Heralded as one of the greatest figures in the history of modern witchcraft, Doreen Valiente made an unparalleled contribution to contemporary spiritual practice. This book tells her fascinating story, from her earliest encounters with the Craft to her work with Gerald Gardner and her emergence as one of the foremost thinkers in the revival of Paganism and witchcraft. Revealing previously unknown details drawn from first-hand testimony and her personal papers, Doreen Valiente Witch reveals how Valiente’s singular vision captivated millions of modern witches and Pagans around the world. – Llewellyn
What an absolutely riveting read. I honestly couldn’t put it down. Doreen was just as interesting as some of the gorgeous old photos of her suggest, and this is the most accessible and exciting account of her life I’ve read.
Doreen Valiente is often credited as the mother of the modern witchcraft movement and once you delve into her life you’ll definitely agree. Doreen was more than just Gerald Gardner’s poet, as I often was told, her drive and determination to find where she belonged and to realize her own magick echoes the journey of most witches I know. It becomes clear in the first half of the book that Doreen faced extreme sexism from her male peers in the various spiritual and witchcraft communities, but refused to give up on being a witch. She wove her magick into Wicca with Gerald Gardner and realized she was more than a sidekick, and from then on became a real high priestess.
The book starts with her family and even ancestry, where she grew up and the inherent magick of the land where she lived. It follows her to the convent school she dropped out of at age 15, and chapter three is a real treat – a bit about Doreen’s mysterious career as a “translator” and possible code breaker at Bletchley park during the war! From there it delves into Doreen’s real journey to find other witches, which eventually lead her to Gerald Gardner. All along, through memories from those closest to her and her own journals, Doreen’s quest for and love of witches is evident. As is her wealth of knowledge on the subject matter. This book lets on to what I expected – Doreen was the one who took Wicca and witchcraft seriously. Without her witchcraft could very well could have been a fad that faded before I was even born.Without her witchcraft could have just been another way for old men to compel young women into their bedrooms. Thanks, girl!
The one thing I disliked about the book was the amount of speculation by the author. In chapter three where he prefaces it all by saying how much is unknown about her time during the war it made sense, but it continues throughout the book. How often I read the words ” one can assume that…” or “it’s possible she…” got pretty irritating by the middle of the book.
That being said, I absolutely loved it the book and recommend it to everyone, even those who are not practicing witches! This is a really interesting account of an influential woman of the 20th century whose legacy is still pushing people to discover their own power.
Want to win a copy of Doreen Valiente, Witch? Come out to Grrrl Fest at Villains Beastro in Windsor, Ontario on Saturday July 15th and buy a raffle ticket! I’ll be giving away a basket of goodies, including a copy of the book.