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Crafting the Art of Magic, Book I: A History of Modern Witchcraft, 1939-1964 (Llewellyn's Modern Witchcraft Series) (Book 1) Paperback – May 1, 1991


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Product Details

  • Series: Llewellyn's Modern Witchcraft Series
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Pubns; 1 edition (May 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875423701
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875423708
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #413,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Elderbear VINE VOICE on March 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Q: How many Alexandrian Witches does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Wait while we go see what Gardner's Book of Shadows says.
In Wicca, many people have been exposed to "ancient" and "hereditary" traditions while the ink in the spellbook was still drying--often on materials that had been lifted from another craft or magical tradition. Much of the Craft today, in its diverse forms, owes its existence to the original work of Gerald Gardner.
Aidan Kelly takes a critical look at the source material for Gerald Gardner's teachings about the craft. This is an excellent textual criticism of the Gardnerian materials. I cannot fault him for his work with "original" documents. I doubt we will ever learn more about when things were written, and from where they were lifted, than Dr. Kelly has presented in his book.
One of the most interesting evolutions is that of the Charge of the Goddess. On p. 52 he presents Gardner's original, a redacted bit of Leland & Crowley. It reads like a hack. This was its state between 1949 & 1953. On p. 114 he presents the Charge, essentially as we know it today, after Doreen Valiente (see my review of her The Rebirth of Witchcraft) had helped him rewrite it. On p. 162 he presents a verse form of of the Charge from 1961, a quintain adaptation of Dorreen's quatrain form (not included).
Kelly argues that nothing in the Craft pre-existed Gardner. He attempts to explain the creation of the Craft as Gerald's way of manipulating strong women into spanking him for sexual gratification. While I find his critical analysis compelling, his theory about Gardner's sexuality seems to be a long reach.
This book is required reading for anybody interested in the history of the Craft.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By The Old Philosopher on April 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
Kelly's book is a pretty well researched history of neo-pagan Gardnerian witchcraft. He documents and discusses Gerald Gardner's creation of Wicca in the 1950s. The contributions of several other people are also credited. The one drawback is that he blurs all his data to support his premise that Gardner (and friends) invented the Wicca as a whole new religion. Kelly hypothesizes that Gardner, Dorothy Clutterbuck, and some other friends formed their first coven in 1939 as a new creation. He insists that there was no prior witchcraft from which they drew workings, beliefs, morality or rituals. Every part of Gardnerian Wicca documents that do not appear to have come from an identifiable source he credits to Gardner himself. Overlooks the fact that there was a witch museum before Gardner took it over. The reader may be tempted to ask, if Gardner invented it all what was in the museum before Gardner? Kelly stretches logic to deny possible connections to prior magical or pagan sources. If you want a book on the development and progression of Gardnerian Wicca during the 1950s, this is a good source. If you're looking for hard evidence about Gardner's sources and prior connections this is probably not your book.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 28, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book details the history of the witchcraft movement in modern times. It generally focuses in on Gardner, and does not talk about much else. Kelly, states that Gardner was the creator of the Witchcraft movement in modern times. Even if you feel that it is untrue, this book offers many historical background, and is a must for anyone with an interest in the Witchcraft movement. It blowes the whole Gardnrian movement out of the water!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Garnet on July 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book makes a pretense out of being scholarly, but is anything but scholarly. The author makes suppositions on one page and then treats those same suppositions are facts a few pages later. He also makes comments and assumptions that, should Gerald Gardner still have been alive, he could have easily sued him for slander.

This author takes issue with Garderian Wicca due to his own personal history, both in the Craft and out of it. This book is one big long snit where the author is trying to rip apart what he FELT had been presented to him as the Craft. He attempts to use textual analysis to try to prove that Gardner made everything up or stole it or had Crowley write it or...the gist is that nothing came to Gardnerian Craft from any other source older than Gardner. Research done with other sources, including more recent ones such as published by Radomir Ristig (on Balkan Witchcraft) show that is untrue.

This book will be boring to anyone who is not emotionally involved in the long-running debate--did Gerald Gardner create Wicca wholecloth or did he inherit something (such as he's always attested to, that he was fragments of an older faith) and then add to that what he felt it needed to be fleshed out. Every bit of research I've done since then has borne out that, including books by real scholars such as Eva Pocs, Carlo Ginzburg, and Emma Wilby.

This book really adds very little to that debate due to its bias and lack of real scholarship. I'd give my copy away, but I still pull it out now and again to remind myself of how a book purporting to be objective is anything but...and to also remind myself of how some people will try anything to make Wicca out to be some modern invention.
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