The Goddess is in the Details: Wisdom for the Everyday Witch
Llewellyn Publications, May 2009
Everybody knows by now that there are entirely too many paganism 101 books out there, especially in the arena of Wicca and witchcraft. There’s a growing number of advanced texts on specialized topics as well, though nowhere near to the point of exhaustion and rehashing. And there’s a niche in between–bridge books that, like 101 books, cover a variety of topics in one text to give the reader a taste of what’s next, but don’t just go over the basics one more time (but with a new hat!). Deborah Blake’s newest title, The Goddess is in the Details, is a part of this latter niche.
What do you do once you have the basics down? Well, for one thing, you start thinking about where all this new information and the practices you’ve been developing fit into your everyday life. Blake isn’t the first person to write a book that addresses practical matters, but she does it in a wonderfully open manner that will go far in assuaging the fears of folks feeling a bit intimidated to take the next step. She covers a lot of important ground with regards to ethics–not just the reality of “harm none”, but things like healthy relationships in regards to common pagan ethical guidelines. She also explores other sorts of relationships, to include what to do if you live with people who aren’t pagan, and what to do about the whole broom closet conundrum. There are some interesting writings as well on stretching one’s wings in magical practice, and again thinking about the whys and hows, as well as what to do besides light another candle. And self-care is a strong theme; one of the first things Blake talks about is how harmful it can be to say mean things to yourself, and that they aren’t “just words”.
There are some sections of 101 material; for example, the Sabbats are covered yet again–though this is within the context of a chapter that takes celebrations beyond just those eight days. Also, there are a number of topics where I wish she could have dedicated more space to explanations; for example, I really liked her intro to animal familiars, but she didn’t really do much beyond give the reader a method for attracting a familiar. I would have liked to have seen a little more how-to info on what to do once you have a familiar in your life–it’s obvious from her anecdotes that her feline helpers have been strong influences on her. Granted, this is one of the limitations of the “cover a little bit of a lot” format, but there were places where I was left hoping for more, just because what she did present was intriguing.
The best audience for this book are the newbies who have gotten the basics down and feel ready to at least begin exploring the next step. Traditionalists may find the eclectic nature of the material a bit off-putting, but many readers won’t mind so much. Use this book as a resource for branching out–she cites a lot of source material, though do be aware that the majority of her sources are specifically in the pagan/metaphysical/etc. genre as opposed to root sources such as history, psychology, etc. This isn’t necessarily bad, but eventually readers will want to get into things that aren’t necessarily of this genre.
Overall, a great book for branching out beyond the basics!
Five pawprints out of five.