansing and strong, the power of water helps you get in touch with your emotions and improve your Craft.
Voodoo and African Traditional Religion - Lilith Dorsey - £16.99 (Sadly not sold at Treadwell's)
A helpful introduction to the religions of the African diaspora, a guide beyond the basic tenets to the vibrant, living spirit world of their peoples, and a much-needed key to protocol and proper etiquette, while clearing up common myths about Haitian Vodou, New Orleans Voodoo, Santería (Lucumí), and other practices that stem from misconceptions about possession and sacrifice. New material includes guidance for activists to empower their work for social change with the fierceness, tenacity, and wisdom of their ancestors, as well as never-before-published recipes handed down through the generations, personal spells and charms including root magick for protection and protest, and devotional rituals you can perform yourself.
If you want to find more books on African magic and religion, click here.