Having read The Elements of Ritual, Aradia was already a fan of Deborah Lipp before we attended her workshops at Heartland Pagan Festival 2011. In her workshops and previous books, Lipp complains that publishers have been printing and reprinting the same dozen 101-level books on witchcraft for the last 30 years. Her most recent book, The Study of Witchraft: A Guidebook to Advanced Wicca, is an answer to that complaint. It is an excellent answer to that complaint.
Speculating as to why so few books on Wicca have anything new to offer, Lipp concludes that it is because in the Good Old Days (an implication she makes with all due irony) the shortage of books on witchcraft forced a Seeker to study farther afield. It is in those “outside” studies, Lipp argues, and in the process of applying the core ideas of witchcraft to both those studies and one’s life as a whole, that “advanced” Wicca actually happens. She goes on to suggest areas of study, both wide and deep, which she believes are essential.
The Study of Witchcraft, then, is ultimately an elaborate framing device for an extensive reading list and a few “homework” assignments aimed at better understanding those readings. I have read – at best – 10% of the books she recommends. Those I have read, though – Ronald Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon, Carlo Ginsburg’s Ecstacies, Charles G Leland’s Aradia, Dion Fortune’s Sea Priestess, to name a few – and the number which have been in my “to read” pile, convince me of the quality of the rest.
In the introduction to her workshop, Deborah Lipp admonished her audience, “…[I]f you haven’t read two books on witchcraft, go read two books on witchcraft!” My advice would be, having done that, read this book (and at least half of the books it recommends) next.