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WILD WITCHCRAFT: A Guide to Natural, Herbal and Earth Magic

By Marian Green, published by Thorsons at £8.99. 160pp. ISBN: 0-00-714543-8

In the Lughnasa edition of WD I reviewed the latest reprint of another of Marian's books, A Witch Alone, and commented that it had become something of a British classic since its first appearance. The present book, Wild Witchcraft, is also a reprint, or rather it is a new edition of one which pre-dates A Witch Alone and which readers who've been around for a while may remember as The Elements of Natural Magic, a pocket-sized volume of down to earth common sense which I remember with considerable fondness and in fact still have. It was also probably the first book on what today we quite happily refer to as Hedge Witchcraft.

The chapters are still those of the original book – Working with Nature; Herb Plant and Tree Lore; The Sacred Waters; the Flame and the Form; Scents and Sensitivity; Immanent Deities; and Seasons, Cycles and Feasts. Hidden within these chapters are sections on consecration of self and working places; sacred springs; approaching the Gods; attuning to the seasons; developing increased awareness; ancient festivals and so on, as well as providing several “greenwood” meditations but no spells. One innovation retained from the original is that instead of providing completed tables of correspondences, Marian provides tables for the reader to complete on the basis of their own research. In some respects this book is a window on the past of occult publishing in that it prefers to pose questions rather than spoon-feed pre-digested answers to the reader. In those days the student did not expect to have everything handed to them on a plate! It may also be the only book written for pagans in which Uncle Aleister is quoted at the head of every chapter.

One thing which is very welcome in this new edition, and which is not often done by other writers, is that Marian has revamped and updated the list of recommended reading at the back of the book. Although she retains a number of classics from the 1970s and 1980s, she has dumped a number of well-known writers of that era such as Murry Hope and Tony Willis while making space to include Ronald Hutton's books and Doreen Valiente's last work.

I'm not convinced that most readers will want both this book and A Witch Alone as they do tend to cover much the same ground; however if you have neither you can't go wrong with either of them.