The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft by Christopher Penczak

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    The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft    by    Christopher Penczak   ©  2005  Llewellyn ISBN 0-7387-0767-8  467 pages   paperback  $17.95 (U.S.)  $24.50 (Canada)

    This is the middle book in a series of five: The Inner Temple of Witchcraft (the element of Fire), The Outer Temple of Witchcraft The element of Earth), then this book The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft (the element of Water), The Temple of High Witchcraft (the element of Air), and an as-yet unnamed fifth book (the “element” of Spirit).

    Whether or not you agree with all that Christopher has to say (and I don’t necessarily), you have to acknowledge that he has an approach which has worked for him and which is capable of communicating in an intelligent, and intelligible, manner.  As a good example of this, I quote the following (from page 3):  “Modern Pagans, sharing a similar spiritual history with tribal communities, should be sensitive to these feelings and make an effort to create bridges of understanding.  As you study these techniques it is important to remember that although there are great similarities between the healing practices of many cultures, there are also great differences in the thought, philosophy, and interpretation.  Such differences must be respected. [emphasis mine]

    As with the previous titles in this series, this is a book which is intended to be worked through, not just read through.  It also comes with a CD companion (available separately, and at additional cost) which contains chants, rhythms, etc. which would be helpful for the individual just starting out on their path.  I can’t speak to the quality of these CDs (one for each of the volumes in the series) yet, as I have not yet ordered them for review.

    None of these books are easy reading, although they are all clearly written.  The difficulty lies not in how the information is conveyed, but rather in the challenges offered to conventional ways of thinking about, and approaching, things.

    Unfortunately, from my perspective, Christopher perpetuates one common misunderstanding regarding the Wiccan Rede (on page 64) when he says “The Wiccan Rede is…”An’ it harm none, do what ye Will.’”  That is NOT the Wiccan Rede; it is the last eight words (the summation, if you will) of the Wiccan Rede.  While it is good advice, as he says, there is much more to it than those few words.

    On the reverse side of the coin, in the very next paragraph, he reminds the reader “Don’t take yourself so seriously.  Be disciplined, but have fun.  Learn to laugh at yourself.”  Far too many practitioners today have forgotten to learn this vital lesson.  It is all too easy to become full of yourself.

    Once again, in this book as in the others of his I have read, Christopher is careful to indicate when he is sharing something which is opinion, versus what is accepted as fact.  Too many authors fail to make this distinction clear in their books.

    Although I have never taken any of his classes in person, he comes across through his writing as a personable, enjoyable teacher.  He writes for the “average” reader, assuming neither too little nor too much about his readers’ background knowledge.

    Like each of the books in this series, The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft is designed to be worked through over the course of a year and a day.  It serves as both an inspiration and a resource.  Reading through it, although informative will not be transformative.  It is necessary to experience the events contained within the covers of this book.  If you work through all five books in this series, you will find yourself with a grasp (and hopefully control) of all the elements, and, more importantly, all of the aspects of your own life and existence; thus finding yourself in a position to help guide others in the same pursuit.


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