THE MAGIC CAULDRON: Witchcraft For Good and Evil by Margaret F. O'Connell

THE MAGIC CAULDRON: Witchcraft For Good and Evil

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Could there possibly be room for another juvenile on witches? If you think not, as we did, consider making room for O'Connell, who is attempting more here than the usual slapdash survey of which Garden's Witches (above) is an example. True, O'Connell would have been better served by more rigorous editing; ""atmospheric"" cliches and digressive, didactic pomposities abound. Yet readers willing to accompany her through ""the dark corridors of the mind and the earth"" to a murky neolithic beginning will be rewarded by a searching and coherent interpretation linking witchcraft's origins to the prehistoric earth mother and to woman's intimacy with the mysteries of life and death. O'Connell traces the cult of the goddess through Babylon where male priests conducted the establishment religion and the commoners' earth mother went underground; through Greece where Zeus ruled in the cities but wilder tribal ritual preserved her tradition; and through medieval Europe where medical schools trained men to heal men, and witches (the ""country doctors of their day"") tended women, who were enjoined by the Church to bear the cross of pain Eve's sin had laid on them. Whether she is dealing with the Inquisition, Loudun or Salem, O'Connell integrates her subject with larger religious and political developments throughout, and if none of it is news to adults, she makes a more creative and thoughtful use of a wider range of sources than you can take for granted at any level. And for those who still want only the paraphenalia, the usual spells and recipes are all here too along with a witch's calendar and a do-it-yourself sabbat guide.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1975
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: S. G. Phillips