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Carl McColman - The Well Read Witch (copyrighted book, review only)

Cover of Carl McColman's Book The Well Read Witch
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Here's help for anyone with a sincere interest in Wiccan ways find the best books to read. With reviews of over four hundred books, this will be an essential handbook for anyone interested in reading about the magical world of Witchcraft-as well as related topics of interest to any Wiccan practitioner.Informative introductory chapters provide a basic overview of Wiccan spirituality, as well as a thoughtful look at the role of the written word in this originally oral tradition. Beginning, intermediate, and advanced Wiccan boo... More >>>
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Category 1:  Wicca and Witchcraft
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Author:      Carl McColman
Format:      eBook
Here's help for anyone with a sincere interest in Wiccan ways find the best books to read. With reviews of over four hundred books, this will be an essential handbook for anyone interested in reading about the magical world of Witchcraft-as well as related topics of interest to any Wiccan practitioner.

Informative introductory chapters provide a basic overview of Wiccan spirituality, as well as a thoughtful look at the role of the written word in this originally oral tradition. Beginning, intermediate, and advanced Wiccan books are included, as are general books on paganism, magic, and Celtic spirituality. The author reviews books related to topics such as herbalism, mythology, environmentalism, psychic development, spiritual healing, and raising a family in the Wiccan tradition. All in all, the books highlighted make up a lifetime's worth of reading, for both beginning and seasoned Witches, as well as anyone else with an interest in nature spirituality.

Carl McColman has attempted to assemble a basic list of books which belong in the magickal library of every Wiccan or other modern witch. While he has included some books that I would have left out, and he has left out books that I would have included, on the whole, I would say that he has succeeded in his aim. I had always considered my personal magickal library to be fairly complete (absent those hard-to-locate or out-of-print books currently on my 'want' list,) but McColman's book suggested a number of other works I had not previously thought I needed to have on my shelves.

The book is divided into a number of sections and chapters. The initial section is introudctory: in it McColman discusses why he assembled the book, and how he perceives the importance of books to modern magickal practice. He also includes a chapter on how to read and think critically: a skill which these days seems to receive all too little emphasis in the Craft community. The meat of the book are the 31 chapters wherein McColman makes recommendations about specific books. The books he recommends are listed by title and by the author's name, and each listing is acompnied by one or two paragraphs explaining why McColman thinks the book important. The initial chapters cover introductory, intermediate, and advanced works on Wicca and paganism. These are then followed by chapters on a wide range of more specific topics. The last two chapters include a chapter on how to locate out-of-print books, and a chapter about useful Wiccan and pagan sites on the World-Wide Web. (In all honesty, it should be noted here that your reviewer is the High Priest of a coven whose Web site is listed in the book. Your reviewer discovered this fact only AFTER he had purchased the book.) The book ends with a complete listing of all of the books recommended, ordered alphabetically by author with full bibliographical information, and an index.

On the whole, I would recommend McColman's book as a good starting point for anyone seeking to assemble a serious magickal library.

About Author:

Hi. My name is Carl McColman. Thanks for visiting my website. Although I was an Air Force kid, I spent virtually my entire childhood in Hampton, Virginia, and so I can confidently say "that's where I'm from." As an adult I've lived in West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee before settling in the metro Atlanta, Georgia area, where I remain, having moved here in 1993 when I got married. I have a profoundly handicapped stepdaughter, which is why we remain near the big city, although I love being surrounded by trees and so I'm always daydreaming about moving somewhere far away from the metropolitan rat-race.

But the city does have its benefits: not only do I enjoy many friends with varied interests and backgrounds and lifestyles and values, but I am a member of a richly rainbow-hued, immigrant-heavy, multicultural church (at last count our membership boasted over 90 nationalities!) and I work for a bookstore owned by a Trappist monastery (which means I regularly can participate in the liturgical life of the monks, a blessing for which I never cease to give thanks). Although I've been interested in contemplative Christianity since my high school years, my spiritual journey has also included a long-standing interest in Neopaganism -- the spirituality of Goddess worship, nature veneration, reconstructed primal European religions like Druidism and postmodern equivalents like Wicca. For several years (right around the age of 40, imagine that) I was estranged from the church and identified as a Neopagan: a fact which is significant because I am also the author of several books, most of which concern neopagan spirituality. I returned to the intentional practice of the Christian faith in 2004, driven in large part by my ongoing devotion to Christian mysticism and my desire to express my personal spirituality in a contemplative manner, which for me is more easily done in a Christian rather than a Pagan context. As of this writing (January 2009) I am at work on a book about Christian mysticism due for publication in the spring of 2010; I've also begun work on a book exploring both the reasons why I abandoned Christianity for Neopaganism, as well as why I ultimately found my way back to the church.

Although I no longer identify as a Neopagan, the fact that I've written books about it means it will always be a part of me. But that's not just okay -- I count it as a blessing. I consider it a privilege to express my Christian spirituality in such a way that I can maintain a positive and gracious spirit of openness toward all that is good and true in other faiths. Paganism, like Buddhism and Vedanta and Judaism and Islam, can be a powerful means for grace to flow into our world. For this reason, I am happy to commend my books to anyone who would like to learn more about contemporary Pagan and Goddess spirituality. Please visit the books page to learn more about the books I've written. Finally, a few odds and ends about me: As I suspect this website makes obvious, I have a profound love for literature and for book collecting. Additionally, I am interested in vegan cuisine (I've been a vegetarian since 1987 and mostly-vegan since 2005), music (both sacred and secular, with a particular fondness for Renaissance choral music, British and Irish folk-rock, 70s prog-rock, and the good ol' Grateful Dead), cats (I am owned by three), disability issues (a concern that naturally arises from having a disabled family member) and the integral theory of Ken Wilber.