Long ago when I was first in formal training, my teacher told me there was a fourth degree of witchcraft, that of becoming a shaman. We didn’t explore it much, and I’m not sure if she herself had reached that point in her own training. But I’ve found it to be a fascinating concept. Gail Wood’s The Shamanic Witch explores the relationship between the witch and the shaman.
Ms. Wood is a Wiccan priestess who has consistently melded her work as a witch with shamanic practices. This book is a result of her experiences; it is not a scholarly work, nor one written by a shaman (although I’m not sure anything has been written by an actual shaman). As a result it may anger traditionalists on both sides of the witch/shaman ‘fence’. For the author, a witch practices solely on this plane (we invite other planar beings into our circle) while a shaman goes to other planes to do his/her work. I think this is a workable definition, one that lays aside culture, and it makes a good framework to build on.
In the first part of the book (chapters 1 and 2), Ms. Wood’s discussion of ecstatic and trance journeys is particularly good, clearly showing her long experience in working with other people, both training them and in circle with them. The second part (chapters 3 and 4) is where the real meat is. Here we have all the information needed to blend one’s personal practice of witchcraft with shamanic experiences. This is perfect for eclectics and solitaries.
The rituals are excellent and worth reading the book for by themselves.
If you want to deepen/broaden your eclectic practice, this is a wonderful resource.
~review by Lisa Mc Sherry
Author: Gail Wood
Wesier Books, 2008
pp. 192, $16.95