There seems to be a perception in some Pagan Circles that Llewellyn publishes books of lesser value or quality or worth than other publishers. Some pagans will actually tell you that if you’re looking for a “good pagan book”, to stay away from Llewellyn.
While Llewellyn does print some books that might not be as intellectually robust as other publishers, it’s by no means a universal truism that Llewellyn only publishes junk. I have many books in my own library from Llewellyn that I consider important.
One of these books is Christopher Penczak’s “The Inner Temple of Witchcraft” which is an excellent introduction to Wicca or Witchcraft.
One of the failings of Llewellyn that I noticed in this book is their editing. A number of spelling and usage errors were noticed in the text, such as the use of “entomology” where “etymology” was meant, or “place” instead of “plane”. In an otherwise well-written book, this is more of a momentary distraction than anything else.
If one can ignore the rare peccadilloes, this book provides an introduction to Wicca that skimps neither in depth nor in breadth. It’s obvious that Christopher is an experienced teacher. His experience with students from various walks of life enables him to anticipate a variety of questions that those reading “The Inner Temple of Witchcraft” might have while working through the material.
The book begins with four introductory chapters which describe the history of Wicca or Witchcraft and let the reader know what Wicca and Witchcraft are. They answer very well the question “What is a witch?” The remaining thirteen chapters provide the body of information included in Penczak’s 1st level class.
The Inner Temple of Witchcraft doesn’t delve in depth on many subjects that other 1st degree courses do, such as the mechanics of ritual and the seasonal celebrations, it provides a great deal of “inner” work that other courses leave out. In working through the text, and in taking time with the various exercises the student will truly get to know him or herself much better, and that is one of the primary lessons or goals of Witchraft.
Penczac describes a witch as a healer, and a great deal of the text is devoted to healing both self and others. This book, in and of itself is somewhat of a healing tool as well as a guidebook of a spiritual path. It emphasizes gentleness in healing rather than a Western assault on disease. Still, it does not advocate using witchcraft when Western medicine and doctors are indicated.
In short, this book is an excellent course of study for a reasonably intelligent individual who is interested in the fundamental concepts of Witchcraft. It is not a book of shadows. It is not a full-course in “how to be your own high priest/ess”. It does not provide a ritual template for the Sabbats or Esbats. What it is, is a course in the self from the perspective of a witch. It accomplishes this admirably.
© 2008, Deirdre A. Hebert