on 27 May 2004
Although some of what was written by Gardner has been discredited, this is still a worthwhile book to have in your collection. It is interesting to see how Gardners ideas have shaped modern Wiccan thinking and practice and how it has changed from his time. His style of writting is easy to understand and quite conversational in some places, so it's not a heavy read.
I felt that this book was a good one to have from a historical Wiccan point of view as it is at least one definite point which can be identified as where modern practises began. A better book for a correct and well researched history of Witchcraft, Wicca and Paganism in general would be Proff. Ronald Huttons "Triumph of the Moon"
on 5 March 2002
Gerald Gardner is the founder of what he believed to be an old tradition. At least that is what he wanted what the people believed. And he succeeded. He made his religion out of the available sources. Like the Key of Solomon, J.S.Thompson, Margaret Murray, Charles Leland, ect.
He introduces words like 'athame', 'boleen', 'book of shadows' and even the word 'wicca' itself. These words didn't exist before Gardner, and he knew it. Even Doreen Valiente has doughts about his past. When he wrote the 'curse of the goddess'; she writes in her The Rebirth of Witchcraft.
This book is originally published in 1954. In Engeland the Witchcraft Act (a law that made witchhunt legal) was replaced in 1951 by an other law of fraudulence. In this book he claims that the pagan religion never died during the inquisition. He writes that witches don't do harm, they are good. He speaks about the Irish, Egyptian witches and the fairy beliefs.
The introduction is by Dr. Margaret Alice Murray. She wrote A Witch-cult in Western Europe and The God of the Witches, in which she briefly gives facts and concludes that there was a mother goddess - dianic cult.
I give this book 5 stars because it is a book that you must have read or own. It is something to have, read, and be critical about it. This reprint hasn't the originally cover (a picture of gardner himself), which I find a pitty.
But inside this book there is a unique collection of photograhps of Gardner, his witchmuseum and altarpieces. It takes a while, but you can purchase it. Also includes a bibliography. But as you can guess; they don't mention what Gardner writes.
Wicca or modern witchcraft is a religion. It has an hierarchy of grades and Highpriest. Rules and regulation are very changable from group to group (coven). A group may not be larger than 13 persons, has to include men and women. (Gardner was an old fashioned guy)
There is no dogma or holy book and people work in autonomic groups. Since Alex Sanders and the Wicca Traditions in America, these rules are mostly broken. But not the HPS and HP and hierarchy. They work natural or ceremonial magic. Practicing magic on esbats and celebrating on sabbats. Nowadays most of the wiccas are solitary
Traditional Witches have large groups (clan), or work individual and only use natural magic. They have no hierarchy (grades) and leader figures. Also don't have a holy book or god/goddess. Traditionals gather with full moon and with seasonal celebrations.