Author: Dorothy Morrison
Trade Paperback, 213 pages
Publication date: June 2001
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Dorothy Morrison is one of Llewellyn's best authors on Wicca and Wiccan magick. The Craft: A Witch's Book of Shadows is another well-written Morrison book. From its title and cover, it's obviously a Wicca 101 book designed to attract those whose interest in the subject may have come from television and film.
The foreword by Raymond Buckland annoys me as it seems to perpetuate the myths that Wicca and Witchcraft are the same thing and that the witch cult theories of Margaret Murray have been confirmed. While I respect Buckland as a Wiccan elder, this book would have been better off without his introduction.
Unlike many Wicca 101 books, The Craft is light on theory and heavy on practice. The only chapter that is more theory than application is the first chapter, "Walking the Path" which covers the basic beliefs of Wicca. From there, the reader moves quickly on to learning about the Wiccan deities and the elements in the second chapter and about things like timing, candles, colors, herbs, and stones that can boost the effectiveness of magick in the third chapter. These two chapters introduce the main feature that sets this Wicca 101 book apart from the many others on the shelves, a large number of short, practical exercises to help the reader grasp and learn to actually use the material presented. These chapters (like the entire book) are filled with Morrison's poetry, ready to be used in magick or ritual.
The second part of this book talks about the tools of Wicca. The wand, the cup, the athame, and the pentacle each get a chapter of their own. Each chapter explains the purpose of the tool, how to obtain or make it, how to consecrate it, and provides several weeks' worth of excerises that show the reader how to actually work with the tool. The Cauldron, the besom, the black mirror, and the white-handled knife are covered briefly in a single chapter. The final chapter in this part of the book discusses what the author calls the ultimate magical tool, the human mind. After a couple of pages on meditation, this chapter gives 22 weeks worth of progressive exercises for the mind designed to improve its ability to work with magick and ritual.
The third section of The Craft is a single chapter on casting a circle. The author provides a complete poetic ritual for opening and closing a circle, and leads the reader through it step by step.
The final portion of this book covers celebrating the esbats and the sabbats of the Wiccan year. In the esbat chapter, Morrison provides celebration ideas (but not complete rituals) for each of the thirteen full moons in the year. The chapter on sabbats does the same for each of the eight festivals of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. While this book presents many ideas and ritual pieces for esbat and sabbat celebrations, it does not present complete rituals.
A number of appendixes (dream symbols, magickal uses of plants and stones, deity associations, a version of the Wiccan "Book of Law", and a listing of places to obtain supplies) and a suggested reading list round out this book.
The Craft is "yet another Wicca 101 book." There are a large number of such books available in bookstores today. Morrison's entry in the field is strong in the practical "how to" material but weak in the area of theory and background. In my opinion, that weakness really hurts this otherwise good book. There are far too many Wiccans in the world today who only have a very superficial knowledge of beliefs and background of the religion they profess to follow. Unfortunately, this book is likely to increase those numbers. If there is ever a second edition, I hope the author will add 20 or 30 pages of Wiccan theory and background. Done well, that would turn this average Wicca 101 book into an excellent Wicca 101 book.
Reviewed by Randall
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