Tag Archives: Stewart Farrar

A Witches’ Bible: The Complete Witches’ Handbook

Bkwyrm reviews A Witches’ Bible: The Complete Witches’ Handbook by Janet and Stewart Farrar, in the Bkwyrm archive.

The title of this book puts a lot of people off, I think. The thought of a “Witches’ Bible” is enough to make most Wiccans head for the hills. Regardless of the unfortunate title given to this work, it’s a great reference that explains the ins and outs of one of the oldest recognized traditions in Wicca. Janet and Stewart Farrar are Alexandrian Tradition Wiccans, a tradition stemming from Alex Sander’s family tradition inherited from his grandmother. They live in Ireland, where they teach Wicca and run a coven. They have written other books, but this is probably their best known and most popular collaboration.

“A Witches’ Bible” is a big book, with sections entitled The Frame, The Sabbats, and Birth, Marriage and Death. Together, these sections give a solid overview of what Alexandrian Tradition Wiccans believe, and the way they celebrate their religion. The book contains rituals but, more importantly, information on where those rituals come from and why they’re important. There is information in here that a lot of people are going to disagree with – the Farrars are not really in favor of solitary practice, and they retain the “old fashioned” belief that each coven needs to have equal numbers of males and females for the magickal polarity to be correctly maintained. And, of course, they are operating from the assumption that Alex Sander’s grandmother really did pass down her traditions in witchcraft to Alex. Strangely enough, it doesn’t really matter what the reader thinks of Alexandrian trad. The Alexandrian rituals presented can be rewritten or changed to fit the readers’ needs, and the reader is free to disagree with way Alexandrians practice Wicca.

I’m fond of this book for several reasons. First, the Farrars are easy to read. The information is presented in an engaging manner, with wit and style. The writing is clear and unambiguous, the instructions for rituals leave no room for misunderstanding, and just about everything is explained clearly. Second, the Farrars have a clearly defined traditional perspective. They are writing from the point of view of Alexandrian Wiccans. They do not and will not apologize for the quirks and foibles of their tradition. The message I got from this work was “This is the way we do it. If you disagree, or want to change some things, that’s fine, but then you’re not practicing Alexandrian tradition Wicca.” I must say I appreciate that – a refreshing change of pace from the many books written from a general Wiccan perspective with no clear tradition behind them. Finally, the Farrars have written a useful book. This may sound a little bit odd, but with the huge number of “beginner” books on the market that rehash the same dumbed-down information over and over again, a literate beginner book that will actually be useful past one reading is a marvelous find.


Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches by Charles Godfrey Leland, newly translated by Mario Pazzaglini and Dina Pazzaglini, with additional material from Chas S Clifton, Robert Mathiesen, and Robert E Chartowich, with foreword by Stewart Farrar, a 1999 paperback from Phoenix Publishing, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Charles G Leland et al Aradia from Phoenix press

“When Charles Godfrey Leland published Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches at the end of the nineteenth century as the crowning product of his Italian researches of the 1880s and 1890s, he believed he was preserving what remained of an ancient but dying tradition before it was too late. he could not have known that in so doing he was providing one of the key source-books which would inspire a vigorous revival of that tradition half a century after his death. Had he been able to foresee it, he would have been astonished, probably amused, and almost certainly gratified; for in spite of the occasional Victorian caution with which he expressed himself, his research was clearly a labor of love.

This expanded edition features contributions by several eminent authorities:

Mario Pazzaglini, PhD, whose family origins on both sides are deeply rooted in the area where Aradia originated, has spent 25 years working on this new translation. He gives line-by-line transcription showing where Leland made his original errors as a result of his lack of comprehension of the dialect of the area. The new translation is then presented in the same format as the original edition (which is included here as well), Mario’s research notes are also included.

Chas Clifton has been studying witchcraft and the occult for over 25 years. He teaches at the University of Colorado and has a long list of published books to his name, including: Iron Mountain: A Journal of Magical Religion, The Modern Rites of Passage, Witchcraft and Shamanism, and Sacred Mask, Sacred Dance. He discusses the significance of Aradia on the revival of modern witchcraft.

Robert Mathieson [sic], PhD, has been a member of the faculty of Brown University for over 30 years. During the last decade most of his research has been on the historical development of magical theories and practices from the Middle Ages to the present. He writes on the origins of Aradia, including the culture and religion of the area, as well as the difficulties involved in retranslating the book.

Stewart Farrar is a professional journalist and author of many books on the occult including The Witches’ Goddess, The Pagan Path, Spells and How They Work and The Witches’ Way. He regularly appears on television and radio and has been featured in a film on witchcraft.” — back cover