by Isaac Bonewits
eBook available for download for $7.95 from Amazon.com
PocketPCpress; ISBN: B00005LKRY
Review by Daven
Isaac Bonewits is one of my favorite authors. Till now, most of the material I have seen by him has been on his website (www.neopagan.net) and it has all been good. He has written things like “The Real Origins of Halloween” and “Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame” that so many of us know.
What many aren’t familiar with is that Isaac is also a published author. In this ebook, he goes back to that which he does best.
His writing style is an interesting one. He presents all the material that he is writing about in a logical order, pared down to it’s basics that the layman needs to be able to follow the train of thought within the concepts he presents. He writes with good humor, and a straight forward, no holds barred style that leaves the reader wishing there was more to read.
Comparatively speaking, this ebook is a small one. The actual information presented is covered in about 100 pages, and each page is about the size of a Reader’s Digest or TV Guide page. Because of that, this book is a fast read. I read it over the course of a busy day at my office.
Officially, the book is approximately 200 pages long, but half of that is the Appendixes to the material he presents. All of those appendixes are necessary to the book, however, to present definitions and thoughts that are integral parts of the concepts laid out here.
Isaac is an extremely good scholar and researcher, and the Pagan Community is lucky to have him as a member. His thoughts on what happened back in pre-history and in the Burning Times are good and accurate accounts of what we now know. He must read all the anthropological and archeological texts that come out with “new” discoveries.
It could be that all the information in here could overwhelm the average reader, but in this case it does not. He gives enough information so that the reader can follow along with the chain of events that brought us to this place we are at now. He lays it all out, and lets the reader, for the most part, draw their own conclusions.
He also goes a long way to vindicate many other authors (including himself) in their ascertations that Wicca is not some kind of holdover from the Stone Age. He makes it plain in the book that Wicca is entirely created, and he goes a long way toward debunking many of the commonly held beliefs in “Ancient Wicca” that many in the NeoPagan movement have.
That’s not to say that there are not flaws. The opinions he does state emphatically on are pronounced with the finality of Physical Laws. In most cases this is not a problem, and they tend to coincide with what we do know about the Meso and Paleo Pagans. However, the statements that make it appear that Isaac has a time machine at his disposal in how the Paelo and Meso Pagans worshiped do leave the reader going “how does HE know?”
He also takes a moment to vindicate himself for many years of being a pariah in the NeoPagan community for some talk he gave at a Witchmeet held in Minneapolis Minnesota in 1973. From the eBook:
“Third, I gave a speech titled “The Witch Cult – Fact or Fancy?” based upon an earlier article by myself in Tournaments Illuminated, the journal of the medievalist Society for Creative Anachronism, under the title “Where Hast Thou Been Sister?” It dealt with much of the materials mentioned in this study and came to very similar conclusions about what I rudely referred to as Murray’s “Unitarian Universalist White Witch Cult of Western Theosophical Brittany” and Gardner’s supposed revival of it.”
Basically he goes on to say that the conclusions he gave in this talk, and that he has believed for a LONG time, are again presented in this eBook. Now, however, they are “sexy and popular” so they are more acceptable to the general populace now than they were in 1973. I believe that this is not bad, since by his own admission he became somewhat of an outcast in the community for YEARS for his statements.
However, all of that aside, I found I could NOT put this book away. I continued to read it until I had read every word, then I took a copy of it home so that I could study it in depth. This is one of the required texts for anyone seeking an understanding in Wicca, NeoPaganism, the History of Religion, History in general, or any other facet of these studies. I believe this book will do what Ms. Moura’s text failed to do, lay out the history of religion, specifically the Wiccan Religion, in plain terms that even someone with no familiarity with Wicca or NeoPaganism will understand.
Excellent job, Isaac.
Altogether, I give this book a rating of 4 1/2 stars out of a possible 5. This is the highest rating I have ever given any book, and I will put this eBook on my recommended reading list as soon as I am done writing this review. I can’t wait for it to come out in printed format.