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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: #1,112,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 49 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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14 of 20 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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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lupa VINE VOICE on August 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
Llewellyn publishes something good in the early 90's an it never comes back, while tripe gets republished over and over.....

Anyway, "Crafting the Art of Magic" is a must for anyone interested in the history of Wicca. Okay, so we all know the usual story--Wicca is 50,000 years old, Wicca is from an unbroken line of English witches, Wicca is blah, blah. Kelly actually goes back to primary sources, picks them over and shows his work. It's not infallible, of course--he puts more faith in a few of his theories than proof--but it's an honest effort and a worthwhile read if you can snag a copy.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Q. Borba on February 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
Dr. Kelly's book attempts a scholarly reconstruction of the origins of the Wiccan movement, and to a great part it succeeds. Through some luck and due diligence, Dr. Kelly acquired access to texts and individuals that were central to the formation of this growing religion, and showed through careful deconstruction and textual analysis how the entire movement in its present form essentially began with one man, Gerald Gardner, the founder of the "Gardnerian Tradition" of Wicca. However, in dissecting its origins and demonstrating them to be wholely a product of the twentieth century, it also drew a furious backlash from the Wiccan community that has to this day convinced Llewellyn to put off any second printing.

Part of the campaign to remove it from the public eye involves discrediting "reviews", such as the one by Frew, referenced by another reviewer on this listing. His self-important article is not so much a review as a prolonged collection of innuendo, misdirection, logical hair-splitting, and frantic micro-analytical fault finding designed to divert the reader from addressing the spine of Kelly's argument: that all of the material present in Gardner's Book of Shadows were derived from presently available literary sources, leaving essentially nothing for a secretive pre-Gardnerian tradition to contribute. In other words, even if Gardner did join a pre-exiting coven of Witches as was his claim, their existence proves irrelevant as they effectively contributed nothing to the formation of present day Wicca. It was all Gardner (and then Valiente, and so on, and so on ...). This aspect of Dr. Kelly's book is scholastically and analytically solid and worthy of study.
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