In the best of all possible worlds, a young witch can find a mentor to guide her as she learns to grow her personal power, celebrate divinity in ritual and cast spells to enrich her world and help others. But, more often than not, individuals find themselves turning to books to learn these new skills.
Silver Ravenwolf has established herself as a virtual mentor to hundreds of new witches, with her wildly popular To Ride a Silver Broomstick and To Stir a Magic Cauldron. Her newest in this series, To Light a Sacred
Flame, continues on in this vein, presenting innovative Craft ideas in practical language and methods.
Silver begins her book in a casual writing style that is, at best, approachable, but can become distracting and dulls her credibility. But this casual style pops up less often as the book continues, in favor of more straight-forward information. She sometimes seems to stray into New-Age cheerleading and at other times you almost wonder if she was thinking in terms of another of her books more recently released, Teen Witch. But she eventually finds her best voice and the lighter conversation fades considerably to lead the reader on to pure learning.
The first section in the book is devoted to building personal power and self-confidence. This approach is an excellent one, as it builds a good basis for doing exercises and group work presented later in the book. It’s also helpful for the beginner to learn to identify self-created energy so they’ll be better equipped to identify energy created by other sources.
At first glance, the exercises and methods might seem too contrived or
over-the-top. But when you look at the collection of correspondences,
meditation methods, energy work and spells, you see that Silver’s
strength is her ability to demystify the Craft. Those individuals for whom
complex ceremony and ritual is discomforting or just “doesn’t feel
right”, Silver’s suggestions are more down-to-earth and practical. Most
things are meant to be done within a few minutes, regardless of your
location. A chain of paperclips becomes a reminder of accomplishments, a
bad habit is written on a scrap of toilet paper and flushed away. A
packet of salt, a lighter, a vial of water and a small feather represent
the four elements hidden away in an office desk drawer.
Most of what Silver teaches is not terribly new for Craft literature. She
includes generous helpings of classic Wiccan practice, from
Alexandrian-style formal ritual to chants that will be familiar to many.
However, one subject that may raise and eyebrow is her use of Angel
energy. Working with Angels is not an unheard of method in the Craft.
But, with the relatively recent resurgence in Christian artifacts geared
toward the masses, from gold-plated Angel pins at the drugstore impulse
bin to the popular TV show, Touched By An Angel, working angel energy may
take some getting used to for many witches. Although Silver spends a good
many words describing ways in which to work with various angels, this
aspect of the book shouldn’t scare away those who prefer not to work in
that way. I might add that Silver is correct to indicate that using Angel
energy is an excellent way to frame ritual work for family and friends
who may be Christian or at least a little wary of Wicca. Not many people
Finally, Silver includes scripts for several popular types of rituals,
including Wiccaning and handfasting, performed in a variety of ways, from
the highly formal to spontaneous. These rituals are ready to go right out
of the book (just add coven) but can also be modified by a more creative
Wiccan. A handful of correspondence tables and other things for your Book
of Shadows completes the book.
Sacred Flame could, technically, be appropriate for someone very new to
the craft, but I wouldn’t recommend it. A more experienced witch can
benefit from the variety and number of ritual, devotional, and
self-enrichment ideas, but would be better equipt to separate Silver’s
own preferences from the information and take the useful morsels. Since
most readers are probably self-taught and accostomed to building
confidence by reading more books (you know who you are — I’m one, too),
Sacred Flame does an excellent job in giving enough examples, ritual
ideas and exercises to prompt the reader to get their nose out of the
pages of the book and to their altar to try something new.
In her acknowledgements section, Silver mentions that this book is the
culmination of a lifetime of work an Craft practice and it shows. Sacred
Flame is a rich, densely packed compilation of handy things to try,
correspondences, specific ritual ideas in addition to instruction. This
book would make a handy addition to any witch’s library.