The Wicca Handbook was highly rated on Amazon.com, so I began reading with high hopes. Ms. Holland covers topics like Book of Shadows, The Witch’s Tools, and The Elements. A majority of the book consists of correspondences that are intended to help the reader create their own spells and rituals. Sounds good so far, but sadly it wasn’t.
Firstly, the author uses the terms witch and Wiccan interchangeable. In the introduction, Ms. Holland claims “All Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccans.” (pg. ix) I disagree with this statement. There are Wiccans who would tell you they don’t cast spells, and certainly aren’t witches, and there are others who just don’t care to claim “witch” as a title for themselves. Ms. Holland also promotes the idea of one being a “natural born witch.” She more or less says that anything odd that may have happened to you while growing up could indicate that you are a natural born witch. (pg. 13) I get the feeling that this is just an example of “witchery then thou” thinking on the author’s part, and is likely to give new Wiccans yet another silly idea to believe in.
I also take exception to Ms. Holland’s presentation of Wiccan deity concepts. In the sub-section entitled The Great Goddess, she seems to be promoting the idea that the Lord and Lady are part of a larger “Great Goddess.” She states that “We worship many gods and goddess, but recognize all of them as aspects of the Great Goddess.” Many Wiccans do not agree with this, as to them Isis is clearly different then Hecate, for example. This, to me, is more of a Pagan idea then a Wiccan idea.
Ms. Holland’s sub-section on Ethics is laughably small. In summary it says “no negative spells and follow the Rede.” There is little discussion here, or in The Wiccan Rede sub-section, about what the Rede actually means. In a book that is intended to help with the writing of spells, I would have expected a bit more about the ethics of spell castings.
The Astrology sub-section more or less just suggest that you have your birth chart cast to help you discover if you are indeed a natural born witch. Ms. Holland claims that Saturn trine Neptune in your chart “…indicates you are a seeker far along the path.” (pg. 23) I suspect that Ms. Holland has just such an aspect in her chart, and is trying to add to her mystique by making this assertion. A bit of research on the web and forums turned up no such an interpretation of Saturn trine Neptune. Although, it can indicate an interest in occult subjects. (As a side note, I have this aspect in my chart, and I certainly don’t see myself as “far along the path.”)
These tiny, and all but useless, sub-sections continue throughout this work. The Mythology sub-section is a summary of how mythology deals with human issues. It would have been much more helpful it if at least included a list of common mythological groups, especially those groups mentioned in the book. The Meditation sub-section is tiny, with no real instructions on how or why to meditate.
Another pet peeve of mine is the personal comments that Ms. Holland weaves throughout this book. While a book is generally made more interesting by personal anecdotes and insights, in this work they only serve to make the author look like she is trying to be very witchy. When discussing getting in touch with one’s dark side, Ms. Holland says: “My own dark side is darker then most.” Really? I can’t help but think about the kind of thoughts she must have then, if her dark side is so awful. Perhaps she should get some help? Or maybe she should not try to increase her mystique.
The correspondences section of the book is quite good. Many different topics are covered, from fertility to protection. She includes many gods and goddess, herbs, and gems for each section. The small sampling of correspondences that I chose to check further seemed to be correct. However, if I were to use these correspondences to create a spell or ritual, I would feel the need to do some research on my own. The major issue I have with this section is her free mixing of deities from different pantheons within spells. Many of the Wiccans I have had contact with agree that such different energy should never be mixed. Ms. Holland also never once suggests that the reader should research a deity before they are called up. This is something that one should never forget, because it is possible to call up energy that you are not expecting.
Overall, I don’t feel I can recommend this book. The correspondences are good, but they can be found in other works or researched quite easily by a serious student. The personal stories about the author’s life take away from the overall flow of the work. I also don’t at all care for the way the Wiccan faith is covered in this book. The title is certainly misleading, since very few aspects of Wicca are dealt with. There is a great deal more to Wicca then just casting spells.
If you are looking for a well researched book of correspondences, I suggest Aleister Crowley’s 777. Or, better yet, do some research and create your own. That’s exactly what Crowley did.
Rating: 2.5 – Personal stories of author seem intended to create mystique, not to educate. Uses witch and Wiccan interchangeably. Correspondences are good, but available elsewhere if you are willing to look.