Saturday, September 24, 2005


Review: “Wicca's Charm: Understanding the Spiritual Hunger Behind the Rise of Modern Witchcraft and Pagan Spirituality” by Catherine Edwards Sande

Earlier this week, On Books & Publications carried the following, interesting book review. According to the reviewer, “Wicca's Charm” provides a timely guide for confused parents and others attempting to relate to the neo-pagans in their lives. The book discusses the power of the witchcraft practiced by self-styled witches. It also confirms the spiritual forces acknowledged by Christians and others.

Wicca's Charm sounds interesting. I am adding it to my reading list.

Here's the review by Anastazia M.E. Skolnitsky complemented by some of my backgrounder hyperlinks ...

Wicca's Charm

"Wicca's Charm is a fascinating trek into Wicca, a little known subculture in America that is rapidly gaining influence among young people, women and spiritual seekers. Written by Catherine Edwards Sanders, Wicca's Charm is especially valuable because it approaches the discussion of Wicca from a reporter's viewpoint. This was done in order to foster understanding between Wiccans and Christians and to help readers weigh the differences between the two worldviews. Wicca's Charm is the result of carefully compiled field research, which was supported by a yearlong journalism fellowship.

"Sanders engages her subject with wisdom and sympathy, explaining the animosity some 'neo-pagans' or Wiccans, feel toward the church, while emphasizing that a compassionate approach by Christians can build on the respect Wiccans have for Jesus, if not established religion. Several case studies dealt with the contrast between those who were wounded versus those who were nurtured by Christians during their periods of doubt. Not surprisingly, those whose questions were met with empathy and open dialogue proved more likely to eventually embrace Christianity.

"This book provides a timely guide for confused parents, loved ones, and others attempting to relate to the neo-pagans in their lives. Wicca's Charm discusses the power of the witchcraft practiced by self-styled witches, confirming spiritual forces already acknowledged by Christians and Wiccans. Indeed, many of the witches interviewed by Sanders reported having some kind of disturbing encounter during or after a ceremony. Wicca's Charm also provides useful background on the history and psychology behind Wiccan practices and sects.

"Sanders' insights will prove surprising to many readers, as these devotees of modern pantheism and goddess worship claim lineage to pre-Christian religions, acknowledging no objective good or evil. Wiccans do not believe in the existence of Satan, despite many outsiders' perception of Wiccans as Satanic. With the exception of the Wiccan Rede, which advises “do what you will, but harm none,” Wicca lacks fundamental principles. While this lack of structure might seem too fluid to inspire confidence, modern pagans find comfort in Wicca's emphasis on ritual, acknowledgement of life's milestones and respect for the earth.

"Wiccan observance of the cycles of life and nature appeal to many young, educated, and possibly “green” Americans, who feel that urban modernity has isolated them from an idealized state of nature. Conversely, Christianity is growing in much of Africa and South America , where people are more intimately connected with nature and its hazards. They are thus more likely to embrace the protection of an all-powerful God, rather than communion with an unpredictable earth goddess, who cannot shield them from natural blights and disasters.

"Some of Sanders' most riveting material is gleaned from her many travels as a reporter embedded in Wiccan culture, including a Halloween trip to Salem, Massachusetts. Sanders also explores the political offshoots of Wicca, ranging from anti-globalization protests in New York City , to the more disturbing elements of militant feminism in Dianic Wiccan practices. While providing a striking look at some of the movement's fringe elements, Wicca's Charm also presents a framework for understanding what motivates more mainstream attraction to Wicca, or “The Craft.”

"Sanders presents an engaging combination of documentary and social commentary. She has produced a book that will surely appeal to readers curious about “the rise of modern witchcraft and pagan spirituality” in American culture.

"In explaining the roots of estrangement from the Church, Sanders effectively challenges Christians to respond to these needs by articulating the role and nature of womanhood in Christianity as a counterbalance to the more vocal and sometimes self-centered feminism of Wicca. Wicca's Charm also stresses the Christian responsibility to be effective stewards of the environment. Readers will leave with a clear understanding of Wicca, how the Church can effectively approach Wiccans, and why some have left Christianity in search of more satisfying spirituality. It is also a brilliant treatise on how Christianity, and specifically Jesus Christ, addresses the grievances of Wiccans and other seekers who have left the Christian faith."

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About the Reviewer: Anastazia Skolnitsky graduated in 2005 with a BA in International Politics from George Mason University, where she also studied history. Currently interning with, she is pursuing an MSc in Russian and Post Soviet Studies from the London School of Economics.

Now It's Your Turn!: What do you think and feel is behind the spread of non-Christian cults and pagan religions like Wicca in North America? Does is cause you concern as a Follower of Jesus? (My 'Comment Section', in which you can share anonymously, will open to you when you click on "comments" immediately below this post.)

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