After the discovery of my first Book of Shadows and the explosive fallout, I found it easier to just hide what I was reading and studying. This means that a lot of my standard magical cookbook comes from fictional inspiration, a trend that continues to this day. One of the most useful was The Serpents Shadow by Mercedes Lackey. Personally, I think the first 5 books of the Elemental Masters series moves through the full Wiccan initiatory cycle. The Serpents Shadow focuses on the element of Earth. Aside from the adventure and romance of the book, most memorable are 5 magickal acts: pulling energy from the earth, grounding the energy back into the earth, setting a protection around a house, pets as familiars, and an entertaining interaction with a selkie colony.
Now, the selkie colony isn’t hugely important magickally. It’s a cute addition to the plot, and after having gone through the full Wiccan initiatory cycle myself, it’s an interesting magickal layer. Which makes this a classic on my bookshelf for that reason, magickal books should always gain layers as you gain knowledge and understanding. The pets as familiars are similar, interesting as a Witch with 10+ years experience but something that I missed on my first read through.
What was more important was the energy manipulation, grounding, and setting a circle. With few exceptions (all of which prove the rule), energy shouldn’t be pulled from your own core being. The core of the earth is a much better place to pull from. Not only is it self-replenishing, it doesn’t exhaust the practitioner. Of all the energy in the core of the earth, I prefer the blue fire that grows like flowers. But everyone’s mileage varies, and some may find the silver rivers or the red iron that tastes like cinnamon better fits for their work and style. And as many others (So. Many. Others. Like all of them), will tell you grounding is a crucial part of energy manipulation. Holding onto that is like holding onto a grenade with the pin pulled. It will blow up in your face. All of this is explained in easy to use terms, and in fact is very easy to follow from the book. I still use that meditation from time to time, when I need to get back to my center point.
Since energy needs a place to go, Maya and Peter (the main characters) put it into crystals to create a barrier that doesn’t rely on Maya’s energy to sustain itself and protect the house. This is a common way to create house barriers, and since the barrier works with the earth and the energy of the earth, it’s self-sustaining. I have uses variations of this barrier in my house, my office, and the other spaces I spend a lot of time in. I find it to be a solid way to put magickal protection around my spaces, and if I use pretty crystals and rocks it’s easy to disguise.
Mercedes Lackey is an author I will always recommend as a metaphysical/magickal must read. Some of the series haven’t aged well: the Dianna Tregarde series, for example, are fantastic for their use of practical, real-life magick; but they are very 80’s. The Elemental Masters series, The Serpents Shadow is the second book, is classic and timeless. 10/10 would recommend.