Witchcraft Today is in fact, outdated, considering the original publication date is from 1954 by Rider and Company. It was reprinted in 2004 by Citadel and includes an introduction by Dr. Margaret Murray, who passed away in 1963, proving that it hasn’t been updated in quite some time. Much has changed since the 1950’s, however, if a reader is expecting information from that time period they’ll be greatly disappointed, as it provides primarily shoddy information from pre-Gerald Gardner eras.
While I’ll admit it was a quick and interesting read, the constant references to the author’s own opinions (I think, I believe, etc.) makes any tidbit of information within questionable. It seems as though instead of fact-checking historical events or customs he half-heartedly assumes that what he’s heard through the grapevine is the end-all-be-all. Perhaps this was the case though, since there weren’t many books about witchcraft available in the United States at that time.
However, the fascination with this book within the Pagan & Wiccan communities today is astounding considering that Gerald Gardner provides no basis for any of his ‘factual’ claims. He provides no bibliography (again, perhaps understandable) or index, and is vague at best when explaining where information was obtained. In regards to format, the chapter subheadings are often confusing, at least in the copy I read where the first ‘paragraph’ was a breakdown of what would be discussed in each chapter in half-sentences. Basically, this book seemed more like a breakdown of what Gardner thought about topics and less about what is factually known today about those topics.
An updated book with footnotes of where his thoughts could be either proven or disproven, complete with index, bibliography, and recommendations for further reading on topics that are glossed over would be a nice idea for the next reprint that is sure to happen.
Reviewed by SidheSidhe