Review: Elements of Witchcraft, by Ellen Dugan

By Mike Gleason | May 8, 2003

Elements of Witchcraft: Natural Magick for Teens, by Ellen Dugan
Llewellyn Worldwide, 0738703931, 218 pp. (+ glossary and index), 2003

This book is due for publication sometime this month. It is one of a large number of books I have seen lately aimed at teen seekers. I’m not sure I agree with some of Ms. Dugan’s assertions about learning the Craft on your own, but she is entitled to her own beliefs.

I must admit that I like her presentation of the principles of the Craft. She helps to make it seem natural, which it is; she stresses the low-tech end of magick – no tools needed, no heavy duty rituals; she makes it just about as non-threatening as I have heard.

In the style of any good Craft teacher, she sets out the basic Guidelines in simple, no nonsense language. She explains why manipulative magick is actually counter-productive; and she does so early in the book.

By including a few blank pages at appropriate points in the book, she allows the reader to do two things – Most importantly to begin keeping track of their magickal thoughts and feelings; and to personalize the book without scribbling notes in the margins.

I found a number of typographical and formatting errors in this book, but sine it was an uncorrected proof, I wasn’t surprised by this.

The elemental meditations are simple but effective. They are as non threatening as you can imagine, thus helping to allay fears of teens and their parents, who will be reading this book.

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Ms. Dugan repeatedly emphasizes the ethic and morality of the Craft. She also stresses the simplicity which many practitioners seem to forget.

She recommends a fair number of books for further information, from a variety of sources, and most them should still be readily available, which is a pleasant change from many lists of recommendations which seem to be composed either of single sources, or contain many books which are obviously hard to obtain.

Her writing style is informal, but informative. Too many “teen Witch” books tend to be either too preachy or too friendly (for lack of a better description). This one sounds like it was written by an “average” Mom; trying her best to convey the basics without discouraging, or disparaging the information being conveyed.

The subtitle of this book (“Natural Magick for Teens”) really sets the tone. Although tools are mentioned early on, there is little space devoted to them through the first half of the book. In spite of that, there is no attempt made to downplay the work which is necessary to make magick work. She provides basic correspondence lists, a spell worksheet, as well as thoroughly enjoyable elemental visualizations.

There is consistent reaffirmation of safety considerations in the workings she teaches. Substitutions are suggested for things which may be dangerous or not allowed by parents, and an emphasis is placed on the fact that natural magick relies on intent much more than physical objects.

This is not a book about how to become a Witch (although there are Craft stories and examples included). It is a book about learning natural magick within a Pagan/Craft framework. I’m sure that, at some point, the author will be “accused” of either simply writing another “101” book, or of attempting to recruit teens. In spite of the subtitle (“Natural Magick for Teens”), it is really a book for all beginners interested in Magick. Personally, I would have liked it better if the title were something like Elements of Natural Magick, with a subtitle of “A Book for the Young Seeker.”

Her circle casting technique is unique in my experience. She uses the elemental representations, starting from the quarter appropriate for each element (instead of all of them starting from the same point). Obviously, it works for her, and it would probably work as well as any other technique I’ve every used.

While this is not the best introductory book I’ve seen, it certainly is one of the best. It is easy to read, conveys all the essential information for the appropriate level, whets your appetite to learn more, and is just, generally, a fun book to ready.


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About Mike Gleason

Mike Gleason (1951-2012) dedicated his time to sharing his knowledge and opinions with others, and spent years reviewing books for the Pagan, Wiccan, Witch and magickal communities.