New page books, 2004 $14.99
Review by Daven
I received this book as part of several books that New Page sent me to be reviewed. At first I thought it was a good thing for us to have another book for the solitary witch. There are aspects of solitary practice that needs to be updated to what current practices are. While the idea that is a good one and there is a definite need for a book of this type, the execution in this particular case leaves much to be desired.
This book is far from useless. There is quite a lot of information contained within this book that is valuable to the average new practitioner. The problem of this that the information that is in here is duplicated in nearly every Wicca 101 book on the market.
The author obviously did a great deal of research and put quite a bit of thought into this work. I will always commend those who do the research instead of simply regurgitating other’s writings. The information contained in this book and is complete and well researched. Known information is presented with a new spin on it that would make an experienced practitioner stop and think.
However and it is my opinion that all this good information does not make up for the book’s shortcomings. Unfortunately those shortcomings are many.
One of the main problems that I have with this book is the “Child” aspect of the deity. The author spends quite a number of pages describing the aspect of duty which I feel is inherent in the deity itself. I do not think that this aspect needs to be celebrated or were sure all on its own. Having any male deity and a female deity will, of necessity, incorporate a child within the practice. I have NEVER seen anyone else have a child aspect that is celebrated, although the author says that this is an old practice. I have also never heard of another group spending time on a deity aspect that is so closely equated with the Maiden in most modern practice.
Unfortunately, the system of worship incorporates the child aspect of every ritual, making separation of that aspect almost impossible. This makes practicing what he has written down extremely interesting.
Also this has a 5 degree initiation system. This is the only system that I have ever encountered that has more than three degrees. And the way he he breaks down the initiation as it is very difficult to follow. Most of the information that the average worker will need is in the very first degree. There is so much information in fact, that it looks as though he is trying to give all the information for Wicca in the very first degree. Things like spell work, how to create ritual, divination, counseling and so on are all included in the “student” degree. I guess this is a good thing (relatively speaking) since the very next degree he mandates that one goes forth and begins to teach others.
The titles he gives each initiation are interesting as well. They imply more experience than one has. For instance, the Fourth Degree one is an Elder. The problem with this is that each degree, according to him, takes about a year to do. There will be many who go racing through this book and feel that because they are a Fourth Degree Initiate that they should be accorded the deference of an Elder without any of the knowledge that is needed for that title.
I would think that these “titles” are necessary for one who is in his tradition with the author, but to claim the title simply because you did some ceremony that a book told you to do really rubs me the wrong way. There is no way I would call a 22 year old “Madame or Sir” as this book tells me I must at a gathering.
Add into this the fact that the level of information is confusing, meaning that when the practitioner is second degree, they can call themselves a Priest/ess but without the required knowledge of a Priest/ess, it will probably ensure that a “I read a book!” newbie will be lost and reviled as fluffy.
I also had problems with the content to a point. While all the information in this is good when kept in the context of the tradition being offered, it starts failing when transposed to another tradition.
Also I found that the author frequently looses sight of what this book is about. It says that this is a book for the Solitary practitioner, but frequently in the book, the author is speaking as though the reader is actually a member of a coven or is being tutored in the Craft by another.
All of this combines to force me to give this book a low review. I’m giving it two stars out of five. I feel that this book could be easily passed over to purchase Buckland’s Big Blue Book, or Cunningham’s “Wicca; a Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” instead. The author doesn’t really present anything new, and what is there is changed enough to make it very confusing.
Buy it on you own conscience.