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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bar none the best book on Wicca I've ever read, July 31, 2006
This review is from: Bonewits's Essential Guide to Witchcraft and Wicca (Paperback)
This is BAR NONE the best book I've ever read on Wicca!

When I first got involved with Wicca, I was full of questions for my tearch: "how old is all this stuff, really?", "where does all this stuff come from?", etc. She was very good about telling me when she didn't know and kindly tried to tell me what she did. I turned to books to learn more about the new religion I was so enthusiastic about. While I don't mean to offend anybody, I, personally, found just about all the books out there had one or more things in them that really bugged me. Some made lofty claims that Wicca came from the Celts, Paleolithic humanity, the people who built stonehenge, the Atlantians, the Aliens or what have you. I found a strong woman-centric slant to many of them, which, as a man, made me feel excluded. I believe in gender BALANCE, not female dominance OR male dominance and for something as close to the heart as spirituality, it was a cruel blow to be delt woman-centricism. Other books were fluffy: so light weight that they seemed patronizing and to only deal with pleasant aspects of nature and humanity.

Isaac's book had none of these problems and there are many, many aspects to it that are wonderful. He's honest that Wicca is, as far as any real scholarship can glean, purely a modern religion. He also says something that none of the authors who try to convince us of some ancient origin say: that just because it's modern makes it no less valid! He is gender balanced and matter-of-fact. He's not afraid to talk about "dark" issues. After reading it, I FINALLY felt that I got a square deal for buying the book.

But, I can't sing the praises of this book high enough. It's informative as to the history of Wicca. It would have answered all of the initial questions that I would have had as a beginner and taught me a lot of good stuff to boot.

Perhaps its only weakness is that, unlike many of the other books that I looked at when I was starting, it is not quite as chalk full of exercises, spells, rituals and the like. I think that this is because Isaac doesn't want to limit Wicca to a particular set of techniques and, to be honest, while it's true that much of his competition packs this stuff in, it's also often the case that they present it as the "right" way or the "ancient" way. Isaac isn't trying to tell ANYONE what the "right" way is and admits that it's probably not "ancient".

What he lacks in quantity, in this regard, he makes up for in quality. For example, he has a general outline for a Wiccan ritual that is top notch and shows his decades of practice and expertise.

So, I think this is a MUST HAVE for beginning Wiccans, because they should DEFINITELY READ THIS BOOK BEFORE THEY READ ANYTHING ELSE ON THE SUBJECT, and I also think it's a must read for experienced Wiccans, because it dispels a lot of myths that they were probably taught at some point. That being said, I think a beginner should THEN go on to read some other books, with the knowledge that they may have one or more of the flaws that I sited at the beginning of this review, to get some ideas for spells, exercises and rituals. The books by the Ferrars would all make good followers and, before Isaac's came out, they were ones that I respect as minimizing above mentioned flaws.

About what another reviewer said about being able to get the same information from reading other books, that may be true, but beginners aren't likely to know about them. I certainly didn't when I was starting. I had to wade through mountains of what to me is, with all due respect, nonsense in order to get to anything that I considered to be academically sound or remotely accurate. Yes, Hutton is great, but Isaac's book provides one starting point for the beginner.

Someday, I'd like to see a book as good as Isaac's that ALSO has a large collection of sample exercises, spells and rituals, but which notes that they are only examples and that there is great diversity among Wiccans. That way, we'd have one beginner's guide that I would actually feel good about recommending.
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