I recently read two books aimed at the younger witch, The Teen Spell Book: Magick for Young Witches and Teenage Witches Book of Shadows and decided to review both in one article.  Not because they are so similar, but because they are so unlike.

The Teen Spell Book is a beautiful book.  I do not do much spell work, but I know that I wished mightily for a book like this when I was an adolescent learning all about magic.  Sensitively written, I never once found a sense of 'looking down' at a younger witch, nor the dreaded feeling of 'you'll understand when you are older.'  Jamie Wood (who also wrote the delicious Wicca Cookbook) begins with the basics of history, holidays, tools and spell casting.  But the more than two-thirds of the book is spells -- everything from banishing self-destructiveness to dealing with shyness and win the election.  Most impressively, I never once questioned the ethics of each spell being cast, Ms. Wood has managed to avoid the pitfalls of coercion that most spells carry with them.

In stark contrast is the Teenage Witches Book of Shadows.  This slim volume starts very well with the advice to "Be respectful, respect all, be respected," and has a nice collection of 13 steps to becoming a witch -- including revere nature and have fun.  Unfortunately, things go downhill from there as the authors positively skim through the Sabbats and their meanings (in two pages!) and then run right through a collection of information on correspondences (colors, oils, etc.) spells, the Green man, Faerie magic, and more.  Its like the 'Cliff Notes' version of a really well-thought out book on magic.

Both books were very good about handling sexuality in a sensitive, compassionate way.  Each pointed out that it was ok to feel sensual, but sex was not required to be a witch, even though the sabbat Beltane was a feast of fertility.  Each was also good about the ethics (although the "Book of Shadows" was, true to form, skimpy in its handling) of being a witch.

In the end, I was glad to read them both at the same time so that I could heartily recommend Jamie Wood's The Teen Spell Book to any reader, no matter their age, and at the same time recommend not buying de Benzelle's and Neasham's Teenage Witch's Book of Shadows.

~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author: Jamie Wood
Celestial Arts, 2001
pp. 292, $12.95 Author: Anna de Benzelle and Mary Neasham
Green Magic, 2001
pp. 96, $14.99