Raymond Buckland,
The Witch Book:
The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft,
Wicca & Neo-paganism

(Visible Ink, 2002)

The first difference that you will notice with The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca & Neo-paganism is the index, which is rather unusual for this type of encyclopedia. The second difference is the mammoth size. It measures 7.25x9.25 inches and contains 602 pages.

In the foreword, Raymond Buckland explains that Christians, primarily missionaries, have assigned the word "witchcraft" to any indigenous activities they did not understand. But these are not true forms of witchcraft and he has omitted them from his book and focused on the true Western European and American variations.

And this is exactly why I reach for my other witchcraft encyclopedia first unless I am positive that the topic I am researching falls into the Western European category. Often you will encounter a name or word that simply implies it is related to witchcraft, but has no specifics. If you do not know the origin of the word or name, you need a thorough encyclopedia. Thus, I find this one limited as an encyclopedia of witchcraft, but extremely thorough for the specific criteria stated by the author as his scope. He has done an excellent job of providing extensive information for each listing.

The topics are listed alphabetically and frequently are followed with a source list for further reading. You will find listings for movies and books, as well as case histories of specific witches and witchcraft. I found the listing for the Bible especially interesting because it tells about the most frequently quoted passages about witchcraft and what they actually said before King James had them translated to suit his purposes. It also talks about the different translations and versions.

I love to pull out this book on a rainy afternoon and curl up among the pillows on my couch to read. It is equally as interesting as a Stephen King novel for pleasure reading. Each time I open it, I learn something new. You will, too.

The author of this book is the person credited with introducing modern witchcraft into the United States. He has studied the craft for more than 50 years and is one of the leading experts on witchcraft, gypsy magic and the occult. He holds a doctorate in anthropology and has more than 30 books in print. He has been involved in the film industry, writing five screenplays and working as a technical adviser several times.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 19 April 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.