Bkwyrm reviews Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks & Covens by Paul Huson in the Bkwyrm archive.
One thing that ought to be made abundantly clear before any discussion of this book’s merits is that this is not a book about Wicca. It is not a guide to mastering the Wiccan religion. As surprising as it may seem to some people, Wiccans are not the only ones who practice witchcraft. This book is for those of us (whoops, gave myself away there) who practice witchcraft, but are not Wiccan.
Stewart Farrar really, really doesn’t like this book. He’s referred to it as “that amoral book”. And he’s right, in a way. This really is an amoral book. It talks about things that you won’t find in Silver RavenWolf’s introduction to Wicca materials. It covers love spells, destruction spells, curses, hexes, necromancy, initiation rituals, the various powers of a witch, and psychic protection. Definitely not for the faint of heart or easily frightened.
Frankly, this book is a great antidote to the sugar-dripping “white light” texts that seem to weigh down the bookstore shelves these days. It’s a very practical book, with very little sweetening, about what witchcraft is – as a practice, not as a religion – and what witches do. Well, what some witches do. This book really is amoral – it doesn’t presume to teach the reader any kind of magical ethics. And I like it all the better for that fact. Book after book rolls off the presses with magical ethics presented like the Ten Commandments – you can almost see Charlton Heston as Moses coming down off the mountain top, booming “An it harm none, do as thou wilt”. Arrrgh. Mr. deMille, I’m ready for my close-up. Huson isn’t interested in morality. He’s interested in witchcraft. In the foreword is the statement “We take no responsibility for the results you achieve, good or bad. Witchcraft is witchcraft. The seeds of success or destruction lie within you and you alone.” Mr. Huson is not kidding.
The book covers quite a lot. There’s information on the first steps one must take to become involved in witchcraft, with plenty of information on preliminary preparations and first steps. A chapter on divination, while not the best I’ve seen, is certainly adequate for a book not devoted to the topic. After the divination comes the no-hold-barred material: the love spells, and a section on countermagic and protection that gives Dion Fortune’s Psychic Self-Defense a run for it’s money. Vengeance and magical attacks are also covered in detail, which is where the reader is required to actually think about their own morality and form their own magical ethics. How horrible! A book that actually presents readers with information and tells them to make their own decisions! *Gasp* [sarcasm off]. The chapter on covens is really nothing new – how to find one, how to form one, how to avoid getting sucked into one you don’t want to join. It has two appendices – one on the planetary hours, and one on terms that may be unfamiliar to the “layman”. It also contains a short but scholarly bibliography with works from the sixteenth century on to modern times.
All in all, I was pretty impressed with this book. It’s occasionally hard to read, and a little dense. It does contain step-by-step instructions for those readers who choose to do certain spells and workings. The instructions are clear and easy to understand. I’d recommend this book pretty highly, if only to get a fresh view of witchcraft from the perspective of a non-Wiccan witch who actually knows what he’s talking about most of the time.