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The Meaning of Witchcraft Paperback – March 1, 2004


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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 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #396,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Customer Reviews

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See all 11 customer reviews
Very good information written without bias.
JoLi and Sean Sharp
Gerald Brosseau Gardner found Witchcraft to be a beautiful, deep, and meaningful religious path.
"shera345"
This should be required reading of anyone with a serious interest in Wicca.
Erik

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By "shera345" 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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18 of 19 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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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Steve on August 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
The title is somewhat misleading - this is more a thesis on where witchcraft's roots are than the meaning. Almost 100 pages are dedicated to trying to "prove" Wicca is not related to Satanism (Black Mass, Some Allegations Examined parts I - III) which takes away a bit from the reading from the first few chapters where Gardner goes into his theroy of where Witchcraft comes from. While these chapters are good reading, they mainly imply what modern history texts have already - that trade routes existed and people traded culture / religion as well as goods.

He puts forth some good references to the early days of pre-Christian Britain, but apparently doesn't go into any of Ceasar's writings about pre-Christian Europe (evidently the author who invaded, conquered, and the wrote about the local people of the time isn't a good source of information?).

Gardner also has a few "I cannot state XYZ because of my oath" in this book as well. Nothing is more frustrating than someone trying to imply that they have more knowledge than the reader but will not share the information. A better way to "get the message across" to me would be leaving all references to xyz out of the text altogether. This would leave out any impression that the author is pointing out that he could give more information on xyz but the average reader is not worthy of the information. University Professors that taught this way (Differential Equations for one) did not come across as great teachers of knowledge but as arrogant and self centered people who enjoyed making fun of other people's lack of knowledge.

Take this book with a grain of salt - some of the theories Gardner puts forth in this book can easily be debated since none of it can be proven or backed up with writings from people like Ceaser. Read this book, but also read other reference books (like Ceasar's account of defeating Gaul) in order to form your own opinion of the origins of witchcraft.
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