BOOK OF SHADOWS by Phyllis Curott

BOOK OF SHADOWS

A Modern Woman's Journey into the Magic and Wisdom of Witchcraft
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KIRKUS REVIEW

An engaging memoir of magic and self-discovery, by Wicca high priestess and entertainment attorney Curott. Curott has lectured nationally on the renaissance of witchcraft in America, and here she offers a treatment of magic’s role in her own spiritual journey and professional life. Curott wisely uses the genre of autobiography to introduce readers to witchcraft gradually, as she herself was introduced to it. She first describes her visions of an Isis-like figure in her final year of law school, and her sudden development of extrasensory talents. A bit later, she met a self-described witch and through this friendship began attending her first —circle— meetings, which sound a lot more like a feminist consciousness-raising group than a coven. Which is precisely Curott’s point: the book’s chief function is to dispel Christian-based stereotypes about witches, who don—t worship Satan (he’s not a figure in pre-Christian traditions) or cast spells on people (Curott insists that witches seek to establish harmony in the world, not to be masters of others or of nature). But in her well-intentioned efforts to rehabilitate witchcraft, she occasionally succumbs to perpetuating rather ridiculous inaccuracies about its detractors (as when she repeats the claim that the Catholic Church was responsible for the Black Plague because it had killed off all the cats, thinking they might be witches— familiars). And at times her rhetorical devices are not too subtle’she gives her lecherous boss the pseudonym Hades, symbolically casting herself as the ensnared Persephone, who must utilize female magic to escape from his underworld. However, Curott also presents some fine insights into the role witchcraft plays in the complex milieu of American religion, including her observation that Wicca is appealing because it does not demand exclusive devotion (one enchantress calls herself —an Episcopagan—). Though jagged, Curott’s book stands as a unique first-person account of more than 20 years as a practitioner of Wicca. ($50,000 ad/promo; author tour; TV/radio satellite tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1998
ISBN: 0-7679-0054-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Broadway
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1998