Monday 26 May 2014

Review: Witchcraft Today - 60 Years On

Sixty years ago, Gerald Gardner – the Father of Modern Wicca - published the book Witchcraft Today.It was his personal account of the practices of the witches he had worked with and was hugely influential in explaining the Craft to the world.

Since then, the witchcraft tradition and nature religion that Gerald Gardner popularised – Wicca – has grown and grown. The 2011 UK Census showed there were 11,766 Wiccans in this country and another 1,276 practising other forms of witchcraft. Those figures were among 56,620 pagans as a whole – many of which would consider Wicca to be influential in their heritage.

Now another book has been published, called Witchcraft Today - 60 Years On.It is a personal account of witchcraft by current practitioners of the Craft, published by Moon Books. It shows how vibrant and alive the practice has become, but also how it has diversified into many different paths. After Gardner, other influential leaders took Wicca in many different directions.

In the 1960s Alex Sanders aimed to make the Craft more accessible and developed what is known as Alexandrian Wicca; Raymond Buckland created Seax Wica, with an emphasis on honouring the Anglo-Saxon deities; Hungarian-American feminist witch Zsuzsanna Budapest created Dianic Wicca and many individuals took to practising eclectic Wicca using material from many sources and from their own inspiration.

Meanwhile, other forms of witchcraft also became popular. Some continue or aim to recreate the traditional spellcraft of witches and cunningfolk from history, some call themselves hedgewitches and use shamanic techniques. There are nature witches, kitchen witches and many who follow magical traditions from countries outside the UK or even Europe.

This new book includes personal accounts by witches of all kinds and also includes an introduction by Philip Heselton, a historian who is an expert on Gerald Gardner and his legacy. As editor Trevor Greenfield says: “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.”

Gardners original book was intended to show the world what witches do, and by that demonstrate that they “are decent people” and that “neither their present beliefs, rituals nor practices are harmful.” Witchcraft Today – 60 Years On at least party fulfils that same agenda, as there is still much misunderstanding about what witches believe and what they get up to. But it does more than that, it also lets modern witches better understand what those who follow other traditions believe and do, that we are all decent people with beliefs, rituals and practices that harm none.

It will hopefully cut down some of the rows on witchcraft forums about who is or is not following the one true path of witchcraft. Witchcraft Today clearly demonstrates that we are all following our own path, to the best of our ability, and that we have as much in common as we have differences. The book makes a fascinating read whether you want to find out what witchcraft is in the 21st century, or whether you have been a witch all your life and want to find out what other witches are getting up to.

The Kindle Edition of Witchcraft Today - 60 Years Onis downloadable from Amazon, while the paper versionis due out in June.

Links and previous related posts
Witchcraft Today - 60 Years On

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