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Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > If You Want to Be a Witch Search

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Book Review:
If You Want to Be a Witch: A Practical Introduction to the Craft

Author: Edain McCoy
Trade Paperback, 188 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn
Publication date: 2004
List: US$9.95, C$13.50
ISBN: 0738705144
Price & More Info: Click Here

If you are a fan of Edain McCoy, I am afraid we will have to agree to disagree. Works of her which I have read previously have not particularly impressed me.

If you feel that everything she writes is worthless, on the other hand, we will also have to agree to disagree. Her scholarship may be brought into question (and has been by others more qualified in the field), but anyone who has been involved in the Wiccan/Witch/Pagan community for 20+ years has experiences and personal insights to share which can benefit the larger community.

I don't always agree with her conclusions, but so long as she is clear that they are her conclusions, I must accept them as valid, just as I would expect her to accept my conclusions as being a valid expression of my own beliefs.

This book is, admittedly, a "Wicca 101" book, aimed at those who are not yet members of the religion. Therefore, it needs to be judged by that standard. In some ways, that is a harsher standard than would be applied to a book for a more experienced reader.

It is incumbent upon Ms. McCoy to be very clear about differentiating between fact and opinion, and this is not always the case. It is also necessary, in my opinion, to work extra hard to present the best possible image of the membership of the religion, and that shows in small ways. I have come to accept spelling errors in everyday situations, but a professional writer should know the difference between "their" and "there" or "rights" and "rites." Ms. McCoy fails in this. To her credit, she acknowledges some of her shortcomings. It is rare to see an "authority figure" admit that they were in error, but it is a sign of the growing maturity of the community as a whole.

If you are one of those who is tired of beginner books, you will want to give this book a pass. It is designed to help individuals decide if Wicca is for them. It succeeds in provoking thought. She offers ideas and options, not dogma. Since she makes it clear that this is eclectic Wicca being discussed, there is no right or wrong.

One thing I really appreciate is her giving pronunciation guides to words not likely to be encountered in the "outside" world. It is a nice acknowledgement of the fact that things aren't always pronounced as they are spelled.

Some of the authors she recommends will grate on people's nerves (e.g., Silver RavenWolf, Laurie Cabot), while others have been recommended by many others (e.g., Raymond Buckland, Scott Cunningham, Stewart and Janet Farrar). Of course, as she reminds the reader, there are many books to read and decisions to be made on a personal level.

Reviewed by Mike Gleason

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