Copyright 2003-2013, 2015-2020 by Richard J. Ballard -- All Rights Reserved.
This webpage is a 08/01/2020 update of the Internet newsgroup periodic messages titled "A Reference List for Prospective Wiccan Novices (Part One/ Two/ Three of Three Parts)" that I provided until 01/2005. My Magick, Pagan And Wicca Definitions webpage and my The Pagan Sabbats And Their History webpage supplement this webpage.
IMO sexuality is an integral part of magick, Paganism and Wicca. My neo-Tantra Definitions webpage supplements this webpage.
I can visualize a person reading this webpage periodically wrinkling their nose and thinking This discussion is not politically correct! My goal is not to offend; instead my goal is to understand. IMO understanding is good.
I originally heard the word Wicca from an acquaintance's chance utterance. I started reading books, participating in Internet newsgroup discussions and reinterpreting events [both current and up to sixty-five years past (my father's life)] occurring around me. In a blundering solitary manner I accumulated knowledge of magick, Paganism and Wicca. I found no definitive texts, I found no mentors; the solitary Wiccan path was slow, confusing and totally lacking candor. I began writing my magick-, Pagan- and Wicca-related Internet newsgroup periodic messages hoping other interested parties would find my experience and opinions enlightening. I stopped providing these magick-, Pagan- and Wicca-related messages after 01/2005 because AOL dropped their Internet newsgroup coverage. Nobody contacted me concerning their absence. Each reader must judge if this reflects No news is good news (apathy) or Good riddance.
Why do I provide this information? Before offering these definitions I must state that I am not a Wiccan, a witch, a Pagan or a satanist. Learning details about Paganism and Wicca has cost me (and continues to cost me) much time and trouble that not committed people can avoid by reading my webpages. Another reason I provide these definitions is the flood of negativism I observe practically everywhere. It appears that everybody has a license to criticize and complain, but few make positive societal contributions.
I first read The Satanic Witch in 1999 (with Deborah Harry's music CD Debravation playing in the background). Candidly, I wondered if Anton LaVey was serious. With statements like What is important, however, lies in the fact that if a woman wants anything in life, she can obtain it easier through a man than another woman, despite woman liberationists' bellows to the contrary (ibid, Prologue), The Satanic Witch depicts men as naive two-dimensional cartoonish characters ripe for shearing. I dismissed The Satanic Witch, but increasingly I observe Anton LaVey's satanic witch behavior in 21st Century society -- apparently somebody profits from this strategy. IMO two-dimensional cartoonish behavior is fun if a man's wallet is fat, but life has taught me that Prosperity and laughter walk hand in hand -- when the money runs out, the fun walks away.
I have decided that a Quick Start Listing modeled on the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears is the most appropriate introduction to Pagan media. (When Goldilocks hungrily sampled the bears' POORridge, she found the three POORridge bowls too hot, too cold and just right. Then Goldilocks tried the beds.) I have selected four Pagan-related texts that IMO together demonstrate the breadth of magick/Paganism/Wicca. Then I added a fifth text for the wolf at the door, and added four films in case Goldilocks is playing hooky from school and prefers cinema to the written word.
The Sabbats: A New Approach to Living the Old Ways by Edain McCoy
I recommend Ms. McCoy's sabbats text because it is well-, clearly- and informatively-written and is positive. The text discusses each sabbat's history and emphasizes family activities appropriate to each sabbat's celebration. Ms. McCoy's text reflects a wholesome Pagan ethic that helps distinguish Pagan Traditions from witchcraft and from satanism. (And Ms. McCoy apparently lives within southern Indiana's oaken forests, a place I know well: beautiful forests but few jobs.)
Now let's discuss Baby Bear's often referenced and slightly timid text:
Wicca: A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham
Scott Cunningham is well-regarded within the Wiccan community and his Wicca: A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner is very popular, particularly with prospective Wiccan novices. His text is well-, clearly- and informatively-written, and presents a flexible, modifiable and friendly solitary Wiccan Tradition. And (if desired) a Wiccan solitary worshiper has the freedom to accept later a Wiccan Coven's binding commitment.
Author Paul Huson's Mastering Witchcraft is difficult reading. It discusses the history and tools of dark magick (a not familiar topic discussed in not familiar language) and really casts a dark shadow over magick and witchcraft.
Mastering Witchcraft provides Paul Huson's historical views of daemons (fallen angels). Mr. Huson attributes magick to the Nephilim, the children of the sons of God (Genesis 6:4) who mated with the daughters of man. The Nephilim also exist in other cultures' histories: e.g., the Norse Giants and the Greek Titans. According to Mr. Huson the Nephilim perished during the Great Flood, but their spirits survived due to their angelic nature. Mr. Huson states that the Nephilim are able to reincarnate and that all magickal knowledge is derived from them.
Mr. Huson's text makes me uncomfortable, but I must praise his candor. On page 6 Mr. Huson states Whether you believe the Christian bugaboos and fear to lose your soul in return for the powers or, like us, consider the gamble well spent, is up to you. Mr. Huson goes on to discuss the legal consequences of intimidation (pp. 28 and 174), poison rings (pg.44), adulterants for food, drink, and cigarettes (pp. 102 and 189), planetary (torment) spells for indifferent or neglectful lovers (pp. 107-111), the Dumb Supper [a silent supper communing with a dead spouse (or IMO punishing a visiting separated/divorced spouse)] (pp. 111-115), love dissolution spells (pp. 125 and 189-190), binding the victim's soul or deep mind (pg. 136), mandrake root and devil's weed (pg. 146), the basis of vampire and werewolf legends (pg. 152), banishing (pg. 169), exorcism fumigations (pg. 170), ligature (pp. 179-180), bondage and sensory deprivation [the witch's bridle/cradle (pg. 180) and hoodwinks (pg. 220)], and erection of a psychic booby trap (pg. 185).
IMO Mr. Huson discusses this unfamiliar history and psychology in a well-detailed manner, and his text provides a useful, valuable perspective concerning magick's dark side. Next we discuss a film about the witches being mastered:
Haxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages
by director Benjamin Christensen
IMO historic satanic concepts permeate 21st Century popular culture and media. I urge anyone who doubts my statement to view director Benjamin Christensen's 1929 film Haxan. This (Great Depression era) documentary film depicts witches as brides of satan and is laden with 1929's historic satanic concepts. [Brides of satan are women who have made a binding commitment to satan. The depicted nuptials (You can kiss my @ss! Get the picture?) are much different than the nuptials experienced by actress Mia Farrow in director Roman Polanski's 1968 (Vietnam War era) R-rated film Rosemary's Baby, a film where Rosemary's husband (played by actor John Cassavetes) trades wife Rosemary's first fruits (think Garden of Eden) to a satanic cult in exchange for career success.] View Haxan from a 21st Century perspective and judge for yourself if historic satanic concepts permeate 21st Century popular culture and media.
We have discussed Momma Bear's family-oriented text, Baby Bear's friendly timid text and Poppa Bear's slightly scary text. What is Goldilocks thinking about? Goldilocks' golden-covered text discusses a modern British Wiccan Tradition:
Wicca Unveiled: The Complete Rituals of Modern Witchcraft by J. Philip Rhodes
British author J. Philip Rhodes' Wicca Unveiled is a c2000 civilized description of a modern British Wiccan Tradition. Mr. Rhodes provides a detailed description (including a plenitude of drawings) of his British Wiccan Tradition's lore and rituals. Other Pagan and Wiccan texts offer lore and ritual descriptions: e.g., A. J. Drew's Wicca For Men: A Handbook for Male Pagans Seeking a Spiritual Path (pp. 108-110) suggests that sabbat couples exit the ritual circle, find places of privacy and ponder the spark of life. But IMO Wicca Unveiled stands out for two reasons: its British charm; also Wicca Unveiled is the first popular press text I have encountered that explicitly discusses Wiccan binding initiation rituals (Chapter Five: The Initiations; pp. 83-96).
British author Aleister Crowley's MAGICK In Theory And Practice describes non-Wiccan binding initiation rituals. However, J. Phillip Rhodes' Wicca Unveiled ritual descriptions are recent, more readable and less threatening than Aleister Crowley's ritual descriptions. Yet IMO Mr. Rhodes only alludes allegorically to the long-term implications of ritual binding; i.e., Pagans term their Traditions FAMTRADs (Family Traditions).
Goldilocks slumbers in the bedroom, sleeping poorly. The three bears worry in the kitchen: baby bear is hungry and the wolf is at the door. Hold onto your pointed hats while I discuss a fifth text (the wolf's tangy text):
Rites of Pleasure: Sexuality in Wicca and NeoPaganism by Jennifer Hunter
Author Jennifer Hunter's description of Pagan sexual rites and practices is sprinkled with Pagan interview excerpts -- the reader gains insight both into Pagan sexual activities and into Pagan personalities. Ms. Hunter discusses sexuality's center stage position within Pagan activities and the sexual practices that the polyamorous (multiloving) Pagan community embraces (practices ranging from self-masturbation to group orgies to BDSM and sex work). It's not like watching director John Boorman's film Excalibur (an earthy interpretation of the Arthurian legend) but you'll get the picture. In some respects Ms. Hunter's text is an effective commercial for Paganism, but if you are easily offended you will not enjoy this candid text.
The wolf howling mournfully outside the bedroom window awakens Goldilocks from her innocent slumber. Goldilocks joins the three bears in their rumpus room -- it is Bear family cinema night. Momma Bear has prepared bowls of popcorn and the Bear family already are watching a Pagan classic film:
The Wicker Man starring Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland
Poppa Bear stops the VCR and explains that the Sergeant Howie has landed on Lord Summerisle's remote Scottish isle to investigate a young girl's anonymously-reported disappearance. None of the isle's inhabitants know anything about the young girl's disappearance or her whereabouts; all of the isle's inhabitants are preparing busily for the upcoming May Day festivities. Baby Bear laughs You missed the innkeeper daughter's funny dance! and Momma Bear frowns. Goldilocks frowns as Poppa Bear restarts the VCR.
His failure to find any trace of the young girl troubles Sergeant Howie, and the isle's inhabitants seem blissfully unconcerned. Sergeant Howie finishes his meal and in exasperation returns to his rented room to nap, but he sleeps fitfully. Outside his doorway Sergeant Howie hears the innkeeper and the innkeeper's daughter whispering With this he'll sleep through the entire May Day. Sergeant Howie lies still as the innkeeper's daughter brings a pungent candle into his rented room. After the innkeeper's daughter leaves, Sergeant Howie quickly snuffs the candle's pungent flame, then Sergeant Howie steals down to the innkeeper's quarters. The innkeeper again will play the devilish jester character Punch in the isle's May Day festivities, and the innkeeper is readying his costume. Sergeant Howie and the innkeeper's scuffle ends with the innkeeper bound and gagged on his own bedroom floor while Sergeant Howie dons the Punch costume and joins the May Day festivities. Led by Lord Summerisle, all the isle's costumed inhabitants have formed a frolicking procession. Lord Summerisle scolds costumed Sergeant Howie Dance lively, Punch; you do not please the Pagan gods! as the procession advances towards the sword gauntlet.
Goldilocks chokes on a popcorn kernel and says My mom has a hard boiled egg slicer that works like that; Goldilocks shivers. Momma Bear scolds Poppa, you've made our guest homesick; put a different tape in the VCR! Baby Bear claps gleefully while Poppa Bear sighs and loads a different tape into the VCR:
The Masque Of The Red Death starring Vincent Price
Satan-worshiping Prince Prospero has invited his noble friends to his castle to celebrate collecting the peasants' fall harvest. While returning to his castle, Prince Prospero and his soldiers pass through a village -- the peasants jeer Prospero's evil greed. To subdue the villagers, Prince Prospero and his soldiers take captive a young woman, her father and her lover; these captives will provide entertainment at the upcoming harvest celebration. One of Prince Prospero's soldiers finds an old woman sick with the Red Death (analogous to bubonic plague). Prince Prospero's soldiers cauterize the infection by burning the village to the ground and Prince Prospero refuses to grant the peasants sanctuary at his castle; the left behind peasants are homeless and hungry.
Much to his consort's chagrin, Prince Prospero admires his young woman new captive, ordering that she be groomed and dressed in finery. Prince Prospero's consort seeks to strengthen her own noble position by performing her own ritual marriage to satan. The ritual marriage is completed, but Prince Prospero's consort dies afterwards. Prince Prospero warmly admires his captive woman new consort.
When his noble friends arrive, Prince Prospero announces that the Red Death is upon the land, but the noble friends will be safe inside Prospero's castle -- Prince Prospero has made a pact with satan. Prince Prospero's noble friends rejoice and the celebration begins. Much of their entertainment consists of selected guests submitting to public self-abasement. Then Prince Prospero orders his two male peasant captives brought from the dungeon; they will play with poisoned knives and the survivor will return to the burnt village. Prince Prospero's captive woman new consort pleads ineffectually for mercy: no avail.
Prince Prospero opens the castle's wardrobes and orders that nobody wear red; the celebration continues with a masked ball. Yet midway through the masked ball a red cloaked figure joins the celebrants and ...
This film confuses Goldilocks: Goldilocks knows that Edgar Allen Poe's original short story emphasizes cloistering against disaster, not blatant debauchery and personal self-abasement. Goldilocks does not know that this film has been enhanced for modern audiences by loosely using concepts from William Shakespeare's play The Tempest. Goldilocks understands that Prince Prospero was celebrating the fall harvest's collection, his pact with satan and his captive woman new consort. Goldilocks understands that Prince Prospero was feeding, housing and clothing his noble friends. But besides their personal self-abasement, what did Prince Prospero's noble friends bring to the party?
Goldilocks decides that Prince Prospero and his noble friends are troubling because The Masque of the Red Death is an old-fashioned film, and Vincent Price is old and creepy. Goldilocks asks How does the devil deal with playin' folks like me? Where is the fun? Baby Bear yawns and Momma Bear frowns. Poppa Bear shrugs and places another cassette into the VCR:
Bedazzled by director Harold Ramis
IMO this 2000 film remake is an entertaining depiction of the statement Never make a deal with the devil. Most people have heard that statement but few people ask Why? and you probably will not find an answer in Sunday School. In Bedazzled, lovesick Elliot Richards (actor Brendan Fraser) says he'd sell his soul for a chance with a particular girlfriend. Elliot immediately is offered seven wishes by the devil (wonderfully played by actress Elizabeth Hurley). Elliot signs the contract but the wishes always go wrong because poorly defined wishes allow the devil to include a chaotic spoiler (unanticipated fatal flaw) in each wish fulfillment. (E.g., you cannot buy happiness; the chosen beautiful girlfriend loves another person.)
Bedazzled is a genuinely funny film but the original question is serious. Perhaps the best answer to the question Why not make a deal with the devil? is You will get more than you requested (e.g., pregnancy and/or homeless significant others). When somebody else hints at the possibility of an awkward social arrangement, sometimes I answer I don't know what dumb deal you made with the devil, but I am not part of your deal. My response inhibits future attempts to initiate awkward social arrangements.
Poppa Bear pulls out yet another cassette, turns to Goldilocks and smiles. Baby Bear is sleeping soundly and Momma Bear says Poppa, come to bed. Goldilocks frowns: Tomorrow the road is long; I travel light and solo. Goldilocks curls up on the rumpus room daybed, pulling a comforter over herself. Poppa Bear sighs and returns director Stanley Kubrick's 1999 R-rated film Eyes Wide Shut starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman back to the rack. There will be other Bear family cinema nights and there will be other players ... Back to Sections list
Bulfinch's Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch
Magick often involves selecting and invoking a Pagan deity having powers and interests sympathetic to a spell's purpose. This 1959 classic text provides detailed summaries of Greco-Roman mythology, and discusses the legends of Charlemagne and King Arthur.
Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks, and Covens
by Paul Huson
Discussed earlier. Not for novices, not Wicca -- Despite reservations, this 1970 text recommended for scholars.
The Tree: The Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft by Raymond Buckland
Highly recommended -- The Saxon Wiccan's free will Book of Spells is a 1974 English interpretation of the Teutonic (northern European) magickal tradition. (See later reference to The Truth About Teutonic Magick by Edred Thorsson.)
Necronomicon by Ed Simon
Sumerian magickal tradition; not for novices, not Wicca -- Despite reservations, recommended for scholars. The Necronomicon (published in 1977) IMO gains relevance following the US-Iraqi War and the rise of the Daesh (i.e., the so-called Islamic State). Sumeria was located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in modern Iraq. The Necronomicon purports to be a translation of the besieged Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred's eighth century grimoire (book of spells). The Sumerian Elder Gods defeated the chaotic Ancient Ones in battle and then banished the Ancient Ones beyond the planetary Gates. (One may draw a Garden Of Eden analogy here.) But while the Elder Gods lose interest in earthly affairs, the Ancient Ones' followers attempt to reopen the Gates and to again unleash the chaotic Ancient Ones upon humanity. Abdul Alhazred entreats the reader to use these spells carefully and faithfully, thus reminding the Elder Gods of humanity's continuing plight.
The Necronomicon Spellbook 1998 companion volume condenses this material and serves as a Sumerian glyph illustration manual for tattoo artists.
YouTube video: Necronomicon: Everything You Should Know (10:57 length)
Drawing Down The Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today
by Margot Adler
Not recommended -- A 1986 (badly out-of-date in 1999) Paganism sociological survey text not suited for novices. (There is a 2006 revised version that I have not reviewed.)
Wicca: A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham
Discussed earlier. Highly recommended -- A 1988 practical guide for the solitary Wiccan. I do NOT recommend Mr. Cunningham's disappointing 1993 sequel Living Wicca: A Further Guide for the Solitary Practitioner because the sequel IMO discourages solitary Wiccan practice.
Satan's Underground: The Extraordinary Story of One Woman's Escape
by Lauren Stratford
Poorly written (almost hysterical) but detailed 1988 narrative of sexual exploitation.
True Magick: A Beginner's Guide by Amber K
Recommended despite reservations -- A 1990 weak introduction to witchcraft with serious omissions.
The Practice of Witchcraft Today: An Introduction to Beliefs and Rituals
by Robin Skelton
Highly recommended -- A 1990 detailed overview of Wiccan practices for the advanced novice.
Original Black and White Magic by Anna Riva
A 1991 fun history: purported to be Marie Laveau's (the voodoo queen of New Orleans) spell book. If you enjoy this book you might investigate Mac Rebennack's 1968 debut album Gris-gris that depicts a voodoo seance with Dr. John The Night Tripper playing the male counterpart of Marie Laveau.
To Ride A Silver Broomstick: New Generation Witchcraft
by Silver Ravenwolf
Recommended despite reservations -- this 1993 text's New Generation Witchcraft is not Wicca.
The Sabbats: A New Approach to Living the Old Ways
by Edain McCoy
Discussed earlier. Highly recommended -- A 1994 celebration of the Pagan sabbats.
Celtic Myth & Magick by Edain McCoy
A 1995 well-written detailed guide to Celtic myth and magick. Written from a feminist solitary worshiper perspective, contains an extensive dictionary of Celtic deities and heroes / heroines. IMO superior to Ms. McCoy's Witta: An Irish Pagan Tradition which emphasizes maternal roles instead of the maiden/mother/crone Pagan Goddess.
Inside A Witches' Coven by Edain McCoy
Highly recommended -- A 1997 common sense discussion about Covens.
Wicca for Men: A Handbook for Male Pagans Seeking a Spiritual Path
by A. J. Drew
Recommended despite reservations -- A 1998 readable text with a misleading title.
The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess
by Miriam Samos (aka Starhawk)
Recommended despite reservations -- A 1999 (20th Anniversary Edition) feminist witchcraft tradition and political manifesto.
Torn From The Arms Of Satan: A True Story Of Seduction And Escape From A Contemporary New Age Cult
by Elizabeth R. Burchard and Judith L. Carlone
A woman's 1999 autobiographical narrative of emotional and financial exploitation by a charismatic cult leader and his followers.
The Salem Witchcraft Trials In American History
by David K. Fremon
A 1999 serious historical examination of the Salem witchcraft trials.
Wicca Unveiled by J. Phillip Rhodes
Discussed earlier. Highly recommended for scholars -- This readable 2000 English Wiccan Book of Shadows (detailed rituals) is the first popular press book I have found that (somewhat allegorically) explains Wiccan bound initiation rituals.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft
by Denise Zimmerman and Katherine A. Gleason
Recommended despite reservations -- A 2000 nice craft text with serious omissions.
Rites of Pleasure: Sexuality in Wicca and NeoPaganism
by Jennifer Hunter
Discussed earlier. Readable 2004 text recommended despite reservations -- Novices jumping into unfamiliar waters can get eaten alive, or can be caught and left high and dry. My neo-Tantra webpage offers additional neo-Tantra information.
YouTube video: Aleister Crowley - The Great Beast 666 (17:14 length)
The Book Of The Law by Aleister Crowley
Not for novices, not Wicca -- Confusing and subject to interpretation. [IMO THE COMMENT (page 50, one page in length) supersedes the previous 49 pages].
The Book Of Lies by Aleister Crowley
Not for novices, not Wicca -- Best verses: 69, 70, 71, 73, 76 & 88. Despite this edition's commentaries following each magickal verse, IMO much less meaningful on first reading than MAGICK in Theory and Practice.
MAGICK in Theory and Practice by Aleister Crowley
Not for novices, not Wicca -- Despite reservations, recommended for scholars. [W. Somerset Maugham's c1908 novel The Magician dramatically depicts acquaintance Crowley's personality.]
Magick Without Tears by Aleister Crowley
The Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie
The Satanic Bible by Anton Szandor LaVey
Not for novices, not Wicca -- A confusing testament.
The Satanic Rituals by Anton Szandor LaVey
Not for novices, not Wicca -- Inflammatory rituals.
The Devil's Notebook by Anton Szandor LaVey
Not for novices, not Wicca -- satanism clarified.
The Satanic Witch by Anton Szandor LaVey
Not recommended -- satanic witches prefer shallow cleverness to magick.
Satan Speaks! by Anton Szandor LaVey
In her introduction to Satan Speaks!, Blanche Barton (Anton LaVey's domestic partner) indicates that Anton LaVey died (of pulmonary edema, a respiratory deficiency) while the book was being compiled; Anton LaVey presumably was in poor health while this book was being written. And the book was compiled in 1997, several decades after the schism within the Church Of Satan (CoS) resulting in Michael Aquino and his followers leaving CoS to found the Temple Of Set; that schism presumably had financial impact upon the fortunes of CoS and of Anton LaVey. Satan Speaks! was written by a man at the end of his life who had experienced a social major rebellion.
Those details somewhat explain the book's 61 essays. The essays are well-written, and some of the essays do reflect the satanic domineering philosophy of being masters within a herd of fearful weak-willed slaves, including essays instructing how satanists can advantageously influence naive non-satanists. But more of the essays deal with Anton LaVey's perception of human society (an unthinking greedy herd motivated by commercial marketing), of people [incompetents who want something (often entertainment) from Anton LaVey], and those memories that best please and stimulate Anton LaVey. At length Anton LaVey sarcastically lambastes society as offering him nothing of value, and states that the best and happiest use of his time is in recalling and analyzing his own past. The essays shed light upon Anton LaVey's personality, but the essays offer little direction concerning satanism and its future direction. Satan Speaks! IMO evidences that by 1997, the Temple Of Set had eclipsed Anton LaVey's Church Of Satan within the satanic community.
The Truth About Teutonic Magick by Edred Thorsson
A 1989 well written, brief introduction to the Teutonic (northern European) magickal tradition wherein a Magickian's spells are self-energized instead of invoking a Teutonic god/dess's power. Depicts Teutonic runes / signs for tattoo artists.
Hermetic Magic: The Postmodern Magical Papyrus of Abaris
by Stephen Edred Flowers, Ph.D. 
Uncle Setnakt's Essential Guide To The Left Hand Path
by Don Webb
Recommended despite reservations -- A 1999 good-natured, well written introduction to the (sometimes solitary) Setian self-development Quest for Sovereignty.
Dark Moon Rising: Pagan BDSM and the Ordeal Path
by Raven Kaldera
Pagans worship a pantheon of deities, favoring those deities presenting individually-appropriate role models. Pagans often pray to their selected deities for favor and for boons; Pagan deities often expect personal sacrifice and (by proxy?) sometimes dictate personal ordeals as prepayment for favor and for boons. Raven Kaldera, a shamanic healer experienced in both the Pagan and the BDSM communities, designs and conducts rites of passage and cathartic ordeals for desirous Pagans. This 2013 book includes contributions from other authors plus remarkable photography, and provides a detailed discussion of the BDSM-based Pagan ordeal path.
Coven by Steven William Rimmer
Recommended for its Pagan societal depiction. Steven William Rimmer's 1989 first novel depicts a Pagan coven situated in rural Wales. Mindful of historic persecution against witchcraft, the coven is agoraphobic about exposure to outsiders. Elspet is an idealistic young witch, the coven's sole literate and keeper of the coven's book-house and archives. Coven members enjoy their Pagan sensual lifestyle and their modern magick interpretation equates to agrarian ecological awareness. Then outsiders bring the old magick rituals back to the coven, and Elspet faces a solo struggle for understanding.
The Order by Steven William Rimmer
Recommended for its depiction of arcane societies operating under their own sets of rules (similar to the Thelemic publications of Aleister Crowley depicted earlier). This 1994 novel introduces Mairead Donaghmore, an Irish lass who flees a Scottish financier's estate wishing to avoid betrothal as part of her father's business dealings. Instead of reaching London, Mairead soon is stumbling through the Scottish woods in a blinding snowstorm. As Mairead lays down to sleep in a snowdrift, a man finds her and carries her to shelter. Alec is steward in the ancestral castle of the earl of Glenelg. The earl is wintering in his London house but his noble friends are using his castle. Alec offers Mairead refuge from the storm.
Mairead learns that the castle is a refuge for members of l'Order d'Fe, a vestige of the Templars. Alec and the earl's visiting friends are l'Order d'Fe members. In modern times l'Order d'Fe deals primarily with government and commerce, but the earl's library contains volumes discussing the rules and the history of l'Order d'Fe, and discussing alchemy.
Mairead is touring the castle when a noble visitor is murdered and a chambermaid is ravaged by assailants wearing medieval robes. As the violence continues, Mairead, Alec and the castle's staff struggle to understand why l'Order d'Fe has brought violence to their refuge.
Wyccad by Steven William Rimmer
Recommended with reservations: perhaps a cultural disconnect exists, but this 1995 novel appears a Scottish Pagan soap opera. Anya Donaghmore is the granddaughter of Mairead Donaghmore. Anya lived in the earl of Glenelg's castle, but when her mother died her English father sold the castle to the MacLeith clan. Anya, along with her Scottish Pagan friends, have staffed the MacLeith castle for the past eight years, almost the only employment in this Scottish highlands valley. The valley's established residents are amused that the MacLeith clan have undertaken to rewrite the valley's history.
Anya quests the Pagan rite: Anya sleeps with the Pagan god Herne in the Kincairn stone circle. Anya returns to a confused valley: the night after her Kincairn ritual a lass was slaughtered at the Kincairn circle and Anya's friends believe that Anya was the victim. Anya resumes her duties at the MacLeith castle. Anya gradually learns the goddess Anui's ritual gifts: knowing things that you cannot see and hearing people's thoughts. But people repeatedly attempt to harm Anya. Anya struggles to understand.
The novel Wyccad (pronounced wicked) works on several levels. One level is the established valley residents versus the nouveau riche MacLeith clan. Another level is the Scottish Pagans versus the Scottish Christians. But the novel IMO lacks direction and resembles a neverending series of soap opera dramatic episodes.
Haxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages
by director Benjamin Christensen
Discussed earlier. Benjamin Christensen's 1922 silent film [with narration by William Burroughs, author of The Naked Lunch and with musical score by jazzman Jean-Luc Ponty] POORtrays witches as brides of satan and depicts The Burning Times.
The Raven starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff
and featuring Jack Nicholson and Hazel Court
Director Roger Corman's 1963 comic classic film (loosely based upon Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven) depicts a magickal battle for power and for the hand of beautiful Lenore.
Masque of the Red Death starring Vincent Price and Hazel Court
Discussed earlier. Director Roger Corman's 1964 film is based upon Edgar Allen Poe's short story, but is enhanced for audiences with concepts loosely borrowed from William Shakespeare's play The Tempest. The original short story emphasizes cloistering against disaster, while the film emphasizes blatant debauchery, personal self-abasement, and deals made with the devil.
Witchcraft starring Lon Cheney, Jack Hedley and Jill Dixon
This 1964 British film depicts the renewal of a convicted witch's curse after her grave site is disturbed.
Rosemary's Baby starring Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes
In director Roman Polanski's 1968 R-rated film, Rosemary's husband trades Rosemary's (a-hem) first fruits to a satanic cult in exchange for career success. (Think Rumpelstiltskin from German folklore or think The Garden of Eden).
The Dunwich Horror starring Dean Stockwell, Sandra Dee and Sam Jaffe
This 1970 R-rated film depicts the ritual opening of the Gates and the summoning of the Sumerian Ancient Ones. Actress Talia Shire appears under a different name. IMO this remarkably good film has exceptional photography, lavish settings and quality special effects.
Season of the Witch starring Jan White and Raymond Laine
Director George Romero's (Night Of The Living Dead) 1972 film can be considered a zombie rendition of the Witches Of Eastwick. Joan, a frustrated and panicky suburban housewife, cannot thrive within her polyester-clad (I love the wallpaper) boorish social circle that totally lacks empathy. Joan and her woman friend visit a fortune teller for amusement; their fortunes are predictably disappointing. Joan then studies witchcraft seeking personal empowerment, and Joan later joins a witches coven seeking camaraderie and additional knowledge. This film substitutes social insensitivity for the charm and humor of the Witches Of Eastwick; Joan and her male and female friends are socially-inept instead of bad. And it is difficult IMO to credit Joan with feminist frustration because Joan's dysfunction is personal instead of feminist: it is not clear that Joan will relate to the coven's female members better than she related to her original social circle.
Satan's School For Girls starring Pamela Franklin, Kate Jackson
and Roy Thinnes
Check out the girls at the Salem Academy For Women. New England girls' boarding school provides attractive setting for pointlessly destructive satanic rituals in this 1973 film (three years before Anton LaVey founded the Church Of Satan; notice the film's orphan subplot). Actress Cheryl Ladd appears in this film under a different name. Pamela Franklin also portrays a spiritualist sensitive in the 1973 film The Legend of HELL HOUSE (co-starring Roddy McDowall).
The Wicker Man starring Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland
Discussed earlier. A 1975 R-rated British classic film that depicts Pagan sociology and Pagan festivities on a remote Scottish isle. An article discussing the film's making and cultural significance appears here.
To The Devil...A Daughter starring Nastassja Kinski, Christopher Lee
and Richard Widmark
Director Peter Sykes' 1976 R-rated film about a young woman's preordained satanic possession. This was the last horror film made by British Hammer Productions.
Tattoo starring Bruce Dern and Maud Adams
Recommended despite reservations, not Wicca -- This 1981 film depicts a flawed Creation story.
Excalibur directed by John Boorman
A 1981 wonderfully messy retelling of the King Arthur legend.
Witches Of Eastwick starring Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer,
Susan Sarandon and Cher
Director George Miller's (The Road Warrior) 1987 comedy film about a newly arrived lustful devil whose magick ultimately backfires.
Angel Heart starring Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro and Lisa Bonet
In this 1987 film an enigmatic gentleman (Robert De Niro) hires lackadaisical private investigator Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) to trace Johnny Valentine, a long missing singer who owes the gentleman a personal debt. The cold trail sounds like an easy money assignment, but Harry Angel encounters trouble wherever he looks. The gentleman repeatedly raises Harry Angel's fees while the trail runs from Harlem and Coney Island to upstate New York and then to the Louisiana bayou country. The enigmatic gentleman will spare no expense until Harry Angel runs his quarry to ground.
Skin Art by director W. Blake Herron
Recommended despite reservations, not Wicca -- This 1993 film depicts branded for slavery.
DragonHeart starring Dennis Quaid
A 1996 fun tale of sympathetic magick and human weakness: a magickally-empowered prince royal renounces his vows; a true knight becomes disillusioned and cynical; the peasants suffer and sacrifice defeats magick.
The Craft starring Neve Campbell and Fairuza Balk
Benign light magick finally triumphs over threatening dark magick in this 1996 film.
Devil's Advocate starring Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino and Charlize Theron
In this 1997 film Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) is a Florida attorney who can read juries; he never has lost a case. A NYC law firm hires Kevin to consult on jury selection in an impossible case; tempers flair and egos are bruised but Kevin's jury acquits the defendant. The law firm's senior partner John Milton (Al Pacino) then invites Kevin and his wife Mary Ann (Charlize Thereon) to discuss NYC legal opportunities. The law firm's members live and socialize like a privileged family; all the while John Milton emphasizes the power and the importance of always winning. Kevin's evangelistic mother visits; she is uncomfortable in the big city's wickedness and urges Kevin and Mary Ann to return to Florida. Kevin's career soars, but Mary Ann feels neglected in the strange city, and Mary Ann begins hallucinating after a law firm resentful member's mugging death. John Milton tells Kevin to spend additional time at home, but John Milton emphasizes that solutions always exist when you are willing to do whatever is required. Shortly thereafter everything goes to hell.
FWIW, this film's plot IMO resembles a satanic extension to the 1993 film The Firm starring Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman.
Eyes Wide Shut starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman
Director Stanley Kubrick's 1999 R-rated (last) film about a society physician's curiosity about an attractively erotic cult.
Bedazzled starring Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley
Discussed earlier. Director Harold Ramis' 2000 film remake comedically examines deals made with the devil. Perhaps the film's moral is Nice guys at last finish.
The Wicker Man starring Nicolas Cage and Ellen Burstyn
Writer / director Neil LaBute faced a difficult problem: How can a Wicker Man film remake top the 1975 British film version, a lusty celebration of Pagan sensuality featuring actor Christopher Lee and (later a Bond girl) Britt Ekland? Director LaBute's 2006 unrated US film remake (with alternate ending not shown in theatres) uses similar plot and dialogue, but updates the story with 21st Century feminism by incorporating Dianic witchcraft, a tradition where men play a weak supporting role (discussed in Margot Adler's text Drawing Down The Moon). Here Nicolas Cage believably depicts a man personally drawn into an intimate problem within High Priestess Ellen Burstyn's Pagan family. The US film remake substitutes failure in the apiary (where symbolically the queen bees rule while the male drones largely are idle) for the original film's agrarian failure, and substitutes female / male struggle for the original film's Pagan / Christian struggle. The 2006 US film remake regrettably lacks the entertaining charm of 20th Century British lusty Paganism.
Season of the Witch starring Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman
The countryside is plague-ravaged and a young woman is accused of causing the plague. Two military deserters are coerced into transporting the woman to a remote monastery where she will be tried as a witch. This 2011 graphic film well depicts medieval society crumbling amidst the plague-ravaged countryside.
Dark Shadows starring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green and Helena Bonham Carter
Director Tim Burton's 2012 film showcases Gothic opulence as it pits the witch Angelique (Eva Green) against the magickal Collins family. Vampire Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) defends his family while pursuing his reincarnated lost love (Helena Bonham Carter). IMO the Alice Cooper stage performances are an added treat.
The Witch starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, et al
Director Robert Eggers' 2016 well-made film carries the tagline A New England Folktale and authentically depicts the Puritans' 1630s wilderness lifestyle; the film has a historically solid feel to it. In the film, a family is exiled from their Puritan community because they are embarrassingly rigorous in their religious beliefs; they are forced to build their lone farm on the edge of a dark dense forest. Growing enough food to feed the family is a constant struggle, but their struggles multiply as their oldest children reach puberty. Logically incorporating witchcraft into the historically accurate lifestyle depiction is difficult. Perhaps the film's lesson is that isolation breeds obsession, and the devil always is with us.
The Alchemist Cookbook starring Ty Hickson and Amari Cheatom
This intriguing 2016 confused film depicts the consequences of seeking financial empowerment through pursuing black magic and sacrifice to demons.
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