Title: The Real Witches' Coven
Author(s): Kate West
Published 2010 by Llewellyn
ISBN: 0738715824
ISBN-13: 978-0738715827
Paperback, 225 pages
List: $17.95
View this Book on Amazon

Reviewer: Mike Gleason

I must offer an apology before I begin this review. Over the past five years I have read, and reviewed, nearly 500 books. And, once in a while I simply forget to check my records before requesting a review copy (but, hey, this is one of less than half a dozen times when that has happened). When I saw that Llewellyn was bringing out a book by Kate West, whose writing I really enjoy, I sent off a request. It wasn't until it arrived in my mailbox that I realized I had already done a review of it, when it was originally published by Thorsons. That review ran at the end of 2004. In any case, I decided to look at this book as if it were the first time I had seen it.

Next I must offer my standard disclaimer when reviewing ANY of Kate's books in this series. "The Real Witches..." refers not to "the one true and right way to do it," but rather to "doing it" in the real world, where concerns about child care, bill paying, and resolving schedule conflicts are a part of daily life.

This book occupies a semi-unique niche. On the one hand it is an introductory ("101") book, but it is on a topic which is most decidedly not a beginner's topic - the forming, running and dealing with a coven. It is sort of a "101" book for a second level class. Kate skims over a lot of the basics about rituals and festivals, and concentrates on how to avoid some of the pitfalls of running a coven. It is aimed at the individual who is "starting from scratch," without an established "up-line" which could provide guidance and resources for a new coven leader.

Kate's earlier book, The Real Witches' Handbook, deals with the major "101" points and I highly recommend it. It, like the present book, is written in a no-nonsense style, and should be a welcome addition to every newbie's library.

The Real Witches' Coven contains suggestions from Kate's experience of things which have worked for her in training Witches and running a Coven as well as some pitfalls to watch for, as well as a few "horror stories" from her own experience (and some shared by other High Priest/ esses). It is deigned to encourage and guide, not discourage. By the same token, it does not downplay the potential difficulties one may encounter along the way.

In my earlier review I commented that I enjoyed this book, and looking back on it after five years, I find no reason to change that statement. For those who instantly "distrust" anything published by Llewellyn, all I can say is "Get over it." This is the kind of book the Craft community needs to see. It is not dogmatic or preachy. Nor is it all happiness and light. It is a story told by an individual who is willing to open her heart and feelings to others. I can sympathize, if not agree, with most of her suggestions.

This book in particular (and any of Kate's works in general) should find a place in any Coven library. There are no "secrets" here; no tables of correspondence; no detailed ritual scripts; merely good, solid advice, suggestions and guidance. Anyone can benefit from the advice given herein - Priestesses and Priests can learn how to help their Coveners become better Witches and Coveners can gain some insight into what they can do to ease the burden of Coven leaders.

Whether just beginning your journey; preparing to set up your first coven; or looking for help to salvage a situation which is starting to go bad, you will find this book to be a valuable tool. You will glad to have it to turn to.


Legal Notes: Some description text and item pictures in this post may come from Amazon.com and are used by permission. The Cauldron is an Amazon Affiliate and purchases made through the Amazon links in this message help support The Cauldron. List Price is as of the date this review was originally written and may not be current. The reviewer may have received a free copy of this book to review.

Discussion of this book is welcome. If you've read the book, please tell us what you think of it and why.