Blog Post 51 – Book Review
Happy Friday, all. Today, to make up for a rather long post yesterday, I’m just doing a quick blurb on a book I’ve not referenced much here, but which will likely be cropping up as we get into discussions of things like curanderismo and brujeria. The book I’m looking at is called Spiritual Cleansing by Draja Mickaharic.
Mickaharic was an immigrant from Central Europe who arrived in the U.S. just as World War II was dawning. The occult seems to have interested him from a relatively young age, and he’s produced copious volumes on various magical themes. What strikes me as unique is that despite his Old World roots, most of his magical writings focus on what I would call New World systems, such as Caribbean, Southern, and Mexican folk magic.
Spiritual Cleansing is, according to its subtitle, “a handbook of psychic self-protection.” Much like Dion Fortune’s Psychic Self-Defense, this book is mostly aimed at beginning practitioners or those with little experience in occult topics. It’s chief goal is to help a person who might be facing all sorts of spiritual afflictions to remove those problems and prevent future recurrences. Mickaharic is very insistent in this text that his work is not to be taken as medical advice (which is a sound if common legal disclaimer in works like this), but also that it is only for basic spiritual cleansing and protection. He advises those with serious afflictions to seek out the help of a professional spiritual practitioner, and therein lies some of his charm. He takes his subject very seriously, and his tone comes across a bit like an admonition from a grandparent. This is probably because he was nearly 70 when the book was first published in 1982. A more recent edition came out in 2003 with additional material, including a chapter on “Quieting the Mind.”
Mickaharic’s work is incredibly practical. He discusses a lot of different spiritual cleansing techniques without high-flown language. Some of the topics he addresses are:
-Dealing with Malochio (the Evil Eye)
-Cleansing oneself with spiritual baths
-Using eggs to remove negative energy
-Burning incenses to fumigate oneself for protection
-The proper use of Holy Water
One thing that some readers may be turned off by is the matter-of-fact way he says to do things. For example, of burning incense he says “If we burn incense with no real purpose, we may find the forces [higher powers] decide we are calling a wrong number—and they will not act in harmony with our desires…To be able to use an incense properly we must first understand these rules” ( p. 78). He then goes into the rules as he sees them. In another passage, he advises against using rain water for spiritual cleansing because “Rain water is difficult to use as it has variable vibrations…[and] should not be used for any spiritual work except by those who have been specifically told to use it by a spiritual practitioner” (p. 67). I know such “this is this and that is that” statements are a big turn-off for many magical folk (and I have a feeling Laine would strongly disagree with Mickaharic on his perspective concerning rain water). But I’d like to offer up, as some small defense of this work, that it is written for an inexperienced magical practitioner. Someone with a better understanding of magic very well may be able to bend his “rules,” but Mickaharic is more concerned with the well-being of the reader he’s never met and wants to make sure they don’t get into anything they can’t handle.
Many of the spells and workings in this book are wonderful. Some bear striking similarities to hoodoo work (his home sweetening spells involve burning brown sugar, which is very common in hoodoo), and many are very close to curanderismo practices (the egg cleansings in particular strike this note with me). Some things in this book seem a little pedantic to me, of course, but then again I’ve been reading magical books for a long time. In the end, I still think the good of this book outweighs anything bad I can say of it, and so I’m recommending it to you. If you have an interest in spiritual cleansing and protection, or in Mexican folk magic, hoodoo, and other natural magical systems, this is a book well worth tracking down.
Have a great weekend! Thanks for reading!
Tags: America, American, bathing, brujeria, cleansing, curanderismo, draja mickaharic, folk magic, folklore, holy water, hoodoo, incense, magic, Mexican folk magic, new world witchery, protection, recommendations, witchcraft, witcheryBoth comments and pings are currently closed.