The Well-Read Witch gives a tour of Pagan reading for beginners and advanced practitioners alike. The five-chapter introduction gives the obligatory explanation of Wicca in possibly the most concise and coherent explanation currently in print; McColman goes a step further in distinguishing Wicca from the diversity of other modern Pagan religions.  As an illustration of the philosophy behind this book, McColman quotes Francesca DeGrandis: “A good teacher and an ardently seeking student cannot be replaced by a good book and an ardently seeking student. But, good teachers are not always available and I will suggest a good book before a bad teacher.”  His tips on sorting good books from bad ones establish a solid method for a beginner to pursue knowledge critically and to sort through the sea of lesser-quality work that clogs the New Age and metaphysical sections in mainstream bookstores.

McColman also attends well to his advanced audience; emphasizing ways Pagans can expand their learning: one subject heading states, “A well-read witch reads more than just witch books.”  Among the listings are books that offer Buddhist, Christian or Hindu perspectives. The broad range of topics and books ensures someone following the reading program will experience a well-rounded education.  A dedicated Pagan bibliophile might enjoy the challenge of the hunt that this book presents: a small proportion of the recommendations are either no longer available or obtained via private publishing adventures.

McColman’s recommendation of the best quality works about modern Paganism and Pagan interests highlights some of the best books in print on modern occultism - including many books that even longtime practitioners might not know. The Well-Read Witch makes a clearly marked road map to Pagan study through books.

~Review by Diana Rajchel

by Carl McColman
New Page Books, 2002
pp. 288, $14.99