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Book Review: A Witch’s Notebook by Silver Ravenwolf

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What I enjoy about reading Silver Ravenwolf’s books is that she is always true to herself, even if some in the Wiccan/Witch community may find her to be a little bit “witch-lite,” or as some have called her a “fluffy-bunny” (a derogatory term for a witch wannabe who is all sunshine and rainbows).

The world needs a few fluffy bunnies in my estimation, so I won’t rag on Silver Ravenwolf, even though some of her early books having made Wiccans out to be something other than what they are – like cute and cuddly and obsessed with being “good.”

Her most recent offering is a mature look at living as a witch that gets rid of at least some of the opinions from her early books that made people cringe with their non-authenticity. A Witch’s Notebook is based on the author’s personal collection of notebooks that she has kept over the years on a variety of topics that are definitely advanced witchcraft.

It is nearly impossible to find books on advanced witchcraft and the few that I have read really did not have much to offer. Silver’s book is a step in the right direction in that she discusses topics that are not usually covered in Wicca 101 books (like Quantum Psychics for instance!).

Unfortunately it is a short book and could have been much more! In fact Silver even says in the introduction that originally she had considered thirteen lessons, but then changed it to five. I think that was a mistake. This volume could have done with a little more MEAT and a little less filler.

The book is divided up into lessons in five chapters.

In the first chapter Silver explores some “mystical truths” and even touches on Zen Buddhism, which got my attention (as a Buddhist Witch).

If you’ve ever wanted to try chakra cleansing and dealing with your aura, and other New Age things that many witches may not have had much experience with, this chapter will drop you right into that mindset. Or rather, “higher-mind set”. I liked that she included this in a book about witchcraft, as too often, those on the path forget to veer off and take a detour.

The second chapter talks about “life being a Sacred Journey”, and that does kind of bug me. Of course life is a sacred journey! You are alive and you are this fortunate human being with the opportunity to gain enlightenment in your time on earth. You’re not a dog, or a flea on a dog, so it’s fortunate and it’s sacred. Thus, it doesn’t need to be spelled out in such a “life is a Sacred Journey” way, which is kind of like making the observation that hey, puppies and kitties are cute!

This chapter does include some great sigils and rituals for practice (a sigil is a magickal symbol drawn by a witch); Ravenwolf uses many sigils from Hoodoo and Voodoo mysteries — sigils have inherent magickal power on their own and can be used in a variety of magick spells.

The third chapter explores some consequences of karma and the science of witchcraft and the fourth chapter is an interesting exploration of some Hoodoo magickal basics.

Although the fifth chapter is also called a lesson, I don’t think it really is. Silver has included a Witch’s Herbal here, which, although it is interesting to read, is nowhere near the completeness and professional quality of books like A Compendium of Herbal Magic by Paul Beyerl (my personal favorite) or Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham.

I actually consider the fifth chapter to be filler, which is too bad, as Silver was going pretty strong until then.

However, I am glad that I gave Silver another chance as I believe this book is an excellent beginning exploration of advanced witchcraft, from an author who is finally coming into her own. I still would have liked to see more length and more depth, for those of us who are long past reading about what a cauldron is or how to use candles in magick.

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  • http://thereconstruction.com Bruce Joyner

    For 40 years i have followed the road less-traveled by thinking as i wished and not as i was told..The esoteric community has many parts..a few which remain quiet concerning their beliefs.
    The New Age witches such as Silver RavenWolf publicize and sell their harmless opinions of the craft they practice..By making-up all this so-called knowlwdge they earn a living informing gullible people who then pat themselves on the back and call themselves witches,too. This book is a prime example of why real knowledge stays hidden except for those who would search it out
    in the dusty corners of libraries..both here in
    this country and abroad.As for myself I am not hidden from view and i am not a witch..just a free-thinker…

  • Athene

    I agree with the commenter Bruce.
    People like Ravenwolf are dismissed by anyone remotely serious about their path. But she is harmless. Just another new-ager this time in the guise of ‘witch’.
    Quantum physics, Buddhism, chakra cleansing, etc, all fine subjects. Nothing to do with traditional witchery, but if new-age witches are a new breed, then why not?
    Some authors sell books by clamining they’re channelling a 5000 year old alien, others by calling themselves witches. It’s all mostly harmless.
    ‘Advanced’ witchery/witchcraft books ARE hard to find, in fact, impossible. No traditional witch shares knowledge/ways through a book.

  • Isabeau

    I rather fancy the concept of a full-service witch whose knowledge is not strictly limited to old traditions. Quantum physics, Buddhism (beautiful mysticism there), and chakra cleansing are hardly “new”, though they are lumped in with new-age.

    Although it sounds as if this book needed a good fleshing out, I think I might give it a read, or at least a perusal over a latte at Starbucks in B&N. I am not a witch but find the subject matter interesting.

  • Arawen

    Silver gets alot of bad reviews from people claiming to be more knowledgeable than her all the time. The fact is, she is NOT a “fluffy bunny”, nor does she pretend to be. Her books are written for the public. She IS a Traditional Witch in the sense that she has gone through traditional training (Gardnerian, Caledonaii, and British Traditional being only part of it) and is the head of a Wiccan tradition. I believe it was in “To Stir a Magick Cauldron” where she reveals that her patron Goddess is the Morrigan. If you’d like to find out what Silver teaches her students, research the Morrigan. You’ll see how un-fluffy Silver really is. She is the face of modern Witchcraft, whether you like it or not. For those who are more enlightened, perhaps you could publish a book and set us all straight….

  • Yemaya Olokun

    Merry Meet,
    The very first book I picked up about Wicca was Silver’s “To Stir a Magick Cauldron”, and I’m very glad that this was my first intro to the belief system. Silver writes with integrity, honesty, knowledge, and YES, knows how to enagage an audience. It was a relief to read an author’s books who told funny anecdotes and personal stories to keep my interest. So many Craft books are somber and dry and read like textbooks. Some people enjoy that style of reading, and I may refer to them for reference material, but they are not engaging reading in my view.
    Why Crafters are so hard on Silver, I cannot figure out. This is her way of practicing Wicca, and she says very clearly in all her books that it doesn’t have to be yours! I think that she has contributed a great deal to the Craft as a Priestess and an author. Just because someone might not resonate with her style of writing or practicing doesn’t make her discredible. It tires me that there seems to be a real “fundamentalist” stream in Wicca nowadays, basically summed up in the following statement; “Either practice Wicca this way (fill in the blank) or you are not really a Witch, and a fluffy bunny.”. Wicca is supposed to be a religion of diversity and progression. Silver reflects that spirit in her books. And yes, I have read several books on Wicca, have been practicing for over a decade, am university-educated and am a traditional Witch myself. The Craft doesn’t have to be dry, dusty, rigid structure to be “authentic”, and it’s sad that others seem to lash out at Silver for daring to be different and challenge the status quo. I admire her for standing strong and continuing to practice as she sees fit, and not bending to the winds of controversy.
    Namaste.

  • Kittie

    Actually, it has been shown and proven time and time again that her information is inaccurate…fabricated…and in some cases totally made up. She lies, she encourages others to lie, she claims that Wicca and Witchcraft are interchangeable terms, claims that no witches believe in Satan (which is just plain silly). She isn’t daring to be different, she is just plain wrong in most if not all cases. I picked up Silver RavenWolf after I had been studying for some time…it really did me no good. I have been practicing for over a decade myself, her books, her advice…it’s all pretty bad, pretty inaccurate, and poorly researched. She spells some terms wrong, doesn’t know the meaning of others (she claims the word Wicca also means “front”, it does not), and she insults other religions to intolerable degrees. She makes non-pagan people out to be idiots, and convinces many a teenage girl that all their problems can be solved with magick. She also mildly encourages the ideal of using invasive love spells. She truly does nothing for the Craft in any positive manner and leads people further from the Old Ways and more into New Age fluff than true tradition.

  • http://www.witchesnwizards.com/ Mary

    I own a number of Silver Ravenwolf’s books. Regardless of what an individual thinks of her books, she is a successful Wiccan and has taken the road less traveled. She is a published author. She is recognized, if not respected, in the pagan or occult community. I mean, you read her book.