Mankey has written some of the most interesting books in recent years, and his latest, Witch's Wheel of the Year continues his legacy of excellence.
It's rare to find an author who is simultaneously an expert and humble; part of Mankey's appeal is his ability to be just that. Right off the bat, in his Introduction he says, "Good ritual gets people involved . . . bad ritual might drive them away from the Craft forever." A seemingly obvious viewpoint, but one I have seen few authors come out and say, and even fewer ritual creators take into account. There is a lot of bad ritual out there, and I don't know anyone in my magickal community who hasn't had a bad ritual experience. A little later he points out that, "No book can teach someone how to be an effective ritualist . . . books like this . . . are no substitute for actually doing the work." Which is absolutely correct.
Witch's Wheel is not just for groups. Opening with a look at why we do ritual, Mankey then covers the elements of ritual, the core mechanics. An excellent overview of the eight sabbats follows giving a newcomer a sense of the structure of the solar cycle. He then takes a kind of a side step and talks about three ways to celebrate the sabbats: in a coven, solitary, and in large (public) groups. Each chapter presents the pros and cons of each form of celebration and, to my mind, cuts through some of the bad information available 'out there'.
Mankey's style is informative and clear with a subtle humor that highlights his humility. I'm not sure many would say this, but the footnotes are outstanding (my favorite is #36).
The rest of the book presents the sabbats, starting with Yule and ending with Samhain. Each section features a brief history followed by rituals written for circles (large groups), covens (small groups, usually less than 20 participants), and those working solitary. Unlike other things in the world size matters a great deal when writing ritual, and Mankey's many years of writing -- and doing! -- ritual comes through clearly. You are very much in the hands of an expert and can learn a great deal.
From the very inviting cover to the excellent index, Witch's Wheel of the Year is a truly rewarding addition to your magickal library.
~review by Lisa Mc Sherry
Author: Jason Mankey
Llewellyn Publications, 2019
pp. 352, $29.99