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Witchcraft Today Paperback – April 1, 2004

3.8 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Citadel (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806525932
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806525938
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By F. Presson on July 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
I really need to be able to give this book two different ratings depending on the orientation of the reader. As a historical document regarding the history of Wicca in particular and Neopaganism in general, it should be on every bookshelf. As a source of insight into the actual practice, it is, by necessity, as others have pointed out, incomplete. I should mention that, as a Pagan, but not Wiccan, occultist with a keen amateur interest in the history of the Pagan and occult revivals, my own point of view partakes of both.

I found it fascinating to watch Gardner (GBG) alternate between the etic viewpoint of an anthropologist, describing the coven from an outsider's view, and the emic viewpoint of an initiate, the latter view often introduced by the phrase, "when I was inside." When he describes ritual, or places certain customs in context by reference to their effect on magick, he does not generally cite his own experience, but refers to "the Witches" as if he were not one. I suppose he is trying to project an image of objective scholarship, but it comes off more as coyness or ingenuousness to my eyes.

If you're an initiate of Trad Witchcraft, you already know much more than what GBG reveals here, and if you are not, you'll have to just respect the fact that he seems to have honored his oaths and not told any important secrets other than that the revived Craft existed (and, yes, according to the Ardanes, that is a protected secret), which I have to suppose was his intent, in which he succeeded, probably beyond his wildest imaginings.
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Format: Hardcover
"Witchcraft Today" is Gardner's 4th book & his1st non-fiction book dealing specifically with Wicca. First publishedin 1953 it supports Margaret Murray's theory that witchcraft was a pre-Christian pagan religion in Britain. It then takes the theory one step farther as Gardner makes claim to having found & joined a coven of witches whom he believed to be the last remnants of this old religion. Sworn to secrecy, Gardner finds himself in the difficult position of wanting to explain the details without breaking his oath. The end result is rather disappointing. While this is indeed the 1st book on Wicca & has become the founding text for most Wiccans, the book actually contains very little Wiccan material. Those seeking actual Wiccan rituals described in detail must look elsewhere. Gardner omits any such step by step instructions & gives us only tantalizing hints, glimpses & references instead. Critics like Aidan Kelly often claim this is because Gardner was making up the material as he went & at this point much of the material had yet to be written. Other, more friendly, critics like Doreen Valiente say Gardener's vagueness comes from his vow of secrecy & is evidence that he truly did discover a pre-existing coven. They argue that if Gardner did fabricate the whole thing himself he would have publicized the material as much as possible & his hesitation shows that the material wasn't his to freely disperse. Either way, the book remains required reading to most Wiccans today & is an interesting study of pagan ideas through time & space. Like his predecessor, Margaret Murray, Gardner tries to show that "the old religion" is indeed old, possibly even an echo of pre-Christian druidic beliefs.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
These days it seems the fashion to be a dabbler in the occult. People who are followers of the fashion, and not the religion, need not waste their money on anything by Gardner. If you want to don your "mystical" robe, flap your hands and recite "all-powerful" spells and incantations, *please* do NOT buy this book. There are too many serious students out there who need it more than you. You would do much better to buy a book of spells that has a really "cool" cover that your friends can Oooh and Ahhh over while you whisper that you're a *Witch*.
Meanwhile, if you are a serious student of the Craft, this book is for you. Many people say that it's a let-down because it doesn't spell out the how-to's of Wiccan ritual, or that its best quality is its historical importance. Yes, that's all true. It's also true that Gardner had a rather dry (if intriguing) writing style. However, better than giving the ABCs of writing a spell or ritual, GBG gives you an *understanding* of Witchcraft. This book makes you flex your gray matter and actually *think* about Witchcraft as more than just a Hollywood stereotype. There is a reason "Witchcraft Today" is on almost every recommended reading list for Groves and Covens: it is fundamental preparation for insights yet to come...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For anyone involved in or interested in the modern Wiccan revival, this is necessary reading. Wicca without Gardner is like pea soup without the ham bone.

If you choose to follow this path in earnest, you will find that when you re-read this book from time to time along your way, you will uncover new riches each time that you did not notice before.

The first time through, do not be distracted or unduly annoyed by Gardner's dated and sometimes inaccurate amateur speculations on history and anthropology. Just pay close attention to everything he says about the Witches he actually knew, and what they said and did.
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