As a Head High Priest of a community and school of Witchcraft, I'm always interested in books such as The Witch's Eight Paths of Power: A Complete Course in Magick and Witchcraft. It's always great to compare notes and see what other schools of thought are in the area of the Craft.
 
I could tell there was going be a lot here to like right away, even by looking through the table of contents. A lot of the principles that were nearest and dearest to me were here, from the basic to the more advanced, and it became obvious to me that a person who didn't have access to either an in-person or online school of Witchcraft could learn a whole lot.
 
One of my favorite sections of the work was about midway through it, and discussed the role of ego in Witchcraft:

“As we are learning to reclaim out power, sometimes we become a little drunk with it, especially those who came to the craft because we felt disempowered. This is commonly called the High Priestess’s disease, and it is associated with the shadow […] This is the stage of development that causes most of the ‘Witch wars’ that happen in our small communities. It is good to recognize that you are divine; but so is everyone else. It seems that humility should go without saying, but my experience in training priests and priestesses tells me that it mostly falls on deaf ears.”

I couldn't agree more with this quote, and considering the empowerment that can occur through the Craft, and the book's title, Eight Paths of Power, I have met way too many Witches just looking for that next "level up" in their community just so they can have a title they can flaunt. That's ego, pure and simple, and it destroys relationships and communities, and hinders spiritual growth. Many people don't understand the tremendous responsibility that you take on as a spiritual leader. A big part of spiritual leadership is putting your ego aside for the good of others and not expecting recognition or reward, financial or otherwise, for doing so, and this book seems to support that theory.
 
So I'm repeating myself, but there's so much to like here. Chakra work. Visualization. Symbols. Basic herbalism. Spell work and intent. Astrology. Dealing with psychic vampires. And exercises for it all. It's an all in one resource for those who want to learn the Craft, and in that regard it’s an impressive work.
 
And then I read the parts in chapter four, “Intoxicants”, about how to connect with the Divine using drugs and alcohol, and what could have been a truly outstanding book took a unexpected and unpleasant turn.
 
I understand that people have been using both legal and illegal drugs to connect to the Divine for centuries. I don't purport to make that choice for everyone; it's certainly an individual one, and my opinion is irrelevant. With that said, I think it's incredibly irresponsible for a spiritual leader--and if you look at Lady Sable Aradia's bio, she certainly has earned the title of spiritual leader--to put the information in a book, especially one called Eight Paths of Power.
 
If Witchcraft is so empowering on its own merits, and I believe that it is, then why is it necessary to include information on using intoxicants to connect with the Divine? It sets a dangerous precedent for witches of all levels, and for those considering the Craft as a path, it puts the idea in their minds that this is something that is expected. Yes, there's a statement at the beginning of the chapter, reminding each person that they take no responsibility for the actions of individuals, and that's something you'd expect. The reality is that anyone with an Internet connection can find that information if they choose, but by including it you are tacitly encouraging it, in my opinion, and I do not believe you need to use any sort of drug to improve your connection to the Divine.
 
With that last chapter being the lone exception, I generally agreed with the rest of what was presented. Every Witch practices a little differently, but what was here was a solid base for anyone who wants to go back to basics on their own.
 
To me, a classroom setting—even a virtual classroom—is better than a book for learning the Craft. But if that’s not possible for you, The Witch's Eight Paths of Power: A Complete Course in Magick and Witchcraft is a better way than many to increase your knowledge.

~review by John Marani

Author: Lady Sable Aradia
Red Wheel/Weiser, 2014
$14.92 (paperback) / $9.99 (Kindle)

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