Crafting the Art of Magic – Aidan Kelly

Crafting the Art of Magic, Book I: A History of Modern Witchcraft, 1939-1964
Aidan Kelly
Llewellyn Publications, 1991
224 pages

I first got this book back in about 2001 or so; I found it used at a shop in Pittsburgh. I made the mistake of loaning it out later–of course, it never came back.

I liked this book so much that I dropped $40 for a used copy when I was finally able to hunt it down.

This is an exploration into the roots of Wicca using primary sources, including Gardner’s own handwritten works. Kelly traces the roots of Wicca, including the dubious claims of the existence of old Dorothy Clutterbuck and the “ancient” witch cults, the influence of Margaret Murray, the Golden Dawn and other newer sources, and Gardner’s own creative additions.

It has, of course, generated some controversy. This page, for example, is a long criticism of the book as a whole. However, it is valuable in that it helps to debunk the “Wicca is 50,000 years old!” argument.

It’s too bad that the second volume never came out, but this one is an absolute gem if you can find it. Compare it, of course, to the above essay–everything should be taken with a grain of salt–but overall, I highly recommend this if you can find a copy of it.

Five pawprints out of five.

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