Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Witchcraft Today: 60 years on. (book review)

I read the original Witchcraft Today many years ago.  When I was first learning, that was one of the books that was always listed by other authors as more or less required reading.  I think that 60 years in stands up to that reputation.

I loved that the book opened with a 'behind the scenes of Witchcraft Today'.  As I haven't read it in so long, I don't remember much, and yet I feel like I was right back in that time period, when I was first learning and not only was everything new to me, but there just wasn't that much easy to come by information (not like there is today).  It brought back a lot of memories.

I found many of the essays in the first section to be teasers, in the best possible way!  I am a scholar by nature, and one of my greatest joys is learning new things.  These essays let me peek into so many different paths and gave me just enough information that I knew exactly what I wanted to find out more about.  Many of them had a list of references, both books and websites that I know I will be looking for in the future.

I am not going to talk in depth about all of the essays.  Some touched me in very different ways.  Some of the ideas expressed spoke to me on a deep personal level.  Others were not things that I felt drawn to myself, but we're things that people I know practice and so learning more about them gives me insight into the people I know, which I always cherish.  I will talk about a few things that really jumped out at me though.

The essays on Alexandrian, Seax, and Eclectic practices remind me a lot not only of my own progression, but also the evolution I see in the community at large.  When I first started learning, the traditional coven structure was set forth as pretty much the desired path.  Sometimes solitary paths weren't even made out as viable.  For a long time I had this idea of coven membership in my head, and even in my solitary practice I mimics the coven dynamic as much as I could.

I think gender plays such a huge role in our identities, and the way we interact with others.  Both the Dianic and male witchcraft give different outlooks on how our gender roles may affect not only pie personal practice, but also the path we choose to call our own.  Both men and women have their own struggles, and the more we can learn to understand and honor each other, the stronger we will be as a community.

The essay on Hekatean practices illustrated for me the way that witchcraft as a whole changes to become what the people need at the time.  I don't see such (and I hate to use the word) 'trendy' practices as an example of people just following along with whatever is popular at the time, but more that society and the current era creates similar needs in us.  But even though we may work with the same deities, often our personal interactions are very different.

I think one of my favorite essays was on where witchcraft is going in the future.  I think we are at a very exciting time in history.  So many things are changing, and I can just imagine where we will be in just ten years from now.  I started on my path just about twenty years ago now, and looking back I can see how the global experience affected my own path.  We are breaking free into the public eye, and I have great dreams of seeing true public acceptance in my lifetime.

I don't want to ruin anyone's experience of the personal stories in part two.  I found myself moved by the life experiences that were shared.  Even though I now have many wonderful people who I share my practice with, both in persons and online, I always love hearing about other people's journey.  For many years I was completely isolated, and when I would struggle, it left me feeling so alone.  I would have really loved having a book like this at those times.

I really enjoyed this book.  It brought me on a journey from the past, through the many facets of the present, and into the future that might be.  I saw myself reflected in the stories I read.  So many doors into other people's worlds were opened and I felt welcomed and invited in.  I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the many ways different people practice and connect with the divine.

The book can be found on Amazon.

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