by Elen Hawke
Llewellyn Publications, 2002, $12.95 US
Review by Erin
This book is supposed to be the Witchcraft 201 book that everyone is asking to have. It is the continuation of the book “In the Circle” by the same author. Unfortunately it fails as a witchcraft book. It is neither fish nor fowl.
It’s not the case not that there is no useful information in it. There is quite a lot of information in the book for the Wiccan Practitioner, just not for practitioners of Witchcraft. She states that this book is for followers of Witchcraft, and then makes the fundamental mistake of assuming that Witchcraft and Wicca-craft are the same thing.
Some things do stand out in this book. The rituals given are good and they would fulfill their purpose nicely. My notes here say, “The ceremonies are nice” and the next note says, “the rituals are nice”. So I’m not sure if I was trying to find something to praise this book for or not.
I can say that the interior artwork is excellent. Kerigwen Hunter deserves to be recognized for this artwork and I hope I can see more work at some future point. Some of these illustrations I find very moving and if I could legally copy them and enlarge them I would put these illustrations in my own Book of Shadows.
There are some other good things, like the meditations and the exercises. It’s obvious that the author went to a lot of work to create these and they should be used. When I was reading them, I found them to be calming and soothing, with the exercises designed to keep one’s mind from becoming flabby.
Now, to what I didn’t like about this work. Bear with me, there is a lot.
There was a tendency to confuse internal energies with external energies. For example, Elen has us casting the Circle with our finger and says that this is the power of the elements. Last *I* checked, this was internal energies, which can be replenished with elemental energies, and food, but which is not energy of the elements.
She has a section on meditation, which many practitioners need. The comments she makes, while they may be her experience, are not representative of a large section of the populace who meditate. For instance she says that to meditate one does not have to clear their mind and concentrate on keeping it clear. She must not have talked to many Zen Buddhists in researching that section, because it was my understanding that the purpose of their meditations was to do exactly that. I know that many I teach state that they can achieve that state and stay there for long periods of time.
Her section on Magick covers some sections of Wiccan religo-magick, and she states that it is not always reliable. While this may be her experience, and it does fail often, it is not mostly the case. Those witches and Wiccans who DO practice magick quite often find that their magick is reliable, albeit that they may not get what they want, but they get some sort of outcome from their spells.
In her section on magick, ethics are glossed over, glanced at, and never examined again. She breezes by them so fast, one is left wondering if magick is related to ethics at all. The little she does say about magick and ethics are the same old “Rede and Threefold Law” injunctions about how your magick will be subject to these rules.
Then there is her section on correspondences. Pay attention, I have a very eclectic set of correspondences myself, so I can honor, admire and get behind having some strange associations when dealing with the elements. And while her chapter on the Elements is a good one, the rest of her correspondences could be dispensed with entirely. She goes directly into planetary associations and correspondences, but then doesn’t bother to go far enough in depth in that section to make it useful. To quote:
This day belongs to Thor, but it is also presided over by Jupiter. It is a day to work on travel, writing or spiritual growth, wisdom and learning.
Colour: Purple, royal blue
Metal: Tin (Daven’s comment: Metal?)
Gem: Turquoise, topaz, lapis lazuli
Incense: Cedar, clove, sage
Oil: Cedar, clove, nutmeg (don’t take nutmeg oil internally, as it is toxic except in very small quantities)
Flower or herb: Clove, sage, borage Tree: Cedar, chestnut, oak
The Sacred Round, Pg 149
… and that’s all. She never goes into the planetary hours, no planetary correspondences, no “Jupiter rules THIS attribute”, nothing. She throws this information out there, and leaves it. And this pattern is repeated for every thing she references that has correspondences. These comments for things like gems and the holidays are just as brief and simple. She has no correspondences on colors, or on herbs or scents. She has the days, the holidays, and the gemstone and from that she leads you directly into spells and spellwork.
If this is a book for a magickian or witch, this is worse than useless as it only confuses the issue. If it is for a Wiccan, these correspondences don’t even apply.
There are no sources cited anyplace in this book, for anything. There is no recommended reading list, nor websites or anything else. Her section on cord magick is incorrect for what I am familiar with as being cord magick. Instead of casting the spell into the knots and untying them as they are needed, to release the spell contained therein, she has you do this entire ritual to bind up the energies into the cord (even though she does not tell you what you are doing) and then set the cord aside forever. She does say that you can unknot it later and cleanse the cord, to be used again. There is no pause between the knots either. Apparently the act of tying the knots is what is important, and the visualization after the last knot is made.
I can say that as a book for Wiccans, this is average. A lot of the same mistakes are made and perpetuated that were getting cleared up in recent times, and a constant confusion between Wicca and Witchcraft makes things a lot harder on the witches out there who are not Wiccan.
I’m giving this book 2 stars out of 5.