by Ann Moura (Aoumiel)
Llewellyn Publications, 2000
When I first received this trilogy (I also received Green Witchcraft II and Green Witchcraft III in the same package) I was excited. Here was a beginner’s volume that promised to be as good as Buckland’s or Cunningham’s books. In many respects, I was correct.
However, the title and the introduction state that this series and this particular book is a “Beginner’s Guide” which I would have to take some exception to. I will explain this further in my review.
Upon first getting the book, I must say that the artwork is excellent. The simple line drawings that decorate the chapters evoke a quiet sense of beauty, reminiscent of the minimalist styles of artwork of Asia. I wish the artist were credited on their drawings. (The interior artist, I later found out is Nyease Sommerset.)
Within the first five pages, I started getting confused. The author is extremely familiar with Wicca, the Craft, Religions and many other areas of study relating to this arena, and the writing was clear, but I was expecting the book to start with something like “Welcome to Wicca, I will be your guide” or another form of hand-holding that many of the authors of beginning Wicca books do. Ann does none of these.
It starts off like a college-level lecture, and continues like this throughout the book. While the ideas are clearly defined and the principals explained well, this is not a book for a rank beginner in the Craft. Rather, it is a book on how to be a Green Witch.
The author sets out a theory in the very beginning and maintains this throughout the entire book stating that Wicca is a form of Witchcraft, and can have Witchcraft elements in it, but that the form of Witchcraft she presents is not Wicca. The reasoning for her arguments was basically, “Witchcraft is an attachment to the All, and a way of life. It has few religious and Ceremonial elements, as many Wiccans will know them. It is a ‘Grandmother heritage’ that permeates the attitude and life of the practitioner. It is not a tradition, but rather a blending of elements from many different paths. It incorporates herb-lore, fairey tradition, elemental knowledge and your connection to the ALL to bring one back to the roots of all religious systems.” (This is my paraphrase of her first chapter.)
When I realized what Ann was saying, my heart leapt. I thought, “finally, here is a book that will show true basic paganism to those who wish it without ‘validation’ by one of the recognized traditions. This is paganism for the truly eclectic.”
In many ways, that is exactly what this book is. But this book, with many references to some of the more esoteric ritual tools (the strang and besom are only two) and the references to knowledge that many should have, but that the beginner may not have, is more suitable to those who wish to take the knowledge they already have and transmute it into a more green approach.
As a guide to transmuting what already exists, this book is an excellent starting point. It introduces a “new” system of doing things, a different way of living, and another means of attaining the goals of the witch to an audience who is tired of dealing with the constraints of traditions.
The ideas she presents are clear; once you read through the explanations she gives. The reasons are laid out in an orderly manner and topics tend to be grouped together in categories. All marks of a good author. She uses numerous examples from her own life to illustrate points she makes. All of this makes this an excellent book, for intermediate learners.
Make no mistake about it; I think that this book is NOT for the rank beginner. Some of the concepts laid out are too advanced for the average reader, the true seeker that seems to be her target audience. It is my opinion that this book should be used as a companion to such compendiums as Cunningham’s books and Buckland’s Complete Guide to Witchcraft. They do a good job laying out the basics and Ann Moura builds on those basics. She does not repeat those basics as such in Green Witchcraft. That is why I don’t think this is appropriate for a rank beginner.
As a continuance of knowledge, this book is right on. It is more current and contemporary to the Craft as it is today than the other books cited in this review, namely Cunningham and Buckland. Ann deals with issues that were not issues ten years ago, but that are coming to the attention and discussion of the Pagan Community more and more.
This book also has several things that I have seen in no other book like it. The first that springs to mind is the “Rites of Passage” section of her Rituals chapter. In there, she explores the standard ceremonies of Wiccaning, Handfasting, Handparting, and a memorial service for the Dead. In addition to that, and what makes me remember this section is that there is also a “Coming of Age” rite in there for children to recognize that they have become adults. I have looked for something like this for a long time, and now we have a “shell” that can be built around now for this important stage in a child’s life.
Throughout the book, there is an emphasis on herbs and herb-craft as well as enjoining the reader to develop a connection to the Earth and to the Lord and Lady. Ann encourages one to take what she has written and to use it, or change it as necessary for your own purposes. She then gives the reasons for everything being in the rite, spell, ceremony or belief, so that you have knowledge of what you are changing and why it was there in the first place, before you make modifications to the system.
There is even some study of the roots of pagan beliefs, the history and culture of not only this system, but also all eclectic systems and Green beliefs of other cultures (without saying so). It’s somewhat hidden, but anyone with an interest in where we come from and what came before will find this fascinating. I know I did.
I look forward to reading her other books, Green Witchcraft II and III as well as her history of the Craft “Origins of Modern Witchcraft”. They should be fascinating.
For this book, however, I give it 4 ½ stars out of 5. And a recommendation for it to be used to continue your education in Witchcraft, rather than the first and only book bought for Witchcraft study.
This book has prompted me to sit down and think about what I believe and why. And isn’t that the purpose of a good book?
Originally posted 2012-07-06 23:38:45. Republished by Blog Post Promoter