The Shamanic Witch – By Gail Wood

Based on the research and experiences I have had with Shamanic Craft, along with basic gut reactions, my impression is that it is a more Earthy, grass-roots, no-frills form of Paganism that is experientially seated in explorations and encounters both in the physical worlds and the worlds beyond.  

It has long had an appeal for me as I tend to operate as a “no frills” Witch.  I brought this optimism and interest into the reviewing of this book and overall, I was not disappointed.

One stumbling block I encountered as I read the book is the feeling that Ms. Wood confuses the paths of Wicca and Witchcraft when it would have been very easy to include a very brief discernment between the two.  Clearly, she herself is a Wiccan and a Witch, but on a very broad level, this is not usually the case.  Many Witches do not indentify themselves with Wicca and the words seem to be used interchangeably in several places in the book, which I feel lends unnecessary confusion and misrepresentation.

One paragraph in chapter one does seem to separate the two, but not in such a way that it would be understood from a layman or novice perspective.  While this might seem like a petty observation, the book is called The Shamanic WITCH and then is presented from a very Wiccan standpoint throughout.  Perhaps it would be more aptly titled The Shamanic WICCAN.  The author does clearly state that her shamanic skills and studies have been deliberately melded with her own Wiccan practice, which is why I feel that the delineation between Witch and Wiccan would have been particularly helpful and almost necessary.  In fact, on that same page she goes on to say a sentence or two later, “This book is a guide to combining the two worlds of Shamanism and Witchcraft.”  Am I hammering on this too much?  Not only is this a pet peeve of mine, but I feel that for this book in particular, it is a glaring oversight.

That is not to say that this book is not of great value to those who are interested in the path.  The explanations and rituals are very, very well presented and the hair virtually comes up on one’s arms as the power words of the rituals are encountered.  Clearly, the author is very experienced in the field and is more than capable as a teacher of this fine art.  While the rituals included may be more ceremonial than non-Wiccans are looking for in their Shamanic experiences, they are quite powerful and would serve the practitioner well as an introduction to this profoundly moving path.

While it may seem that I am picking on Ms. Wood, I do not mean to do so.  In fact, I found myself chanting a paraphrased Sally Field in my head as I read the book.  ”I like her.  I really like her!”  I just wish she would fix that one little frustrating thing…  If she did, perfect book.  As it stands now, that was like missing a step on a staircase at very inopportune times through the reading.

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