Today, I ran to Waldenbook’s to pick up my order. I got a copy of both Witchcraft Today and The Meaning of Witchcraft by Gerald Gardner. After being told that they weren’t available in the U.S. six to nine months ago, I was finally able to order a copy of them. Of course, I have used copies of both, but I was glad to get brand new copies. Especially since my used copy of Witchcraft Today is so old the pages are just about falling out and my copy of The Meaning of Witchcraft has a blank (misprinting) page in it. That was annoying when I found it. So I’m glad to have new, in print copies.
Personally, I’m ecstatic that Gardner’s books are back in print. I loved reading them, and I think that they are very telling. I look at some of the things that Gardner makes so abundantly clear (such as the Goddess and God being “the little gods” rather than an Infinite Creator) that most people today never even stop to consider. There’s just so much in his books that most Pagans don’t even seem to know about these days.
Unfortunately, I don’t expect that they’ll sell many copies. It seems to me that the current consumer tendency towards “how to” books will keep Gardner’s books to a rather small readership. Because after all, he doesn’t give careful instructions on how to do any spells or rituals. In fact, he doesn’t give any such details at all. Sure, he describes a couple things, but not in enough detail to do them effectively. His books are informative and descriptive rather than instructive. And because of that, most people will likely toss it aside. Heck, I doubt they’ll even make it to the shelves on most bookstores. To be honest, I even told Jeanine an Waldenbooks not to bother stocking them, despite the fact that they’re excellent books.
Of course, the “anniversary edition” of Witchcraft Today irks me in its own right. They’ve made it an “expanded edition” by adding extra essays from “big names” in Paganism. These “big names” include Judy Harrow, the founder of the Protean tradition; Ronald Hutton, of Triumph of the Moon fame; and Wren Walker, co-founder of The Witch’s Voice. Now, let me say right up front that I have no problems with any of these individuals. They are all respectable individuals that have made good contributions to Paganism in general. And even their essays in this book aren’t bad in their own right. My only annoyance with it all is that my first skim of this “added material” is primarily there to make the book appealing to the “Wicca is what you want to make it” crowd by stroking their egos. It’s all about how Gardner was an “innovator” in his own days or how “Wicca” has changed since his day. I’m sorry, but I just find that sad. Why not let the man’s book stand on its own right? Why not embrace the fact that the man was a Traditionalist and wrote from a Traditionalist standpoint. Why must everything be made to cater to the “eclectic” community.
Oh wait, that’s where the money is, right? *sigh* Somedays, I hate that the publishing industry is a business.