Tag: doreen valiente

Iconic occult documentaries of the ’70s

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Still from Legend of the WItchThere's a certain something about occult documentaries made in the 1970s. Maybe it's the style -- the colours and tones are rich and vibrant and the wardrobe has a certain vintage feel that I love. Or maybe it's the content? Interviews with well-respected founders of contemporary traditions and footage of rituals conducted in spaces that I can only dream of visiting give me access to a time and place that no longer exists.The moods in these films shift back and forth from serious to slightly laughable; in one segment we get an honest and thoughtful sound bite from a well respected occult talking head, and in the next, a scene that is just a little too stereotypical; a naked woman grooving on an altar, middle aged English folk running skyclad in a circle, and lots and lots of black velvet attire. Read More

The Weiser Field Guide to Witches, by Judika Illes

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The Weiser Field Guide to Witches, by Judika IllesThe Weiser Field Guide to Witches, by Judika Illes Weiser Books, 9781578634798, 272 pp., 2010When a field guide is well done, it gives the reader the means to distinguish between species and can be an incredible aid to study, classification, and practical knowledge. When a field guide is not so well done, it can very quickly become a mess.I really wanted to like The Weiser Field Guide to Witches. For one thing, I like and admire Judika Illes, whose Element Encyclopedias I consider useful as well as beautiful, well-researched, and wonderfully organized. I was prepared to thoroughly enjoy spending more time with her blend of wit and erudition. The subtitle, "From Hexes to Hermione Granger, from Salem to the Land of Oz", is marvellously enticing, as well as the idea given in the back cover copy that the field guide could help you, the reader, discern if you are a witch. Read More

Aradia, by Charles Godfrey Leland

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Aradia, by Charles LelandAradia, Gospel of the Witches, by Charles Godfrey Leland The Witches' Almanac, 9780982432358, 178 pp., 1899, 2010Charles Godfrey Leland (1824-1903) was an American folklorist who published some twenty books on American and European folklore, Romani traditions, witchcraft, and other subjects. He is chiefly remembered today for his influence on the development of modern Paganism, primarily through the publication of Aradia. Read More

Fire Child, by Maxine Sanders

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Fire Child, by Maxine SandersFirechild, by Maxine Sanders Fire Child: The Life & Magic of Maxine Sanders 'Witch Queen', by Maxine Sanders Mandrake, 9781869928780, 309 pp., 2008I have been waiting for this book to be written for years, if not decades. We need more autobiographies (as well as biographies) concerning those people who helped to bring our religion out of the broom closet. We already had Gerald Gardner: Witch and King of the Witches: The World of Alex Sanders as well as several books relating the life and works of George Pickingill, Doreen Valiente, Sybil Leek, and more modern practitioners such as Fiona Horne. The Internet has made it easy to find out about individuals’ actions. Their motivations, however, may not be so easily determined.One of the things I enjoyed  about this book was Maxine Sanders's lack of pretension. Far too many elders in the Craft had, seemingly, flawless introductions to our religion, and smooth sailing throughout their careers. Not so with Sanders. She honestly recounts the bumps in the road and reveals the hidden warts. It may give hope to the next generation of witches to realize that snafus and bad decisions can be overcome with minimal bad effect in the long run. Read More