Where to Park Your Broomstick:
A Teen’s Guide To Witchcraft
by Lauren Manoy
Despite the cringe-worthy title, Lauren Manoy’s debut offering is enjoyable, perceptive and downright cool. I would call this book a dictionary of sorts, because Manoy has single-handedly scanned the vast horizon of everything Wiccan: the politics in collective religions, the art of name dropping, really neat and innovating spell-casting, political teen rights and ritual etiquette.
Manoy, who is 25, started studying Wicca at age 14 and was initiated into her first coven at age 15. A writer of experimental fiction, she always wanted to pen a book on Paganism and modern Witchcraft. When I spoke to Manoy about the corny book title, she admitted that there were debates over it. But who cares? Once you get into this book, all will either be forgotten or forgiven.
My originally negative opinion shifted quickly once I got over “A Note To Parents” (the usual disclaimer stuff) and “When to Worry” bullet points (which I found interesting because out of this list, there were 8 bullet points and 6 of ’em I had experienced in my teens. Hey, I don’t find anything wrong with listening to “death metal”). But once you get past the beginning of the book, Manoy breaks open as an incredibly gifted writer who is not only interesting but also incredibly detailed and thorough as well.
Her writing voice skips around a bit, sometimes making her sound more like a seasoned crone than a young writer who peppers her sentences with slang: “the word Witch can really freak people out”; “Carl Jung is a groovy guy”; “I hate to sound too hippy.” Because as fast as those sentences are drying, she’ll comment something like: “In my opinion, magick is the ability to tap into your own mind’s vast resources, find out about the way Nature works, and use your mind’s symbols to find the connection between you and the rest of the Universe...” Oh, my head hurts!
This book covers everything. There’s an in-depth chapter on history, followed by a walk through the roots of Wicca, Paleolithic and Neolithic ages. Manoy introduces the reader to all varieties of Wicca: Gardenerian (where she boldly dissects Gerald Gardner’s claim to fame as founder of the modern Craft), Alexandrian, Solitary, Dianic, Faerie, Reclaiming, and more . The book also discusses the many faces and places of the God and Goddess: Egyptian, Druidism, Shamanism, Cabala, Voudoo, Santeria, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Asatru and Stregheria.
I haven’t come across a book this exhaustive with in quite a while.
There are spells and stuff in here I will definitely try. I find Manoy unique with her descriptions of ways to set up altars and perform ritual if you aren’t allow to practice in your parent’s house even though the book is “parent-friendly.” And she really cares about her audience: for instance, when she explains the Gardnerian Circle casting (which is not too Solitary friendly), she rewrites it, dubbing it the “Semi-Gardnerian with a half-twist.”
Flipping through the pages of this book, you will come across Pimple Banisher and Poverty Rots spells. But there is an important factor which prepares the reader for the negatives, realities and truths with a very important chapter on coming out of the broom closet and all the repercussions that come with it.
Manoy has fueled Where To Park Your Broomstick: A Teen’s Guide To Witchcraft with information for the reader to feel safe and educated enough to tackle the tough world of non-believers and discriminators. Well done, indeed.
RATING: 4 Broomsticks
» Originally appeared in newWitch #02
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