Kelden’s The Crooked Path is a thoughtful examination of one modern pagan movement.
The first part of the book attempts to define traditional witchcraft—a daunting task, given the myriad beliefs and practices of traditional witches. From there the book moves in logical progression through sections on working with magic, the otherworld, and the natural world. It concludes with an exploration of how others might establish their own practice.
Each of the book’s five parts begins with a brief visualization exercise, taking those who seek to learn about traditional witchcraft down a path of discovery and connecting one topic to the next. These topics range from a straightforward explanation of the tools most used in traditional witchcraft to complex explorations of deity and the advanced practices of “crossing the hedge,” as well as working with the energy and entities of the otherworld. The clear and direct presentation of information provides a strong knowledge base for those who are just beginning their own studies, while the book’s interesting philosophical discussions will be of interest to more seasoned practitioners.
There are forty-seven exercises in total, including prompts for journaling, directions on how to find and create magical tools, and rituals to connect with deity and other spirit entities. These exercises provide ample opportunities to reflect on personal beliefs and practices and to consider how those might intersect or differ from the information provided.
Kelden is adroit at navigating a tradition that has as many different beliefs and practices as it has practitioners. His foundational concepts do not assume anything right or wrong about any variations that a seeker may choose to follow.
The Crooked Path is an excellent, thorough introduction to the complex practices of traditional witchcraft.
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