Books, Books and More Books
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Article ID: 3484
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 6,634
Times Read: 6,775
Author: Moonspider [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: May 20th. 2001
Times Viewed: 6,775
Books, one of my favorite topics, particularly since they're the backbone of how I make my living. I've read wonderful books, I've read ones that weren't worth the paper they were printed on. Unfortunately, the latter seems to be on the rise in some areas of publication. It disappoints me to say that in our genre there seems to be a growing number of witchcrap volumes making their way into publication. Now, its not that you can't learn from such items. I've often told students that it can be helpful to experience a bad teacher. They show you what not to do, which is an equally valid lesson. However, I want to be a little more pragmatic, after all, some of you, based on what I say may shell out some of your hard earned dollars.
Now wishing to focus on the positive side here, I want to implore all to read these items that follow. And what gives value to my opinion, I've been a purveyor of this literature for thirty years. I've seen many come, and also many go. So what, in my humble opinion, has stood the test of time, well, I'm glad you asked....
For starters, lets look at Positive Magic, by Marion Weinstein. This item has been in print for over twenty years, originally published in 1978. For books in general this speaks volumes, for this select genre its speaks more. The book was also published after she had been out and practicing as a Witch for over a decade.
She provides for us the best definition of the Threefold Law of Karmic Return. This is one of the mistakes that I see printed over and over again. Whatever you do comes back to you three times. Twaddle. We know from the laws of the universe, that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, merely transferred. That three times garbage is bastardized Christian philosophy. While it might have served a purpose some time ago, when trying to instill responsibility in Witchlets, it has become perverted over time. Rather, after we take responsible efforts before we perform our magics, we form our intention here on our plane, send it out into the universe to manifest, and then the result to return to us on our plane.
She further supports this idea with a passage from one of her favorite tools, the I Ching.
Whenever a feeling is voiced with truth and frankness,
Whenever a deed is a clear expression of sentiment,
A mysterious and far-reaching influence is exerted.
At first it acts on those who are inwardly receptive.
But the circle grows larger and larger.
The root of all influence lies in one's inner being:
Given true and vigorous expression in word and deed its effect is great.
The I Ching, hexagram 61, Nine in the second place, p. 239.2
She has other useful items discussed as chapter headings in her book; Magic, Time and Space, Pitfalls, Witchcraft, Karma, Astrology, I Ching and Tarot, Words of power, Widening the circle. Her chapter on Karma is a must-read for everyone involved in the topic.
The fourth chapter, Witchcraft, became a book unto itself, Earth Magic. This book has been around for over twenty years, first published in 1980, and currently in its fourth edition. It is in itself a complete working Book of Shadows. While many BoS are in print, this one is accessible to our time and culture. It provides a good solid base on which to start practicing the Craft.
Further along on our idea of ethics is a delightful, thought-provoking book, When, Why, If, by Robin Wood. She's the same creator of the tarot deck that bears her name. This book was so important to her that she designed and self-published it herself about five years ago. Robin is a woman of great integrity and helped to fill this much needed void in our literature.
The book is broken into nine chapters, each dealing with a moral or ethical topic she saw people asking about in our community. Though this book is definitely written for Pagan people, it is appropriate for society in general. She has a very simple and easy writing style. Which might mislead you to think this is an easy breezy read, it is not. It needs to be read, worked, re-read, again and again. It is one of my annual reads, that's how important this topic is. Especially as you become an elder in the community. It is a responsibility. Morever, everyone will become placed in positions as they are in the community longer and longer, that they must act responsibly. We should do this all the time anyway. This delightful little book is a decided tool that makes that job easier.
Another basic item for all Pagans is The Spiral Dance, by Starhawk. She breathed life into the Craft. With her background training in the Faery Tradition and other more Shamanic ways, she altered the stodgy notions of the Craft forever. Her first edition came out in the late nineteen seventies.
This book, more so than any other, literally changed the face of modern Craft, particularly in America. This was the first book to truly exemplify that what we do is living and breathing. It is a remarkable resource that honors our old ways and brings it forward to our time. This is a hard thing to do, many other Craft books fail at this. Some choose one or the other, but Starhawk successfully blends all the elements.
Her book can also be used as a workbook. This makes it a great choice for use as a teaching tool. Anyone looking to construct their BoS would be well served using this as a reference.
Our next work is a bit different from all the others. It is the oldest in the list I'm discussing, first published nearly forty years ago, and still in-print. Its other unique distinction, its written by a cowan. What is this item, its Justine Glass' Witchcraft : The Sixth Sense. This wonderful little book investigates the Craft rebirth at one of its early stages. Despite its age, she remains insightful to our ways.
Of all the books, this decidedly has the most British slant. The author is British, and at the time a great deal of Craft activity was abound in Britain. America had still not yet found its public voice. However, Glass' work led the way of destroying the muteness in America.
Some may disagree with this book being here, however it remains of historical importance. Also, a book would not still be in-print some forty years later, unless it had something going for it.
Book of Shadows, by Phyllis Curott is one of the newest books to make my seminal list. Curott is an attorney, well-educated, perfectly attired, and articulate. Not the image of the village Witch for this one. It was the first book in approximately a decade that I was excited about.
Written in almost a novelistic style, the story moves along, and is indeed very interesting. Yes, just how does this high-powered Manhattan attorney become involved in magic? Well, for the answer to that you really must read the book. You will not be disappointed.
Curott leads us down her path, with all its twists and turns. Dealing with her working life and all its complicating facets, to her discovery of the Craft, and how that fire pushes her onward.
She uses words extremely well, undoubtedly aided by her years as an attorney. Words are their power, and indeed she learned her craft well, on both sides.
The last item on my list is neither the newest or oldest, but it is the one that meant the most to me at a particular point in my life. It is also required reading for my students. What is this item, Laurie Cabot's Power of the Witch. For many years it remained my annual read, that is how much I think of it. I always found something new in it that spoke to me. That indeed is a good book.
This was my ah-ha book. For in it I found substantiation in the way I practiced. Up until that time, I'd never seen in print the way I naturally practiced. Most of the work I do, I do in my head. You didn't need the right phase of the moon, herb, tool, or tchotchke. Its great to hear this verification, especially when you normally work alone.
I think of these books as a core set. They represent diverse ways of getting to, and practicing our Craft. Indeed all of these will lead us to the next level of our ways. They've laid a foundation upon which we can build. It is up to us to reach for the next level.
- Weinstein, Marion. Positive Magic: Occult Self-help. [Repr. (2nd.) ed.] New York, NY : Earth Magic Productions, 1994.
- Weinstein, Marion. Earth Magic: A Dianic Book of Shadows; A Guide for Witches. 4th ed. New York, NY : Earth Magic Productions, 1998.
- Wood, Robin. When, Why, If: An Ethics Workbook. Dearborn, MI : R. Wood, c1996.
- Starhawk. The Spiral Dance : A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess. 20th anniversary ed. [3rd ed.] [San Francisco] : HarperSanFrancisco, c1999.
- Glass, Justine. Witchcraft: The Sixth Sense. [London : Spearman, 1965] No. Hollywood, CA : Melvin Powers Wilshire Book Co., c1965.
- Curott, Phyllis. Book of Shadows : A Modern Woman's Journey Into the Wisdom of Witchcraft and the Magic of the Goddess. New York : Broadway Books, c1998.
- Cabot, Laurie with Tom Cowan. Power of the Witch. New York, NY : Delacorte Press, 1989.
Mark MoonSpider Sosnowski
Location: Bridgeport, Connecticut
Author's Profile: To learn more about Moonspider - Click HERE
Bio: Mark MoonSpider Sosnowski has been on this path most of his life. Life has dealt him many twists and turns, and usually says he came into the Craft through the back door. He loves books and reading and makes his living as a librarian. Numerology is his main form of divination having worked it for over 15 years. but, his Gemini mind, never at rest, has studied astrology, crystals, runes, I ching and whatever else strikes his fancy. He serves as education chair on a local Pagan board, and teaches Craft classes.
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