Brainscan 33 DIY Witchery: An Exploration of Secular Witchcraft
There are infinite ways to witch…
Brainscan 33 is a black (sometimes brown) and white zine that combines info zine and perzine in explorations of secular witchcraft.
I usually mention the aesthetics of zines further into a review, but I really have to start with it this time. Brainscan 33 is the only zine that I have spent just as much time petting and flipping through as I did reading it. From the acorns charm held on by lavender string used to sew the binding to the few different kinds of papers inside, you may find yourself facing the longest commentary on look and feel that you’ve ever written…
I am new to witchcraft but have a keen interest in learning more about it. It’s with that feeling that I approached reading this zine – and I wasn’t disappointed.
Alex starts with a fantastic introduction that states in no uncertain terms that this zine does no exist to convince you, sway you, or otherwise establish a ‘right’ way to witch. While such a strong ‘take it or leave it’ kind of opening can be a little chancy with readers, I think it’s fantastic. It establishes Alex’s desire to share a viewpoint and a story. It’s an invitation rather than a command.
From the introduction, we go into definitions – something I loved and something I’m glad Alex went into first. They served the double purpose of not only making it clear the viewpoint Alex is writing from but also giving you (if you want) a place to start figuring out your own definitions for where you stand.
Brainscan 33 is packed with information – perhaps even more than its 64 pages implies. Alex writes about history, about definitions, and about both the good as well as the not so great. There are clarifications of similarities and differences in witchcraft, religion, Wiccan, and more.
There’s even a ‘Witching Tips’ in the centre of the zine. Very well placed, if you ask me, because one point directly answered a question that had literally just come to my mind moments before I started reading the answer. If that’s not good pacing, I don’t know what is.
Where the information found in this zine certainly drew me in and kept me reading, it’s Alex’s personal ‘witch-jectory’ story that really made me feel a lot of things. I found it easy to identify with life stages like the moment you realise that you can “just do the thing” without permission or a mentor or anyone else. Or how there are times when you need to reclaim a physical space.
I think it’s pretty clear at this point that I have really enjoyed this zine and will be coming back to it in the future. I could keep going on about it, but I think it’s important to leave at least something to be discovered. Haha.
Wonderful, beloved zine friends. I’m so happy to be creating this post.
It’s that time again – a time that probably isn’t familiar to a lot of you. When I reached my 100th review in May 2016, I felt inspired by the Golden Stapler Awards and celebrated by awarding zines with titles like ‘best binding’ and ‘funniest zine’.
I hit my 200th zine reviewed a few months ago, but with everything that was going on, I wasn’t able to get to things until now. I still wasn’t sure whether I would do this, but I do love sharing my zine enthusiasm and celebrating fun and cool zines.
Things to remember:
1. My apologies for any less than stellar photos.
2. This is only meant to be a bit of fun.
3. Zines often fit into more than one category. How they were sorted is all on me.
4. Keep in mind these are limited to the second lot of 100 zines I’ve reviewed – roughly from May 2016 to July 2017. You can find the whole list: Zine Review Index
5. Picking out the ‘best’ stinks. I love them all!
Let’s do this.
(I’m putting everything after a more tag because there are a lot of images.)
Brainscan 27 Ten Stories
Brainscan 27 is a mini-zine about endings and adjusting to new realities. Looking at the world with new eyes.
This is a somber zine, but not self-pitying. While there are few words in number, they convey a lot more in emotion and further implications to the small life moment it captures. The small size and few(er) words actually lends itself quite well to this intimate acknowledgment of living in a moment, being in that moment, and then getting on your bike and riding away.
I was thinking how ridiculous it was that we had just signed our names to each page in a huge stack of papers to end something that only took a on page marriage license to begin.
Brainscan 27 encompasses a moment in one person’s life, but I feel like it could resonate with many more people than first glance might lead you to believe.
Brainscan 21: irreconcilable differences
This zine is complicated.
I don’t mean that comment to be flippant or dismissive. Quite the opposite. I’ve never read a zine that had me examining my own behaviour and the behaviour of my partner to the extent that I felt the need to sit down and have an intense talk with my partner about our relationship. It’s that level of personal involvement with the content and its implications that earns it this comment from me.
As Alex Wrekk puts it, Brainscan 21: irreconcilable differences “started out as a letter to explain my perspective to someone, to give context to my behaviors and concerns.” Inside, Alex documents thoughts, feelings, and the unanswered questions that surrounded her through her six-year relationship that eventually came to an end due to many things including emotional abuse.
What makes this zine a complex one is that it addresses the issues of emotional abuse and power dynamics within relationships. In school, I was taught about sexual abuse, physical abuse, and even mental abuse in a rather cut and dried, black and white manner. But emotional abuse can be a more complicated issue and thus brushed over. And yet I feel like it’s so important because it’s the subtlety of this kind of abuse that can make it so dangerous.
At one point, Alex talked about having picked up a few of the bad behaviours from her ex-partner and how she’d caught herself using them. It was one of those examples that prompted me to have a sit down with Wanderer about the dynamics in our relationship.
Though Alex does talk about specific events, this zine is not a tit-for-tat list of every argument or event. Alex keeps it very much to her perspective, thoughts, and feelings during this time. If I had to guess, I’d say it was written very close to everything or at least during a time when everything was still quite raw. There’s an almost ‘foggy’ nature to some of Alex’s writing, especially at the end when musing the bigger picture: abuse in a society that seems to support the psychopath, the sociopath, the abuser, the manipulator. A ‘fogginess’ that I recognise in myself.
As someone who grew up with abuse, however, it’s hard not to inject my own thoughts and feelings regarding working through things into Alex’s experience of working through things. This is also something that makes this zine complicated – at least, for me to review it.
All in all, this is a zine I would recommend because there’s so much here to think about but also because it’s important for these experiences to be shared.
Wind and rain, wind and rain, and some happy mail to make me feel all warm and fuzzy.
This Brainscan Zine Pack came all the way from Portland Button Works. The pack came with Brainscan 21, 25, 26, 27 and 28, and it was like getting a basket of Easter eggs. They are all Brainscan, but they come in all different shapes, sizes and colours! It does my head in a little. 🙂
Yes, I’m showing the happy mail after I reviewed one of the zines (It Will Be Okay). Missmuffcake just so happened to have the awesome timing to have sent a zine so I received it right when I needed to read it.
I’ve been eyeing up The Stay At Home Girlfriend series for ages now, so I’m excited to finally have one. 🙂
As always, thank you so much to everyone who sends me mail. Happy mail makes me feel, well, happy – especially in the past few months where we seem to have some pretty bad luck happening!
More mailbox goodness! I’m thinking of having a change jar that I will use for buying up zines. I love them all so far and I like supporting zine makers. That’s a thought for another time. Zines!number one: a zine of firsts
Buy here at etsy!
This zine was definitely a ‘softy’ buy in that firsts are very close to my heart. When I first moved to Australia, taking in and experiencing as many ‘firsts’ as I could became my mission; a mission that led to me trying many things I would not have tried otherwise. I really liked the cute art and the uncomplicated subject. I would definitely check out her other work.Stolen Sharpie Revolution 2
Buy here at etsy!
If there was ever a zine that I thought I needed to have to get started in the zine world, it’s this one. With it’s own ISBN and awesome binding, it’s more like a small book than a zine. But it’s a sort of zine-topia in all the information it holds. From thoughts on layouts to an index of distros and zine events (worldwide!), Stolen Sharpie Revolution 2 is definitely a must have, in my opinion.
This is also one of those cases where I wish I would have looked at everything in the shop before making my purchase because they have so much awesome stuff in addition to zines! Check it out.