This is the newest of a number of books that have come out in recent years on effective creation and management of pagan and occult groups. The author has been the high priestess of an online Wiccan coven for the better part of a decade, and speaks with good authority on the topic.
There’s a LOT of good material in here. McSherry blends straightforward advice, anecdotes, and exercises and rituals to aid the reader in hir endeavors. She’s adamant about the fact that starting a coven (or any other group) is not an easy task, and any HP/S is in for a LOT of work, even if s/he does manage to find people to distribute the work among. However, for those willing to take on the work of leading and administrating a group, there are some definite gems in this book.Where she really shines is communication. A lot of the reason for the success or failure of any group, pagan or otherwise, is the communication involved. McSherry covers many angles of the emotions involved, as well as techniques for more effective communication, both in person and online. And, true to her first book, The Virtual Pagan, she does offer particular advice for cyber covens, though I’d also recommend her earlier book for a more in-depth view.
Do be forewarned–although the cover says that the book covers “groves, covens, temples, and magickal families”, a lot of the material is more “coveny”. This is understandable given McSherry’s extensive experience in a coven setting. However, those who are interested in starting magical orders or other types of non-coven group may want to supplement their research with materials that are more specific to their type of organization. (Don’t skip over this book, though–the more general information is very worth it!)
My only other complaints have nothing to do with the author and everything to do with the publisher. I found a number of typos throughout the book; another copy edit may have cleaned those up. However, the real downer is the actual physical quality of the book–the paper for both the pages and the cover is incredibly thin, enough that you can see the next page faintly through it. And the ink on some of the pages is smudged. The layout and cover design, on the other hand, are excellent, and easy on the eyes.
But don’t let the paper quality deter you–this is a wonderful book, and a must-have if you’re thinking of starting a coven. Reading this and using the advice given should help nip a lot of problems in the bud.
Five pawprints out of five.
~review by Lupa
Author: Lisa McSherry
New Page, 2007