MoonDay School, parenting, Reviews

Review: Teaching Wicca The Family Way

Teaching Wicca the Family Way: A Guide, by Meghan Martin

This is one of those books that I purchased, thinking that it sounded like it could be great: a color-coded workbook meant for families to use together. And while it is technically all those things, on the whole I’m disappointed and I don’t think I can recommend it.

First, let’s talk about what’s here:

There are 11 chapters taking up 81 pages (and those page numbers include the title page, dedication, introduction, and table of contents, so it’s really closer to 76 pages. The chapters cover the Rede, holidays, visualization exercises, moon phases, herb correspondences, color correspondences, gemstone correspondences, magical tools, “special events” (i.e., rites of passage), vocabulary, and a “family scrap book” (some journaling pages for various types of rituals, plus some blank pages.  Chapters 2-9 include a page or two of review questions for the topic – they’re fairly simple, but to the point, and they match the chapters pretty well.

Now for the bad news:

There is no reference section of where to go to find more information on any of these topics – though there are a few suggested authors listed at the end. The author actually mentions in the stones chapter that, as with the color and herbs, she will provide a suggested reading list and never does. The chapters are short so there’s no in depth info. The author mentions to be sure herbs are safe before using them, but gives no ideas on how one would find that out. She mentions that others may have different opinions on the correspondences, but gives no ideas on who or how we might learn about them.

The author calls Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain Sabbats, and Yule, Ostara, Litha (which she calls Midsummer) and Mabon the Esbats.  While I’ve heard those broken up as quarters & cross quarters (with the quarters being the solstices and equinoxes) and as greater and lesser sabbats (with the lesser sabbats also being the solstices and equinoxes), this is the only place I’ve seen solstices and equinoxes called esbats. Esbats are, for most of us, the full moons.

There is no mention of theology or mythology – none of the beliefs of Wicca are in this book, only the trappings and tools. The author mentions the Gods in passing in couple of places –  related to Beltane (“the union of the God and Goddess”), the maiden-mother-crone is mentioned in the definition of Wicca, and the fact that offerings are given to Deity is part of the definition of offering. But that’s it. I really feel like a book dedicated to teaching about Wicca needs to teach that part along with the spell work and ritual.

The author mentions that she’s edited the Wiccan Rede to make it easier to understand and remember. Her edits are minor, though she did leave the waning moon line out while keeping in the full, new, and waxing lines. Her version skips the 9 woods and the Sabbats as well, which isn’t a huge deal – there are lots of versions of the Rede out there. I’m not sure that she made it any easier to memorize though – as someone who struggles with rote memorization, meter and rhyme are the big keys for memory (which is why songs are so easy to remember).

Also, the line that was originally “When you have and hold a need, harken not to others’ greed” she changed to “When you are in dire need, don’t give in to others greed.” While this sort of phrasing does turn up in a number of online sources, discussions that I’ve had with others have generally circled around the idea of  “if you have something that others need, don’t let other people’s greed guide you,” and that’s not the meaning you’re going to get from her version.

The chapter on special events basically is one page – a description of 6 types of rites of passage and their definitions, without any further info. She suggests researching, because there are plenty of books out there, and to look for what is common in the books you read. She mentions that you might not want to do a Wiccaning because your child has no choice, and compares it to a christening “in other religions.”  First, christening only happens in Christianity, and other religions have their own sorts of baby blessing ceremonies. While most christenings involve promising to raise the child up in the specific branch of Christianity that the child’s family belongs to, most Wiccanings are more open, introducing the child to the universe and asking for blessings for them, without the focus on keeping them in the Wiccan faith.

In general, really, this feels like the outline of a book rather than a finished product.

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