The Practice of Witchcraft Today
An Introduction to Beliefs and Rituals
By Robin Skelton
This is an older book, at least as far as most books on the subject of Witchcraft and Wicca go. It was first published in 1990, and the Citadel edition that I have was published in 1998. It’s still in print and available from a number of sources, including Amazon.com. Personally, I tend to think that a book about Wicca, or Witchcraft that has that sort of staying power is somewhat more than a fad.
The Practice of Witchcraft Today is written in three parts.
In Part 1, Robin answers many questions about Witchcraft and Wicca. There are 48 questions in all, and the subjects range from “What is a Witch?” to “Do Witches perform sacrifices?” and on to “How does one become a witch?”. Most any question you are likely to encounter from the average person on the street, you’ll find answered, and well, here.
In Part 2, Robin goes on to Rituals and Celebrations. It’s in this section that you have an opportunity to see Robin’s unique vision of Wicca or Witchcraft. What he outlines in his celebrations is uniquely his own, but they are not at all without a sense of beauty and poetry.
Some traditionalists might argue that what Robin practices isn’t Wicca. I’d say that it’s not “traditional Wicca”, but it is a complete system.
There are a number of rituals given, from initiation, to name-giving, handfasting and more.
There is also in this section, A Witch’s Calendar, in which there are rituals outlined to celebrate a number of days throughout the year. It is Robin’s belief that a person should not let more than 28 days pass between celebrations, that this frequency is important to keep one centered in her or his faith.
With that in mind, there are 19 individual dates marked, as well as ceremonies for the New Moon, Full Moon and Dark of the Moon.
Part 3 of this book contains a number of spells of differing varieties. In this Workbook section are verbal magic, including love spells, blessings, banishings, healing, bidding and binding. He goes on to talisman magic, projective eye and hand magic and sympathetic magic.
To the purist, “The Practice of Witchcraft Today” might seem a bit pretentious or even erroneous at times, but I’ve come to believe that a complete purist can find fault with most anything.
In “The Practice of Witchcraft Today”, what I’ve found is another system for working magick that is presented in a well-written book that is fairly short, easy to understand, and comprehensive. These are three goals that are difficult for any writer to achieve at the same time.
Will I be changing the way I do things after reading this book? No. But I have a system that works for me.
Would this be the book I’d recommend to beginners? Probably not all of them … probably not most. I think though, that it would depend on the person.
Who would I recommend this book to? I’d recommend this book to anyone who is interested in other systems, who wants to understand other ways of performing ritual, who wants ideas as to how to improve their connection to the wheel of the year. I’d recommend it to anyone who has a lot of questions about Witchcraft and Wicca … they might well find answers in part 1 of this book.
In short, The Practice of Witchcraft Today may not be “my” way of doing things, but it’s certainly “a” way of doing things, and while it’s not necessarily an essential book in every pagan’s library, having a copy of it doesn’t lessen the quality of your collection.
© 2008, Deirdre Hebert