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Title: Green Witchcraft: Folk Magic, Fairy Lore & Herb Craft
Author: Ann Moura
Format: Trade Paperback, 288 pages
Publication date: July 1996
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I had always heard very good things about Ann Moura's Green Witchcraft series of "101" books. As I am long past the need for general 101 books, however, I had never checked them out for myself. After reading and reviewing Moura's surprisingly awful Origins of Modern Witchcraft, I decided that I probably ought to take a good look at Green Witchcraft and see if it really lived up to the good things I had heard about it.
In some ways Green Witchcraft does live up to the recommendations of others. Moura presents a clear and useable description of her own personal Wicca-like religion. While the rituals seem very complex and ceremonial for the common people she claims practiced the "Green level of the craft," they are as solidly done as those of any other 101 book. While Moura wanders from subject to subject a bit, her tone is that of a teacher, not one's best friend or mother. I much prefer a teacher to a second mother.
Unfortunately, in spite of some good material, there is really nothing in Green Witchcraft that can't be found in other 101 books, done at least as well and occasionally better. This is good because this book, unfortunately, has a couple of major problems that most other Wicca 101 books I've read do not have.
In between the good advice and rituals in this book, the author inserts her own historical speculation stated as fact. It's a less well-developed version of the Dravidian-Aryan conflict speculative history she later presented in great detail in Origins of Modern Witchcraft. I have nothing against historical speculation -- even historical speculation as unlikely as I personally believe this to be. I do, however, strongly object to such speculation being presented in a manner that makes it sound like historical fact -- especially in a book written for beginners. It's bad enough that a few modern Wicca 101 books still present Wicca as if Margaret Murray's disproven theories of an ancient witch cult in western Europe were true. I don't believe we need to replace that with another theory that few, if any, professional historians take seriously.
Worse, at least in my opinion, is the author's active hostility toward other religions, especially Judeo-Christian religions. To be honest, there are places in Green Witchcraft where the author reminds me of a Fundamentalist preacher ranting against other religions. Here are two short examples selected from the many in this volume. Near the beginning of the book Moura claims that "the Pope has become the emperor of religion." Apparently this "fact" follows from her claim that Catholic vestments and altar design "all come from the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruled as a god and was duly worshipped as one." Even if the latter is true, I fail to see how that would have made the Pope the emperor of religion. I'm sure that would have been surprising news to religious people in places like Africa, China, India, or the Americas at the time. At the other end of the book, the author claims that "....Christianity and other Judaic-based faiths have been at the root of most of humanity's wars and misery for the past two thousand years." Given the size of the Earth and the relatively slow spread of Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions over the last 2000 years, that's an unbelievable claim. In my opinion, her prejudiced jabs at other religions are every bit as outrageous as those of a Fundamentalist Christian preacher who claims that all the ills of the world are caused by non-Christians. I don't think newcomers to Neo-Paganism need to be exposed to prejudice against other religions with their lessons, no matter how good those lessons otherwise are.
In summary, while Green Witchcraft has some good basic Wiccan and magickal information as well as some okay, if complex, rituals, the problems I see with historical accuracy and prejudice against other religions make it impossible for me to recommend this book at all. There are many Wicca 101 books on the market, there's no reason to chose this one given its problems.
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