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What Witches Do: A Modern Coven Revealed [Paperback]

Stewart Farrar
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 1984 0919345174 978-0919345171 New edition
This is an excellent behind-the-scenes description of what witches really do. It describes the ancient rituals in a candid and comprehensive way as seen through the eyes of a practicing witch and member of an active coven. In this account, the author explores the fundamental beliefs and symbology of Witchcraft, presenting the time-honored texts of its rituals and invocations, and describing exactly what happens as his own coven's esbats (meetings), sabbats (festivals), and handfasting (marriage) ceremonies. Stewart Farrar also outlines the way witches raise and apply psychic power to release the forces of healing and protection, etc. With intimate and entertaining revelations, this practical guide to witchcraft describes a rich and joyous religion. Over 60,000 copies in print!

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"'At last, a really intelligent, well-written and informative book on present-day witchcraft.' The Australian" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Stewart and Janet Farrar were both initiated by Alex and Maxine Sanders in 1970. After receiving their Third Degrees from the Sanders' they left Alex and Maxine's coven to form their own. They married in 1972 and moved to the Republic of Ireland in 1976 where they have lived and worked together as writers ever since. They have run a coven in Ireland continuously since then, although its structure and membership has changed radically from its original Alexandrian roots. They have since written Eight Sabbats For Witches', The Witches' Way (jointly published as The Witches Bible), The Witches' Goddess, The Witches God, Spells and How They Work, to name but a few. Their books have become some of the most influential in Witchcraft and have set the mould for modern Craft writers worldwide. Stewart Farrar passed away in February 2000. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars What some witches did... Aug. 18 2000
This is an account of British traditionalist Wicca as it was practiced thirty to forty years ago; the 1983 revision is a fairly minor update to a book published in the 70s.
_What Witches Do_ is written predominantly in the first person plural -- "Here is how we do it... Here is what we believe" -- rather than in the second person; it's obviously a self-description rather than a how-to. It's a fairly in-depth presentation of the beliefs and practices of the Alexandrian tradition, and it's presented as information, not instruction.
However, many of the beliefs and practices here are specific to British traditionalist Wicca, which is very, very different from the eclectic and feminist traditions that have evolved in the years since this book was first published. It's almost as though a book on the theology and liturgy of the Russian Orthodox Church were published under the title _What Christians Do_.
That being said, I'd recommend this to folks who are curious about British traditions or about the portrayal of the Wiccan faith in the 70s -- and I'd recommend it to folks who are looking for the broadest possible picture of the Pagan community.
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4.0 out of 5 stars My Introduction to British Traditional Witchcraft April 17 2001
After reading Starhawk, some non-descript stuff on "family wicca," and some other new-agey-witchy stuff, I asked somebody a "real" witch to teach me about Wicca. He demurred, but gave me a reading list, with this book at the top. I started reading WHAT WITCHES DO on a cross-country business trip. Within the first chapter I was hooked. This had the ring of authenticity that I was seeking.
Farrar's book provides a good introduction to the British Traditional Craft. It presents an overview without assuming that the reader already knows anything about Wicca. A great book to give to somebody open-minded who wants to understand the traditional craft. If reading this book leaves you salivating for more, Stewart & his wife Janet have written THE WITCHES WAY and EIGHT SABBATS FOR WITCHES. These contain more than enough information to satisfy those interested in more details.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction Nov. 6 2001
This was one of the first books to accurately show how Traditional Wicca operates. Farrar, at the time, was an Alexandrian initiate. While admittedly the work of a stary-eyed newbie initiate who believed Alex Sanders was almost perfect (something many of us downline from Sanders have learned wasn't the case. Alex was brilliant, talented, and flawed), it gives one a good view of the feel of structured Traditional Wicca. Even today, 30 plus years later, it's still a good intro, and much better than much of the eclectic ... put out by Llewellyn. If after reading this you're intrigued by how Wicca is portrayed, then you should look into British Traditional Wicca, i.e. Alexandrian or Gardnerian Wicca.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book That Is A Must! May 31 2004
Look into the eyes of Mr. Farrar and see how moderen witchcraft was in the Alexandrian tradition (before he discovered Alex's lies). In the book you can see how a moderen coven is working. Mr. Farrar lets all the readers know what truly happened after every chapter and tells the readers what witches truly do through his eyes. This book is well worth the money and time.
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