Author: Doreen Valiente and Evan Jones
Trade Paperback, 200 pages
Publication date: August 1989
Price & More Info: Out-of-Print
Witchcraft: A Tradition Renewed really bugs the heck out of me. On the cover, it states "Doreen Valiente and Evan Jones" as the authors. I bought the damn thing on the strength of Doreen's name there. Then I get home and find out she wrote a 3 page foreword about how she thought Evan Jones was the next best thing after peanut butter, and that's the end of her involvement! Let me quote a few pieces here for your enjoyment.
In talking about doing a healing work with the coven involved:
From that moment [when the power flows out of the Circle] on, everyone in the circle knows that the rite has worked, that the Goddess has granted the plea. All that is then left is the feeling of being drained of energy, tired, empty and worn out. For weeks after this sort of working, there is the feeling that something has been taken away from the group. Most people feel closed down and out of contact.
--- page 44
Every time I read the above, I start giggling again. I mean like, "Hello? You get drained for weeks because you did a healing?" The only thing I wondered when I read the above was, "What did you do wrong to feel that badly afterwards?" Oh... and since when did we have to ask the Lady's permission to do a healing? But that's another story....
Then there's this little gem:
Before setting out the rituals for the Great Sabbats in detail, it seems necessary to explain the structure of the coven and how it works. The full coven membership should be fixed at thirteen people. Where possible, the congregation should consist of six men and six women. The thirteenth person should be female, and she will stand apart from the rest of the coven. She is known as "the Lady."
Under her direction will be four officers, known as North, South, East and West. North and South are always female. North should be the older of the two and the colour of her robe should be black. South, being the younger, should wear brightly coloured clothing in the circle. East and West are always male, and while East wears bright robes, West tends to wear darker clothing and his cloak is always hooded.
--- page 71
Evan even tells us that their initiation oath requires one to "...swear to renounce all other faiths and callings; to devote yourself to the ideals, aims and worship of the Mother, to hold true to the faith and these your chosen comrades..." (page 80). I couldn't faithfully join any group following this kind of nonsense. I would never renounce all other faiths and callings -- my Lady's callings rate much much higher than some coven's, I'll tell you. And I worship not the Mother, but the Crone. ::shrug::
On page 111, we learn that their wine blessings only "take" about twice in a lifetime, and they're thankful for that... while they do give an explanation of why they would be happy that their blessings are failures, I'm not entirely certain it really makes much sense to me. The entire book is rife with this kind of stuff. It's just plain silly, if you ask me.
I had read the book about 8 or 9 years ago, and I was Wiccan then. I decided last week that I really ought to re-read it, since my views have changed in the past couple of years. I find that re-reading books I haven't read since my Wiccan days offers me much food for thought. Well, I was wrong on this one... its scholarship is not simply shoddy, it's non-existent. It makes assumptions that not even Gardner would have made. There are gaping holes in the literature and liturgy. It's just plain dumb if you ask me.
Reviewed by Undine