Author: Carl McColman
Trade Paperback, 221 pages
Publisher: New Page Books
Publication date: December 2002
Price & More Info: Click Here
Most introductory books on the Wiccan religion are written for the reader who is interested in becoming a Wiccan and learning the basic beliefs and practices of one or more of the various branches of the religion. Few books have been written about Wicca for those who simply wish to learn about the basic beliefs and ideas behind the religion, but have no interest to converting to Wicca. In fact, the only book of this nature often seen is Scott Cunningham's thin paperback, The Truth About Witchcraft Today, published in the 1980s. Carl McColman's new book, When Someone You Love Is Wiccan: A Guide to Witchcraft and Paganism for Concerned Friends, Nervous Parents, and Curious Co-Workers, will help fill this void in books about religion for non-Wiccans.
When Someone You Love Is Wiccan assumes that its readers will have many questions about Wicca and its beliefs and sets out to answer them in a straightforward question and answer manner. Except for a short introduction and conclusion, this book is a series of 81 questions and answers about Wicca. These questions are divided into nine sections.
The first section, "When Someone You Love Is Wiccan," covers the very basics: What is it? Is it evil, safe, serious? The second section, "Understanding Wicca," covers the differences between Wicca, witchcraft, and Paganism and covers things like pentacles, magic names, and the Burning Times. The third section, "Going Beyond the Stereotypes," covers many of the stereotypes society has about Wiccans (animal sacrifice, wearing black, using drugs, having orgies, etc.). In the fourth section, "What Do Witches Believe?," the author answers questions about the basic religious beliefs of Wiccans: the God and the Goddess, morality, afterlife, etc. Questions about religious practices and activities are the fifth part, "What Do Witches Do?" The sixth section, "Magic and the Occult," explains Wiccan beliefs about magick and why all Witches haven't won the lottery. The relationship between Wicca and other religions is discussed in questions in the seventh section, "Witchcraft, Christianity, and Other Religions." The eighth part is entitled "The Role of Paganism in Society" and deals with questions about the legitimacy, rights, and general social and political views of Wiccans. The final section, "Practical Considerations," covers questions about how to deal with Wiccans one might know.
McColman has a friendly but informative writing style, which is important in a book like this. The answers he provides are simple and easy to understand. Many of the answers would be considered overly-simplistic and even incomplete in a book for converts. In a book aimed at the general non-Wiccan public, however, they seem to explain enough without overwhelming the reader with more details than he probably wants. While the author does not answer some of the questions exactly like I personally think they would have been best answered, my only real problem with this book is that the author treats the words "Wicca," "Witchcraft," and "Paganism" as almost interchangeable throughout the book. To his credit, the author does explain in his answer to the very first question that they are not exactly the same thing even though he is using them interchangeably in his book and goes into somewhat more detail on the differences in the eleventh question. However, given that many among the general public and recent converts to Wicca think that the terms "Wiccan" and "Pagan" refer to the same set of beliefs and practices, I think the author's decision to use the terms interchangeably does a disservice to the greater Pagan community.
In spite of the above minor problems and quibbles, When Someone You Love Is Wiccan is a wonderful book for the non-Pagan interested in discovering what Wicca is all about. McColman has successfully tackled the hard task of explaining Wicca to the non-Pagan public. I suspect many Pagans will start referring non-Pagans curious about Wicca to this book instead of Cunningham's The Truth About Witchcraft Today. It is really that good. Unfortunately, the McColman book is much more expensive than Cunningham's. Cost will probably prevent most Pagans from buying four or five copies at a time to give away -- as many have done with the Cunningham book. However, I do encourage people who can afford it to buy two copies and donate their second copy to a local library.
Reviewed by Randall