Books of Wiccan Spiritual and Magical Ritual

The following three books provide a fair amount of information on spiritual and magical ritual from a Wiccan point of view.  Reviews are below.

Isaac Bonewits, The Essential Guide to Witchcraft and Wicca

This is a wonderful no-nonsense, unfluffy source of information regarding what Wicca is and is not, how it relates to the Neopagan movement and in turn how it relates to paganism in general. It counters a lot of the fluff that was widely circulating at the time of its original publication and which can still certainly be encountered today.

Deborah Lipp, The Way of Four

Deborah Lipp continues to prove herself as one of the most knowledgeable authors in the field of Wicca and Pagan magic today in her second book, The Way of Four. Here she does what few other authors do but should: she narrows her focus to a single topic, leaving us with detailed, in-depth information instead of presenting a wide, general survey prone to generalization. Why? Because Wicca (or any other Pagan path, as much of Lipp’s information can be of use to non-Wiccan Pagans as well) is not something to be learned from a single book. It’s not about making certain motions and lighting the right candles. It’s about learning and truly understanding.

While the focus of The Way of Four is narrow in respect to the plethora of Wicca 101 books in circulation, its topic is neither obscure nor over the readers head. The book focuses on the four elements, for “every occult education begins with the four elements, and no occultist worth her salt fails to make use of elemental lore.” (Lipp, p. 1) Both practical and academic information is provided: it makes zero sense to work with powers one does not understand. Nor does she bother with lists of correspondences of obscure names that mean nothing to someone not already familiar with them. Quite the opposite, she warns her Pagan readers away from such terms as “Guardians of the Watchtowers” if they’re not familiar with what Watchtowers actually are and the Enochian system from which they originate.

No matter what one’s approach is to magical learning, this book has something for just about everyone. For the academics there is history and general information on the elements and the beings associated with them. For personal understanding, there are a variety of quizzes to help ascertain one’s elemental strengths and weaknesses along with suggestion on how to act upon those results. There are also a variety of meditations and exercises. Finally, her information on ritual workings include examples of good and bad approaches and explain the pros and cons of each example, saving the reader from having to guess what exactly it is she’s talking about. I truly both hope and expect to see more of Lipp’s work in the future.

Phyllis Curott, Witch Crafting: A Spiritual Guide to Making Magic

While I disagree with her belief that the essence of magic is love, I find this book otherwise sensible and practical. Not only does she address both the spiritual and magical sides of Wicca, she presents the integral entwining of the two in a clear, straightforward manner. She also has a laudable take on the Threefold Law, which she has termed the Boomerang Whammy Rule.

Curott has lost respect in the eyes of some Wiccans because of a rather asinine protest she made concerning the The Blair Witch Project when it hit theatres a few years ago: “The Blair Witch Project makes witches out to be evil hags who want to kill children. This fictitious movie puts real witches at risk… I asked [the co-director] to put a disclaimer in his film like the one director Francis Ford Coppola added to The Godfather, essentially saying that this film does not represent the lifestyles of that community.” Since the fictitious Blair Witch supposedly lived two centuries ago, one is left wondering what community she is defending. Her website also clearly proclaims Wicca and Witchcraft to be the same thing. What shall we protest next, The Wizard of Oz?


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