BOTW: To Ride a Silver Broomstick

This book was originally published in 1993, and I believe it was Ravenwolf’s first book.  It has been reprinted many times over the years with updates and some of the more controversial portions removed or changed.  This is one of the reasons that there is so much debate over this book.

Some will claim that it is full of dangerous and unethical information, and others will claim that they found nothing of the kind. It all depends on which volume you happen to read.  The version I read for this review was published prior to 2000 (I wish I could check the copyright page, but I no longer have this book, so I am going by the year that it was given to me).

Over the years, I have had some people call this book the next step up from Teen Witch, but as this one was published first, I consider it a slightly less dumbed down Wicca 101.

To Ride a Silver Broomstick has plenty of lists, jargon, and do’s and don’ts, but very little in-depth information in its 300 pages. An example would be the single sentence descriptions of many Wiccan Traditions doesn’t tell you much more than what part of the world they are from. Also, in the chapter of rituals, the author talks about how to perform the drawing down the moon rite, but never explains what this phrase means.

I found there to be a lot of busy work in this book with little instruction on actually practise.  Ravenwolf would have the Seeker spend their time copying out tables, definitions, ritual outlines and writing letters rather than learning basic skills or contemplating their new-found beliefs and incorporating them into their world-view.

While these days the revisionist history that plagued much of neo-Wiccan lore is generally left to rot on the compost heap, this book was written before it became accepted that the idea of an ancient matriarchal Goddess-worshipping society had been accepted as wishful thinking.  Thus, you will find the tone of this book decidedly more anti-Christian than later works like Teen Witch.  Further, the idea of White Witchcraft and a rejection of anything difficult or dark is given as an ethical ideal in these pages; which is a contradiction of the views of many Witches and Wiccans.

There are some nice pictures, SRW is pretty talented artist, and a few essays on things like the Summerland and Magickal names that I found interesting when I was first starting out.  I’m not ashamed to admit that this was my first Pagan book way back in the day, and I’m a bit of a junkie for modern Pagan mythos.  It also has a good list of ‘further reading’ in the back that introduces new Pagans to many of the more respected authors from that time.

While this book may have had its place in the 90s when pickings were slim, there is so much more information available now that is both more accurate and ethical, that I think that this book is really something that needs to be put back on the shelf and left for the next author looking to write a piece about the second generation of Paganism in the US.

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