Good for beginners and curious non-wiccans, too,
This review is from: Wiccan Beliefs & Practices: With Rituals for Solitaries & Covens (Paperback)This was my first book on Wicca or paganism as a modern spiritual practice. I was doing religious research when I picked it up; I was not Wiccan and did not become one for quite a while, but this was the book that answered my initial questions and got me started on the path I walk today.
The book covers definitions of Wicca and of Diety and then talks about Wiccan ethics, then ritual preparation, then rituals and holy days themselves, all before a single mention is made of spellcasting. This is the way it should be: Wicca is first and foremost a way of life. Magic(k) is always secondary.
The author shares some personal stories and devotes an entire chapter to "the humorous side," reminding us never to take ourselves too seriously. He also includes a chapter on "coming out of the broom closet," which, though not applicable for everyone, does cover the pros and cons of telling people who you are, and some of the basic legal aspects as well (opposition to pagans, pagan alliances in various communities such as the military, legal protection of Wicca as a religion in the U.S.) These chapters seem to get criticized a lot, but I was grateful for their inclusion (especially when I chose the Wiccan path and needed to worry about those subjects.)
Appendices at the back include two versions of the Rede, the Charges of Goddess and God, some nice examples of ritual invocations (the author encourages writing your own if you can), and a (very) "general dictionary of gods and goddesses." The bibliography includes some good websites (and great books) that can help you network with other pagans.
All in all this book is a great resource (and a very modern one -- 2001), whether you're looking for the right path, already following the Wiccan one, or interested in finding out what it is Wiccans do. It's necessarily more focused on the author's tradition (which is a sort of eclectic), but he stresses that there is no single correct path and encourages experimentation and further reading.
A big plus: the cover and the title aren't annoying or completely stupid like so many of the Pagan/Wiccan books I see. I love to read, but I'm embarrassed to be seen with some of those titles! With this one, no worries.