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Wicca's Charm | Reviews | Praise | Excerpt


"The Standard Reader: Rachel DiCarlo on Wicca's Charm," The Weekly Standard, October 24, 2005

Wicca's Charm: Understanding the Spiritual Hunger Behind the Rise of Modern Witchcraft and Pagan Spirituality by Catherine Edwards Sanders (Shaw, 223 pp., $13.99) Evidence abounds of a growing interest among women in modern witchcraft, also known as Wicca. About 5 million self-proclaimed witches live in America and their presence has steadily crept into the mainstream.

For Wicca's Charm, Weekly Standard alumna Catherine Edwards Sanders spent a year interviewing dozens of witches, young and old, to find out what Wiccans believe and what draws women to Wicca. She discovers that, while there's no formal consensus on Wicca's doctrine, there are a few central tenets. All Wiccans have a deep respect for the earth. Some cross the line into monism and pantheism. As neopagans, they don't believe humans were created in God's image, so a human holds the same dignity and value as an insect or a tree. For these Wiccans, recognizing the divinity of females and female power is paramount. Wiccans perform rituals honoring femininity and most worship both themselves and a Mother Goddess. "Whatever works to make women stronger is the goal," Sanders writes.

The groundwork for Wicca was laid during the American Romantic era, when ideas about the exaltation of nature, emotion, and the individual thrived. But, not surprisingly, Wicca came to real prominence around the same time as modern feminism. As Edwards explains, most female Wiccans yearn to find meaning in life but feel marginalized by a patriarchal society and rejected by a male-dominated Christian church. Political feminism couldn't satisfy their spiritual needs so they embraced a practice that celebrates women.

Sanders's book has many virtues. First is the juxtaposition of Wiccan beliefs with those of Christianity so the reader sees how one is a reaction to the other. Additionally, Sanders's style is calm, respectful, and nonjudgmental. Wicca's Charm will be of interest to anyone who wants to understand a culture and mentality that has led so many women to neo-paganism and self-worship.

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