It’s a brave thing to write a “Wicca 101” book, because there are so many of them out there. My introduction to Wicca came through a group led by two mountain witches whose wisdom and friendship I treasure to this day. They pointed me in the direction of Scott Cunningham’s “Wicca For the Solitary Practitioner” which I consider to be one of the definitive books of the American expression of Wicca. However, it was written in 1989 so there is definitely room for new authors to expand upon this ever-evolving tradition.
Enter Lisa Chamberlain’s Wicca For Beginners: A Guide to Wiccan Beliefs, Rituals, Magic and Witchcraft from Sterling Ethos. I’m happy to report that there is so much about this book to like. First of all, Lisa’s writing style is clear and concise. She is able to tackle numerous subjects without making this book the size of a Stephen King novel.
It’s a quick read but don’t let that fool you. There is a lot of wisdom and food for thought in these pages.
The thing I appreciate most about her book is it’s flexibility. Like Cunningham before her, she lets the reader know there are many ways to practice Wicca. This is not a definitive text, but rather, a guideline for those just beginning to study the Craft. I have always found this to be one of the strengths of Wicca. It is what you make of it. I’m an eclectic practitioner myself and Chamberlain encourages the reader over and over again to experiment and find those practices, tools, and rituals that feel authentic to the person using them. Well done!
The book itself is beautifully illustrated and impeccably organized into four main sections:
What is Wicca contains a detailed history of the origins of Wicca that I thought was more extensive than most introductory books. It also explores some of Wicca’s core elements such as the Deities, the Wheel of the Year, Sabbats, and Esbats.
Wiccan Ritual contains all the basic information you would expect in such a book, including casting a circle, ritual tools, etc. Chamberlain’s strength in this section is that it’s loaded with ideas and options for the reader to consider.
Wiccan Magic helps the reader to understand the difference between practical magic and ritual magic. I was also pleased to see a few words on the connection between science and magic where science is beginning to catch up with what we witches already know from personal experience. It also includes basic information and charts on candles, herbs, crystals, etc.
Advice for Aspiring Wiccans & Witches wraps things up with advice on a few topics not yet covered in the book. It includes this parting word of wisdom, “As you read and study further, and as you meet and interact with fellow practitioners, you might find that some people’s views vary wildly from those presented here. Nonetheless, the goal of this guide has been to provide a general orientation to Wiccan beliefs and practices from an unbiased perspective.” There is a lot of truth in this quote and as you read my blog you will find information that is sometimes different from what Chamberlain presents in her book. However, Wicca For Beginners is a good place to start if you’re new to Wicca and it’s core beliefs and practices. Well done!
Copyright ©2020 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com