Dedicant: A Witch’s Circle of Fire
Note: This review originally appeared in an issue of newWitch magazine.
With the ratio of students to teachers and groups in the Neopagan community, self-directed systems for the neophyte are in demand. New author Thuri Calafia offers up the first in a planned series of books for this demographic. Similar to Christopher Penczak’s witchcraft series, Calafia’s Circles system is designed to lead the reader from the beginning, all the way through advanced material of her creation.
Much of the material is a rehash of the same standard stuff you’ll find in most Wicca/witchcraft 101 texts—there are the basic ritual tools, correspondences, Wiccan deity archetypes, and so forth. This book is simply Calafia’s interpretation and utilization of these, so it may be a good alternative for those who haven’t yet found an author they agree with.
It’s also unabashedly eclectic, and uses the “almost anything goes” definition of Wicca. If you’re more traditional about things, you’ll probably want to avoid this book. If you’re new to neopaganism, make sure that you read other perspectives along with this one.
I do have to give her credit for encouraging freedom of thought; for example, she leaves it up to the reader as to whether to utilize mild drugs in ritual work (or personal life) rather than preaching absolute abstinence. She also cites her sources with footnotes and includes a full bibliography, something I’ve noticed featured more in Llewellyn’s recent catalog.
For writing essentially a 101 text, Calafia does a great job of laying out the groundwork, and presents it in a unique, workable structure that’s easy to follow and offers a good scaffolding for self-development. Personally, I’d recommend this as a decent starting text with a few reservations, and I’m curious about what her later books will present.
Four pawprints out of five.