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INITIATED by Amanda Yates Garcia Kirkus Star


Memoir of a Witch

by Amanda Yates Garcia

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5387-6305-6
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

A professional witch recounts the trials she endured in finding her vocation.

That a contemporary witch would quote Starhawk quoting Doreen Valiente in an epigram will come as little surprise to students of the history of women’s spirituality. The former is an ecofeminist who has played a vital role in reimagining goddess worship for the modern age. The latter was instrumental in shaping Wicca, a mid-20th-century reiteration of English witchcraft. That this quotation is followed by a line from Hélène Cixous’ “The Laugh of the Medusa” is a bit more surprising. Taken together, these epigrams offer an illuminating introduction to Yates Garcia and her work. A seventh-generation Californian, the author has made a name—and a remunerative career—for herself as the “Oracle of California.” She co-hosts a podcast called Strange Magic, she has more than 27,000 followers on Instagram, and, in 2017, she talked with Tucker Carlson about her magical efforts to bind Donald Trump from doing harm. It would be wrong, though, to dismiss Yates Garcia as a dilettante cashing in on the current interest in witches. Her mother is a practicing witch and raised the author within her own tradition, a mix of Unitarian Universalist feminist theology, neopaganism, and political activism. While Yates Garcia’s account of her own magical coming-of-age includes mystical experiences and glimpses of rituals she has crafted, it is also a forceful critique of capitalism and patriarchal culture. Her philosophy of witchcraft emphasizes collective action and social justice. But this is not a manifesto. It’s a tale of adventure, a heroine’s journey to find her own power. Along the way, she chronicles her encounters with fairies, monsters of various kinds, and at least one demon lover. Even though “the forces of patriarchal authority have destroyed our stones, our caves, our temples, our cathedrals…the Goddess is being reborn.”

Thoughtful, engaging, and fresh: a welcome addition to the annals of women’s spirituality.