Book Review: Embracing Willendorf

If you’re not familiar with Byron Ballard’s writing, you really should check out her blog over at My Village Witch. As the official village witch of Asheville, NC, Byron has spent many years studying and teaching the traditional mountain magic of her ancestors. She’s also an absolutely amazing person who always seems able to conjure up early morning coffee, even if you’re watching the sun rise in front of a tent in the woods with her.

Embracing Willendorf, by Byron Ballard

Her newest book, Embracing Willendorf: A Witch’s Way of Loving Your Body to Health & Fitness, is one that I can’t even begin to say enough good things about. It chronicles her journey to a healthier lifestyle – and to loving her own body – by making spiritually conscious and empowering choices. It’s a practical and no-bullshit guide to self-transformation, of both the physical and the emotional varieties.

Don’t for one minute think, though, that you’re going to be sold a bunch of snake-oil products or empty promises. In fact, Byron leads in with this sharp piece of straightforward advice: “Changing your body from fat to fit is not easy, and I don’t care who tells you it is… if you think it is, you will fail again. You will be another fat American at the mall, grateful that they now make clothes in your size.”

Byron suggests starting small – in fact, with just one body part. Whatever it may be – your butt, your nose, your dainty ankles – find that one part that’s amazing and glorious, and love it. Embrace it, show it off, treat it right… and then find more parts you love. Eventually, you’ll learn to love the sum total of all of those various and sundry parts.

As if all of that doesn’t sound challenging enough, there’s more! What about the idea of self-care? Get radical, follow Byron’s advice, and learn how to take care of yourself first by meeting your own needs. You’ll be much happier for it, once you learn how to shift from being overwhelmed by the needs of others, into a mindset that allows you to treat yourself with the respect and love that you deserve.

One of my favorite sections in Embracing Willendorf is Chapter 15: Do I Have to Uncoil My Kundalini? This is a frank and honest approach to looking and feeling sexy, no matter what your size. As a curvy woman myself, I have learned that sexy is more mental than anything – if you feel like you’re sexy, you’re gonna act like you are, and other people will pick up on that.

Byron approaches pleasure and sex as sacred, which they indeed should be. She says, “In modern Paganism, we have this beautiful liturgical piece called the Charge of the Goddess, originally written by Doreen Valiente. One of the lines is All acts of love and pleasure are My rituals. Pleasure as prayer is something so shocking to the Western mind that you may have recoiled from that line. But in this uncoiling chapter, we can touch on another aspect of loving your body and that is allowing yourself the thought of using pleasure as a sacred act, as prayer.”

We are powerful and amazing, and Byron never lets us forget it. Pick up a copy of Embracing Willendorf and get started on loving your earthy, strong, badass, magical self.

I totally give this one five broomsticks out of five! Order Embracing Willendorf directly from Sky Bridge Publishing, here: Embracing Willendorf

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