Blog changes

In an effort to get this blog back on track I have simplified it, deleted some of the attached one-topic blogs
and focused on Sabbats and Esbats, which was the original intent.
Other writings will be in 'stumbling upon the path of the goddess'
and the Borrowed Book of Charms is still active.
Links in the right hand column.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

some thoughts on Cunningham

I see Scott Cunningham's name linked with people like Silver Ravenwolf and I have to protest. It's a rather arrogant attitude to lump all beginner books into a 101 category with a sniff and a look down the nose. Why don't we leave those attitudes with the D.A.R. where they belongs.

There are, in my opinion, two kinds of beginner Witchcraft books.
There are those that are meant to glorify the author(s). These are the 'look how wonderful /powerful /mysterious /witchy I am' genre of books. 10 steps to become a High Priestess. Long lists of places to buy long lists of magickal items that you need to become a powerful witch. Book jackets with lists of television appearances and book signings. To me this is just another version of the 24/7 costume party - look at me.

Then there are beginner books that are designed to give a curious person some insight into the Pagan path. More emphasis on the spiritual path and less on tools. More emphasis on the deities and less on being powerful. More emphasis on finding your own path and less on do-it-my-way. More emphasis on the difficulties and less on entertaining your friends with your new powers or wardrobe - whichever comes first.

Scott Cunningham's books definitely belong in the second category. His books are about a spiritual path. He wanted Wicca, in particular, to be available to anyone who was interested and not reserved for those lucky enough to find the right coven at the right moment in their lives.

There are a lot of reasons that a lot of Pagans don't really want any Pagan path to become mainstream. Probably even more of us who have mixed feelings about it. But it speaks to the power of the lure of elitism to deride authors like Cunningham, who make some basic information available to all.

If you are new to Paganism or Wicca and looking for information, I recommend Scott Cunningham's books, available at many bookstores and public libraries. If you are an experienced witch looking for a way to introduce a curious friend or relative to Paganism, I recommend his books. Don't be put off by the fluffy bunny criticisms, this is the real thing. Basic, simple, but not a commercialized, have it your way version.


  1. im here because of few cents for you. just dropping by.

  2. Hear hear. I have a copy of his book on my bookshelf purely for the purpose of lending it to anyone who asks me what Wicca or Paganism is about.

  3. Cunningham's book that you have pictured was the very first book I read on Wicca. Had I read 85% of the other "101" books, I might have not started practicing that path.

    Cunningham had no agenda except to share the joys of Wicca. He gave a common sense introduction to the path. I would say that anyone thinking of becoming a Wiccan would be well served by reading that book.

    His book "The Complete Book of Incense, Oils, and Brews" is a great primer and reference for herbs and essential oils. Sadly, when Mr. Cunningham passed away, the witchcraft community lost a terrific author and proponent of the path.

  4. Hi there :)

    I totally agree re the "24/7 costume party" crowd - I cannot get with those who treat Paganism as another kind of "fandom" to geek on.

    I read Scott Cunningham when I got back into Paganism a few years back, and although I'm on a Druid path, I agree he is a solid introduction. Have you read any Emma Restall Orr?

  5. Thanks to everyone for the comments. It's nice to hear that people still appreciate him.
    Jule, I have not read any of her books, which do you recommend?
    Although I am Wiccan, I have found quite a bit of spiritual enlightenment from the somewhat controversial DCW, specifically Ariel's lectures.

  6. Love Cunningham despise Ravenwolf. I met her - she is a snob.

  7. Try Emma Restall Orr's "Living Druidry" and "Spirits of the Sacred Grove" - these are 2 books I keep returning to as the wheel turns. Also good is "Ritual" but I found her latest "Living With homour: A Pagan Ethics" a bit hard going.

    You can find out more at

  8. Thank you for taking the time to post about Scott Cunningham. Although I would not count myself as one of his closest friends; He was actually someone I knew fairly well, and was extremely fond of. He was a wonderful author, he had a dry and sarcastic wit that made me very happy, and I had a big crush on him too. He and I loved essential oils and we talked about them for hours on end. Our world was made so much better for having had him in it. We love you Scotty, and we miss you a great deal.



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