Queering Your Craft: Book Review

Cover image of Queering Your Craft, showing a Pagan pentagram in rainbow colours.

Snow, Cassandra (2020). Queering Your Craft: Witchcraft From The Margins. Newburyport, MA: Weiser Books.

While my spiritual path is Druidry, I do enjoy learning more about other Pagan paths as well, and recognise that there is a lot of overlap and potential for cross-pollination of ideas between them. So I was drawn to Queering Your Craft: Witchcraft From The Margins by Cassandra Snow, as it seemed to fill a gap in my knowledge both of Witchcraft and queer Paganism more broadly.

Thankfully for me, Queering Your Craft doesn’t presume any prior experience or knowledge of Witchcraft from the reader, just interest, openness, and willingness to try stuff out. It’s part introduction to Witchcraft and queer theory and practice, part DIY guide, and part Grimoire.

What separates Queering Your Craft from other Witch-101 books out there is the clear and unapologetic emphasis on addressing “the needs of those who are queer, marginalised, living in the shadows, or on the edge of acceptance”. Snow writes in the introduction that:

“Witchcraft has always belonged to the outsiders and outcasts in society, yet so much of the practice enforces and adheres to the same hierarchy we are faced with in the world at large.”

Snow (2020), p.xvii.

With this in mind, Queering Your Craft is defiantly intersectional, and espouses a counter-cultural DIY ethos to Witchcraft that deliberately makes it accessible to those without the means or inclination to buy fancy Witchy tools, or work long and complicated rituals.

It is, of course, also deeply queer. Throughout the book, Snow uses the longer acronym LGBTQQIA2SP+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, 2-Spirit and others), rather than the more standard LGBT, to specifically include and centre those often silenced even within wider queer culture. Snow expands the idea of “queerness” and demonstrates its role in community building, mutual protection, fighting cis-hetero-patriarchy and white supremacy, and the need to include queerness in Witchcraft and Pagan practice as a deliberate resistance to the binaries, colonialisms, and hierarchies that can develop within Pagan paths.

From showing new ways to work with the elements and the festivals (Sabbats and Esbats in Witchcraft practice) as queer practitioners, to demonstrating how to craft your own rites, spells and prayers, Snow places the power in the hands of the reader, with a stripped-back, punk, DIY approach to Witchcraft that is still rooted in wisdom, tradition and nature. True to the title, this book is a practical guide to “queering” your practice. Drawing on queer theory, Snow writes:

“Queering, to me, means deconstructing something for the purposes of rebuilding it in our own queer image, subverting it in that process, and claiming it as our own. That claiming, or reclaiming, is then an act of power and magick all its own…Queering magick is necessary because as queer people we have a right to the same power everyone has the potential for and a responsibility to make change in the world.”

Snow (2020), p.xxiii.

This is not a book for those who want their Witchcraft politically neutral or free of calls to social, economic, environmental and racial justice. Recognising the role of magic and Witchcraft as a resource of power for the disempowered, Queering Your Craft presents an anti-capitalist, anti-white-supremacist, profoundly revolutionary Witchcraft for the modern age and the social stuggles faced by queer people as well as people of colour and other marginalised groups.

The final third or so of the book is a Grimoire full of spells that you can take as is, or re-work in a DIY manner, including spells to protect trans people, sex workers, and QTBIPOC (Queer and Trans Black and Indigenous People Of Colour) people, and spells to hex the patriarchy, attract love and strengthen personal and community power among others.

Spellcraft is not a major component of my practice, and some of the spellwork ideas presented throughout the book were just not for me (sex magic is a hard nope over here, but if it’s your thing, you do you), but the sheer variety of concepts Snow introduces the reader to, and the customisability of the spells to suit budget, needs, and personal boundaries, means that there will be something to speak to everyone. I probably will try out some of the spells, and I will definitely think more about queering my own Druid practice after reading this, because…yeah, there’s a lot to unpack there.

I would recommend Queering Your Craft for any queer Pagan, whether Witchcraft is your thing or not, and also to any allies who want to learn more about creating inclusive spaces and rituals for queer folk.