Posted by: Nyxks | August 14, 2007

Lid Off the Cauldron

Lid Off the Cauldron
by Patricia Crowther © 1998
Capall Bann
ISBN 186163032-8
200 pages includes Appendix, Bibliography and Index & 10 Pages of black and white photos
paperback
(U.S.) $10.95
reviewed by: Mike Gleason

This is a revision of a book first published about twenty years earlier. It was originally published in 1981 and suffers from some of the attitudes prevalent at that time.

The author is a Gardnerian initiate and, consequently, espouses the “It takes a Witch to make a Witch” position. Self-initiation is not an option for this lady. A lot of what she says resounds with what I was taught, although I am not Gardnerian. For instance, her statement on page 53: “Unlike the ritual magician’s circle, which is there to keep elementals and hostile forces at bay, the Witches’ circle is erected to contain the magical power raised within it.” Many modern-day Wiccans stress to protective aspects of the circle, thus betraying their fear of the powers they are attempting to associate with.

She provides basic information and examples regarding tools, magic working and circle casting, in the event one is not able to work with a coven. While this was an extremely valid position (and remains so to a lesser extent, even in 2005), with the advent of the burgeoning cyber community dedicated to the Craft and magickal workings, there is little excuse for not connecting with fellow practitioners.

The book is enriched by the inclusion of poetry and invocations created by Ms. Crowther and her late husband, Arthur. The imagery created is beautiful and contributes much to the beauty and power of the rituals being worked.

While this book is, in essence, a “Wicca 101” book (witness its subtitle “A Wicca Handbook”) it has the advantage of being penned by an author who personally knew one of the acknowledged leaders if the early public life of Wicca. Thus her information is not the kind that has passed through several layers of teachers, with the resultant distortion which may occur. That doesn’t necessarily make it better, but it does allow us to see what information was considered important, back “in the day.”

She includes Planetary Rites to use as attunements (or at-one-ments) before beginning actual magickal operations. Each such rite included basic correspondences and invocations, as well as full descriptions of appropriate actions. There are no seasonal rituals given, nor are there any “laws” included. Only the final couplet of the Rede is quoted. Therefore, even though this is a “Wicca 101” book, it is even more basic than that.

It is an excellent overview of the Craft in the early days of its public existence, and can serve to provide a bit more meat on the bones of the usual Craft histories. On top of that, Ms. Crowther has a most enjoyable style of writing and is, on top of her other qualifications, quite entertaining.

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