Witchcraft Today – 60 Years On is a really fascinating book written by witches of various different traditions. I am a Wiccan and I am familiar with the original book called Witchcraft Today – it was written by Gerald Gardner, the founder of Wicca, back in 1954 when witchcraft had only just been made legal in the UK. This book shows how witchcraft has developed since then, but it isn’t just a history book – it is full of personal accounts by witches. I was fascinated to read about what witches get up to. While I already knew what Gardnerian Wiccans get up to, I was very interested to learn more about Alexandrian Wiccans as well as hedgewitches, traditional witches, solitary witches and even people practising Ancient Egyptian magic. The book was developed as a community project, so includes well-known writers such as Philip Heselton and David Salisbury as well as chapters by grass-roots witches and pagans who have a lot of knowledge about their subject. It is in two sections – the first explains the background to different paths of witchcraft, while the second has short passages by individuals about their own personal experiences. I think when people want to find out about witchcraft – or find out about different types of witchcraft – this book would be really useful because it clearly explains what those on different paths believe and do as well as the history. I found it all very interesting. I learnt a lot and, after finishing Witchcraft Today – 60 Years On, it also made me want to read some of the other books that have influenced witchcraft in the past six decades.
I loved reading this book. I have a habit of nipping backwards and forwards in a book like this, picking those juicy bits I'd like to devour first. I wasn't disappointment with this. I could put it down and come back to it easily. It covers many Wiccan paths, and shows just how far we've come in 60 years. That we are open and honest in our accounts of our lives now as Pagans. The different accounts and writing styles were a joy. It also introduced me to different authors, whose other books I am now looking forward to reading. I found it interesting to see how our paths as Witches crossed, drew close, but then could pull away from one another, each one individual to to walker of that path. Our stories are similar in part but so very different also. It makes for interesting reading whether you're Pagan or not. I think it will dispel some myths and give a taste 21st Century witchcraft.
This is an amazing book – now to be clear this is not a how-to book on witchcraft or by any means a book of spells or rituals. In some ways this book is more important than just another magick book as this is a book of history and progress.
60 years ago a man brought the craft out of the shadows and this book show how much it has progressed since then – the ways it has travelled, the countries it is practised in and people it has won over. It shows how many different sects and paths there are now that can be travelled by anyone who is a witch.
I think what I love most about this book is that it shows different traditions that have all been allowed to be born through just one man’s vision 60 years ago – to not let the craft die out and not let its knowledge fade away in the sands of time. Whether you like Gerald Gardener or not you cannot deny the impact he has had on modern witchcraft – no matter how, where or what you practise! Thanks to him we now have bookshelves full of knowledge and books!
So this book…it’s a books of history – past and present, a book of knowledge and a book that is written by witches of these specific traditions to give us an insight as to what their paths are and what they do – it is a taster but it is a good one! It also shows how far the craft has come in a time period of sixty years – and it makes me wonder where it will be in another sixty! Exciting times and a good read for any witch of any path! There is also a short chapter on where Witchcraft is heading – where it could be heading and what it could look like for communities in the next 20+ years – all very interesting stuff!
The specific traditions that are touched upon in the book are: Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Seax, Eclectic Wicca, Dianic, Traditional British Witchcraft, Hedge Witchcraft, Solitary Witchcraft, Nature Witches, Hekatean Witchcraft, Egyptian craft, the craft from the male perspective and Witchcraft tomorrow!
The individual authors all give us a taste of their own paths, in their own words, and allows us a glimpse of how they work on their paths and what brought them to the path they are now on within Witchcraft. The personal stories in this book allows us to see how this beautiful spirituality has touched so many people’s lives and gives a glimpse as to how influential Witchcraft is these days thanks to the man who brought it out of the shadows – whether you identify as Wiccan, Pagan, Witch, Druid, Priest/Priestess etc you will enjoy reading the history and contemplating how this spirituality will continue to grow.
What a fantastic book.... This book celebrates the 60 years since the publication of Gerald Gardner's Witchcraft Today in 1954.The book is in two parts. The first part forms Themes and Values, begins with Philip Heselton telling us how Gardner came to write Witchcraft Today. Then it goes on to look at ten specific forms of modern witchcraft that diverge from Gardner's own, starting with Alex Sanders and then going on to look at more radical departures such as Seax Wica and also the feminist Dianic tradition. Some of the other paths described are less formal and ceremonial than the original models. Some are group based and others solitary
The second part Is a Journey on a long winding bumby Path, it presents some personal journeys. It is very good at describing the ways in which people sense spiritual needs in early life and make the connections, A great book to read all the way through or pick out parts that may interest you more.I have learnt so much more from this book It has made me want to read more from others who have influenced witchcraft, well worth a read, even if your not pagan or spiritual.
Highly recommended to anyone interested in the modern heritage of witchcraft, paganism and new (or new old) spiritual movements more generally. This book celebrates the 60 years since the publication of Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft Today in 1954, affirming the confidence, dynamism and increasing openness of this growing tradition from a diverse range of insider perspectives.
The book is divided into two parts. The first, ‘Forms, Themes and Values’, begins with an account by Philip Heselton of how Gardner came to write Witchcraft Today. It goes on to look at ten specific forms of modern witchcraft that diverge from Gardner’s own, starting with Alex Sanders and going on to look at more radical departures like Seax Wica and the feminist Dianic tradition. Some of the other paths described are less formal and ceremonial than the original models. Some are group based and others solitary.
Some can be distinguished from witchcraft altogether (the Egyptian Magical Tradition and Hekatean practice based on the approach of the Chaldean Oracles, to name two). The same issue arises at the end of the book, where a contributor talks about a journey through an Ovate Grade training in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD). In each case, it matters to the practitioner that they are practising these traditions as a form of witchcraft. Their inclusion in the book affirms the value of self-identification in spirituality and adds to an overall feel of inclusiveness. Any question would be about the potential weakening of the term witchcraft itself, in a context of such porous boundaries.
Part 1 also includes a chapter on the male experience of witchcraft and ends with one on ‘Witchcraft Tomorrow’ by David Salisbury, which demonstrates optimism about future possibilities and explores the issues of community building and leadership. Common themes in Part 1 include tensions between ‘preservation’ and ‘invention’ in lineage development, and ways of reconciling them. Common values include an avoidance of evangelism and a commitment to the ultimate autonomy of the practitioner.
Part 2, ‘Journey on a Crooked Path’, presents ten personal journeys. It is particularly good at describing the ways in which people sense unmet spiritual needs in early life and make the connections (through reading, significant life events or personal encounters) that lead them on to their chosen paths. Throughout the book, there’s the sense of person and path choosing each other. They know when it’s right - and often have to go to some trouble to find their home. The finding is reflected in the enthusiasm and commitment of the many people who have contributed to this valuable book.
Moon Books have been doing a great service to the Pagan community by providing a platform for diverse writers to express their perspectives side by side. This latest focuses on Wiccan paths, with contributions from more than 20 writers. Each presents with sincerity and depth, and enthusiasm for what they are doing. Collectively this tells us a great deal about the current state of Wiccan spirituality. Many of us are drawn to distinct 'paths' rather than wandering randomly through the vastness of Pagan spirituality, so possibly it should be compulsory reading to broaden our minds! I do wonder though whether a naive reader might perhaps be a little confused in that each widely differing contribution stands alone. So actually, although all are certainly Pagan, there is nothing to explain why all are 'witches', what the commonality actually is between them, or indeed why the w-word is so attractive within the Pagan community when otherwise it has never, throughout history, been used 'positively'.
What I did find a bit strange in the book was the absence of reference to Gardner's original WT of 1954. There is an introduction by Philip Heselton, Gardner's biographer, which discusses 'The Making of Witchcraft Today'. He acknowledges the very obvious point that 'probably less than 10%' of WT actually discusses the 'witch-cult' (as Gardner calls it), the rest being Gardner's opinions on this or that. Heselton suggests, a little bizarrely I feel, that Gardner had 'forgotten' the original coven material whilst simultaneously was in regular discussions as to what he could or could not include...
But apart from that, none of the contributors to WT60 gives any mention to the original WT. Some have never read it - no one says how they were inspired by it, nor recommends it now. So 'reading between the lines', it must be that the contributors actually see Gardner's WT as only nominally connected to their own very contrasting spiritualities, certainly not as their foundation. This makes it difficult to understand how the term 'The Craft', thrown in variously by some contributors, might refer to anything other than statistics.
I would like briefly to take 'factual issue' with a throwaway line in the 'Alexandrian' piece, where it is said (quoted from Michael Howard's “Modern Wicca”) that in the 1970's witchcraft changed from “a magically based religion into a nature-based neo-Pagan one...”. Well, it certainly hadn't done so by 1980 when I founded Pagans Against Nukes, the first eco-Pagan group in the UK (the magazine 'Wood and Water' also dates from that time) and I think the tension between these themes ('magic' versus 'nature' etc) continues. What was really happening (which needs its own book, not a review) was that 'Paganism' became no longer just a euphemism for 'Wicca'. Gardner rarely used the word 'Pagan' and certainly never capitalised it (nor is it in Rachel Patterson's introduction to this volume). Nowadays, our spiritual renewal genuinely deserves this capital.
Following on from the Book Witchcraft Today by Gerald Gardner this new book takes the reader on a journey through the wiccan tradition and its evolution and development. A well thought out book that looks at some of the modern 'varieties' of wicca. Delving into forms, themes and practices this book takes accounts from several authors and combines them into a delightful collection of practices, beliefs and opinions. Experience witchcraft in its current form as viewed from the various pathways of the writers. Covering an insight into the evolution of Alexandrian witchcraft, the Seax tradition, Eclectic Wicca, The Dianic tradition, the Old craft, Hedge witchery, Solitary witches, Nature witches, Hekatean witchcraft, Male witchcraft and the Egyptian magical tradition. This book looks at the past, the present and the future of witchcraft. It explores and celebrates how varied and diverse the pagan beliefs have become and how the traditions, themes and values can intertwine just as easily as they can diverge from each other. Modern pagans have a new found spiritual freedom in society and as more people chose to follow the winding pathway to 'find themselves' this book can serve as a wonderful insight and perhaps even a guidance as to where to research further / and new authors to try. A fabulous idea for a book to bring a classic craft book up to date in line with modern day society. A must for any pagan bookshelf. Simply Wonderful. I am sure that Gerald Gardner would delight in reading this book and seeing how wicca has transformed and grown through the last 60 years. Read for yourself. You will not be disappointed. Grab a copy, a cup of your favourite brew, get comfy and sneak a peek at the winding roads that this book lays before you. Have a beautiful journey with some wonderful wordsmiths. Blessed Be. Milly Molly )0(
60 years ago, Gerald Gardner's visionary ideas were first printed for the world to see. He could not have predicted how Wicca would have changed the lives of so many and created generations of free thinking individuals. His book was a stepping stone not only for Wicca and modern witchcraft, but also other spiritual paths under the Pagan umbrella. Witchcraft Today 60 Years On, is a literal peep at the diversity and uniqueness inspired by Gardner's work, it is a true homage to probably the most important figure in modern Paganism. The book has many authors, all of whom follow a loosely connected path to witchcraft, and what a delight it is to read! Its the sort of book you can dip in and out of, or read cover to cover. All the stories are heartfelt and involving, and I am sure if Gardner was alive today, he would feel immensely proud to have been the spark that created devotion in each of these lives.
An amazing look at the development of paganism since Gerald Gardner book Witchcraft Today. This is in small essays giving us a glimpse into all the branches that have grown out of this original tree. it is an enjoyable read for me a pagan, but also I believe it would be it be essential reading to those that have friends, family or lovers who follow this path to give them a deeper understanding of the path that they follow.