It is rare that I write a book review. By the time I get around to the actual writing, the book has often been in print quite some time. My thoughts are therefore, of little value to the publisher; even if my fellow bibliophiles would and do appreciate my opinion. On occasion I am asked to write a review by a publisher or by a magazine editor. I often decline these invitations and the accompanying offer of a free book. I do this because for reasons that puzzle me, I am frequently asked to reviews works that are not of interest to me and would not under normal circumstances consider reading. I am of the opinion that under these circumstances, others could write a more appropriate and appreciative review. This does mean that I have refused the offer of a work that I could potentially have sold later for profit but honesty prevents me from accepting these offers. Encountering the Dark Goddess by Frances Billinghurst is therefore, something of an exception. This is a work on a subject that is of interest and is indeed a book I would read.
This work is a very personal creation for Billinghurst, well written and ably illustrated (by Soror Basilisk), the author takes us through a journey, an encounter. Thirteen Goddesses are chosen somewhat idiosyncratically perhaps, for this journey. Each chapter is representative of the deep personal relationship that the author has with these Goddesses. Although historically whether all were recognised as Goddesses is open to debate, undoubtedly each one is an otherworldly being of importance.
The journey is an expression of the work the author has carried out for many years, writing, studying and running Goddess focused workshops. There is experience in every sentence and importantly respect. To quote the author: 'the Gods are real, very real' As a polytheist, I agree that each Goddess should be approached with deference and this respect is a key feature of the author's work.
The sections of the work consist of a general introduction to working with and approaching the Darker aspects of divinity. This is followed by the major chapters on each relevant Goddess, complete with history, meaning, advice and correspondences. These sections are well researched and informative. The final part of the work is of a generalised practical nature which includes purifications, spells and further craftwork.
This third section also includes a deeply personal testimony by the author herself, discussing her recent illness and the changes that it has brought about. Unforeseen and at times, unwanted even if necessary. These changes are discussed with sensitivity and surprising honesty. If it was not already obvious then his chapter alone would emphasise the personal nature of the work. The intricate and complex nature of the relationship that the author has with Divinity itself is a moving read and this chapter serves to tie the work together into a cohesive whole. This works offers the reader an insight into a series personal encounters, informative, respectful and practical.
The book is expected to go on general release in March 2021 (I was graciously provided with a proof copy) and will be available from John Hunt Publishing: