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Wicca: A Beginner's Guide*

Some Confusion May Not Help True Beginners

This book purports to be a beginner’s guide to Wicca. By some measures, it is that. Wicca is a hard term and practice to define, especially the further and further we get away from Gardiner, and I think this fact is reflected in the book. The author attempts to define it and related terms right in the first chapter, but I think the author got a few things confused. She stated in several places that paganism falls under Wicca; I see Wicca and other earth-based religions as falling under the broader umbrella of paganism. Paganism is another word that is hard to define; some use the word to describe any religion outside of the big three while others say that any pagan religion’s tenets must come from a pre-Christian form of religion. Honestly, I don’t think the definitions really matter to the individual; it’s what’s in your heart and what resonates with you. I found it odd that the author discusses shamanism and druidism in the section where she defined Wicca. I don’t believe that shamanism relates in any way to Wicca (although it might be a part of a particular Wiccans spiritual reality), and druidism is what I might call a sister path to Wicca with deep roots in pre-Christian Celtic religion. On the chapter about the benefits of Wicca, the author also included a brief writing about dealing with others who might not accept you. Considering that this is meant to be an introduction to Wicca (perhaps for people who are not practitioners), I think this would have been better put in a separate chapter perhaps later in the book; there, it would make sense to have this information if once one has decided to go on this path.

The book is full of general information that can form a foundation of knowledge for someone interested in Wicca, but it is not detailed enough for someone who really wanted to start practicing. There are brief chapters on deities, holidays, and different types of witches as well as more practical aspects like rituals and spells. The book is potentially dangerous, giving simple spells for readers who haven’t been given enough background to know what they are doing. I think the book definitely could have been better organized; for instance, the “different types of witches” chapter might have been better if it were a part of the definitions chapter. I didn’t like that the author interrupted the book asking for reviews. I get why authors want reviews, but just put it at the end; don’t interrupt your book as it does ruin the flow of a book. Throughout the book, the author does talk about the different flavors of Wicca and modern paganism. I would have loved to have seen a Suggested Resources section at the back that an interested reader could follow up with if he or she wanted to know more about one of the branches of paganism discussed. Instead, there’s an oddly styled reference section of blog articles and websites that seem more general. All told, if you want to learn more about Wicca, you might be better off looking at books that have been around a long time, like the ones by Scott Cunningham.

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