Author: Kerr Cuhulain
Trade Paperback, 312 pages
Publication date: September 2002
Price & More Info: Click Here
Kerr Cuhulain, a Canadian police officer and author of Wiccan Warrior, has turned his hand to a Wiccan 101 book, Full Contact Magick: A Book of Shadows for the Wiccan Warrior. Unless you are a newcomer, you are probably as tempted as I am to simply sigh, mutter something about yet another Wicca 101 book under your breath and pass on to the next book on the store shelf -- which, sadly, is likely to be another 101 book. Passing over it might be a mistake because this is one of the better Wicca 101 books published recently.
Despite the "warrior" stress of the title and back cover, this book is not about magickal combat and tossing hexes at your enemies. It's a fairly typical Wicca 101 book. It cover all the material you would expect a Wicca 101 book to cover: the Wiccan Rede and Wiccan ethics, deities, working with energy, the Sabbats and esbats, the elements, working tools, ritual, magick, etc. It's all there and covered in a straight forward and friendly manner.
What sets this book apart is its organization, lack of much of the fluffiness and outright major errors that plague so many 101 books, and the examples the author gives to help explain things. Full Contact Magick is organized into five sub-books, one for each of the elements. Most of the basics are covered in the first sub-book, the "Book of Spirit." This leaves the rest of the book free for more advanced material. This also makes it much easier for a true beginner than scattering the basics through a book intermixed with more advanced material -- as too many 101 books seem to do. Cuhulain talks about the Rede as a guideline (not a law), does not tell readers that Pagans in general have the same beliefs and practices as Wiccans, he refers people to Hutton's The Triumph of the Moon for the history of Wicca instead of teaching an imaginary history that traces Wicca back to the Old Stone Age, etc. His examples of how Wiccan beliefs and ethics interact with the world and society are often drawn from police work which gives them a practical, real world emphasis that the examples in many Wicca 101 books lack.
As one might expect, this book has a few issues as well. First and foremost, while Full Contact Magick is more accurate than most 101 books, it is still more about Neo-Wicca than more traditional Wicca. This isn't necessarily a failing, but it certainly affects who one should recommend the book to. Secondly, the title is misleading. Many people are probably going to pick up this book expecting "combat Wicca" when the warrior this book deals with is the "peaceful warrior." Third, for a book with "a book of shadows" in its subtitle, it lacks the detailed ritual scripts that many probably expect to find in such a book.
For a Wicca 101 book, Kerr Cuhulain's Full Contact Magick is quite good. The book's good points far outweigh its bad points. If you are a beginner or just someone interested in learning about modern Wicca, you could do much worse than starting with this book. If you are looking for more traditional Wicca, instead of Neo-Wicca, then this book is considerably less useful. If you have already read a few books on Wicca, this is just another 101 book that you can pass over. Before you move on to the next shelf of books, however, you might want to look at Full Contact Magick to see if it is a book you can recommend to beginners. It is certainly one of the more worthy of recommendation 101 books published recently.
Reviewed by Randall
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