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Author Topic: Edain McCoy: Good, bad, or indifferent? And where else should I be looking?  (Read 5591 times)

EmissaryOfMinong

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It's kind of hard for me to quantify where I am on my path, but I am not completely new to paganism. I know the majority of the basics (though there may be holes in my education), and I've just finished the Christopher Penczak second degree book The Outer Temple of Witchcraft, much to my relief (there were some things that went very badly when I did the exercises, and now that I've gotten to the initiation I don't feel at all comfortable initiating myself or seeking the next book in the series). I know Llewelyn has a pretty mixed reputation, but this book had a whole lot less fluff than most. It was, however, pretty strongly Wiccan-flavored, and those aren't my leanings - I don't celebrate the 8 festivals, I don't talk to a Goddess and God (though I do talk to some goddesses and gods in particular), and I don't typically call the quarters or draw a circle in any way before doing magic. I hope this paragraph clarifies where I'm coming from enough - if it doesn't, feel free to ask for clarification.

I ordered the Edain McCoy book "Advanced Witchcraft" on Amazon, after reading several good reviews. It is already waiting for me at the post office, so I am going to give it a go, but I've read a lot of disparaging comments toward that author on this forum in the few days I've been lurking. I think most of what I've read is that she doesn't research well for stuff related to Irish gods, but are there a lot of other problems? Am I going to be reading someone generally viewed as a laughingstock? Is there certain material therein that I should take with a block of salt, or is the whole thing a waste of time?

Beyond that, what should I be reading as an intermediate learner? I do not want general philosophy or history texts; I'm looking for something that reads like a textbook and requires me to do lessons/homework to advance my practice. I'm very much not looking for something Wiccan, because as stated before, it just doesn't work for me. I do want something that's roughly equivalent to a third degree course, but I'm not interested in being a priestess right now, so something not totally focused in that direction. If it's impossible to find a book that fulfills all of these requirements, please tell me that, and tell me which ones it does fulfill.

Asch

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Quote from: EmissaryOfMinong;124027
It's kind of hard for me to quantify where I am on my path, but I am not completely new to paganism. I know the majority of the basics (though there may be holes in my education), and I've just finished the Christopher Penczak second degree book The Outer Temple of Witchcraft, much to my relief (there were some things that went very badly when I did the exercises, and now that I've gotten to the initiation I don't feel at all comfortable initiating myself or seeking the next book in the series). I know Llewelyn has a pretty mixed reputation, but this book had a whole lot less fluff than most. It was, however, pretty strongly Wiccan-flavored, and those aren't my leanings - I don't celebrate the 8 festivals, I don't talk to a Goddess and God (though I do talk to some goddesses and gods in particular), and I don't typically call the quarters or draw a circle in any way before doing magic. I hope this paragraph clarifies where I'm coming from enough - if it doesn't, feel free to ask for clarification.

I ordered the Edain McCoy book "Advanced Witchcraft" on Amazon, after reading several good reviews. It is already waiting for me at the post office, so I am going to give it a go, but I've read a lot of disparaging comments toward that author on this forum in the few days I've been lurking. I think most of what I've read is that she doesn't research well for stuff related to Irish gods, but are there a lot of other problems? Am I going to be reading someone generally viewed as a laughingstock? Is there certain material therein that I should take with a block of salt, or is the whole thing a waste of time?

Beyond that, what should I be reading as an intermediate learner? I do not want general philosophy or history texts; I'm looking for something that reads like a textbook and requires me to do lessons/homework to advance my practice. I'm very much not looking for something Wiccan, because as stated before, it just doesn't work for me. I do want something that's roughly equivalent to a third degree course, but I'm not interested in being a priestess right now, so something not totally focused in that direction. If it's impossible to find a book that fulfills all of these requirements, please tell me that, and tell me which ones it does fulfill.

 
If I recall correctly that's the author that claims both potatoes and pumpkins are traditional to Irish festivals...

EmissaryOfMinong

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Quote from: Asch;124032
If I recall correctly that's the author that claims both potatoes and pumpkins are traditional to Irish festivals...

 
*Facepalm*

That good, eh?

RandallS

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Quote from: EmissaryOfMinong;124027
Beyond that, what should I be reading as an intermediate learner? I do not want general philosophy or history texts; I'm looking for something that reads like a textbook and requires me to do lessons/homework to advance my practice. I'm very much not looking for something Wiccan, because as stated before, it just doesn't work for me. I do want something that's roughly equivalent to a third degree course, but I'm not interested in being a priestess right now, so something not totally focused in that direction. If it's impossible to find a book that fulfills all of these requirements, please tell me that, and tell me which ones it does fulfill.

As far as I know, there is really nothing like this. Most Wiccan books are either written for beginners (and often badly written) or only cover a specialized area (that is, not everything you need to know for something like the third degree of a generic Wiccan tradition. Like any other subject, the more advanced the material, the fewer (popular press) books their are and the more specialized the books become. You'd pronbably have better luck looking for advanced books on individual subjects within the Wiccan area that interest you: magic, divination, ethics, running a coven, etc.
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EmissaryOfMinong

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Quote from: RandallS;124036
As far as I know, there is really nothing like this. Most Wiccan books are either written for beginners (and often badly written) or only cover a specialized area (that is, not everything you need to know for something like the third degree of a generic Wiccan tradition. Like any other subject, the more advanced the material, the fewer (popular press) books their are and the more specialized the books become. You'd pronbably have better luck looking for advanced books on individual subjects within the Wiccan area that interest you: magic, divination, ethics, running a coven, etc.

 
As I stated, I'm not looking for Wiccan stuff. At this point I'm reading some books on Norse gods, because they interest me. Probably finding specific books on divination would be helpful, though.

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Quote from: EmissaryOfMinong;124027

Beyond that, what should I be reading as an intermediate learner? I do not want general philosophy or history texts; I'm looking for something that reads like a textbook and requires me to do lessons/homework to advance my practice. I'm very much not looking for something Wiccan, because as stated before, it just doesn't work for me. I do want something that's roughly equivalent to a third degree course, but I'm not interested in being a priestess right now, so something not totally focused in that direction. If it's impossible to find a book that fulfills all of these requirements, please tell me that, and tell me which ones it does fulfill.


As Randall said, you're going to find it hard to find something that covers the majority of things in a third degree style training. First, because a lot of what that covers is working with other people, teaching, dealing with group dynamics, etc. (which books can tell you something about, but which you can't fully learn without other people to do things with) *or* it's generally work fairly specific to a particular path, and in Wiccan based practice, that material is either private, or just plain not a good fit for publication.

That said, there are some things that go deeper, though none of them are going to lay out "Do this lesson and you will know all the things" - partly because if you're truly seeking advanced training, that isn't the way you should be learning at that point. (In other words, one of the things you may need to learn as you advance is how to learn in a less structured set-up. It's a skill, but it's learnable.)

A few titles of possible interest:

- The Second Circle by Venecia Rauls focuses on what you do after the intro stuff, and it talks both about general issues, and some specific ideas for deepening practice.

- The Study of Witchcraft: A Guidebook to Advanced Wicca by Deborah Lipp is basically an annotated bibliography with some other commentary, talking about different topics, key books in those topics, and why they might be important or relevant.

- Twelve Wild Swans by Starhawk and Hilary Valentine comes from Reclaiming, and while you might or might not find that particular path of use, the *structure* of the book is very interesting for demonstrating how you can build a path that spirals deeper and deeper on the same foundation. (In this case, they take the story of the Twelve Wild Swans, and do an introductory path, a deeper path, and then a path focused on using those understandings to make changes in the world.) There are lots of specific exercises and also lots of anecdotes about people learning things or teaching things or experiences, so you can see why something might be useful pretty easily.

- For books that also reward going deeper, I recommend Diana Paxson's Trance-portation (meditation and trance work), and Rachel Pollack's Tarot Wisdom (Tarot, obviously, but she has spreads and exercises for all the cards, plus a wealth of historical and contemporary interpretation information.)
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EmissaryOfMinong

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Quote from: Jenett;124054
A few titles of possible interest:

- The Second Circle by Venecia Rauls focuses on what you do after the intro stuff, and it talks both about general issues, and some specific ideas for deepening practice.

- The Study of Witchcraft: A Guidebook to Advanced Wicca by Deborah Lipp is basically an annotated bibliography with some other commentary, talking about different topics, key books in those topics, and why they might be important or relevant.

- Twelve Wild Swans by Starhawk and Hilary Valentine comes from Reclaiming, and while you might or might not find that particular path of use, the *structure* of the book is very interesting for demonstrating how you can build a path that spirals deeper and deeper on the same foundation. (In this case, they take the story of the Twelve Wild Swans, and do an introductory path, a deeper path, and then a path focused on using those understandings to make changes in the world.) There are lots of specific exercises and also lots of anecdotes about people learning things or teaching things or experiences, so you can see why something might be useful pretty easily.

- For books that also reward going deeper, I recommend Diana Paxson's Trance-portation (meditation and trance work), and Rachel Pollack's Tarot Wisdom (Tarot, obviously, but she has spreads and exercises for all the cards, plus a wealth of historical and contemporary interpretation information.)

 
As I've now stated twice, I am not looking for books on Wicca, so I'll probably skip the Deborah Lipp one. Yes, that's what Penczak's books are (despite the labeling of "Witchcraft"), and that turns out to be what McCoy's book is about. I think you're likely correct that I should give up on finding something comprehensive for a third degree, and that following a structured lesson plan format isn't going to work any longer.

I will look into the other books you've suggested. Thanks.

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Quote from: EmissaryOfMinong;124102
As I've now stated twice, I am not looking for books on Wicca, so I'll probably skip the Deborah Lipp one.

I problem is your reference to wanting material roughly equivalent to "third degree" -- those three degrees are fairly specific to Wicca - so you will get Wicca-oriented suggestions.
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yewberry

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Quote from: EmissaryOfMinong;124102
As I've now stated twice, I am not looking for books on Wicca, so I'll probably skip the Deborah Lipp one.

I'm guessing there's plenty of useful, not-Wicca-specific info therein.  Given that Wicca incorporates a great deal of folk magic, I wouldn't automatically discount books with "Wicca" in the title.

Also, "thank you" is traditional when someone goes out of their way to help you.

Brina
« Last Edit: October 03, 2013, 05:45:42 pm by yewberry »

Lokabrenna

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Quote from: yewberry;124105
I'm guessing there's plenty of useful, not-Wicca-specific info therein.  Given that Wicca incorporates a great deal of folk magic, I wouldn't automatically discount books with "Wicca" in the title.

Also, "thank you" is traditional when someone goes out of their way to help you.

Brina

 
The only "course-style" material that i know of is something like Thuri Calafia's books Dedicant and Initiate which are structured like a course of study for solitary eclectic Wiccans. The first book is basically "101" material, so I'd suggest checking out Initiate.

Even if you aren't intending to go down that path, I wouldn't discount it solely because it is very Wiccanesque. At the very least, perhaps it will inspire you to do something different in your own practice, and the format might give you some ideas to make your own course of study that is more relevant to where you see yourself going in your own tradition.

Jenett

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Quote from: RandallS;124104
I problem is your reference to wanting material roughly equivalent to "third degree" -- those three degrees are fairly specific to Wicca - so you will get Wicca-oriented suggestions.

 
This, yes.

(Also, Lipp's book has extensive stuff that's not about Wicca per se. It's a good general recommendation for anything dealing with stuff in the witchcraft or Western magical tradition. You can look at the table of contents on Amazon's Look Inside - Part 1 won't be as much interest to you, but that's only a quarter of the book and parts of it might still be useful, depending on your specific interests.)
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Quote from: EmissaryOfMinong;124038
As I stated, I'm not looking for Wiccan stuff. At this point I'm reading some books on Norse gods, because they interest me. Probably finding specific books on divination would be helpful, though.

 
As someone who currently works in a closer-to-heathen format, reading Lipp's book really helped me figure out why I wanted a non-Wiccan format. Also, as Jenett has stated in a reply already, I wouldn't exclude a book solely because the author is Wiccan, Lipp in my opinion is a very solid writer and brings some good explanations to the table. After reading a few of her books, I felt relieved that I wasn't practicing in a Wiccan-like format and then I really began seeing what else was out there for me.

You may want to check out the Asatru/Heathenry SIG for a reading list about the Norse gods and go from there. I personally found a few solid ones from the list and have learned a lot. Also, if you haven't already, check out the Eddas and other writings about these gods.

EmissaryOfMinong

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Quote from: yewberry;124105
Also, "thank you" is traditional when someone goes out of their way to help you.

Um, I did say "Thanks". And thank you to everyone who's responded.

I am without work until further notice, so it may be a while before I get to any of these, but I will keep the thread bookmarked for when I can buy more books.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2013, 04:26:43 am by EmissaryOfMinong »

Allec

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Re: Edain McCoy: Good, bad, or indifferent? And where else should I be looking?
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2013, 10:49:24 am »
Quote from: EmissaryOfMinong;124027

I ordered the Edain McCoy book "Advanced Witchcraft" on Amazon, after reading several good reviews. It is already waiting for me at the post office, so I am going to give it a go, but I've read a lot of disparaging comments toward that author on this forum in the few days I've been lurking. I think most of what I've read is that she doesn't research well for stuff related to Irish gods, but are there a lot of other problems? Am I going to be reading someone generally viewed as a laughingstock? Is there certain material therein that I should take with a block of salt, or is the whole thing a waste of time?

Since no one has linked it yet, here's a website about why Edain McCoy is a terrible person as well as terrible author.

As for her non-Irish works, a Tumblr user known as Secular Witch is reviewing McCoy's book "If You Want to Be A Witch." She quotes the book as she reviews, so you can get a good sense of how slanted McCoy's writing is. Perhaps its what you are looking for, but if you want to move away from Wiccan-style magic...McCoy isn't the person you want.

Otherwise, I have no sources. I have yet to find a good secular witchcraft book. I've heard tale that "Utterly Wicked: Curses, Hexes, & Other Unsavory Notions" by Dorothy Morrison is really useful, though I haven't read it myself. She's initiated in a Wiccan Coven, but as this is a curse book I don't know how much that influences her spells.

Also, "magic" is a very broad topic. Folk magic? Ceremonial magic? Nature-based magic? Tradition-specific magic? Pop culture magic? Each one of those subgroups have a different focus. I tend to use more folk magic, as it goes with my natural superstitious mindset as well as my religion. So I look to folktales, mythology, legends, as well as personal experience and my own associations. Also, I consider pop culture to just be modern "folktales" so I look there a lot for inspiration too. Since my style of magic is way more lax than others, I haven't necessarily found the need for a book to instruct me as of yet. Something along the lines of Ceremonial Magic, though, would probably require a book or two.

Oh! As for a really great source for material, Sacred Texts is a free online source that has a lot of out-of-copywright materials that include mythology and folklore. You might want to check that out, if you're looking for a folk-based magic practice.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2013, 10:50:49 am by Allec »
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Re: Edain McCoy: Good, bad, or indifferent? And where else should I be looking?
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2013, 01:55:32 pm »
Quote from: Allec;129908
Since no one has linked it yet, here's a website about why Edain McCoy is a terrible person as well as terrible author.


It's been years since I read anything by Edain McCoy, however having tried to read 2 or 3 pages of the site you offered, I find myself far more in sympathy with McCoy than the website author. I am not clear why he suggests that she is bigoted or racist either.

As I recall her books are a bit fluffy, but "a terrible person"? If she really IS a terrible person, can you link to specific pages/examples rather than a whole site, as to why we should believe this?
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