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What thou wilt: Traditional and Innovative trends in Post-Gardnerian Witchcraft
Title: What thou wilt: Traditional and Innovative trends in Post-Gardnerian Witchcraft
Author(s): Jon Hanna
Published 2010 by Evertype
Paperback, 235 pages
View this Book on Amazon
Reviewer: Mike Gleason
I have been reviewing books lately which have fallen outside my primary areas of experience and knowledge, but I am back on firm ground with this book (written by a fellow Alexandrian initiate). Although I have not had the pleasure of meeting or working with Jon, our common traditional "DNA" gives us a shared base of knowledge.
This book started as a "Second Degree Essay" which simply got out of hand. It was supposed to be 10,000 words (which sounds like a lot, but is (in reality) only about 20 pages). I can sympathize. In order to convey ideas clearly, one sometimes needs to use more than minimal words.
Since it was intended for those "in the know" it assumes a certain level of understanding and/or appreciation of what makes one a "traditional" Witch. Its emphasis shifted from the Second and Third Degree initiates, to being intended for everyone. Jon wastes little time or space on basics (although he does include a short glossary at the end). Nearly fifteen pages of references allow the reader to check things out, both in print and on-line.
If you are tired of the flood of introductory books in the market place; if "fluffy" books drive you crazy (even if you can't quite explain what makes them fluffy); if you want inspiration for some serious discussions, this book is definitely a good starting point. Jon writes from both sides of the Eclectic (or as he prefers it, Innovative)/Traditional divide. He began his experiences on the Innovative side (and still sees some benefits from that source) before moving into an Alexandrian orientation.
His assigning most of modern day "traditional" Witchcraft (including the current Gardnerian tradition) to a Post-Gardnerian identity may strike some readers as, to say the least, odd. When you look at it logically, however, it is no different than acknowledging that modern day mainstream religions have moved beyond the ideas of their founders. Indeed the religious ideas of Gerald Gardner are considered by many modern day Witches (of all persuasions) as dated at best and downright unacceptable at worst.
While his arguments may seem like nit picking in some circumstances they form some of the major points of difference between the two sides. His choice of using "Innovative" as opposed to "Eclectic" is well-thought out, as is the time spent differentiating between "Wicca" in modern usage, versus its usage at the time of Gerald Gardner.
I don't agree with all his conclusions, but I didn't expect to. Although our backgrounds are similar, our life experiences are unique. I strongly recommend this book to everyone who is considering following either the Innovative or Traditional paths, since it will expose you to both sides of a debate which shows no sign of going away anytime soon. It may not be a vital book, but it is an interesting, and well thought out offering, well worth the price.
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