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Here Denise has amassed a collection of spells from the assorted different schools of Voodoo and Hoodoo, usually including a brief history, story or background for each one. Well written for the "white" western cultural audience, this book is not an advanced spell book that requires a lot of knowledge of any other religion or occultism, though it does infer the reader has some religion in their background. Nor is it a light-reading "tourist" book. While some of the spells are undoubtedly intense, I would probably refer to this as "Light Voodoo" or "Ouija Hoodoo" in reference to the long American tradition of young girls playing with a Ouija board, asking it questions about boys and actually thinking they are talking to a spirit.
As this is a 'Light Voodoo" book, there isn't a lot to learn here for the serious practitioner aside from a few spells that probably haven't been seen before. Yet this is a must-have for any decent Voodoo library/collection. For those that are curious and wish to dabble or begin to learn the craft this is an excellent book, as well as those who merely want to learn more about the subject. Some of the spells here are undoubtedly the real deal while others are the author's modern take on an old spell. Either way, there are a lot of great spells through her entire bibliography. She is not afraid to omit a piece of a spell without saying that she is doing so; she edits them at her discretion when she feels the spell could cause great harm in the wrong hands or if it could be dangerous if performed wrong. I discovered this while cross referencing some of her spells in my studies (I have studied Voodoo on and off for over 20 years and recently Legba allowed my eyes to open and see how easily so many religions, especially "occult" religions, intertwine themselves- a major revelation if you will, but I digress and return to Miss Alvarado). This book can stand alone if the reader is already a practicing Wiccan, Pagan or are familiar with the occult.
Quite a few of the spells include the use of conjuring magic, a topic which is mentioned and is to be used in some spells but Alvarado does not cover that topic at all: it is left up to the reader to learn /know.
Also, knowledge of religion is expected (Christianity). Any knowledge of any of the seven major religions and any knowledge of the occult again is desirable; she writes her spell books so that they are easily adaptable but that the reader has some sot of background in the facets mentioned above. She touches on the concept of the duality of religion, and briefly the concept of the mother and the father, the hunter and the harvester, etc briefly, but there isn't as much as a cleansing ritual listed, so aside from the Voodoo spells presented, the reader is assumed to know and use another system of magik. A familiarity with Christianity would serve well as well; I'm not saying one needs to be a theologist but I imagine that the majority of the people that will be reading this has had Christianity in their life at some point; usually this is enough to suffice.
The books (this one and her previous introductory book- see below) are written so that the armchair practitioner can work some magik, too if they don't feel inclined to become a student of the occult religion of their choice. This is more of a sympathetic magic but can still have the desired results.
While the book for sale here (The Voodoo Doll Spellbook) is geared towards Poppet craft/magic, it sometimes explains how a spell came to be and/or how else and what type of magic it ties into. In other words, its more practical in that she recognizes that most people use Voodoo alongside another religion, and she leaves enough room for the reader to infer on their own how their religion ties in and what they can use from it and visa-versa with Poppet craft. (Please read my review for her book for her "Voodoo Dolls In Magick And Ritual" book if you are wondering what book to start with). The spells included in this book are from a variety of cultures, from the Voodoo cultures of NOLA, Haitian influenced magik and of the African Diaspora to name a few, as well as ome "oddball" spells from around the world that have discovered to have been used throughout history. The oldest religious artifacts found yet were used in Voodoo practices!
If you are collecting the works of Denise, note that with each re-press, she edits it each time which results in the book having a few of the spells and all of the introductions changed printing to printing. I see there are at least two reprints for each tome, with each having different page numbers. I would attribute this to the introductions and the resources section likely being changed with each repress. And while she is a well-known Voodoo priestess in NOLA, she DOES write the majority of her books for "the tourist" in order to help pay her bills. If you are serious about Voodoo Hoodoo or are collecting her work, I would recommend this book, which is the direct follow up to her Voodoo Dolls in Magick and Ritual book and promises to be the first in several volumes. The latter includes some spells and is focused a bit more on the art of poppet craft, that is, the different ways to actually make them.
If you are a novice looking to get into the craft, or a hardcore Wiccan and are interested in poppet craft, this book and her first are great ways to get started. For the serious scholar, I would also recommend 'Hoodoo And Conjure In New Orleans," "The Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook," or course her introductory book, the prelude to this tome, "Voodoo Dolls In Magic And Ritual," and "Gypsy Wisdom, Spells, Charms and Folklore," as well as the most recent Voodoo Almanac that she has published (she does them yearly). This list alone will get you on your way to becoming a knowledgeable practitioner, these books will pretty much open up a whole new arsenal of tools for
the studied occultist.
If you are merely curious and just want to know more about Voodoo/Hoodoo than what Hollywood gives us, I would recommend this book and/or her "Voodoo Dolls In Magick And Ritual."