Bookviews Book Reviews




Living Wicca: A Further Guide for the
Solitary Practitioner

by Scott Cunningham

In this follow up to his very successful handbook "Wicca: A Guide for he Solitary Practitioner", Scott Cunningham expanded on his original material and gave the solitary practitioner more information, more material to build on and further encouragement to practice as they are inspired by their Deities.

The book opens with a "Note to Traditional Wiccans". His original book, published in 1988, seemed to threaten many Traditionalists. This book, published in 1996, has a note to let them know that he never intended to attack their ideas or ideals, but rather he meant his books to be general access to those who are not part of Traditions, covens or to those who do not have access to traditional training.

This book is broken into three sections; learning, practice and your own tradition. Scott advances the solitary path and gives guidance to those who want to pursue their spirituality even further.

The first section, learning, contains the secret tool of self-teaching: Study, thought, prayer and experimentation. He is careful to explain that no two people learn the same way, and that we should experiment with the learning process, using hands on experience in determining how we best learn and how we should proceed with our studies. He uses his usual "Scott Cunningham" style of simply stating his material, making it easy for anyone to follow as he progresses. There is a discussion on secrecy in our practice, "Should I do it while I'm sick?" and the taking of magical names. Much of this will sound too easy or very unimportant, but Scott Cunningham seems to anticipate the questions of the inexperienced practitioner who does not have the benefit of someone to ask these questions. There is no stupid question. And this is the approach Scott takes.

There is a section that addresses Self-Initiation. Again this is brought up because of the controversies that came about from his first book. Scott tries to clarify what he means by "Self-initiation" as he took a lot of flack from the Traditional Wiccans on this. However, in true Cunningham style, he manages to make it very clear what he means, and though it seems redundant to place this in the second book, he does so, and includes another short ritual which can be easily adapted to make it your own.

Scott goes into the "Wiccan Mysteries" in this book as well. This material was once taboo to discuss outside the coven or tradition. Scott took up that challenge, in order that the Solitary Practitioner could add these to their practice, to make the spirituality deeper and have a better connection with their Deities. Discussion of reincarnation, the realization that the God and Goddess are part of us just as we are of them, that there is joy in every event that life has to offer and that mysteries are not really mysteries but self realizations make this section a real eye opener. And it is all discussed in delightfully simple and beautiful language.

There is also discussion on incorporating Wicca into our everyday life, how we see "Karma" and the "Three Fold Law" and how magic fits into all of this. There is an explanation of the Wiccan Rede "Harm None..."

From study comes practice. Scott looks at prayer, what it is and how to make it effective. He gives examples of prayer and chants, rites of thanks, simple Wiccan rites, creating the circle and raising energy. All essential parts of our practice simply discussed and laid out so you can just pick up the book and go.

The last part discusses creating a tradition for you. Following the model of Traditional Wicca, Scott suggests how you can keep to the basic aspects that comprise the path of Wicca while molding it into a practice that speaks specifically to your personal spiritual needs.

He is careful to discuss that there are basics that comprise the religion of Wicca, but there are also elements that allow the practitioner to bend the framework a bit so it meets the their needs. This is key to Wicca; it can evolve as we evolve, always addressing the practitioner, yet remaining in a form that is easily recognizable as Wicca.

Scott carefully goes over these elements, showing where you can pull things to make the traditions specifically yours, yet having it remain always identifiable as Wicca. Discussions include Deity Concepts, tools, ritual designs, beliefs and rules. Some of these sections include Suggested Reading lists, or tables of correspondences to aid you in your choices. There is further discussion on Wiccan Symbols, Books of Shadow, and passing on your tradition. There is also a chapter on Living Wicca; walking the walk as well as talking the talk. The book concludes with a glossary and a bibliography.

What Scott Cunningham started to do in his first book is continued in this second. The path of the Solitary Practitioner, in the Tradition of Scott Cunningham, is developed even further, giving the practitioner more food for thought, more direction and additional instruction in how to live as a Wiccan in today's world. The book is a good follow up to the first and is again a book that has been lovingly dog-eared and held dear by those who follow the Solitary path.

Reviewed by Boudica