Water Magic by Lilith Dorsey (Review)

This review is part of the #SeaWitchReadingChallenge, which I am co-hosting with several other creators for the month of May. If you are interested in participating, check out my announcement video on YouTube.

This is the book I read for the first challenge prompt: “Read a book about the element of water and its use in magic.” This is the first book in the Elements of Witchcraft series, a new series focusing on the four classical elements and their role in modern witchcraft.

I flew through this book — I’m moving this week and working, so I didn’t expect to have much time to read, but I finished it in three days! It’s very easy to read, and I was able to download the audiobook from Scribd to listen to while I was packing. (Although, if you decide to get the audiobook, be aware that there are some truly atrocious mispronunciations.)


  • I love the diversity, especially in the mythology sections. Dorsey includes water-related myths from several cultures we don’t often see represented in books about witchcraft, including African cultures and several Native American nations. She also talks about the use of water in several different magic systems, from New Orleans Voodoo to La Regla Lucumi to Thelema.
  • I love how American this book is. That may sound weird, but a lot of books on witchcraft focus on a European brand of magic (often influenced by Wicca), even if the author is American. I like that Lilith Dorsey bases her practice in American folk magic and isn’t afraid to say so. It really makes this book stand out from all of the Wicca-lite witchcraft books Llewellyn usually publishes.
  • The sections on herbs and botanicals was very well researched and covered plants I don’t see in a lot of other books. Again, the influence of American folk magic and African Traditional Religions is very clear here.
  • While Dorsey does talk about closed traditions like New Orleans Voodoo and La Regla Lucumi, she makes it clear that people looking to engage with these traditions need to do so by finding a qualified teacher and pursuing initiation. We love to see authors who don’t encourage appropriation of closed religions.
  • Overall, I felt like this was a really solid and well-rounded introduction to the water element and its use in modern witchcraft.


  • The section on mythology contained some information that, while not technically inaccurate, was misleading or taken out of context. I mainly noticed this with the Norse and Irish mythology since that’s what I’ve studied the most, but I wouldn’t be surprised if other pantheons got the same treatment. This book perpetuates some modern misconceptions that don’t have a basis in the historic material, such as the Morrigan being a water goddess.
  • While I think Dorsey does a good idea of respecting the closed nature of African Traditional Religions, she treats elements of open and semi-closed religions as up for grabs. For example, she encourages readers to use holy water in spells — and if you’re uncomfortable using Catholic holy water, she suggests using Hindu holy water from the Ganges River. This rubbed me the wrong way. If you are not Hindu, you have no reason to use Hindu sacred items in your witchcraft. Taking religious elements out of context and using them for a totally different purpose is still disrespectful, even if that religion is not closed.
  • Dorsey encourages readers to dispose of leftover spell components, like crystals, by throwing them into a body of running water. While I realize that there is a historical precedent for this, it’s 2021 and we know better than to pollute our water sources. Please do not throw things in rivers and streams. You can rinse the item in the running water to cleanse it and then take it with you, and it will have the same metaphysical effect without the pollution.

Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars

Do I recommend? Yes

For a more detailed review, check out my reading vlog on YouTube!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: