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The Meaning of Witchcraft Paperback – March 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gerald Brosseau Gardner( 1884-1964) has been called the father of modern Wicca. His published works are supposedly the teachings of a coven in which he was a member--teachings passed down by word of mouth since early pagan times. Along with his written legacy, he was also the founder of the Museum of Witchcraft.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578633095
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578633098
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #627,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
Gerald Brosseau Gardner found Witchcraft to be a beautiful, deep, and meaningful religious path. After his initiation into the New Forest coven in 1939, he dedicated his life and resources to preserving and promoting Witchcraft, which he feared was a religion on the verge of extinction.
GBG, with the help of Doreen Valiente, gave structure and form to what he learned. His followers have come to be called "Gardnerians", and it's a name they are proud to claim. Many traditions abound in Wicca, and all of them have gleaned something from GBG's writings. These influential books are a must have for any serious student of the "Craft", but a bit deep for those who only play at being "Witches".
It's only fair to warn you: Gardner's writing style can be dry and his organization a bit erratic. Sometimes it can be downright tedious reading his books. However, the information and opinions he gives are well worth the occasional headache! If you only want to play around and "cast spells" as a game, don't bother with his books. There are plenty of recipe-format spell books out there that will serve you just fine. If you are into the Religion of Wicca, then this book will find its way into your library ... one way or another. You might as well get it now! You'll thank yourself ... maybe not *while* you're reading it, but *after* you've (finally) finished!!!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Katsurina on August 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
Students of witchcraft are often advised to read the works of Gerald Gardener. It is true that he is the father of modern witchcraft and his writings are the core of modern practices. Upon reading this book it is clear that things have come a long way in the past 50 years.
This book is not meant as an introduction for aspiring witches, but as a history lesson for those who might persecute witches. The book is filled with old practices and superstitions that formed the basis of modern witchcraft, as well as the origins of witch prosecutions.
The Meaning of Witchcraft may certainly deserve some scrutiny as Gardner obviously has an agenda and occasionally leaps to a conclusion that supports his claims when the evidence does not offer as much support as he claims.
The book is a heavy read that may take some effort to get through if you are used to lighter modern writing. Gardner is primarily concerned with the origins of witchcaft in Britain, and witchcraft's future in Britain. The book has many local anecdotes that may lose meaning over time and distance.
The information I found most interesting was the history of the Christians moving into Britain, how they pushed out the native pagan beliefs, and how those pagans left traces of their beliefs.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Erik on August 29, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had never read any of Gerald Gardner's books before. Being more than a generation removed and being subjected to the formualted books on the subject I was suprised with the integrity of the subject matter.

It was unknown to me that Mr. Gardner was somewhat of an accomplished anthropologist and folklorist. This should be required reading of anyone with a serious interest in Wicca.

For those who haven't had the pleasure this work bears a resemblace to Star Hawks famously acclaimed The Spriral Dance,Sir James Frazier's The Golden Bough and Robert Graves The White Goddess.

It's also good reading for students of Welsh, Celtic and European-Arayan folklore in general.

I definitely intend to read all of his works.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Green Stone on November 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book's title suggests it might offer something that seems to be disappointingly elusive in literature on witchcraft and wicca: their rich symbolic, metaphoric, psychological and spiritual MEANING for the practitioner. However, like many other books on witchcraft and/or wicca, this book doesn't offer much in the way of this sort of meaning. As other reviewers have noted, it examines the "origins" of Witchcraft in history, and offers an "apology" of witchcraft by arguing that it has nothing to do with Christianity's figure of Satan, since Witchcraft is not at all a Judeo-Christian religion. I would love to see an intelligent book which explores the psychological depth available in witchcraft. Unfortunately what Gardner offers vis a vis psychology is rather shallow. In particular, it gets old to hear witchcraft being highlighted as principally a fertility cult (which, besides being shallow, is heterosexist) and I don't know how many times in this book Gardner emphasizes that the Maypole is a phallic symbol, as is the wand and the sword, and the church spire...oh, and everything else that's thin and elongated, such as a lightpole, a tree, a fence post, any upright human being, etc ad nauseum. (By contrast, neither Gardner nor any other male writer on witchcraft cares to take note that every doorway, cave, passageway, dome, sphere, mountain, apple, orange, or any rounded thing whatsoever is a vulvic, vaginal, breast or womb, quite predictably, their only interest is in the phallic) Perhaps in sexually repressed 1950's Britain one could get a whole lot of mileage and thrill out of bringing diverse phallic and fertility symbols out of the closet, but ultimately, a spiritual path that stays at this level is rather vacuous and trite and, in contrast to the title "The MEANING of Witchcraft", conveys an impoverishment of psychological meaning.
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