By Mike Gleason
Wicca Spellcraft for Men, by A. J. Drew
New Page, 2001
The subtitle of this book gave me some trouble as soon as I saw it (A Spellbook for Male Pagans), and I feel it would be better without it. It is NOT a spellbook, it is a book about spells, and those are very different types of books.
Every once in a while I begin reading a book and find myself running into my prejudices. Even more rarely, such a book makes me admit that I have been trying to fit into a PC mode, and have become unaware of my prejudices.
This book, which I received unrequested, did both of these things to me, but on different topics.
First, I have a prejudice against “spell” books. I know that, for me personally (and many others), the best spells are created, as needed, by the individuals doing them. That idea that stimuli which work for someone else will work for me appears highly unlikely. So, I was predisposed to dislike this book before I even opened the cover. Within a matter of a few pages Mr. Drew disposed of that prejudice. He immediately made it clear that this book was to be about creating spells, not repeating someone else’s work.
But even before he did that, he demolished the Animal Farm-like attitude that seems so prevalent in most of the Pagan community today. “All animals (people) are created equal, only some are more equal than others.” Ask the hypothetical “average” Pagan today who they worship and you will hear, with minor variations such as specific names, “The Goddess,” and then, as a kind of an afterthought, “and the God.”
Most Wiccan groups insist on the superiority of the Goddess (and Her priestesses) over the God (and His priests). Some groups go so far as to banish all male energy from their rituals, ascribing male-associated virtues to female images (ala “Xena”). It has become defacto (if not dejure) that female equals good; male equals bad. Women don’t need men, but men need women to continue the human race.
Women’s Mysteries are perceived as a chance to explore feelings and emotions. Men’s Mysteries are equally perceived as a chance to drum and brag about conquests, of all sorts.
We pay lip service to equality, but that is about as far as it goes. As a candidate for initiation into Alexandrian Wicca over a quarter of a century ago, I had to copy out my Book of Shadows. I look back and wonder why I didn’t question some of the things I wrote out. I wrote, and didn’t question, such phrases as “But the high Priestess should ever mind that all power comes from him. It is only lent to be used wisely and justly.”
Mr. Drew continually challenges the matrifocal basis of most current Pagan (and neo-Pagan) religions. He also calls into question many of the ways of thinking came about as a result of the “Burning Times.”
If we wish to worship as our ancestors did, he says, we need to go back before the Christian persecutions. Although he does not advocate animal sacrifice, he reminds us of the need to honor and respect that which gave its life to sustain our own. He reminds us that, in the old days.” one’s religion was truly part of one’s life. One did not distinguish their belief as different from another’s. One simply believed, and did, what he needed to in order to survive.
Many people will be unhappy with Mr. Drew’s statements and positions, but he obviously has the courage of his convictions.
Like many of the “great” names in the Pagan movement (Doreen Valiente comes to mind), he is not afraid to remind us that “Mother Natures” is not all sweetness and light. Nature demands that death occur in order for life to continue; nor does she apologize for it.
The author reminds us that, contrary to popular images, there are feminine images that are not necessarily maternal in nature. Personally, I have a hard time picturing Kali as a loving, nurturing figure – but she has had, and does have, her devoted followers. Likewise, some male images are not necessarily hard-nosed individuals (Cupid as a guy with an attitude? Nah.)
I had a few problems with some of the editing in this book, but found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable, not to say, educational books. Let it inspire you and set you on your own path of discovery.