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All Acts of Love & Pleasure: Inclusive Wicca Paperback – November 14, 2014
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tial seeker away from anything this author writes.
I spent some of my down time in December reading this book, and I can truly say the book gets points for more than just effort. This is a book I wish I could send back in time to myself, and it is in fact making me consider giving a more Wiccan-esque practice another try (because there is a lot about Wiccan ritual I've missed doing).
First and foremost, I appreciate that the book talks about the sacredness of non-heterosexuality and transgressing the gender binary, in a way where I felt welcomed and affirmed in my gender and sexual orientations. The book not only talks about adapting elements of ritual to include LGBT elements, but also talks about queer deities and queer mythology, and brief mentions of historical practices such as seidhr which were known to be gender-transgressive. The book explores going beyond the archetypes of Maiden/Mother/Crone and the Wheel of the Year as the dance of the Goddess and the God, but having room for different archetypes as well as exploring different myth cycles reflecting each turn of the Wheel (and going beyond seeing personality traits, societal roles, and other qualities as "masculine" and "feminine", even going beyond the gender binary itself - this made me very, very happy). With regards to the discussion of gender and sexuality in the book, the one nit I have (and this is not a terribly large nit) is that the asexual spectrum is hardly mentioned at all (I identify as grey-ace), however, I also think that there was enough coverage in the book of going beyond the sexual symbolism in Wicca, to more primordial symbolism (for example, when the athame enters the chalice, seeing it as the lightning striking the sea to create the first living organism, as opposed to penis-in-vagina), so I wouldn't say it was a total erasure. I also appreciate that the book is inclusive of those who are polyamorous or into BDSM, with a discussion of sacred BDSM.
The book also brings up the issues of inclusivity for the disabled in ritual and practice and issues of safe space for survivors (for example, dealing gently with the topic of ritual nudity), so it wasn't just "how to make Wicca inclusive for LGBT people", but really, "how to make Wicca inclusive for everyone".
The other thing that put me off to Wicca, long ago, was repeat exposure to a more simplistic theology and values, seeing perpetuation of historical misinformation as well as rampant cultural appropriation. This book challenges all of this - illustrating room for diverse theological beliefs within Wicca (especially room for polytheism, which as a polytheist, I liked seeing), more complex thoughts on ethics (for example, explaining what the Threefold Law actually is [spoiler: it's not "what you do returns to you three times as good/bad"]), being honest about bad history within the formation of the movement as well as problematic elements like Gardner's homophobia and the way this is dealt with today, and what constitutes cultural appropriation and why it's not OK. These subjects were addressed very carefully, and it's something I would recommend if you've been interested in Wicca but have been critical because of any of those above issues. The book also explored science as compatible with magic and mystery - one of my favorite parts of the book was the Science Quarters, where the elements were called as Solids, Gas, Energy, Liquid, and Space-Time. There was a discussion of magical practice itself, and there being room for different ways of doing things. There was a lot of emphasis in the book on connecting with Nature, and various ways of doing so, but in a way that is inclusive of those of us who are urban Pagans (as opposed to "technology bad, wiping with leaves good" rhetoric which often makes me reluctant to say I revere nature), and I liked that as well.
So in sum - if you were Wiccan and left because of feeling excluded due to sexual/gender orientation, and/or feeling like your belief and values system had "evolved" past perceived limits of Wicca, like I did, and have missed a Wiccan practice, like I have, you may want to read this book. If you're new to Wicca, or potentially interested in Wicca, the book gives a lot of useful information on the whats and hows of practice - I would actually recommend this as a 101 book for getting started, as there is an inclusive framework there coming out the gate. And if you're not interested in Wicca yourself for whatever reason, it's still a good read, especially if you're not Pagan but want to understand more about Paganism, this would be a book I recommend for a look at Wicca and its influence on the greater Pagan movement.
I give this book a five-star review, and an A+.
She writes that “Different people have different experiences, expectations, and perspectives, and including and working with different ideas and experiences can only enrich our Craft, not detract from it.” Instead of ignoring or erasing the differences of others, the book aims to explore methods of working with these differences. As such she provides ideas, practices, meditations, and queer myths to create a more inclusive group dynamic or to adapt workings when needed.
The book makes use of heavy citation and is intelligently written. Tackling the history and origin of many Wiccan concepts and practices to shed light on the importance of inclusion vs. dogma and to challenge pre-conceived notions within Wicca. Not only are aspects of ritual modified and adapted for queer inclusion and differently abled bodies, but the book also touches upon other modern sexual liberation movements such as polyamory and BDSM. Also explored are ideas of consent, ethics, and inclusion – ideas that must be challenged and evolve if British Traditional Wicca (or any form of witchcraft) is to survive new generations. It’s not the 1950’s anymore. Diversity must be embraced, not excluded.
The title of the book takes its title from “…for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals,” as is stated by the Goddess in the Charge. As such, this book is written in the spirit of the Goddess, Mother of All and not some, surpassing all man-made trappings of rules placed within the Craft. The book is perfect for anyone who wants a non-binary perspective of Wicca, and anyone in a leadership role within Paganism.