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Rebirth of Witchcraft Paperback – June, 1989
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Top Customer Reviews
She reminds us that the last witchcraft trial in England took place in 1944, at the Old Bailey. One Helen Duncan, a spiritualist medium, was found guilty under the Witchcraft Act of 1735 and sentenced to 9 months in jail. It was not until June of 1951 that this law was abolished. That July, a newspaper carried a frontpage story, CALLING ALL COVENS, describing a forthcoming witches' gathering, opened by Gerald B. Gardner.
She traces the forerunners of the Craft: Charles Godfrey Leland, Margaret Murray, Robert Graves, Dion Fortune, and Aleister Crowley. From this she moves on to Gerald Gardner, and how he came to publicize the Craft. This is followed by a chapter about what it was like working with Old Gerald and one regarding what the intense publicity Gerald generated was like. She writes chapters about John Brakespeare, Robert Cochrane, and Alex Sanders and their traditions.
She points out that during this time period, witchcraft was male dominated, certainly not feminist. Women were allowed to hold fancy titles, like Witch Queen, but stil expected to obey the high priest. Her chapter on Feminist Witchcraft tells of Starhawk meeting up with Zuzanna Budapest, considers women's moon mysteries, and the place of homosexuality in the Craft.
She concludes the book by observing that the emergence of the Craft in modern times must be fulfilling a deep need.Read more ›
This book gives a nice little history lesson on what life was like for a British Witch in the 1950's and 1960's. Valiente gives personal accounts of such now legendary figures as Gerald Gardner, Alex Sanders, Robert Cochrane, Janet and Stewart Farrar, and even Aleister Crowley. She illustrates just how dangerous it was to be a public Witch in Britain at the time; and the trouble they went through with both the press and the police when it came to dealing with accusations of Satanism and committing human sacrifice.
Valiente also describes the hazards of intra-coven politics. Witch wars waged in the media and psychic vampires turning up on your doorstep, hat in hand, with a big grin and a favor to ask. She pulls no punches when she talks about just how awful it can be when you are just trying to be both a helpful pagan and a decent person. While her chapter on "Feminist Witchcraft" seemed a little dated to me, it still expresses some important ideals: the need for women to take charge of their own identity, the necessity for good stewardship of the environment, and finding a way to cope with the ever increasing human population.
Definitely not a "how to" manual for spell casting, this book will give readers a glimpse into the lives of some famous Witches. Some were powerful, some were fragile, a couple were downright deceitful, but they were all human.
- Doreen Valiente (The Rebirth of Witchcraft, p.54)
How worthwhile is reading THE REBIRTH OF WITCHCRAFT by Doreen Valiente? I learned more about the true history of Wicca in the first five chapters than all the other books on modern witchcraft that I've read to date.
As for the content Doreen Valiente gives a compelling first person account of Wiccan history from its earliest nights to the feminist revolution of the 70s. In particular you get a really good scoop on the shady personalities behind the faces of Gerald Gardner, Alex Sanders and Robert Cochrane. Tricksters and liars all.
Of course this doesn't mean that Doreen didn't hold any affection for these men. She did, but she doesn't make excuses for their behavior either. Perhaps because of this honesty there is a real feeling of authenticity to her words.
The other chapters while less relevant are at the very least interesting reads. I particularly liked the chapter on Leslie Roberts, a homosexual witch and occult investigator who died tragically. His story (as well as that of Alex Sanders) establishes the early presence of gay men in the Craft. It also serves as a vivid lesson on the importance of knowing your limits as a witch and the very real danger of psychic vampires.
This book should be required reading for all students interested in the history of the modern Craft.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wonderfully written history by Ms Valiente. I have always loved her style ... Writing as though she is conversing with you. Read morePublished 22 months ago by LMK
I love to read the books by our forerunners who paved the way for the rest of us. I enjoyed this book a lot. A history by a woman who was there and lived it.Published 24 months ago by MICHELLE
Provides history of Wicca from Doreen's point of view. However, her tone seems very biiter. Pages of describing how horrible the male Founders of various lines with a paragraph... Read morePublished on July 22, 2014 by Judith L. Hamilton
This is a fascinating account of the early days of modern Witchcraft. Doreen Valiente's writing style flows so flawlessly, I finished this book in two sittings. Read morePublished on March 30, 2014 by Antonia Cambareri
Great book full of insight, supernatural experiences and inside dirt from Doreen Valiente, one of Gerald Gardners High Priestesses and the "Mother of Modern Witchcraft". Read morePublished on June 19, 2013 by toby
Doreen Valiente is a household name among the practitioners of witchcraft. She was first initiated into the craft by Gerald Gardner in the New Forrest Coven. Read morePublished on November 17, 2011 by S. Cranow
This is a great book to learn about the "Mother of modern Witchcraft". I brought this for a online class based on her life. I did not know much about her so I took the class. Read morePublished on March 21, 2011 by Ms AMber