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Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > Witching Culture Search

Book Review:
Witching Culture: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America

Author: Sabina Magliocco
Hardcover, 280 pages
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
Publication date: 2004
ISBN: 0812218795
Price & More Info: Click Here


"Must Have, Double Bag!" is old school comic fandom's term for things that a fan cannot live without -- and have any fanboy or fangirl cred in the eyes of her or his fan peers.  

And a perfect, to-the-point description of this book.  

Witching Culture: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America is written by a Gardnerian and Reclaiming practitioner who also happens to be a skillful folklorist and anthropologist, Magliocco is presently an associate professor at California State University, Northridge.  

Witching Culture is thoughtful, insightful, fruitful, grounded, and, maybe, provocative.  

Witching Culture is well-crafted and a joy to read.  

Witching Culture is one of the best ethnographies that I've read in a long time.Magliocco manages to accentuate the participation in her participant-observations, but sustain a vibrant and keen postmodern theoretical analysis at the same time. She takes the reader there to a living experience of an alternative culture.  

She addresses a broad range of topics shaping and challenging Neo-Paganism,especially Craft in the San Francisco Bay Area, from how magic is envisioned as a working relationship with world and deities to ritual art and artistry to Neo-Pagan shopping habits to identity construction and cultural borrowing, and more. Like the Neo-Pagan bricoleurs she discusses, she takes advantage of theories and insights borrowed from a number of disciplines and discourses, putting the mix to good, understanding use.  

Magliocco considers Neo-Pagan culture to be oppositional to dominant culture, postmodern in its world view at a time when the dominant modern culture offers little beyond materiality, consumerism, alienation, oppression, and spiritual--if not economic--impoverishment. She traces some roots of this oppositionality to sources in the Romantic and European nationalist movements. And provides a good account of Neo- Paganism's cultural creativity in shaping magical ritual, even political action, from these sources, among others.  

Her approach to the creative and enculturating role that song plays in today's Neo-Paganism alone makes the book worthwhile.  

Witching Culture is a "Must Have, Double Bag!" book that all of us should be proud to add to our libraries.  

Note: I am Sabina's friend, and the "Pitch" in the book. All I can assure you is -- as an old-school comic guy--if the book sucked, I'd say so. Far from it -- Witching Culture shines bright!

Reviewed by Pitch

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