Advantages easy to follow, not overly complicated, excellent information on trance work and meditating
Disadvantages only a 3rd of the book will be very useful to anyone who isn't a total novice
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NOTE: The Wiccan Path: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, is sold outside the USA as 'Hedge Witch: A Guide to Solitary Witchcraft'. The author, very kindly, points this out to prevent customers buying both by accident. As the copy I have is not the US edition, for the remainder of this review, I will be referring to the book as Hedge Witch, to avoid confusion (more on my own part, than yours!).
WHY I BOUGHT THIS BOOK (feel free to skip. See, I'm being thoughtful again!)
Ghosts, for example, and hauntings. Reincarnation (a family friend was reborn as a Scottish King, which I found a bit amusing considering she's English). Bad mojo or curses. Psychic abilities like TK (telekinesis, moving stuff with your mind. Like Carrie, but without killing people). Multiple Gods, not just the one dude chillin' in Heaven (I always had a fascination with the different Roman Gods and Goddesses, and eventually looked closer to home for the Celtic counterparts). And Hell was something I couldn't quite grasp, and eventually I had sussed it out for just being used to keep folk in line from doing stuff that they ended up doing anyway and then praying for forgiveness. And I'm still undecided on the exact origin and nature of UFOs.
Let's put it this way, I'm not the daughter of a Spiritualist for nothing!
WICCA... WITCHCRAFT... PAGANISM... EH?!?
Paganism (and neopaganism - neo = new) is a generic and broad term for all religions that are considered spiritual or work with nature.http://treesong.org/spirituality/wicca/faq/
Witchcraft is an old religion, also know as 'craft of the wise' by some folk. When the Witchcraft Act of England was repealed in 1951, Gerald Gardner shortly thereafter released his book 'Witchcraft Today' in 1954. As Gardner increased an already revived interest in the faith, it was referred to as Wicca as it was a new spirituality with roots in the old religion.Like Christianity, it has different traditions (or branches). For all the Lutherans and Jehovah's Witnesses in Christianity, you've got Dianic Wiccans (a more feminist movement focusing only on the Goddess) and Eclectic Wiccans (no one set tradition, but learns from all teachings).
And no, there is no devil worship. The devil is a Christian creation, and as much as I know that some people can put out very bad vibes and be capable of immense cruelty - I ain't gonna blame that on a horned guy dwelling in a place I don't even believe exists. Some people believe if you give such evil a name, you can give it power.
Witches and Wiccans have moral codes and ethics - and deliberately doing something bad, or worshipping something bad, is a big no-no.
I was encouraged to check out different authors, to work out myself who was credible and who was to be avoided, and obviously what appealled to me. Some Wiccan and Pagan authors (Wiccan mostly) are subject to attack by others in the community who consider their message to be totally wrong and misinformation. Which is a bit sad, considering that everything I've learned so far says that there is no 'One True Way' but that doesn't necessarily mean you can do whatever you feel like.
What you do does have repurcussions, for example, and it's a little off puting when you read such hateful words against another person. You get what you give, Karma, the Threefold Law, etc. (do you see now how there ain't no way that someone could do anything evil or worshipping that pesky satan without it coming back to bite them in the ar*e?)
HOW EASY IS IT TO READ? WHAT'S THE FORMAT?
Along with an explanation of the moon phases and wonderful little stories about how festivals were once celebrated (Beltane was considered the first day of Summer, and to ensure fertility and fruitfulness for when the harvest came, young couples would go into the forests and make the beast with two backs. Sorry that was rude and unprofessional. They made love. Hehehehehe). Along with the usual advice on being careful to do spells for folk on command, just to prove you can, and whether to wait to do a spell for someone until the right moon phase in a magic circle, we are also told about the witch's version of a christening and what should be considered before carrying out a Wiccaning, and also touches upon death and reincarnation.In her last letter to the two, they are given a brief list of herbs and essential oils and which 'magical application' they are best suited to e.g. healing, psychic protection, luck. And with this, she wishes them luck on their journey discovering the craft.
Still written in the letter format from March until June 1988, Beth is only now addressing Tessa (although I suppose we could still assume Glyn was on his voyage of discovery). She goes on to explain about how trancework is when the more powerful magic can be done, and throughout the remainder of the books gives advice and exercises for visualisation ('seeing' something inside your head, while in a relaxed state - daydreaming, almost) as well as techniques for ensuring protection while 'psychically open', and how to determine if anything or anyone encountered while visualising is a threat to you.
What I found very useful and informative about this book, was lurking in Part Two of the book, when Beth began to speak and describe visualisation and working while in a trance. Sounds a tad dodgy, doesn't it? You hear trance, you think Peter Powers making you fellate a banana (does he? I don't know, I just assume).
Once Tessa (and the reader, if so inclined) has mastered the basic and then slightly more difficult visualisation exercises, we can then learn to visualise to meet our animal familiars - companions who will help protect and guide us, and speak with the God and Goddess in their various aspects if not just to commune with them, then to ask for advice or guidance on a specific matter. Normally, the answers will be symbolic or something you realise that you've known all along - which isn't unusual, since isn't the God and Goddess inside all of us?_
I felt that even the most beginner of beginners - who had never picked up a book on this subject before - would be able to follow the material easily and not get bored. Sometimes it's easy to be overwhelmed by a topic, or the subject becomes a bit stale, but it was very easy to get through this book and not get lost in the lingo, as it was all patiently explained without any hint of being patronising.As for the letter form, well since she was writing to two students wanting to study the faith, it was written in a friendly manner (though with nowhere NEAR the warmth and friendliness I've noticed with Scott Cunningham's writings) and with the occasional pen ink drawing featuring something relevant to the time (daffodils in March, apples in October) and which broke up the pages and brought a bit of life into it. No chapters in this book, no sir! I admit though, it's easier to remember which chapter you were about to start rather than what date on a letter! My own fault for overestimating my memory I suppose, and not using a bookmark.
The thing that totally impressed me with this book though, as I've mentioned, was the detailed work and techniques for visualisation. I've seen this mentioned in other books but with nowhere near this amount of details, and although I have not yet attempted it, I'm a lot more confident that when I do (literally) put my mind to it, I will be able to do it, or at least put me on the right path to doing it.
I appreciate the fact that some of you will have read this without perhaps knowing what on earth I'm talking about, or even believing in what I do, but I'm very grateful for the fact that you have and just hope I've done this justice without confusing or alienating anyone! Or boring anyone, since I tend to write essays. At least I'm consistent!This review was written while under the influence of sobriety. Which is why I'm going to make up for it... hehehe
Rae Beth's website: www.knibb.org/rae/index.htm
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