By Hans Holzer
A Review by Daven
I was sent this book by a friend, who had quite a number of negative things to say about the book. After reading it, there are multiple things that are highly questionable, but not truly objectionable depending upon your point of view.
At the beginning of the book, one must assume that the story is true. With that as an unverifiable assumption, the book becomes compelling look into power trips and mind games.
Heather was a woman from a midwestern town who moved to New York and began a journey into Wicca. She was attracted to Wicca because she had several psychic gifts, all of which came on strong in her teenage years. She had no one to help her control them, nor did she have any kind of training in those gifts.
In addition to that, it seems that either she was an untrained channel, or she had multiple personality disorder (MPD). I am betting on the MPD personally.
Throughout the book, she constantly blames her “uncontrollable” urges on someone she calls “her”. This person is the manifestation of all the buried urges with which she refuses to come to terms. When Heather finally finds the NeoPagan movement, in the form of a co-worker/Coven recruiter for the local Gardnerian coven, it seems to be the answer to her prayers.
Heather is introduced to this world through her friend, and taught by the High Priestess on the weekends. To all appearances, Heather takes to Wicca like a duck to water.
Then things start taking a bad turn. The High Priest has strong objections to including Heather in the Coven, but she is allowed to attend a working Esbat anyhow. Apparently the entire coven, with the exception of the High Priest, like her so much that after a year of training under the HPS, she is initiated into the Coven.
So far, everything is true to life, as far as I can tell. Having never been in a Gardnerian coven, the rituals she reports are almost identical to the Alexandran rituals that I have seen. For that reason alone, I am inclined to believe parts of this book.
The High Priestess gets sick enough that she retires from the Coven. The rest of the group elect Heather to be their new High Priestess over the objections of the High Priest. She drives the HP out of the Coven with her psychic abilities. Nowhere in the book is initiated into the Second or Third Degrees, even though by Gardnerian law, no one under Second Degree can hold the office of Priestess.
With all the normal controls gone, it’s Heather and the other 6 members of the Coven to control “her”. From the descriptions, Heather did appear to be inexperienced in having to study the Rites and rituals before the Sabbats and Esbats. However, she was only initiated for about 5 months at that point, and the High Priest of the Coven is correct in saying that she was too inexperienced to be a Priestess.
All of these factors contribute to her breakdown that occurs throughout the rest of the book. With no moral governors over her actions, someone so new to her position CANNOT be trusted to run a coven. According to the story, she had no elders helping her. Yet one by one, the rest of the Coven decide to abrogate responsibility to her, as a duly elected (elected?) High Priestess.
She met a man in her mundane life and decides that spell crafting was the only way to get him to love her. She gets jilted by him at one point in the book and “She” decided to cast massive spells, both personally and in the Coven to get him back. She gave no thought to the consequences of her actions, and violated the Rede completely as she did this. She completely ruined his life as well as his fiancé’s life. However, this almost seems secondary to the power trip she was on.
The final insult to an intelligent reader is that at the end of the book, she not only had everything backlash on her, with minor consequences instead of the massive price she SHOULD have paid, but when she cut this guy loose, the world realigns and everything went right again.
First, she sold her spells to the President of the Company she worked for in mundane life, and she did this more than once. She also asked for a transfer about 4 times from the president, yet when he put through the paperwork, she then canceled the transfer time and again.
The High Priest came back to the Coven after she left, due to one of the putative transfers, and he banishes her from the Coven forever for ruining a Beltane Sabbat. The next Esbat meeting, she shows back up and she is welcomed back with open arms.
Once again, huh?
For violating her vows, breaking the Rede, and according to the threefold law, she should have lost her job, never been welcomed in the Coven again, and had every Gardnerian’s hand turned against her. Heather was a true danger to the Coven, as proven by telling others about the Coven and their activities. A Warlocking would not have been out of order.
None of this happened to her. Either she was lying to make things seem better than they actually were, or she lied to make the problems with Wicca and the Power seem greater than they were, or the author of the book (who was writing it for her) lied completely and made the whole thing up based on the knowledge he had.
I’m inclined to believe the latter.
Don’t get me wrong, the developments Heather went through are critical to the purpose of the book. In the Introduction, the author states very clearly that the book is being written to demonstrate the dangers of “The Power” as it is called. This is a good thing, but any student of Wicca will recognize the nonsensical parts in the book and those problems alone destroy the message that is trying to be presented.
At the end of the book, Heather is married to the High Priest, despite his, till then, active dislike and his banishment of her. She is also the High Priestess of the Coven again without a word being said by the rest of the Coven.
I finished this book quickly to get it over with. At first, it seemed to have a lot to say that was good about Wicca, but the more I read, the more confused I became.
If you treat this story as a fictional account of a Witch, then it makes for good reading, but as a factual account, there is a lot that is missing from this book.
I would like to issue a blanket call for High Priestess Selina (the Craft name of Heather) to step forward and talk to me about this book, or for the author to provide SOME kind of evidence as to the veracity of this book. Otherwise, I will recommend that this book be read as a fictional story, and nothing more.
Stars light your path.