In the sixty years following the publication of Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft Today, new paths have appeared, and older ones emerged out of the shadow of repression and illegality, to express with a new and more confident voice their
beliefs and practice, and share, with a steadily growing audience, their knowledge, their certainties, their questions and their vision. This book is a celebration of some of the many paths that Witchcraft/Wicca has taken and of the journeys that people have embarked upon.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
Trevor Greenfield (ed.) Witchcraft Today – 60 Years On. Moon Books, 2014.
Trevor Greenfield (ed.) Paganism 101: An Introduction to Paganism by 101 Pagans. Moon Books, 2014.
Richard Metzger (ed.) The Book of Lies: The Disinformation Guide to Magick and the Occult. Disinformation Books, San Francisco, 2014.
These books are similar, in that all are collections of essays by different authors on contemporary occultism. Witchcraft Today – 60 Years On, which refers to Gerald Gardner’s 1954 book, is 180 pages long, whereas The Book of Lies, which is primarily about Aleister Crowley (from whom the title is borrowed, and who resurrected the old spelling of ‘magick’), is much larger, 352 pages with small print in double columns.
It is now six decades since the appearance of Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft Today, which sold 5,500 copies. To those not familiar with publishing, this might not seem many, but actually very few books sell more than 5,000 copies. He originally intended to call it New Light on Witchcraft, and included a lot of material on yoga, which his editors deleted as irrelevant.
The sensational point was his claim that witchcraft was still practised, albeit on a very small scale, when most people assumed that it was extinct, if it had ever existed at all. But Gardner’s biggest influence was by way of a work that he never published – the ‘Book of Shadows’, which contains a set of witchcraft rituals, and has now been copied worldwide. The various contributors to 60 Years On discuss the diverse offshoots, ‘Alexandrian witchcraft’, derived from Alex Sanders, the ‘Seax Tradition’, which is based around the Saxon deities Woden and Freya, the feminist Dianic Tradition which naturally is for women only, and so on.
There has also been a widespread revival of Paganism generally, witchcraft being just one aspect of it. Greenfield has assembled an even larger group of contributors, 101 as his title indicates. These include Druid, Heathens, Goddess Followers, and there are discussions of Deities, Nature, Ethics, Afterlife, Ancestors, Ritual, Magic, Healing and Celebrant Work.
Jack Parsons was a prominent rocket-fuel scientist, and certainly the only disciple of Crowley to have a crater on the far side of the moon named after him. He died in an explosion in his laboratory in 1952. An explosion in a rocket-fuel laboratory should not be too surprising (it was rocket science), but his ‘Scarlet Woman’ Marjorie Cameron, who went on to star in Kenneth Anger’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome,“always believed that Howard Hughes was somehow behind it.”
The connection of H. P. Lovecraft with Crowley is tenuous: in his Supernatural Horror in Literature he discussed Leonard Cline’s novel The Dark Chamber, which mentioned Crowley. Erik Davis observes that “while most 1930s pulp fiction is nearly unreadable today”, Lovecraft has a ’cult’ status, with a curiously literal dimension. Fans are not content to read stories about weird otherworldly entities, Cthulhu, Hastur, Nyarlathotep, and the rest of them, but often invoke them in magickal ceremonies. This is an interesting example of how a piece of fiction takes on a life of its own. To this day the London headquarters of Santander Bank, which is located in Baker Street, employ a secretary to answer letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes. Even more remarkably, the city of Verona employs several secretaries to reply to letters sent to Juliet by lovelorn women.
Allen Greenfield looks at the influence of Crowley on Wicca, based upon his research into unpublished documents. As he observes, there are Crowley borrowings in the Book of Shadows used by Gardner. In consequence, “I think Aleister and Gerald may have cooked Wicca up.” The problem with this hypothesis is that the Crowley borrowings, on close inspection, all turn out to have been taken from a 1919 volume entitled the Blue Equinox. Notably, Crowley’s Book of the Law is nowhere quoted at first hand, only at second hand, which proves that he was not personally responsible for the Book of Shadows. -- Gareth J. Medway.
~ Gareth J. Medway, Magonia
As its title suggest this is an anthology of modern articles on Wicca, it brings together a range of authors and various modern practitioners writing about modern neo-pagan witchcraft or describing how they personally came to the subject.
In the introduction Rachel Patterson makes rather generalised comments that not everyone will agree with that there are no 'secrets' left in witchcraft and that we all have the power within us to work magic.
It also examines the evolution of Alexandrian Wicca and how it developed in Australia, also the creation of Seax Wica in the United States and articles on other home-grown American traditions such as Eclectic Wicca.
There are also articles on 'hedge witchcraft'. solitary witches, 'nature witches', 'male witchcraft' and witchcraft in the future.
The anthology concludes with a section called 'Journeys on the Crooked Path' this features short pieces by various people recounting their own spiritual journey to wherever they are now in the neo-pagan witchcraft scene. ~ BM Cauldron, TC 153 Summer 2014
I found it useful to read them in light of my own story and feel that any one coming into paganism would find it comforting and illuminating to do the same. Often people describe an early sense of loneliness which I think can be dispelled in these stories ~ knotmagic, https://knotmagick101.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/book-review-witchcraft-today-60-years-on-2/comment-page-1/#comment-318
"The blessings I have received, just in reading this book, are too many to count." ~ Lady Laeynarrie - High Priestess., http://ladylaeynarriebookreviews.weebly.com/book-reviews/the-effects-of-witchcraft-today-60-years-on
Sixty years after the publication of Witchcraft Today, we have seen Gerald Gardner's vision grow and evolve as it spreads around the globe. Witchcraft Today - 60 Years On is a fitting tribute, bringing together authors from different paths within the Craft, each with a unique contribution and insight to inspire those who are practising, teaching, and strengthening Wicca today and for the generations to come. ~ Dr Vivianne Crowley, Faculty of Pastoral Counseling and Chaplaincy, Cherry Hill Seminary
Witchcraft Today - 60 Years On is a comprehensive look at the evolution of modern witchcraft. It takes you on a magical journey through the popular traditions practiced today , as well as veering off into the mystical realms of cottage witchery and kitchen witchery, exploring the natural world of the wise-woman. This book doesn't only draw from a rich history of what was to become modern pagan practices, but it looks into the future of one of the fastest growing spirituality movements of our time. ~ Amythyst Raine-Hatayama, Author, The Gray Witch's Grimoire
An engrossing and eye-opening collection of pieces that would startle Gardner himself in their diversity. As a witch myself, raised by parents who both experienced Paganism through Wicca, ceremonial magic and natural witchcraft, Paganism is a natural part of my life. Reading these stories of how others have reached the same point in their lives is both reassuring and inspirational. This book has made me think about my own roots, the experiences of my mentor, and the impact Gardner has had on the continuing evolution of witchcraft; today, tomorrow, and into the future. ~ Mabh Savage, Celtic Witch and author of A Modern Celt.