Author: Patricia Monaghan
Trade Paperback, 215 pages
Publication date: April 2001
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Reading the back cover of Patricia Monaghan's Wild Girls gave me the impression that this was a book on a Wiccan tradition that only dealt with maiden Goddesses. This impression was completely wrong, but I did not fully realize this until I read the last chapter of the book. Until then I thought I was reading an extremely fluffy book on Wicca.
Wild Girls: The Path of the Young Goddess is not about a Wiccan tradition, instead it is really a Goddess-oriented program for a small group of young teen women to explore their beliefs and experiences as women. It is apparently intended as sort of a year long coming-of-age program for female Pagan teens. Once I finally realized what this book actually was, my opinion of it changed from "a waste of valuable trees" to "a very interesting idea."
Except for the last chapter, each chapter of this book uses a Goddess myth from somewhere in the world to introduce the chapter's theme. Most of the Goddesses used are minor and from pantheons I'm not very familiar with, so I cannot comment on the accuracy of the myths. Since these stories are being used as tools for teaching life lessons instead of as a basis for worshipping the deities in question, accuracy is obviously of less importance. Each chapter then covers an aspect of Wicca or the occult, and a series of questions and activities to help young women explore their beliefs, feelings, and place in the world.
The final chapter explains, far too briefly, how this material could be used by a group of young women. This program could easily be adapted for a young woman's group in a larger Pagan organization.
This book is somewhat hard to judge. It is an excellent idea, but it has a number of problems. First among these, a chapter seems to be missing. The program is obviously intended to last a year, with a chapter being used each month. The introduction even talks about there being a chapter for each of the twelve months and a thirteenth chapter explaining how to create a Wild Girls circle. Unfortunately, there are only 12 chapters in the book. I'm not really sure what happened here, but there are only 11 chapters of myth and monthly activities given for a program that is supposed to last a year. Another problem is that some of the material given in the chapters is very sketchy and there are few -- if any -- pointers in each chapter to other books and materials that might fill in the holes or provide more info on the chapter's topics for those who might want to go further. Finally, there really isn't much guidance on how to use the material in the final chapter.
Because of these problems, especially the apparently missing chapter problem, I can't really recommend Wild Girls to the average Pagan. However, if one is looking for a coming-of-age program for young women in a Goddess-oriented Pagan group, this book might be an excellent starting point to base a program on. Your group would probably still need to do some work expanding on the material and on organization, but it would be a base to work from.
Reviewed by Randall
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