Reviews of Praesidium
A Review of Austin Shippey's "Praesidium"
"While in the midst of a renewed interest concerning cunning-folk and their craft, I stumbled upon the website of Austin Shippey, and his charming book, Praesidium. There seems to be a very strong focus on folk magic within the current revival of occulture, and for good reason. Today’s enthusiasts need to move on from last century’s notions about magic via psychotherapy in a way that is not watered down, as found in decades-old ‘New Age’ drivel. We do this by returning to traditional roots; however, we owe the next generation a meaningful progression as well. Our position in the Information Age facilitates an intelligent and unique syncretism that will become our contribution.
From the very first chapter, Austin presents the material in a clear and conversational way, providing personal insight and explanation in a way that is seldom done in books about witchcraft. When I personally became drawn to the subject, I was repeatedly frustrated with extraordinarily vague content. For example, in any Wicca 101 book we are told the knife is our primary tool… but often no detail is offered as to why. This is one of the first matters addressed in Praesidium. When describing the concept of a curse, Austin’s voice again comes off as down-to-earth, and speaking from the modern position I previously described. I particularly enjoyed the nod to the Law Of Attraction, a crucial element to success in today’s world, that was likely more easily grasped by our ancestors.
While practices such as the ‘witch bottle’ and ‘clay image’ may be straight from the oral tradition of old-world cunning folk, it is clear Austin is well-versed in some of my favorite and foundational occult books such as Franz Bardon’s Initiation Into Hermetics and The Key of Solomon The King. In regard to the latter text, I particularly appreciate the incorporation of the blessing of salt, the ritual bath, and the conjuration of fire in Praesidium. In chapter 7, yet again, Austin presents a very modern magical device, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, in a way I have never seen before… He intermingles traditional passages from the Key of Solomon throughout the ritual gestures. I believe Alex Sanders would be pleased!
The final chapters cover the iconic witchcraft engagement of binding, and a full ritual called ‘Diana’s Crown,’ from the author’s personal grimoire. I won’t provide any details about this highly intriguing and useful ritual, you’ll just have to buy the book! It is truly representative of a creative practitioner with a love for the traditional sources. Austin’s work will help one stand before modern-day maladies, paranormal or otherwise, with aplomb."
-Reizo S., Occultist.