By Raymond Buckland
Llewellyn DVD, copyright 2005 $24.95
Review by Daven
I have to admit that I was looking forward to this DVD quite a lot when I found out that it had been released. See, I consider Raymond to be my mentor in many ways and I hold him in high regard for many of the things he brought to the Craft as a whole. So I was looking forward to seeing this piece of work that I knew of, but couldn’t find on VHS.
So Llewellyn re-releasing it on DVD was a Goddess-send to me. I ordered it immediately.
I’ve watched it as I could. See, many things have happened in my life lately and I haven’t always had the time to do what I have wanted to do, but I got 45 minutes into a one hour DVD before I had to give up due to emergencies going on around me. So keep this in mind. Also keep in mind that I haven’t ever seen the original VHS of this so I have nothing to compare it to.
With that in mind, I have to say that this is interesting. From a modern perspective the information on this is out of date and some of it has been superseded by other revolutions in the Craft, but by and large it gives good basics. Raymond narrates it throughout, and there are examples of rituals and ritual activities. I can say that Raymond looks like a teenager in this compared to how he looks currently. But there is not any revolutionary material in here that can’t be found in any Wicca 101 book.
What I find of use in this is that there are demonstrations of the material. One of the biggest flaws in books is that while the information is accurate and good, the descriptions of what you are supposed to do and how you are supposed to do it are many times lacking in clarity. Two different people can sit down and read the same set of passages from a book and from those descriptions extract two different ways of doing things. This DVD prevents that. With it, you can see just how you should be moving, standing, what the robes are supposed to look like, how the altar should look when set up and so on.
One thing that does need pointing out, this has little to do with Seax-Wica specifically, and rather focuses on Witchcraft and Wicca in general as Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft does.
Even given this, I do have some problems with it.
As I said the material is dated. This DVD was first recorded back in 1989 or so and released in 1990. So there is some material that is questionable. I understand why the material was not updated with more recent discoveries so keep in mind that this information is really dated.
The narration is uninspired and almost atonal. It’s not that there is little information here, it’s simply that the delivery is monotonous. Ray may be an engaging speaker when you are talking to him face to face, but when he’s speaking to a camera that engaging personality comes out as wooden. I’m not going to judge if this is a good thing or a bad thing, or even speculate if this is just him, but it is something that the viewer needs to be aware of, since this is entirely narrated by Raymond.
The production quality is very much a home movie style of film. In the “making of” section, you can see just how much of this was filmed as a home movie.
The DVD extras are very interesting. A short feature on “The Making of” this video/DVD is enlightening, and Raymond’s “Update on Wicca” fills in a lot of missing information. The Blooper Reel does put a human face on what can be seen as a very dry information dump. Anyone who has seen the videos of Joseph Campbell can understand how a huge amount of information can be transmitted very dryly and make it a hard thing to sit through.
All in all, I’m glad I have this DVD now. For the historical aspects alone I am grateful I have it. It may be that there are many problems with the material itself, but most of it holds up since this is an introduction to Wicca. Combined with a basic beginner’s text, like the Big Blue Book or “Witchcraft Today” from other authors, this could be a valuable tool for outer court material in most covens, or it can be used to show how far The Craft has advanced in the last 15 or so years.
I’m giving this three stars out of five. It’s not a “must have”, but many may wish to pick it up to have it in their library.