Book Review: Witchcraft Unchained by Craig Spencer


Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts in this review are a reflection of my personal experience and honest opinion.

On June 22, 1951 the last of the Witchcraft Acts was repealed in the UK. This single action would lead to the rise of what would become the global witchcraft revival movement. Despite another year marking the passing of this historical event, so much of our history still remains lost, misunderstood, or frankly made inaccessible to the magical community at large. There is a craving for better information about the more recent history of Witchcraft in the hopes that these gaps in knowledge may be filled, and it’s the author’s intention to make Witchcraft Unchained: Exploring the History & Traditions of British Craft the book that will do just that. By addressing the metaphorical chains that have found their way into our community and restoring what has been lost, misunderstood, or made inaccessible, the reader can become empowered with new thoughts which will allow them to connect with their magic on a deeper and more personal level.

Book Blurb from Crossed Crow Books

About the Book: Witchcraft Unchained

Craig Spencer is a Lancashire-based witch who practices a regional form of witchcraft. In this book, the author explores the history of witchcraft through the lens of British Witchcraft. From history to gnosis, this book contains a bit of everything that a modern witch might need to know to further their study in witchcraft regardless of their path.

My Thoughts

As a self-proclaimed Eclectic Witch, I was really looking forward to reading a book about a specific tradition of witchcraft. This book does at it says – it explores the history and traditions of British Craft. I really enjoyed looking at some of the history behind different practices that have flowed from British Craft all the way into Wicca and eclectic practices. Like many books on witchcraft, Witchcraft Unchained explores the sabbats, the Gods, and different practices that are common in today’s witchcraft. However, the author takes it further by exploring the history of these traditions and how they’re tied to British Craft.

One section of the book that I found interesting was about the Triple Goddess and the concept of Maiden, Mother, and Crone. I have talked about my opinion of the MMC aspect before (and my thoughts have actually changed since that video!) but I was interested to see the history behind this triplicity. I personally work with a Goddess who is seen as a Triple Goddess and often incorrectly boxed into the Maiden/Mother/Crone framework. The author goes on to describe how Robert Graves made the MMC concept popular but he didn’t invent it. In fact, the idea of a Triple Goddess in a MMC framework goes back hundreds of years!

So, who is the Triple Goddess? She is the power of women, undiluted and unapologetic. Her full and dark aspects are capped with waxing and waning phases that highlight her important work in the rhythms of recurrence in nature and the universe. Yet, all flows back into her true essence as the Sacred Feminine. That is what the MMC model represnts. That is who the Triple Goddess truly is.

Witchcraft Unchained, Chapter Three: The Gods; pg. 66

Overall, I am glad I read this book. There are many sections in this book that made me think – even if I disagreed with the author’s framework or theology, the foundational aspects of the subject were enough to give me pause. There are many parts of the book that are great for self-reflection, and this book has helped me cement certain beliefs in my practice, as well. For example, a section in the book about celebrating sabbats in an eco-friendly way made me reflect on what I use to celebrate the sabbats and what I find necessary for the holidays. While the author himself says he no longer uses candles because they aren’t an important part of his practice, specifically stating that for him all they were doing was “harming the world”, I can recognize that candles and incense are important parts of my own practice for various reasons.

Should you read this book?

If the history of witchcraft is of interest to you then yes, I would say read this book. Much of Western Witchcraft, eclectic practice, and Wicca have foundations in the older practices of British Craft. It is interesting to learn the history of some of these practices and traditions. Even if you don’t agree with the beliefs or framework of the concepts presented, I believe the book can still help you cement your own foundational beliefs.

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