The Living Temple of Witchcraft:
Vol. 1, The Descent of the Goddess and
Vol. 2, The Journey of the God
Christopher Penczak, Llewellyn, 2008, 2009
In 2002, six years ago, Christopher Penczak gave us the first installment in his Temple of Witchcraft series and with volumes 1 and 2 of The Living Temple of Witchcraft: Mystery, Ministry, and the Magickal Life he completes the cycle. I’ve reviewed most of this series and am frankly running out of new ways to say “this is great!’”
Shortest review ever: This set is a must-have addition to your magickal library if you are anything but a novice. (If you’re a novice, go get the first book in the series. Now.)
The subtitle of The Living Temple of Witchcraft gives us our first glimpse into the areas we’ll explore with Penczak this time: Mystery, Ministry, and the Magickal Life. These volumes are for those wishing to explore being a leader and taking a larger role within the Pagan community. Every Witch has a personal connection with the Divine — that’s a basic component of our beliefs — but not every witch has the desire, or skills, to also take on the role of priestess to others. As the Neopagan community has grown more established, the desire for leaders has grown, and we are slowly acquiring training through our large-scale teachers (books) that help fill the need.
Penczak makes two things absolutely clear: the final calling of a Witch is to be clergy, it is a necessary component of being a Witch; and no book can make you a high priest/ess. He knows that most Witches are content to find a personal practice that connects them more deeply into the natural world. The Living Temple of Witchcraft is a guide for those who hear the “call” but have no one to assist them to the next level. It’s an eclectic collection of teachings based on the seven chakras and tied to the seven gates of the Goddess’ descent, a traditional part of a second-degree initiatory cycle.
Mr. Penczak sums it up beautifully: “No matter how much training they have had and how confident they are in their abilities, few think they are ready to be a high priest/ess.” I believe there is even a sort of “rule” of Witchcraft which says that if someone wants to be a high priest/ess, they aren’t ready to be one.
Volume 2 uses a diverse set of myths and patterns overlaid onto the 12 signs of the zodiac (i.e., the gifts of the Goddess, labors of Hercules, Tools of Import, and the Goals of a Witch) to take the reader through a cycle of teachings that focus on just those skills that a high priest/ess needs. Unlike other books on ritual leadership, Volume 2 maintains an ongoing focus on one’s relationship with the Divine and the and a discussion of professional (paid) clergy. Although I didn’t have time to “work” with all of the material provided, I recognized many aspects I’d had to discover the hard way during my own early years of being clergy, as well as a number of tasks I am going to make time to explore as part of my own growth and exploration.
Christopher Penzcak is breathtakingly prolific: in eight years he has produced twenty books and CDs, each distinct and (astonishingly) non-repetitive. Oh, themes are repeated, of course, but unlike some authors Mr. Penczak doesn’t feel the need to lift whole pages from previous writings to fill out a new work. He just writes on a new topic and allows his voice to tell the reader what we need to know. I have only the highest respect and admiration for this author who has done so much for our community.
5 (out of 5) Broomsticks