By Mike Gleason
Spirit of the Witch: Religion & Spirituality in Contemporary Witchcraft, by Raven Grimassi
Llewellyn Publications, 0738703389, 264 pp. (incl. bibliography), 2003
While there is no question that the author is knowledgeable about his own particular branch of Wicca (Stregheria), this very knowledge presents a problem. Because of his knowledge and background, and because (I suspect) of the length of time he has spent teaching, he slips into the habit of making pronouncements (i.e., “The pentacle platter is made of stone or clay.”1 While this may be true in his branch of Wicca, it doesn’t hold true for all branches.
Granted, in the next paragraph he does acknowledge that some Witches do use metal (of which he appears tolerant) or even wood (of which he appears less tolerant).
I truly like and appreciate Raven’s style of writing. It is, in most cases, clear and unambiguous. It is too bad that Wicca is not so clean cut and obvious. He acknowledges that trying to organize Witches is like trying to herd cats. Witches are entirely too independent and contrary to be easily pigeon-holed.
The author does his best to present a variety of points-of-view, in contrast to many other authors today, in spite of his own bias in favour of his own particular branch of Wicca. Unfortunately, there are pluses and minuses to this approach, and he will draw criticism from both sides of the debate. Those who follow Strega will complain that he compromises their beliefs, and those who follow other traditions will complain that he doesn’t fully understand their tradition.
This book accomplishes what it sets out to do, which is to provide an overview of the spirituality which is inherent in the religion of Wicca. It is not the be-all and end-all on the topic. It is a starting point.
The rituals he provides will certainly give you a starting point. They are not complex, nor are they drawn from any particular tradition. They are simple and moving and, most importantly, effective in beginning a lifetime’s experience in relating to the Wheel of the Year.
This is one of the first books I have seen which is devoted to the spirituality of Wicca and not just the forms. If this is what you want to know about, this book is an excellent starting point. I would hope to see more books on the same topic, by many other authors. The more points of view the populace can be exposed to, the more comfortable people will be in finding their own spirituality.Footnotes:
- p. 109 [↩]