With Shamanic Witchcraft, Christopher Penczak has reached the middle of his five-book series (see elsewhere on the site for reviews of The Inner Temple of Witchcraft and The Outer Temple of Witchcraft). Whether or not the reader agrees with all that Mr. Penczak says, she must acknowledge that he has a practical and accessible approach that he communicates in an intelligent fashion. For example: “Witches are truly walkers between the worlds. Filling the role of the tribal shaman, we must have one foot in the material world, living up to our daily responsibilities. The other foot steps into the spiritual realm. (p.19)”

Each of Penczak’s titles are intended to be worked through, not just read through. The Temple series also come with a CD companion (available separately, at additional cost) which contains chants, rhythms, etc. that are helpful for the working through the exercises and teachings provided. Although I can not speak specifically for the CD that comes with this volume (I was not given a copy to review), the ones with the previous two volumes were superb and worth the extra money to purchase. None of the titles are easy reading, although clearly written. The difficulty lies in the challenges offered to conventional ways of thinking about, and approaching, the topics under discussion. In Shamanic Witchcraft, we are introduced to the shadow self and journey to the Underworld.  This is a difficult path to take, and requires strength and honesty to travel well. To balance the seriousness of the journey, he reminds the reader: "Don't take yourself so seriously. Be disciplined, but have fun. Learn to laugh at yourself." It is too easy to forget this vital lesson and become full of yourself.

As always, Penczak is careful to indicate when he is sharing an opinion, versus what is accepted as fact. In general his writing indicates that he is a personable, enjoyable teacher who writes for a "average" reader, without condescension or assumption about our background knowledge and experience. While Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft is able to stand alone, I do not recommend working with it as a beginning step. The shadow work requires a firm foundation in some form of spiritual practice. Create that for your self, I recommend, and then take up this book. It is necessary to experience the events contained within the covers of this book – reading alone will be interesting, but will not manifest the transformative potential of the knowledge imparted.

I highly recommend this book for intermediate or advanced practitioners.

~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author:  Christopher Penczak

Llewellyn Publications, 2005

pp. 458, $17.95