Pagan Book Reviews
The books listed on the following pages I have read from beginning to end. I want to share my thoughts so that they can be of use to anyone trying to find a specific book. I write my reviews keeping a Wiccan perspective in mind. Therefore, there may be other perspectives that would agree or disagree with my reviews. Do not entirely discount a book if my review is negative. Likewise, don't necessarily trust that a book is the greatest just because I believe it is. If you are not walking a Wiccan or related path - even just studying one - these reviews may be misleading for you. These reviews are written to provide information to the Wiccan community specifically.
The book reviews are separated into four categories. The Wicca section are books specifically about Wicca or for a Wiccan audience. Witchcraft and Pagan is more generalized, as is the Metaphysical section, which features books that are not Pagan-specific. The Children and Parenting section includes books specifically Pagan and/or spiritual.
Book Reviews Sections:
Mother Wit: A Feminist Guide to Psychic Development
So far, I am loving this book. There are so much more quality books on the subject than when I first started studying Wicca and Witchcraft 20 years ago and an even larger explosion of new in the past couple years alone. I can hardly keep up with what's come out let alone what I have time to actually read these days. It's refreshing to take the time to read something from even earlier on than those I started with, but still later than some of the earliest books that can be "dry" reads at best. (It may also help that the feminist "era" of this book--late 70's early 80s--is aligned with my "flavor" of feminism, if you will.) The guided meditation exercises are some of the most beautiful I've come across, and I'm actively making recordings for myself as I go through the book.
Broth from the Cauldron: A Wisdom Journey through Everyday Magic
(I'm reading this one in little bits at a time as the copy I have is in electronic format and I spend most of my hours of most days sitting in front of screens already.) This is an autobiography of Cerridwen's journey, but she doesn't tell it linearly. Instead, each section is from random points of her life with each uncovering an undeniable life truth; her lessons learned. As anyone who has lived for more than a few years and whose memory functions are all still intact knows, our life lessons generally function through 20/20 hindsight. Through this method of sharing her life stories out of order, it's like Cerridwen has found a way to teach us these lessons in the order we wish we could learn them.
Want Evy to Review a Book?
If you have written a Pagan- and/or Metaphysical-related book and would like me to include a review of it here on the site, please send me an email with the book title and a brief description. Books sent free-of-charge will be given priority over other books currently in my possession that I have yet to read. Priority may also be given if your book is one of the many I currently own. Given that most of my regular day-to-day involves screens, I tend to favor hard copy books in an effort to preserve eye health. However, all requests will be considered equally.
Please keep in mind, I am a both a full-time civil servant and single mother. These two hats alone take up just about all of my time and energy these days. Additionally, I make a commitment to maintaining this website (non-monetized) as well as working on establishing a new business intended to launch late 2020. As a result, my turn around time is likely going to be much, much slower than others who do book reviews as part of their paid/for-profit/monetized blogs, vlogs, podcasts, etc. If I explicitly tell you I will read and write a review for your book, I will. I just might not be finished until much later than you had hoped.
Note on Ravenwolf Books
While I have read To Ride a Silver Broomstick by Silver Ravenwolf, I will not list it, or any other of her earlier books here. If you would like to understand why, these Wiccans have captured exactly how I feel in the articles "Continuing Anger Over Silver Ravenwolf" and "Tarnished Silver: Why I Don't Recommend Silver Ravenwolf". They explain exactly what is wrong with these older books and why there are so many in the Wiccan community who dislike her as a result. (I have heard that her later books - primarily her spell books - are of a considerably higher quality and lacking the negativity of those she's written in the past, but I have not personally looked into them.)
Books no longer in my possession or put on a back-burner for future digestion.
So far, very disappointed. It is highly recommended in magickal circles, yet it's outdated and can be offensive to the modern practitioner. I'm tempted to not finish it at all and will be setting it aside for now.
The chapter dealing with Elementals in particular comes off as insulting. For example, "and about orchids all sensitive persons agree there is something sinister. Tropical vegetation, as a whole, is over powerful for humanity." What? Personally, I've never met anyone sensitive who held such an opinion (I, for one, have never met an orchid that was not sweet with being picky its only flaw). The rest of that paragraph - and others throughout the book - comes off as very racist/prejudiced toward nearly anything not European and with Christian values and theology as a foundation.
The thing to keep in mind is that this book was written in the 1920s. This means that the terms "witch" and "witchcraft" are used in reference to people who have ill-intentions, worship devils, etc. and not the modern practitioners of Wicca and other Witchcraft paths (a few other key terms are used differently from how they are used today). Likewise, the magickal practitioners of the time drew heavily on Judeo-Christian teachings and techniques, which certainly can be modified to other paths. If Fortune had written this book today and been significantly better informed of non-Christian-based faiths and spiritual paths, perhaps the material wouldn't be as offensive.
Recent book releases have picked up on the need for modern books on psychic defense and protection magick, making this book unnecessary among recommended reading lists. Unless the remainder of this book proves invaluable (I suspect it won't be until the last section), I would only recommend it to those interested in the history or sources that inspired later works.
Books I won't be finishing
The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets
Barbara J. Walker
I bought this book for a couple dollars at a yard sale years before I had a chance to pick it up. When I finally did, it was to try to find some information I had meant to read up on. Well, it didn't say much about what I was looking for, but I was excited to see all else it had in there. I started reading a couple entries and something just didn't seem right.
So I checked reviews for the book, particularly of the negative variety. Naturally, anyone with scholarly or heavy mythology interests say that this book is nothing more than "feminist" BS. (Note: This book is not feminist. Feminism calls for the equality of men and women. This book is pure sexist. Favors females in all instances.) One review invited the reader to pick a subject they are very well versed in (better yet if you're an expert) and see what happens. Sure enough, every topic I looked up (and I tried to stick to things that I've seen it all, including bad resources). Sure enough, there's information that is total BS, or at least, she's the only person in all the world in all of history to have this information. That doesn't make it a good resource. That makes it personal fantasying .
Now, granted, there were hints of truth here and there, but it was usually mixed with things that can't be found predating this book. While there may be parts that we really wish were true, the book is total garbage in a scholarly context. If you don't believe me, take the challenge yourself. (If you don't know anything in the book enough to decide for yourself, research her cited resources and you'll find a totally different story.)
Keep in mind I only got through the first two chapters, and I must say it hurt to do so. The history is, well, crap at best. Maybe it was written too vaguely that what it appears to imply is all wrong. Either way, the little hints of truth are exaggerated and I can't help but wonder where the "facts" come from. The author claims a hereditary path, yet I can't seem to figure out where all this information is coming from. Bits and pieces sound to be the right stuff, but little things here and there are thrown in that I haven't heard since I stopped using movies and fiction as an informational resource on the topic of witchcraft. While the author does seem to have some things right in regards to the teaching of harming none, her explanations for her examples seem to miss the point entirely. I can't say I've ever met anyone from a hereditary path that talks the way this author does.
The second chapter goes into different values that we hold as witches. At first, I was looking forward to this chapter as her list sounded fantastic. Unfortunately, the author never goes in-depth on the actual definitions of those words and the examples she uses, while they may be great, by themselves and without explanation will leave most readers wondering what exactly she means. Without any substance to go with, the examples are worthless. As I said, though, this is based solely on the first two chapters.
Witches: True Encounters with Wicca, Wizards, Covens, Cults and Magick
I can almost guarantee that I will never finish this book. I'm not even a fourth of the way through this giant of a book, and I can easily say that it is a waste of time. Based on this book alone, Holzer is one of those people who has been looking around for so long he considers himself an expert, but just doesn't get any of it. The book is obviously written nearly completely in the 70's though it wasn't published until the past couple years. It presents theories and information that was discredited more than twenty years ago as pure fact. While I enjoy reading about different people and their experiences with Pagan and/or "occult" issues, many of the stories are unrelated to the topic at hand in the chapter and are misleading. This book has actually put me to sleep a number of times. It is easily not worth the time and effort it would take to finish the thing.
© 2004-2020 by Evylyn Rose