Llewellyn Publications, September 2007
I was lucky enough to get to preview a galley copy of Raven Digitalis’ first book, Goth Craft, which is due out this coming September. Now, this is one of those books that had the potential to be either really good, or abysmal. Fortunately, Raven managed to stick to the former, avoiding a trainwreck of trendiness and black-dyed fluff.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Goth subculture beyond a few outward trappings, this book will give you a solid introduction to the whys, hows, and manifestations of what it is to be Goth. However, like the introductory material on witchcraft that he presents, Raven manages to avoid dogma and snarkiness. This will make Goth Craft a particularly good guide for teens and early twenty-somethings who are just getting into both the Goth subculture and witchcraft, though people who are more established in one community or the other shouldn’t turn away, either.
What I really liked about this book was the fact that it doesn’t shy away from potentially controversial material. The ritual use of drugs, sex (vanilla and otherwise) and gender issues are some of the topics that are covered in a respectful, intelligent manner. Raven also includes a good collection of rituals and spells aimed at the appreciation of the darker end of the spectrum of life, and provides some refreshing ideas to work with. He also shows the magic in “everyday” elements of Gothic culture, including conscious application of makeup and clothing, and the use of dance for reaching altered states of consciousness.
I would consider Goth Craft to be primarily 101 level material, but it’s on the higher end of 101–there are explanations of common pagan symbols and correspondences filtered through a Gothic worldview, but there’s also a good collection of further resources. And I learned quite a bit about the Gothic subculture that I hadn’t known before. So while the target audience seems to be younger folks in the Goth community who are interested in witchcraft, I suggest giving this book a chance if you’re interested in a darker approach to magic that is well beyond the ooga-booga spookiness and sensationalism that some prior texts have fallen prey to.
Five pawprints out of five.