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An undeniably useful tool for those who are hoping to start their own coven. Example Initiation rituals, first and second degree, and advice on how to expand, and how to attract the right people. There is even guidance on how to set the right rules for your coven, and what to do when your members aren't quite acting like witches.
Unfortunately, for the more experienced Wicca covenor or coven leader, there really is nothing here for you. It really is a "Get Started With" book, and is a bootstrap for those with no clue at all, and in that respect, I found it very useful.
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on 26 April 2017
Not enough spells and too much of things found in other books. This is meant to be a spell book so why is it more focused on too many other things? Confused!
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on 20 November 2003
Having read The Real Witch's Handbook, I bought this title to complete my collection of Kate West books. I enjoy her style of writing, and her spells and rituals are laid out in a clear and concise manner, listing all tools and ingredients you will require and how to prepare them.
There are spells for every kind of situation in this book, and instructions on how to create your own spells for other needs.
There are also rituals for each Sabbat and Esbat. However, these have been written with the Coven in mind, and not a solitary witch like myself. I was very disappointed that I would need a group to follow these rituals, as I have no intention of ever finding let alone joining a Coven. All in all, the rituals in The Real Witch's Handbook were preferable for a solitary!
I'd still recommend this book to any witch who wants to learn more about spells however, as the spells section is very useful. Shame about the rituals section!
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on 20 May 2006
Perhaps I just can't stand her style. But to me this book was devoid of any passion for the craft and failed to inspire at all. The way the author writes about ritals and rites at the beginning is irritating and made me want to put down the book before I had even started it. I have tried several times to read through this book and enjoy at least parts of it, but every time I have found it a task too difficult to accomplish. I think it's the way that her witchcraft practices seem so finite, like this is the way to cast a circle and it will be cast like this every single time. It's formal and dull. I was most dissapointed by the rituals side; all coven orientated, and all about rites of passage and initiations. I think that if a coven were to initiate a whatever degree witch, they'd make up their own, more personal spell, than take one directly from a book anyway. These coven spells took up half the book.

This book is no good for a solitary or a more spontaneous witch.
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on 25 July 2005
In regards to this book, the Farrar's 'The Witches Bible', includes a better understanding of the Coven. The Craft is a religion that uses rules as guidelines, rule one of Wicca Rituals and Covens is 'do what you feel is right'. In regards to this book, a reader interested in running/joining a coven would be well advised to consult the Farrar's or Doreen Valiente's book and forming their own opinions and rules for a coven, better still, find a coven and learn their rules.
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on 15 October 2007
If I were new to witchcraft and looking for a coven, this would certainly put me off. The High Preistess is apparently expected to act like a bossy school marm, and the coven members (call them what you will) must ask her permission to work magic, must show her their Book of Shadows, do their homework, learn their rituals, not talk about witchcraft outside of the group...... well, you get the idea.

If they misbehave, they will Be Punished -- anything from doing the washing up after a sabbat to receiving a dose of The Scourge (oddly enough, apparently, lots of them prefer that, but when you learn that the scourge consists of cords or ribbons, you begin to wonder if this isn't some kind of "in" joke.)

Kate West admits that she trained with Gardnerians and Alexandrians, so this probably explains some of the rituals -- and there are far too many detailed here.

If you're planning to run a coven, you should be a sensible adult, you'll know most of the advice given here already and, if you haven't got your own rituals worked out, what are you doing planning to teach/help others? You shouldn't need a book.

If you don't know what coven life is like, read the book (from the library, perhaps)and then contemplate the fact that it isn't necessarily like this at all.
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on 18 February 2003
At last a down to earth book on the real functioning of a Witches Coven. Kate West always tells it like it is and in such a straightforward manner. She imbues her writing with a lot of humour and you can just tell she loves her subject. This book is for anybody who has been in a Coven, wishes to join a Coven or is even just interested in knowing what goes on. In keeping with the rest of the 'Real Witch' series it is full of practical information and Rites for almost all occaisions. I can't reccommend this book enough.
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on 3 April 2003
I love the blurb on the front cover: "Kate West is the real thing. Her Witchcraft is about passion, not fashion."
Reading the book, you do get a good feeling about her passion. The material covered in her book is no nonsense and is rooted in traditional English Witchcraft. No fluff bunny material here, or new fangled junk. Her book is concise, with the details spelled out and she covers the material very well.
Everything is here to begin and maintain a good, solid working coven. The material covers background history, what witchcraft is, how to start a coven and keep it in a good order. She explores personal reasons for starting a coven, basic coven rules and how to develop them. There is discussion about traditional degrees, what they constitute and how they were meant to work. The task of finding membership is covered in a wonderfully put together overview of the different kinds of members you will find and how to deal with them. A Rite of Initiation is provided as an overview of how it is done in traditional covens and it can also be used as a blueprint for adapting it to your own situation. The Wheel of the Year is explored as well as the Full Moons or Esbats. Ritual is discussed in relationship to how a coven is based around these important events. Both indoor and outdoor rituals are covered and again, Ms. West is detailed in her coverage of these.
Ms. West covers the mundane workings of a Coven as well. She includes working together to establish basic rules that apply to your coven, the unavoidable paperwork and establishing training for the membership. She also explores the overall life cycle of a coven, covering such considerations as Daughter Covens, new and lost membership, "Boom and Bust" and how to be a good Covenor.
A lot of information is packed into this book. There is a glossary in the back of the book, and as well as a recommended reading and contacts section. Ms. West is delightful to read, provides a good solid background based on personal experience, and has organized the information well in this book, making it easy to follow.
Anyone who is considering forming a coven would do well to include this book in their list of materials they should cover and consider for their own personal information as well as for the benefit of their coven. And if you already have a coven this is another good reference book for your group. There are too few books that cover coven life as well as this one does and should be considered a must have for your reading list as well as your library shelf.
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on 30 October 2003
Ms. West, has obviously written this book to to add credence to her claims of being an expert in the world of the craft. For myself I am a lecturer in metaphysical practice and have been an active craft member of nearly forty years. Therefore, considering that Ms West claims a lineage of nearly thrity years, why is there nothing from her prior 1996? Her book adds nothing new to this field of inquiry. The book is clearly aimed at the younger end of the spectrum where the person is more susceptible and perhaps more easily convinced. The ideas and notions contained within the pages of this book have been previously explored and recognition of other authors should be more forthcoming regarding these sources.
In my opinion if someone wished to learn about the craft, then they should perhaps look more towards the Farrar's or Doreen Valiente as these books, which are now considered to be classics in the field of the craft provide a much clearer and more ethical approach to learning about this old tradition
It would be difficult to reccommend this book as the style and originality of the material contained within it is certainly not new and in my opinion is less than concise. It leaves a great deal open to speculation and misrepresentation.
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on 9 December 2016
Very good book, quite good fun to read. I really enjoyed it but didn't feel confident enough to try and cast any spells though.
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