by Silver RavenWolf
Llewellyn Publications, 2000,
This book starts out strong and peters out into mediocrity. I had such high hopes for this particular book and most of them were shattered within the first 100 pages.
Let me explain my disappointment to you, so you can see why I felt let down.
Silver starts out the book by saying that she wrote this for the Teen and the seeker who is going through the times and trails of being a teenager while also trying to find their spiritual self. She starts out strongly with several good pieces of advice. In addition, there is a section for the parent who may not be Wiccan, to try and lay their fears to rest.
Her stated purpose in this book is to teach teens how to cope with life, and to show them some of the mysteries of Wicca as a religion. This is what she tells the adults in the beginning of the book, as she speaks from the perspective of a parent herself. However, this never manifests anywhere in the text she wrote.
In the first two chapters, Silver does a good job of staying on topic, giving a brief synopsis of what Wicca is and is not. She bursts several popular misconceptions with humor and good sense. She goes into some of the more difficult aspects of being a teen (such as drug use) and gives some good insights into what a teenager is going through.
There is a good description of the journey she has taken in her spiritual quest and some of the trials she had with her own teens in the beginning of the book. It lets people understand her, know that she is human and that she has “been there and done that” with her parents and her children.
Her cautions on Drugs and Alcohol in Magickal workings are needed injunctions. She illustrates this point with a true-life story that she was told by a friend. Her thoughts on teen pressure and how to cope with it are good also, but there are too few of these gems in the book compared to the overwhelming topic: SpellCrafting.
In the very beginning of the book, she states that she is “-one of the most famous Witches in the United States today” as a way of introducing herself to the parents of a teen who is investigating Wicca. This statement may be fact, but it is not the way to make the readers comfortable with the material.
The thumbnail description of Wicca is necessary, and it gives the reader a chance to define what they believe. By the third chapter, despite saying that Wicca is a religion over and over, she goes into Magick and Spells, continuing this topic for the next 8 chapters. Spells on this, spells on that, how to protect your locker with a spell, how to shop with a spell, how to gain money with a spell, never again focusing on the religion.
There is one brief chapter about how to do a ritual, along with the holidays, and Esbat celebrations. In that chapter, she has teens getting together and having a Circle, invoking the God and Goddess and bringing Them into themselves, and doing Magick. She shows the teen casting spells left and right for one thing or another throughout the book. Even though she states multiple times that you don’t have to do all the ritual she describes and “scripts” out, since that is all that Silver presents, the teen is left with little choice but to think that Spellwork is all there is to being a Wiccan.
If she is trying to show Wicca as a valid religion, this book falls far short of the mark. If she is trying to help teens through a troubling time in their life, then again she fails. If she wants to perpetuate the stereotype that Wiccans cast Magick all the time then she did a good job.
There is a tendency to throw out esoteric pronouncements that make no sense within the context of the statement, with little or no explanation to clarify them. For instance, here is one paragraph talking about the rules of Love Magick:
You cannot own another person. A person doesn’t “belong” to you like a piece of property. Witches never give away their “shields” to another person. You always retain your personal power. Teen Witch, pg. 138.
I have studied Wicca for 10 years and metaphysics and Magick for 30, I asked others, and reread this particular passage multiple times trying to understand what she meant, to no avail. It makes no sense in the context of the thought to throw out a statement like that about personal power and shields. I can think of only two explanations for this: 1) People really are possessions, and she is equating another person to a shield to protect you from harm and you should not give them away to another person at all, or… 2) The publisher and author made a mistake in the manuscript that no one caught by misplacing this passage.
There are multiple contradictory statements in this book. Silver states repeatedly that Witches don’t do Magick to force anyone to be with them, and that readers of this book should not do that either. However, she goes on to give 18 different spells on love and relationships. One of which makes someone who is pursuing your “boy/girlfriend” go away forcibly. This sounds like a spell targeting a specific individual to me.
There are some spells that are good and positive, and I will probably use some of them in my own practice. For example, a spell to make a romantic break up more amicable than it might be and her section on healing is good. While Silver harps on the fact that Magick is not the way to solve problems in teen life, she goes on to give them nothing but spells as tools to cope.
This makes for a very confusing book.
This is not to say that everything in this book is worthless. There are some good anecdotes on different problems, good suggestions for a “minimalistic” circle and sound advice. Unfortunately, there is so little of it in comparison to the spells, I’m afraid the advice gets glossed over. She went to a lot of trouble to write these spells, and they should be used, but by practitioners with a through understanding of the religious aspects, as well as the full knowledge of the consequences of the spells they are casting. One of the positive aspects is Silver does have the definitions for most of the esoteric words that are used right there with the text that uses that word. This is all to the good.
Some of the other positive aspects are a wonderful solitary ritual for “Cleansing the Sacred Space” using the example of her daughter. I read it and thought that the ritual was very beautiful.
Craft parents who are trying to teach their children to be Wiccan should use this book. There is a lot of simple explanation in there for the child or teen and it would be valuable for them. (Her example of a 10 year old using her stuffed animals as her Deity representations and as her Circle boundary is a really good one.) This is not for the teen that sees it on the shelf of a bookstore and decides to get it to see what Witchcraft is about.
“Teen Witch” is a spell book. Granted it is a good spell book, but it is not what it was representing itself as, namely a guide to teen spiritualism.
All in all, for fulfilling the purpose it was written for, I give it 2 stars out of 5. However, as a reference for the Craft Child, with the support and guidance of a parent or Priest/ess to help, it rates 3 1/2 stars on the same scale. There will still be a lot of work the teacher will need to do to help the teen along.