Witchy Pagan Book Reviews
The books listed on the following pages I've 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-based perspective in mind. I also try to keep in mind when a book was written for context (just as newer books aren't better just because they're new, older books can still prove valuable despite not holding up as well to cultural and scientific shifts). As such, there's likely many other perspectives that'll disagree with my reviews.
Don't 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 aren't 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 and Witchcraft communities specifically.
Book Reviews Sections:
Wicca Book Reviews - books specifically about Wicca or for a Wiccan audience
Witchcraft & Pagan Book Reviews - more generalized collection geared toward Witches & Pagans
Metaphysical Book Reviews - non-religious/spiritual path-specific that may be of interest to Wiccan, Witches, & Pagans
Children & Parenting Book Reviews - books specifically Pagan and/or spiritual
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'm 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 2021.
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.
Gift from the Sea (20th Anniversary Edition)
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
I picked this book up at a local event sale out of curiosity and hope for some hidden gems of wisdom wrapped in ocean metaphors. For a book written in 1955 by a housewife and mother of five children, I'm amazed how extraordinarily relevant this book still is today. Sure, the mending of skirt seams might not be at the top of our lists of distractions were this written today. But the struggle of finding balance in our lives that demands so much of our time, energy, and attention and the resulting overwhelm that has an effect opposite from the connections we so desire is totally relatable. I suspect Anne was writing a beautiful blend of the world as it was then with revelations for us today and beyond.
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's lived for more than a few years and whose memory functions are all still intact knows, our life lessons generally unravel in 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.
Note on Ravenwolf Books
While I have read To Ride a Silver Broomstick by Silver Ravenwolf, I will not list it or her earlier books from that time period 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's wrong with these older books and why there's so many in the Wiccan community who disliked this specific author as a result.
Please take to heart:
Don't confuse my negative opinion of a particular book or set of books as a judgment on the author or their overall contribution to the world. I've heard that Ravenwolf's later books--especially her spell books--are of a considerably higher quality and lacking the negativity of those she'd written in the past.
I haven't personally looked into them to date, so I can't offer an opinion on her post-90's books. I do, however, recognize that Ravenwolf has been and continues to be a very positive influence in the lives of many Wiccans and Witches, young and old.
While it's certainly acceptable to dislike a book and even to offer criticisms to the author, that doesn't give free license for harassment. Please, put the Witch Wars to rest already!
The issues found with Ravenwolf's earlier books mean only that they aren't your best sources of information (and probably not worth the price on the cover). Likewise, because there were so many of hers written of a like quality in that same period of time, she built a reputation that requires we apply our critical thinking skills to her writing the nth degree.
That is the only take-away: Use critical thinking when reading her books. (Which, ideally, you should do for any source of information from anyone already anyway.)
For goodness' sake, maintain your general sense of decency and respectfulness when interacting with your fellow Witches, and that includes Silver Ravenwolf.
Books no longer in my possession or put on a back-burner for future digestion.
So far, very disappointed. It's 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're 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 Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of Witchcraft & Practical Magic
Susan Greenwood & Raje Airey
To be perfectly honest, the main driving factor that keeps me from attempting a cover-to-cover read of this volume is simply the super tiny font. I would gladly take a non-illustrated version for readable font.
I stuck mainly with pages and sections featuring font of a larger size that I could more comfortably read. Just from that tidbit, I can see that at least some of the information is already outdated since its publication in 2006-2007. The rest of the text is so tiny that the cumbersome nature of straining to read it makes it simply not worth the time and effort for me.
From the parts I did read, I worry about the amount of time, effort, and accuracy of the editing process. Some stuff is (hopefully) just typos (like an image of ritual tools with a caption discussing a "pentangle" which was clearly a pentacle). Other stuff was just clearly wrong (like a photo clearly showing a handfasting ritual incorrectly captioned as a Wicca coven initiation; something anyone of any tradition's background could confirm the distinct difference).
For the authors, this was definitely a huge undertaking and it's impressive, even if I can't read the font. Still, whether the authors, editors, or the publisher, it's pretty clear that this volume was meant as just a pretty book with lots of pretty pictures to look at rather than used as a trustworthy reference material for future works. It's basically the old fashion form of a fan wiki; great starting point if you know nothing on the subject, but take with a grain of salt and don't stop there.
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 appears as total garbage in a scholarly context. 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