With contributions and additional material from The Grey Council (which includes Raymond Buckland, Raven Grimassi, Patricia Telesco, and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart), this book is marketed as, “…the book Merlin would have given a young Arthur...if only it had existed.”
Zell-Ravenheart has attempted a truly comprehensive introduction to the world of magic and Paganism, and he's done a pretty good job. I like the boy-scout manual feel of the book, mixing life skills, woodland skills and occult skills. I like the generalized, tradition-less version of occult arts as well. Although I think that some discussion of where the various ideas come from would have been useful. The ideas tend to be presented as though they were simply a 'tradition of wizardry', with no real discussion of the fact that the 'wizardry' is being concocted right here and now.
Wizardry is presented as having plenty of commerce with the God/dess, but there is no instruction at all on how to approach those powers, except in a ritual 'energies to be used' sense. To me, all this 'magic' without a real spiritual relationship with the world is little more valuable than Harry Potter itself - a pleasant pass-time. Speaking of Mr. Potter, this book I clearly marketed to his fans. The cover design, title, and references to Harry Potter both on the cover and throughout the entire book clearly indicate this. There is a possibility that children will want the Grimoire in order to fly on brooms and change enemies into toads, or parents will think its somehow related to the Potter series, never realizing that it is teaching the children things that they may not wished their children exposed to for a myriad of different reasons.
Overall, the Grimoire is more a guide for Zell-Ravenheart's eclectic brand of "Wizardcraft" than anything else. He melds Wicca, Ceremonial Magic, Shamanism, and pieces of other disciplines into one hodgepodge of ritual. (In my opinion, each of these different systems should have been recognized, and given their own sections.) This was done throughout the book, and when he did devote a chapter to a specific system, he mixed pieces of other systems with it.
The book is inconsistent in its style as well. The reading level varies anywhere from 4th grade to 12th grade, it makes analogies that would not be understood by today's child and the quotes from fantasy novels as authorities. He also takes bits and pieces of religious writing and scripture out of context to support his statements.
~review by: Lisa Mc Sherry
Author: Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, The Grey Council
New Page Books, 2004
pp. 372, $18.99