The Rebirth Of Witchcraft is a fascinating history of Wicca as seen through the eyes of Doreen Valiente. Ms. Valiente presents a view of the early days of Wicca as only one who was there could give. The book is not a how-to, primer, or a beginner's guide to Wicca. Rather it is an examination of the personalities involved in creating Wicca as well as its historical and cultural context by someone who was actually there.
Beginning with the last British witch trial in 1944 Doreen Valiente introduces us to the people at the birth of Wicca. From Aleister Crowley and Gerald Gardner to the more obscure characters such Rosaleen Norton and Jack Bracelin. We are shown the progression of events that led to the creation of a now well known practice. Along with the movers and shakers of the movement the British Press is shown to have played its part by exposing and inadvertently helping to spread Wicca.
From the practices and philosophies Gerald Gardner established differences in opinion and personality bred the growth of new traditions. These early off-shoots of Gardner's original ideas are given thorough discussion with emphasis on the people leading the breakaways. By Valiente s personal accounts and descriptions this reader gained a good deal of insight into why and how the various Wiccan traditions came to be.
Feminist Witchcraft is described from the historical view point of the 1970s and 1980s with detailed introductions of its leaders. Feminist witchcraft was a natural product of the feminist movement as Doreen Valiente clearly shows. Without giving questionable ancient history Valiente makes a reasonable case for feminist witchcraft based on the personalities and realities of the time.
What I found most refreshing in The Rebirth Of Witchcraft was the honesty and directness with which Ms. Valiente deals with her subject. The descriptions of the characters showed the good, the bad and the simply human nature common to us all. The Rebirth Of Witchcraft may seem dated to some, however it presents a clear portrait of the times and lives involved in the evolution of modern Wicca.
Reviewed by David