After years of begging from the Pagan populace, publishers are giving us readers advanced works – many of which just aren’t very good. Nowadays, an author is begging for humiliation she s/he promises ‘advanced’ witchcraft (or neo-paganism in any form) in a work. Our paths are highly individualized and intensely personal. Reading about someone else’s path is rarely useful. As a teacher myself, I know how important the basics are, and am often worried about what some of my colleagues feel is ‘101’ level work. But finding a good teacher is often difficult, and even then we may find ourselves finishing our coursework with ‘holes’ or ‘gaps’ in our education through no fault of our own, or our teacher’s.

Deborah Lipp’s The Study of Witchcraft: A Guidebook to Advanced Wicca both does and does not exceed this longtime practitioner’ standards as to what constitutes ‘advanced’. This is a wonderful book for filling in the gaps in your education – if you didn’t learn what Lipp has to offer in your ‘101’ training then here is your opportunity to do so. She discuses what modern Wicca is (a polarity- and immanence-based, structured tradition of nature-focused, magic-accepting, ritual working belief system), the history of western occultism (often overlooked in basic training), and essential practices (mythology, divination, mind skills, psychology, connecting with our community and specializing).

One of the aspects I found most gratifying is that Lipp may tell you what you need to know, but she generally takes it a step further and shows you how to dig deeper, creating your own path and acquiring deeper knowledge on your own. Hallelujah (if I may borrow the phrase) for an author who doesn’t try to know it all.

The writing style is intimate without being chatty and her clarity of phrasing often makes this author envious. I can’t say this is a ‘graduate degree’ level work, but it is definitely for intermediate-level practitioners.



~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author: Deborah Lipp

Weiser Books, 2007

pp. 192, $16.95