Book Review: Anatomy of a Witch by Laura Tempest Zakroff

Review by Martha Kirby Capo Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

About the Author

Laura Tempest Zakroff is a professional artist, author, dancer, designer, and Modern Traditional Witch. She holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and her myth-inspired artwork has received awards and honors worldwide. Additionally, she is the author of several bestselling books, including Weave the Liminal and Sigil Witchery, as well as the creator of the bestselling Liminal Spirits Oracle.

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About Anatomy of a Witch by Laura Tempest Zakroff

“It’s not the world that needs ‘rewilding’ or ‘re-enchanting’. It’s us—or more specifically, the parts of ourselves that have disconnected from our own natural powers.” (Anatomy of a Witch, p. 67)

Laura Tempest Zakroff’s profoundly empowering Anatomy of a Witch: a Map to the Magical Body is sure to become a foundational how-to manual as conversations around embodiment and magic continue to expand in the witching community. Written in an elegantly straightforward manner and interspersed with quirks of whimsy (“a kitten of space” is just delightful!), Zakroff deftly lays out a step-by-step guide that affords the reader an opportunity to rewild how they perceive, define, and fully inhabit their own body. While in no way diminishing the value of focus tools such as crystals, athames, and other witchy accoutrements, she urges readers to consider, honor and embrace where our magic truly lies: within each of us.

I found a lot of things to love within the pages of this book, not the least of which is the way it’s organized. I don’t want to give too much away—I want you to have the same delicious discoveries that I had—so I’ll only mention that I experienced one of the several creative and unique devices she uses to structure her chapters as a deeply personal “aha!” moment.

Filled with Zakroff’s sigils, artwork, journal prompts, witchuals and rituals, Anatomy of a Witch is satisfyingly complete. Reading this book feels very much as if you are entering into a co-creative process of weaving a new understanding of Self, much like Zakroff writes early in its pages: “what we do from each moment forward is a series of interwoven choices. Each thread selected adds another detail to the pattern of life. Once you begin the tapestry, you become a vital motif within it, as well as an active weaver.” (p. 13)

I have a low “woo-woo” tolerance, so I was gratified to see that while Zakroff delves into and explores magical esoterica she does so in an eminently practical, thoroughly grounded style that is compelling and accessible. All of the components of Anatomy of a Witch are carefully stitched together—I really felt as if I were holding a multi-disciplinary art piece in my hands. The first few chapters lead the reader through the different parts of anatomy Zakroff has chosen to highlight, while the last few chapters center around loving and fully inhabiting the temple that is your witch’s body. In addition to her Bibliography, Zakroff also includes a list of Resource works to enkindle the reader’s own creativity and personal power.

Of Particular Note…

Again, I don’t want to give too much of this terrific book away, but I do want to mention that I found section on shadow work spectacular. This juicy little bit in particular is bursting with Truth: “Witchcraft is not a matter of comparing wounds, competing for who walked the hardest path, but instead of recognizing common threads, even if we’re not all in the same place on our journeys. The Witch is not a victim.” (p. 177) Preach, Sister! Preach!

I also want to give a shout-out to whoever selected the fonts for the cover, the chapter headings and the subheadings, all of which really do seem to echo elements of Zakroff’s illustrations, almost like reinterpretations of her artwork in word form. And I absolutely love that the ghosted image on p. xiv and the last two pages is the cover’s background image. These may seem like hyper-minute, overly fussy items to call out, but this caliber of attention to detail is what helps make a book feel so very cohesive. Excellent work, production department!

Bonus! Llewellyn will be publishing Zakroff’s Anatomy of a Witch Oracle deck in 2022!

Any Concerns?

None at all. Prior to reading Anatomy of a Witch I had a real question about how accessible a book about embodiment might be across the vast range of physicality, but Zakroff has done an admirable job of centering her text on aspects that virtually all of our bodies utilize with common functionality: minds, bones and core organs. She is mindful about including adaptations that offer the reader a complete experience in her exercises and witchuals. As she writes in her Introduction, “The challenge of today’s Witch is to fully embrace our body and tap into our personal power, despite whatever constructs and limitations society may seek to place upon us.” (p. 2) Anatomy of a Witch accomplishes that goal, and will be a trusted guide and companion on your own journey toward authentic self-empowerment.

Anatomy of a Witch may be purchased at Laura’s shop, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

About Martha Kirby Capo is a Hekatean Witch, currently working most closely with the epithets Medusa (Guardian), Enodia (Guide), and Rixipyle (She who breaks down the Gates).  She is an Intuitive and Holistic Tarot reader and is the editor of Patheos Pagan’s shared blog The Agora, where she writes as The Corner Crone. She also serves as a Witch Mentor through 3 Pagans and a Cat. Martha’s Moments for Meditation can be heard on KPPR Pure Pagan Radio and on her YouTube channel. She has been extensively anthologized through Skinner House books, and is currently under contract with Llewellyn Publishing.

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