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.