Despite its small size, this is not for people unwilling to delve into their beliefs and forge a personal relationship with the Divine. Neither the author nor I recommend this book for the individual just starting down the Wiccan path. The concepts confront convention, and may be too confusing for someone who isn’t sure whether Wicca is their religious choice.
It is likely that some of Ms. Sylvan’s concepts will challenge (or even upset) some readers. From the start she challenges the separation of our lives into ‘religious’ and ‘mundane,’ pointing out that for many spiritual traditions (notably Zen and Buddhist) they are considered one and the same. The reader is then asked to consider just how we perceive the Deity – as transcendent, immanent, or manifest.
No, there is little here that is new, or startling. But while the concepts are fairly basic, the conclusions they lead to may surprise you. One example is on page 112, where she says: “Forget every book you've read, everything you've been told. Forget what our supposedly Pagan ancestors did on each holiday, and what the days meant to them. Forget everything you know about the Wheel [of the Year], and go out and learn the seasons from the seasons themselves.” It’s a radical concept that is also the single most effective way to anchor yourself in your environment. Consider this: most of us don’t live in the places our Wiccan ancestors did (i.e., England). Spring is a very different season in Nome than in Atlanta.
The final section is "The Book of Moonlight" which contains some prayers and rituals to jumpstart you into daily practice. The prayers and invocations are beautifully written and quite useful. I highly recommend The Circle Within.
~review by Lisa Mc SherryAuthor: Dianne Sylvan
Llewellyn Worldwide, 2003
pp. 178, $12.95