Trade Paperback, 256 pages
Publisher: New Page Books
Publication date: 2000
List: US$14.99, C$20.95
Price & More Info: Click Here
Wicca as a system of five degrees? Why not? It seems to be the growing
trend nowadays. The degree system, even less then any other aspect of Wicca
is not set in stone. I have worked in systems using one, three and five
degrees each, myself.
If one correlates the degrees to the elements within a five degree system,
my only disagreement with the concept of this particular layout is with the
starting point. I feel, personally, that the first degree should be Earth -
for the grounding and stability it brings, not Air. Still, if the system
works, and only time will tell about that, what I feel isn't important.
One thing I have a real problem with, regardless who the author or publisher
of a book might be, is sloppy reporting of facts. The section of this work
entitled "Wiccan History" (pages 71-76) gave me such a problem. On page 71
the author refers to some claims as "...dating back before pre-Christian
times." So, what, exactly, was before "pre-Christian times"? -- except for
everything prior to the incarnation of Jesus? It doesn't get any better.
Page 73 identifies 1692 as "The Burning Times". Funny, I remember the
Burning Times as being during the Medieval period of history (well before
the 17th century); 1184 as "Founding of the Hermetic Society" - did he mean
the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn? On page 74 he says in regard to
1947 - "It is commonly believed that Gardner and Dafo start the New Forest
Coven, England." The coven was well-established before Gardner joined.
Page 75 has, for 1971, "What Witches Do by Stewart Farrar - Comprehensive
discussion and rituals of Gardnerian tradition." Sorry, the topic of the
book was the Alexandrian tradition. None of these, it is true, and major
problems, but with so many slips in only 6 pages, it makes me wonder how
accurate other information in this book actually is. When attempting to lay
a foundation, particular attention must be paid to the details.
I understand the concepts of self-empowerment, and of self-initiation.
However, telling the student to write a First Degree Initiation without, at
least, a brief listing of items of importance in such a ritual is just a bit
wide of the mark, in my opinion. Of course, I come to this topic as a
lineaged initiate, so I do have a bias to overcome. I would have suggested
that it should revolve around the concepts of death and rebirth, if nothing
else. The format is not as important as the theme, in my experience.
I really appreciate the fact that he stresses, throughout the book, the need
for experience as well as, if not more than, intellectual knowledge. That,
plus the fact that he reminds the student that self-written rituals are far
more powerful than any you might find in a book, goes a long way towards
making this a worthwhile resource.
I'm not sure why he chose red light as a symbol for using your aura as a
shield, but it makes sense. If someone is directing energy at you, and they
sense a red color, it may trigger a normal "red equals danger" though, and
cause them the back away. It isn't the way I was trained, but it makes
sense, and I will be experimenting with it.
In the chapter on Third Degree, the author makes a suggestion which many
practitioners would do well to adopt. He refers to the creation of magickal
books, such as one devoted to ritual use, one listing the books you have
read (with a commentary on what you found useful, etc.), a divination
notebook, one devoted to symbols, etc. Quite often people find themselves
searching for one particular bit of information that seems to stay just out
of reach of their memory. By sorting this information into separate books,
it can narrow down the search area and time. Plus, as one's experiences and
researches grow, trying to keep it all in a single book becomes quite
cumbersome. Further, if you decide (at some point) to teach you can use the
appropriate books as an aid without overwhelming a student.
As a plan of study and growth, this book offers a good deal to think about
and incorporate into a personal development plan. I have a few reservations
about some of the sequencing, but there is no reason it wouldn't work as
planned. So long as one is capable of being honest with themselves when it
comes to evaluating their needs and progress, it will aid development.
Whether you plan to continue as a solitary, or found your own group, the
training outlined in this book is worthwhile.
Reviewed by Mike Gleason