by Ann Moura (Aoumiel)
Llewellyn Publications, copyright 2000
As with the others of this series I received them all in one package from the publisher, and it’s a good thing too. Ms. Moura has done one thing I find irritating above all; she constantly cross-references her own work in this book. Most times that is not a bad thing, but in this book it is taken to an extreme where one MUST have the preceding books in order to follow along with the lessons she presents.
In fact, she states plainly in the introduction to this work that one must have her first volume (Green Witchcraft: Folk Magick, Fairy Lore and Herb Craft also from Llewellyn Publications) in order to understand her manual.
Normally this is not much of a problem, but in this book, it quickly gets away from the author. In every section of every chapter she has some reference to her preceding book, and in some cases even references information from her second book.
Nowhere in this book is this information repeated. So, the reader has one of two choices, either to give up reading this third book and resign it to a shelf someplace, or to go out and spend another $12.95 at a bookstore and purchase her previous books.
Now that this criticism is done, let me say that this volume is a worthy companion to the other two. Not only is some of the more briefly touched upon topics expanded, she also lays out the lessons in a coherent order, starting with the skills and information that a new witch needs to work from. Her writing is up to par, and her explanations are concise and to the point. There is little beating around the bush in an attempt to hide the knowledge she has.
She starts every chapter with a review of the Code of Conduct, a needed step in this time of instant gratification. Then she goes into the “learning circle” as she calls it, a marvelous tool for showing the students that learning is as much a ritual as anything they do before the Gods.
I will admit that I somewhat lost interest in the middle of the book, due to the way the information is presented, but once I pushed past this stoppage, I was able to rapidly finish up. One other thing I noticed, some of the topics are a bit long for my taste. Since they are laid out in lessons, eight of them, multiple topics get covered in each chapter. Sometimes this is good, sometimes not. She does do a good job of trying to keep your interest.
One of the main stumbling points I found was that there is no new information presented. There is much needed elaboration on the information, certainly, but not necessarily anything new. As such, if one already owns the first two books in this series, there is not any pressing need to rush out and buy the third.
She gives good information on the construction of a Circle and a ritual, complete with reasons for each step and object on the Altar. For this, I believe the book worth the investment.
I have spoken with a Druid friend of mine, who critiqued the Ogham method of divination she presents in her works. He couldn’t find anything to critique about the system, since this is the same system he himself uses. I did ask him if he came to this system of Ogham divination on his own or if he learned it from Ms Moura, and he told me that he came to the same conclusions as Ms Moura, but that she presented a concise and interesting way of doing the divination and interpreting the reading. That was why he uses the system.
I could wish that Ms Moura gave more rituals in her manual or her other books dealing with things like initiations or death rites, but she does tell the reader that most of that is private and will not be shared.
In setting this up as a workbook, she does not do as good a job as Raymond Buckland did, but she does a credible job nonetheless. I hope that in future editions of this work that Llewellyn sees fit to have Ms Moura annotate the chapters with her list of references for that chapter, so that the student can get a better grasp immediately of what she is talking about.
All in all, this is a good book, one worthy of being on any Pagan or Witch’s shelf, but I don’t rate it quite as highly as I did her previous works, mainly because she does extensively reference her own works. I give this book a total of 3 stars out of 5 for the experienced Witch who is looking for reference information, and 3 ½ stars for the beginning student who is looking for a way to live their life in harmony with Nature.
Ultimately, Ms Moura does present a coherent picture of her path, one that should be accessible to us all, if only we are willing to do some work on our own to get back in touch with Nature. She presents no easy answers, nor does she offer any instant enlightenment. She offers something that worked for her and something that has obviously worked for her students.
Stars light your path.