REVIEW – Wicca: Magickal Beginnings – Sorita D’Este & David Rankine
It was a breath of fresh air to read this book, which presents accurate and historical information in order to separate the ‘myth’ from the ‘reality’ in regard to the origins of Wicca. Perhaps for the first time, these authors look closely at the individual practices which make up Wicca as a whole, and source the exact origins of these practices.
There has been much hostility between different traditions of modern witchcraft in regard to whether Wicca is – or is not – a continuation of older practices. To compound this, many practitioners of Wicca also try to avoid association with the more controversial figures – such as Aleister Crowley: and this book proves – whether you like it or not! – that Aleister had an enormous influence on Wiccan practice, particularly in relation to some of its most highly regarded ritual and poetry.
This book presents very clearly that Wicca – whilst a new concept as a whole – is indeed based on older practices, perhaps including the mystery traditions of Greece and Rome, Ceremonial Magick, the Cunning Craft of Britain and the Grimoire tradition (the latter which provides Wicca with such key practices as the directions, or ‘quarters’, and the magic circle; used in both Traditional Wicca and some forms of modern British Cunning Craft). The authors also give their own opinion based on the evidence at the end of the book as to which they believe was the most prevalent influence; but the reader is reminded to come to their own conclusions.
I would thoroughly recommend this book, ‘Wicca: Magickal Beginnings’ to the serious student who is interested in the historical origins of this tradition, as well as the continuation of magical traditions as a whole – and I would not hesitate in placing this book next to other ground breaking titles such as Professor Ron Hutton’s ‘Triumph of the Moon’. However – that being said, there is something more than just historical evidence coming through this book when one reads between the lines; because, whilst the authors draw on historical information, they also interject this work with statements such as, ‘the outward radiation of the mysteries’, and ‘the continuation of a growing spiritual and magickal current’, when speaking about the more debated texts and/or practices which have influenced the growth of Wicca – such as work by Murray, Frazer, and Leland.
An absolute gem of a read – and a fantastic ‘myth-buster’, too! Any serious student of Wicca (and indeed student of any other magical tradition) should read this book, in order to gain further insight into the ‘Magickal Beginnings’ of this practice – a practice which has, very quickly, become one of the fastest growing belief systems in the world.