So I'm at my school library. Well a university. There's a book here called 'Wicca A guide for the solitary practitioner' by Scott Cunningham. Has anyone ever read it and can anyone give opinions on it. From my most basic knowledge it seems to be a really nice book. But it would be nice if someone more experienced could give me an opinion on it.
To a lot of magic practitioners, Scott Cunningham is considered an authority on his subjects. He was a very well-known practitioner even outside of pagan circles, and very experienced, especially given his youth when he passed away.
Re: How is this book? By: Weatherwax / Knowledgeable
Post # 4 Sep 20, 2017
One thing you've got to remember about Scott - his books aren't actually Wicca - his branding is Wicca - there is quite a bit of discussion on whether the publishing company just suggested to use the word Wicca in his books to get more Sales.
Personally, I don't like his work, it could also be seen as outdated, like Raymond Bucklands work - me and another Witch I knew had a brief discussion that his complete book of witchcraft was 'old news' not a fan of Donald Michael Kraig either.
Re: How is this book? By: Lark Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 5 Sep 20, 2017
Cunningham isn't as bad a writer as some out there. But I do have some real issues with things he says, particularly when he states that "Wicca is anything you want it to be." That statement is absolutely wrong. Wicca is a specific religion with very specific beliefs and practices. Scott's writings have done damage to Wicca in that they have lead genuine Seekers astray.
In addition, Scott's books on Wicca, as Weatherwax has noted, are outdated. Back in the late 80's and early 90's they were about all we had readily accessible, but now there are much better authors and books available.
Here's some books that I would suggest:
"Wicca, a Year and a Day" by Timothy Roderick
"Wicca For Beginners" by Thea Sabin
"Witchcraft Today" and "The Meaning of Witchcraft" by Gerald Gardner
I agree with the main case about his writings. oerall, as books about the ideas of magic, symbolism, herbcraft, etc they are quite good. But he used 'wicca' more as a generic term for the idea of magic craft in general when it -should- be used to refer to the Wicca path and faith.
If you read the book keeping in mind that any time he uses the word 'Wicca' he is referring to the idea of generic magical practice in general and not the wiccan path, then you can avoid some of the misinterpretations.
personally i tend to cut authors a bit of slack about the misuse of some terms, especially in older books as back then the distinctions just weren't there. People didn't really have a distinctive word for wicca as a path versus witchcraft versus eclectic or hedge or kitchen witchery, or Celtic revival or hellenistic or ... you get the idea. it was all magic, and wicca was synonymous with magic so... *shrug* use what fits at the time.
Even today the lingo is fluid as people seek to make personal distinctions and new labels for little niches within larger concepts and ideas. it is like you start off with a huge mansion, with a thousand rooms to all sorts of purposes and functions. but then one group enters into one specific wing of the mansion and declares it a different building. Separating it from the rest and defining how it is different and self-contained and distinctive. Then more people witin that wing find a large room, and state that it is their room and that the furnishings and drapery and utilities make it unique again. And so they put in a door and define how it is complete and separate from the wing in the mansion. ... And so on.
The tricky part for the individual is in dissecting the variety of ideas and sources and claims to piece together what distinctions are important- what really matters and defines one practice as separate and unique from those of others, and what things are common and shared among them all, even if it might be described a little differently. And that really only comes with time, and using broad strokes of study to have a wide foundation that many different things can be piled up onto and compared.
It is a tonne (and a half) of work and study, but I find it pays dividends in not only understanding the ideas being shared, but also in applying them. Once you understand the tree, you can take a hold of any branch and follow it to the trunk, and from there to the root, and from there to the nutrients that feed it and make it what it is.
There is a pretty cool part he writes in the book about associating instruments with the different elements that I very much enjoyed. I didn't agree with the whole thing but as with all books there are things to take and things to leave for each person.