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Authentic Witchcraft: The Historical Tradition Revealed Paperback – February 6, 2013
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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The book goes on to tie Witchcraft with the Devil of Judaic-Christian notoriety (as though nothing in Europe existed outside of Middle Eastern concepts before the influence of this region found its way into European lands). However, no being matching the Devil was indigenous to old European culture before contact with the Hebrews and the Arab lands. Therefore the author seems to want us to believe that Europe had no preexisting magical practitioners of its own, which is simply untrue of European peoples.
The rest of the book is far too brief on what "Authentic Witchcraft" is and what its practices are. If this is someone's first introduction to the topic, she or he will come away with very little understanding or useful information. On the other hand, if you're looking for questionable opinions like those all too common on Internet forums, then you're sure to find familiar ground in this book.
We'll start with the most important part of any witchcraft text: history. The history provided is clearly romanticized, to the point of being entirely fictitious. A book that claims to be "the historic tradition revealed" should probably have a better grasp of legitimate witchcraft history, which is not difficult to uncover if one actually outs the slightest bit of effort forth. There is talk of spiritual terrorism, war, things that never happened. There is some belief amongst scholars that the worship of the Satan figure arose around the Early-Modern period as people grew more resentful of the Church, but Satan is not the only figure known to have been acknowledged and honored by practitioners of witchcraft. There is also a section where the author goes off on a tangent about how witches were spiritual terrorists, and how they waged war against Christianity. This is, of course, said without any sources whatsoever. Witch such a lack of history, it cannot be said that this is a "Historic Tradition."
That being said, the witchcraft system presented in this book does not match up with any historical information we have. In fact, this tradition uses something called the "Counter Mass" which is a Satanic rite. While I have no problem with Satanic rites in witchcraft, the rite itself cannot be proposed as historically accurate. We know that the "witches" as we think of them now were the peasantry, and the secluded individuals on the edge of society. Certainly some groups were higher in stature, but from the previously mentioned chapter wherein the authors makes statements about spiritual terrorism, it seem that they believe the latter was the case.. While the Devil figure certainly has a prominent place in some cultural witchcraft practices, the rites and rituals of historical witches would have been very primitive, based entirely upon the earth and the hearth. The Sabbath rite this tradition uses is a polished, clean, and highly church-like ritual. It's possible that the author attempted to base this ritual based on the Black Mass often believed to take place at Witch Sabbaths, but even if this is the case, it still misses its mark.
To add insult to injury, much of the magic presented in this book is Harry Potter-esque. There even comes a section where the author claims one can, in theory, light a candle or fire simply through the use of a word and a wand. In fact, the author states that a witch can perform s lifetime of magic using only a wand. Once more, historical accuracy comes into question here, as well as concern over the possible delusions of the author. Sure, a witch can have great power. But whether a witch can attain mastery over the elements and start lighting candles without a match, or getting fires lit without kindling? I'm not quire sure that falls under the scope. But even if such things were possible, it seems that the author's method is to speak a Latin word while performing the action, stating that by saying the word when performing the action, one will find themselves able to become familiar with the result and suddenly be able to light fires easier or even without assistance of tools.
Furthermore, as another historical blow, the author states that witches were NEVER pagan, which is a complete failure on his part in regards to research. Now, our English word witch certainly does find basis in Christianity, but multiple examples of pagan witches exist, especially in the Etruscan culture. Herodias, Diana, Aradia, Lucifer, all Etruscan witchcraft deities. And then, what of Medea? Circe? Greek pagan sorceresses who were known and feared/revered for their magic. They may not be called witches in the language, but the translation is very close. And what of African practitioners who are known as witches amongst their community? Witches in South America? To erase an entire group of people because they don't fit your statements is honestly pathetic, and even suggestive of latent racism due to a Euro-Centric approach to something like witchcraft, which exists in hundreds of cultures across the world. If the author wanted to write about HIS tradition, he could have said so and been free of these problems. It seems though, that the witchcraft community needs to invalidate other traditions and make false claims of antiquity in order to feel more valid themselves.
Even more, there are dozens of misspellings throughout the book, grammar errors, etc. I believe I counted three spellings of Isobel Gowdie, none of which were correct. There's also a horrendous attitude towards Wicca in this book. So much so, in fact, that the author almost comes off sounding like a cult leader. Being that this book serves as the textbook for his own academy, it certainly fits the profile. There's also the way his followers praise him and become insanely defensive if you challenge his words. This is interesting, as the magic system he gives is very similar to Wicca regarding belief and lack of action. The author claims this is an ecstatic tradition, but fails to give any information on how spiritual ecstasy is attained. This is probably the largest fault in the book, alongside the horrendous misinformation given.
This book is definitely not worth your money. Look to Troy Books for information regarding legitimate old-style witchcraft, particularly "The Devil's Plantation", "The Black Toad", "Traditional Witchcraft: A Cornish Book of Ways", and "The Devil's Dozen." I also recommend Lee Morgan's work "A Deed Without a Name."