In defense of “spell books”
Indeed, if one quality of recent Wiccan literature is worth noticing, it’s the instructions on casting spells. This seems reasonable enough: after all, aren’t Witches known for their magic-making abilities? Gardner and many other writers on Witchcraft tended to discuss spellcraft only as a single aspect of a greater spiritual whole, but the trend in publishing in the last 10 years has been to emphasize spells while marginalizing the spiritual and religious elements of Witchcraft.
Publishing has its fads, and this one simply reminds me of the late 1960s-early 1970s, when do-it-yourself magic books starting popping in supermarket checkout aisles as well as bookstores. Paul Huson, anyone? Sarah Lyddon Morrison? Sybil Leek? Elizabeth Pepper?
Some people came to the Craft through those books; some of them even say, “It all started with a book I found in the supermarket check-out aisle.” You might learn more here.
Perhaps McColman simply has not been around long enough. His mistake might lie partly in taking Gerald Gardner’s writings as normative and in assuming that everyone who came to the Craft came wanting a “religion.” He himself admits that his own interest is in Christo-Pagan-Celtic mysticism, a Victorian creation itself, but that is another story.
So who could be upset? Only those who crave respectability, those who want to be invited to the interfaith council luncheon.