Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide For Witches, Warlocks & Covens By Paul Huson

The book is, Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide For Witches, Warlocks & Covens by Paul Huson

For those who aren't aware, this book is infamous in certain circles. So I just had to read it. I'm glad I did. It was quite an interesting read. Let me give my readers a little history of the time period when this book was published (1970).

Wicca, the modern religion of witchcraft, was invented circa 1954 by Gerald Gardner and began to spread in England. In 1964, Raymond Buckland was the first to bring Wicca to the U.S. This introduction set off a chain of events of people claiming to be witches as well as a public fascination with witches. These people who claimed to be witches almost always sought out to become celebrities and were decidedly not Wiccan, having little to no understanding of Wicca as well as performing darker work, such as cursing. (The Wiccan "rule of three" would not become part of Wicca and be taught until the mid 1970s, though it first appeared in print in 1968.) Some of these self-styled witches worshipped a goddess. Some worshiped a horned god figure. Some worshiped Satan. Some were decidedly non-religious in nature. Almost all claimed to be part of an ancient line of witchcraft that was passed down in their families or that they were somehow initiated into an ancient line of witchcraft. However, there was a general conundrum for most of these people who claimed to be witches. That conundrum was a lack of an actual magical craft. Sure, they had many claims. They talked the talk. But could they walk the walk? What good is a so-called witch if she/he didn't know a thing about magic? So self-styled witches began to turn to established magical traditions and pillage from them, using what they stole to prop up their claim of being these big bad witches. In the U.S., the most popular tradition which they pillaged from was hoodoo. This book represents one of the first book on the market where a self-styled warlock (Note: Modern male practitioners have mostly rejected the term "warlock". In the early days the use of warlock for a male witch was still widely accepted.) began to steal things from hoodoo. I admit that there isn't a lot that was stolen for this book but the major thing that was stolen, and something that was repeated several times in the book, was the making of the cross or "x" three times when performing magic. This practice comes directly from hoodoo and it originally is accompanied by the phrase, "In the name of God the Father (make "x" with first two fingers), God the Son (Make "x" with first two fingers) and God the Holy Ghost (make "x" with first two fingers), Amen." Interestingly, this book was published at a time before witches began to try to steal hoodoo candle magic as there is no reference to the burning of colored candles and the use of condition oils. I thought that was interesting. It wouldn't be long after this that witches began to steal such stuff from hoodoo and then pretend it was theirs all along, giving it a slight twist and teaching other people that it was their traditional craft. Now, don't get me wrong. These self-style witches didn't just steal from hoodoo. They also stole from Wicca, stealing the deities, the holidays, the casting of circles, etc. from Wicca. Many of then openly lied about being initiated into Gardnerian Wicca.

Another interesting thing about this book is that I believe it is the first time that an occult author makes the claim that mullein can be substituted for graveyard dirt. I was really surprised to come across that in print. I think this book may have been the origin for such nonsense. Mullein is not a substitute for graveyard dirt despite what any self-styled modern witch says. Whenever you come across an old spell that has graveyard dirt as an ingredient then it means dirt taken from a grave, period. There is no need for anybody to be talking in code in modern times as Wiccans and witches like to claim.

Other than what I've written above, the book is more of a philosophical treaty rather than an in-depth manual. There is a few weird chants and rhymes, a few recipes for oils and incense, as well as a few spells, but none of them really inspire me or give me any hope of them working as they don't "ring true" to me. More than likely they were invented by the author. Also, there is a short entry involving the making and ingesting of a wine. I would strongly advise readers not to make and ingest that wine as I do believe the recipe the author gives contains poisonous flowers or herbs.

Despite the nature of the book I would recommend it to others as it is a great teaching tool as to the evolution of modern witchcraft. It is a snapshot of a time when people who were not Wiccan initiates began to claim to be witches and began to first steal from hoodoo in order to prop up their own invented mythologies. Also, if you look around you can find free pdf files of this book online to read. However, if you wish to have a copy for your library I would recommend purchasing the hard cover version, like I did. I bought an old library copy and underneath the dust jacket there is a cool astrological wheel embossed onto the cover. The book is also available in paper back and is currently still in print in such form. I have linked to the hard cover version above and the paper back version can be bought by clicking HERE.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, I give this book an 8 for it's historical significance.

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