Diana Helmuth with Julie Gordon — 'The Witching Year: A Memoir of Earnest Fumbling Through Modern Witchcraft'

Diana Helmuth, thirty-three, is skeptical of organized religion. She is also skeptical of disorganized religion. But, more than anything, she is tired of God being dead. So, she decides to try on the fastest growing, self-directed faith in America: witchcraft.


Third Place Books welcomes Diana Helmuth to our Ravenna store! Helmuth will be discussing her new book, The Witching Year: A Memoir of Earnest Fumbling Through Modern Witchcrafta skeptic's year-long quest to find spiritual fulfillment through modern Witchcraft, perfect for fans of A.J. Jacobs and Mary Roach. She will be joined in conversation by Julie Gordon, who will perform tarot readings for audience members following the conversation! This event is free and open to the public.

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About The Witching Year. . .

Diana Helmuth, thirty-three, is skeptical of organized religion. She is also skeptical of disorganized religion. But, more than anything, she is tired of God being dead. So, she decides to try on the fastest growing, self-directed faith in America: Witchcraft.

The result is 366 days of observation, trial, error, wit, and back spasms. Witches today are often presented as confident and finished, proud and powerful. Diana is eager to join them. She wants to follow all the rules, memorize all the incantations, and read all the liturgy. But there’s one glaring problem: no Witch can agree on what the right rules, liturgy, and incantations are.

As with life, Diana will have to define the craft for herself, looking past the fashionable and figuring out how to define the real. Along the way, she travels to Salem and Edinburgh (two very Crafty hubs) and attends a week-long (clothing optional) Witch camp in Northern California. Whether she’s trying to perform a full moon ritual on a cardboard box, summon an ancient demon with scotch tape and a kitchen trivet, or just trying to become a calmer, happier person, her biggest question remains: Will any of this really work?

The Witching Year follows in the footsteps of celebrated memoirs by journalists like A.J. Jacobs, Mary Roach, and Caitlin Doughty, who knit humor and reportage together in search of something worth believing.


Praise for The Witching Year. . .

“[Helmuth’s] wry tone will charm readers, and those who have taken on similar spiritual quests will relate to the author’s desire to know if she’s ‘doing it right.’ Aspiring witches and readers itching to learn more about the occult will find inspiration and amusement.”
Publisher's Weekly

“Both readable and relatable, this book models how a person seeking faith outside of organized religion's rigidity might conduct a search for authentic connection and belief.”
—Emily Dziuban, Booklist

"Diana is a fearless and fun guide in The Witching Year, delightfully bumbling through the occult, engaging the questions we're scared to admit we've been asking, too. I laughed out loud many times and felt a kindred connection to Diana's earnest search for a larger meaning. She demonstrates that magic is made in the process of seeking."
—Lorraine Monteagut, author of Brujas

"I made it to p. 8 before my pen was out, taking notes in the margins. Helmuth’s book is a witty crash course in witchcraft cloaked in the guise of a compelling memoir about one woman's quest for spiritual fulfillment. This is a valuable read for the blushing witch-curious among you."
Frances Denny, author of Major Arcana

"Before I started reading this book, I had a limited and warped view of wicca, sort of like Diana’s mom who asked when she was going to start sacrificing animals. But thanks to The Witching Year, I got an entertaining crash course in this tradition. Diana is a wonderful guide, and her journey is thoughtful, funny, simultaneously open-minded and filled with doubt, and dare I say it, magical. I rooted her on as she learned her first hex, summoned the elements, and sprinkled spices around her house."
—AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblicaly

Diana Helmuth is a nonfiction author. Before delving into writing, she studied anthropology and Arabic at UC Berkeley and went on to moonlight in Silicon Valley’s startup land as an operations manager for several seed-stage companies. Her first book, How to Suffer Outside, won a National Outdoor Book Award, and her freelance work on travel, millennial cultural trends, and nature journalism can be found in various books and online magazines. When she’s not writing, she helps produce the occasional podcast. Helmuth was born and raised in Northern California.

Julie "JQ" Gordon has been exploring the tarot for 30 years and developed her current tarot reading method in 2017; she says it has transformed her ability to read the cards. She uses this easy “cheat-sheet” system to teach tarot to all ages with great success—even middle schoolers. Gordon lives in Seattle with her husband, two kids, and dog.

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