Author: Elen Hawke
Paperback, 216 pages
Publication date: November 2002
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Elen Hawke, the author of one of the better recent introduction to Wicca books, In The Circle: Crafting the Witches' Path, has turned her attention to the Lunar Cycle of modern Wicca. While books covering the eight Wiccan festivals clutter the shelves, the monthly lunar cycle has been somewhat neglected. With Praise to the Moon, Hawke has attempted to remedy this lack with a book that blends facts, speculation, Wiccan theology, and the author's own experiences.
Hawke divides her discussion into sections of the new moon, the first quarter, the full moon, the last quarter and the "old moon." Each section discusses various deities associated with that phase of the moon, provides a meditation of some type, and discusses magick and ritual techniques appropriate to that phase of the moon. Some chapters go into more detail on one area than others. For example, the full moon chapter devotes more attention to magick than the new moon chapter does.
Following each of the main chapters is a chapter discussing an associated issue. Following the chapter on the new moon is a chapter on eclipses of the sun and the moon. "The Man in The Moon," following the chapter on the first quarter, dispels an "urban legend" popular with many Wiccans that no culture has a Moon God by discussing some of the world's male lunar deities. Information on initiation follows the full moon chapter. One of the most interesting chapters in the book follows the chapter on the last quarter. Hawke discusses the lunar zodiac houses of Vedic astrology.
The book finishes with short chapters on the moon in the various astrological signs and the Celtic tree calendar. Five short appendixes (on circle casting, color correspondences, magickal tools, moon gardening, and ogham), a glossary and a bibliography round out Praise to the Moon.
This is a very Wiccan book. This is both good and bad. It's good in that the book is very focused. It does not try to be everything to all Pagans. However, the mythology given for the deities I'm most familiar with was Wiccanized to the point where it was sometimes very misleading. So long as the reader remembers that mythology presented in this book is being related through a Wiccan filter and may not be what the ancient peoples who worshipped these deities are thought by modern scholars to have believed (even, in some cases, when the author implies otherwise), this is probably not a problem for the book's intended audience. Scholars and reconstructionist Pagans will probably be shaking their heads and sighing sadly, however.
Praise to the Moon is not quite the book I hoped it would be, but it is a good book for an intermediate level Wiccan or Neo-Wiccan reader. I suggest that Pagans of a Wiccan persuasion take a look at this book if they are interested in expanding their monthly esbats. Non-Wiccan Pagans will probably not find much of interest in this book, although the chapter on the Vedic lunar houses is interesting.
Reviewed by Randall