The Craft: A Witch's Book of Shadows
by Dorothy Morrison
TWPT: Tell me about the need that you saw for the material in this book when you sat down and began to outline and create the framework for The Craft.
DM: One of the key factors here had to do with the exorbitant amount of requests I’ve received for teaching – many of them from those in the age range of 11-17. This presented several problems for me. For one thing, my current deadlines and appearance schedule no longer allow the time necessary for developing solid student/teacher relationships. For another, legal ramifications have always prevented me from teaching minors. The information in The Craft –based on the lessons I taught to my neophytes many years ago – just seemed like the perfect solution to both. :)
TWPT: Do you follow a set pattern when starting a book project or is each one completely different than the last?
DM: Each one is completely different. So much so, in fact, that I nearly made a critical error early in my writing career. While reading through the first 200 pages of a working manuscript, I decided it was garbage and nearly deleted it from the hard drive. Fortunately for me, I waited until the next day. I discovered that the problem wasn't in the message at all. It was in the fact that I hadn’t written the chapters in the correct order. And once I moved them around, everything changed. Good thing, too! That particular book – In Praise of the Crone – went on to win the 2000 COVR award for Best Biographical Memoirs! Chuckle!
TWPT: In your mind what sets The Craft apart from other books that cover the same basic territory?
DM: The Craft is a complete set of lessons geared toward the neophyte. It not only covers the basics – Elements,Deity, magical boosters, and so on –but goes on to instruct the reader in magical theory, mental theory, the selection, construction, and importance of magical tools, circle casting procedures, Wiccan ethics, and an understanding of Esbats and Sabbats with related ideas for their celebration. Further, this book contains tons of mental and magical exercises – something I find sorely missing in other books of this nature – which performed diligently, will give the reader a solid base in the Craft.
TWPT: Is there a flow to the book in the way that you present the material to the reader? Is there a beginning point that students should start at and an acceptable ending point for what is presented in the book?
DM: Absolutely! With this particular book, starting in the middle won’t do the reader any good. Since The Craft is a step-by-step compilation of serious lessons, beginning with the first sentence and ending with the last is the only way to go. It’s sort of like building a house. No matter how well you've built the framework, it’s just not going to stand unless you’ve built the foundation on solid ground! Chuckle!
TWPT: How many of your own coven experiences shaped the material and its presentation within the context of this book?
DM: All of them – although the material presented is certainly suitable for those who prefer to practice on a solitary basis.
TWPT: Is the material in The Craft aimed at solitaries or those within a coven setting? Or is everything flexible enough to be used in either setting?
DM: Though it was originally written to give solitaries a solid base in the Craft, I think coven leaders will also find the material useful in implementing their own lesson plans.
TWPT: On the cover of the book it mentions that the book includes rituals, spells and Wiccan Ethics, why is it so important to have information on ethics right along with the other teachings?
DM: For one thing, the Craft isn’t for everyone. It’s not a role playing game or a system designed for use by people on power trips. Instead, it’s a serious religion based in ethical living. Newcomers need to understand this.
The other thing is that – even though some readers may have been practicing for many years – an ethical reminder seems to be in order. Don’t get me wrong. There are many good teachers in our world today, but horror stories of the unethical also abound. It's the latter whom I hope to reach with The Craft. Give them pause for thought. And perhaps, give them a reason to take a look at what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how it’s affecting our community as a whole.
TWPT: Taking into account what you see as you travel around the country, are ethics being taught enough or is there a growing need among new followers to be grounded in ethical instruction before moving on to more advanced teachings?
DM: Fact is, most newcomers don’t have a clue that ethics are even involved. They believe they can do what they want when they want, and have no regard whatsoever for the end result. That’s because the focus has become “magic” rather than “religion.” [Believe it or not, I’ve even run across those who had absolutely no idea that religion was even a factor! Sigh!]
If teachers spent more time teaching ethics, several things would occur.
First, there would be a lot less confusion about Wicca. Second, it would weed out those only interested in the magical aspects. Third and most important, though, power plays would cease to exist, and our world would be a happier place to live! :)
TWPT: Who is this book directed at and how much will those who have been on the path for a few years benefit from reading The Craft?
DM: Though this book is directed at everyone – young, old, and in between – who ever looked for solid Craft instruction and came up empty-handed, those already walking the path will find it of value, too. That’s because the lesson material within is not only structured toward studies I’ve never seen published elsewhere, but is also geared toward an understanding of the reasons for working with certain tools and accoutrements. The latter is extremely important, because magical tools just aren’t as powerful if the practitioner fails to understand their true purpose and use.
TWPT: For those who plan on picking up a copy of The Craft, what kind of advice would you give them to get the ball rolling and help them to begin their studies?
DM: First, there is no such thing as becoming an “instant Witch!” That having been said...take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to work!
The lesson material you’ll find inside is not fly-by-night fluff that’s easily mastered. Some of it is difficult. Some of it is not. But all of it requires diligence, tenacity, and lots of hard work.
The other thing is not to become overwhelmed. If you’ve worked with a particular lesson for a week or more and can’t seem to master it, just mark it and go on to the next lesson. Master that one, then go back to the first.
Things will flow more easily, and before you know it, everything will fall into place.
TWPT: There is a related volume called The Craft Companion that is going to be published next month (July 2001) as a workbook of sorts to this book, tell me about the thinking involved in having this next book available to the reader.
DM: Initially, I had planned to have lined pages incorporated into The Craft.
The reason for this was that folks needed a place to record their progress as they worked the exercises. After tossing this around with others in the Craft community, though, I realized that most people – for whatever reason –simply refuse write in their books.
That being the case, The Craft Companion was born. It’s a lined, semi-blank book with a spiral binding that’s suitable for use as a journaling tool. [As an added bonus, I added a spell to every page.] This way, folks can use it in multiple ways. It’s a great tool to record exercise progress notes, start a personal Book of Shadows, or even a dream diary. Because of its versatility – and the fact that it lies flat for ease in writing – I hope the Craft community will find it as useful as I envisioned. :)
TWPT: How would you envision the readers of these 2 books using them to further their spiritual understanding of what Wicca is all about?
DM: While The Craft and The Craft Companion are easy-to-read and easy-to-understand, they are still text books geared toward study. And because of the format, it would be difficult to use them in any other way. That being the case, the reader can’t help but come away with a thorough understanding of what Wicca is and what it isn’t. Worst case scenario? Someone reads The Craft and decides it’s not for them. At the same time, though, they come away with the knowledge that Wicca is a gentle, loving way of life that has absolutely no base in evil whatsoever. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
TWPT: Any final thoughts about The Craft that you would like to leave our readers with?
DM: While it’s not a good idea to make the lessons easier for yourself – you won’t learn much if you do! – always feel free to personalize them.
Remember that you are the God/dess. Remember that you are the matrix from which all magic flows. And that without you –and the touch of your personal creativity – the true heart of Wicca will simply cease to exist.
TWPT: Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us about your latest book and I'm sure that we will be talking again real soon.