Saturday, October 16, 2010

Some more mini-reviews!

Title: Hedgewitch
Author: Silver Ravenwolf.

The Introduction gave me pause and then the suggestion that "dirt" is the first step to being a hedgewitch, or that Nature is a primary focal point of Hedgeriding.
"We're going to change our lives to be just like that garden, and we're going to do it in just two weeks." - What the...? Nothing good happens fast, and this book is an exemplar of that. The quicker I read it the worse it got.

This book conflates Hedgewitchery (the practice of hedgeriding, that is to say straddling and crossing into the otherworld) with crafty kitchenwitchery (a craft which focuses on the home, especially the kitchen and domesticity). This explains a lot of problems with the book, honestly. In addition, conflates "the universe" with the subconscious mind.

"I designed the art and science of HedgeWitchery in concert with my own outdoor projects" She did not design hedgecraft, she pulled something out of nowhere and gave it that name. Nothing in this book (as far as I managed to make it in) resembled Hedgecraft.

"What's growing in your Belief Garden?" - Need I say more?

Title: A Witches' Bible: The Complete Witches Handbook
By: Janet and Stewart Farrar

This is an old classic of Witchcraft. Written by two Alexandrian Elders, it's understandably NOT the Wicca they practice, but rather an assemblage of non-oathbound lore and rituals designed to give the look and feel of BTW (as they experience it) for the consumer.

For what it does, it does it beautifully. For what it does not do, well, it's glaringly obvious. It's a bit dated, and relies on the old wiccan stand-by of "the greatest power in the world is innie + outie" that I don't really get on well with, and some implications that homosexuals don't belong in The Craft. A product of the times, I am assured.

Fortunately, this book doesn't tend to be the first acquisition of a newbie-witch, meaning that by the time most get around to it, their bullshit meter can suss out what doesn't sound right. And that by the time they get to the book they know enough to realize it's not the full secrets of the Sanders downline in print. It is an excellent reference book for groves, outer courts, and unitarian-sytle covens looking for something with a slightly more traditional flavor.

Title: The Witchcraft Reader (Second Edition)
Edited by: Darren Oldridge.

This is not a newagey book on "wicca-good-and-love-the-earth-and-woman-power" shtick. It is a book of scholarly articles on the era of witch persecutions, and what may've caused it. It references not only trial records, but ceases to use a 21st century mind on things. No author within spends precious time bemoaning the superstition of locals - instead they ask why the locals believed as they did, and what events conspired to create such a climate of hostility.
And it turns out climate (as in weather) had a big role to play.

What you will not find is instruction on being a neopagan witch, or how-to for evoking the Witchfather. What you will find is the precious, tenuous, history of Witchcraft. There are concepts which have already proved enlightening, and countered a lot of the "it's truth because someone said it sometime" mythologizing in the modern Craft, and has given me numerous avenues of exploration deeper into historical record.


  1. Wassail!

    Thank you for these reviews! The Silver Raventwat book I already knew was shite, but the other two books made for interesting reviews. I will definitely have to add them to my library!

    Thank you,

  2. Hmmm ... I almost bought Ferrar's book the other day at the shop. I put it down for one of Margaret Murray's works (I know, I know...). I'll be putting "The Witchcraft Reader" on my list since I'm currently after books of that nature. Thanks for the heads up. :)

  3. Thanks for the reviews! I've read the book by the Ferrar's; a friend of mine has it so I looked through it. I agree with your review, and would recommend it for someone beginning in the Craft... after I crossed out passages I believe to be inapplicable, that is. ;)

    I may need to pick up a copy of "The Witchcraft Reader". That one sounds worthy of a read.