Cantrell stresses that his interpretation of Wicca should not be taken as the definitive interpretation. He admits to being heavily influenced by other authors (i.e., Cunningham, Buckland, and Farrar, among others), and encourages his readers to find the information and rituals that ring true and meaningful to themselves.  That said, I feel the reader looking for a basic book on Wicca would do better to look to some of authors who inspired Cantrell.


This is a book written for beginners, and does not go much beyond the basics, and all of the sabbat celebrations are presented as traditional, mixed-sex coven rituals, with modifications for solitary celebration sometimes tacked on, but often not.  The examples of spellcraft (the author's preferred term) given are traditional sympathetic magic using candles and knots.


I found the most interesting material to be at the end of the book.  One chapter discusses the physically challenged witch, the first time I have ever come across this topic in print.  While the ritual modifications suggested are specific to the individuals Cantrell has worked with, the chapter should at least cause the reader to consider how her group rituals might be made more accessible to all attendees, especially if one conducts "open" rituals.  A chapter on humorous and unexpected happenings in circle lightens the overall serious tone of the book.  Finally, a chapter on coming out of the broom closet explains the legal status of Wicca as a religion at the time of the book's publication, and discusses the pros and cons of "coming out" and suggests several ways to broach the subject, as well as deal with possible negative reactions.


Like many of the recent Llewellyn publications I have read, this one suffers from poor editing.  Tables and charts often give minimal information and do little to supplement the text.  The author frequently becomes repetitious, and in attempting to cover all contingencies generally confuses an issue more than clarifies it.  This is not a bad book for basic information on Wicca, but the author's style often makes it more difficult to read than it should be.


~review by Jackie Gorman

Author: Gary Cantrell

Llewellyn Publications, 2001

312 pp.  $14.95

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