Title: The Study of Witchcraft: A Guidebook to Advanced Wicca
Publisher: Weiser Books
Author: Deborah Lipp
In the interest of fairness, I want to disclose that I myself am not Wiccan — and I often find that many texts on Wicca rub me the wrong way. This tome, however, was easily one of the better books on Wicca that I’ve read for a variety of reasons.
First and foremost, though this text does include some “101” material, by and large it’s a guide on how to deepen one’s practice beyond the “101” level that most books on Wicca explore. It provides the reader with a variety of specific ways to advance their practice, especially by pointing toward areas of study that are beneficial in doing so. Not only does Lipp point the reader towards areas of study that can enrich a Wicca practice, she provides an exhaustive list of recommended reading to go along with those pointers, sorted according to subject and included at the end of each chapter.
It was also greatly refreshing to read an author who acknowledges that Wicca is not inherently feminist in nature, and explored that idea, if only briefly. Perhaps my own favorite chapter in the book was the chapter “Staying Involved,” which looked at the relationship between Wiccan practice and political engagement and/or activism. This is a chapter definitely worth revisiting in today’s high-stakes social and political climate.
The only downside that I really noted in this book was also in the “Staying Involved” chapter: though Lipp acknowledges a history of homophobia in Wicca and other pagan practices, she largely glosses over on-going homophobic and transphobic movements that persist in these communities (the book was published in 2007, and these movements are still unfortunately very present). Lipp appeared to want to relegate these unfortunate movements and practices to the annals of history, as I’m sure many of wish we could — avlas, with homophobic and transphobic movements still very much alive within Wicca and Paganism, it’s important to not overlook the way those movements continue to effect community members.
Overall this is a book I would happily recommend to newcomers and to intermediate practitioners alike. It is not itself a guidebook on what Wicca is, the traditions, or how to practice, but instead offers a good map to guide practitioners beyond the realm of “101,” and it effectively accomplishes this goal.
[Reviewed by Tahni Nikitins. Nikitins is beginning to lose track of how long she has been a practicing pagan, but she believes that it’s been somewhere around eight years. She recently became a devotee of Loki, but continues to work with deities and spirits from many pantheons. She often honors the deities and spirits she works with by telling stories for and about them in her art and writing. Some of her work has been featured in Huginn, Lilith: Queen of the Desert and Unto Herself: A Devotional Anthology for Independent Goddesses. She often shares snippets of writing at tahnijnikitins.deviantart.com.]