I. Loved. This. Book.
Is that too enthusiastic? Especially for a book published by Llewellyn? 😉 Besides A Witch Alone by Marian Green, this book is the most balanced, practical and grounded introductory book I’ve found. There isn’t any side-eye history (that I found). There isn’t any Christian-hating. There is certainly no dogmatism.
What In the Sacred Circle offers is, essentially, a series of essays. The book is organized by the Wheel of the Year, starting with Yule and then alternating throughout with different chapters on deity, circle casting, magic, sacred place, building a shrine, etc. Each chapter on a Sabbat starts with a personal story of how she celebrated and then moves into some history behind the holiday and ways to celebrate it. The chapter on casting a circle is the most thorough chapter and the one where she offers the most explicit direction. Her magic chapter only offers a few different kinds of magic, with theory booking either end of the suggestions. This is in contrast to many 101 books where pre-made ritual and spells seem to make up the bulk of the material.
I really liked this quote on what magic is really about:
“In fact, on a deeper level, magic is more about resolving emotional and psychological issues than about changing outer circumstances…though if we change ourselves, our outer lives will inevitably change as well. Interacting with life and working through situations brings spiritual growth. If we apply the wise use of magic to our life’s path, we are working in harmony with the needs of our deep selves, the part of us that desires our highest good.”
Though this book is listed under Wicca, besides the dual-Godhead, I didn’t pick up on many Wicca-specific teachings. She doesn’t go over the Wiccan Rede. I’m not sure she ever says always or you must like a book I’m reading now does (The Craft by Dorothy Morrison). The book mainly displays her love of nature, the seasons and her gentle advice for a beginner. It guides the reader into a self-guided learning process.
I would recommend this book to a beginner as a primer to A Witch Alone. I would recommend it also for anyone who just wants to know more about witchcraft, or anyone who has family that is curious about their path.