SilverRavenWolf’s writings tend to provoke strong reactions in the Craft community. There are those who hold her in high esteem because of her down-to-earth style of writing an ability to make the Mysteries accessible to people from many backgrounds. And there are others who think she is doing nothing but harm with her ‘watered down’ and inaccurate version of Wicca made up of a hodgepodge of magickal traditions. Solitary Witch will only fuel those arguments.

Presented as an encyclopedia/dictionary of terms, ideas, celebrations, rituals this is a massive handbook for those who follow her path. It is in five parts, and each section covers elements of the Craft and discusses them in modern terms. I want to emphasize that that material is from Ravenwolf's Tradition and represents her version of the Craft. For example, "cakes and ale" are described as "communion" and Angels are "spirit guides". All the material echoes her previous works and is meant for the individual who follows this particular path.

The material is in five sections covering 'Shadows of Religion & Mystery', 'Shadows of Objects and Tools', 'Shadows of Expertise & Proficiency', 'Shadows of Magick & Enchantment' and 'Shadows of Magick and Real Life,' arranged like an encyclopedia, with articles in alphabetic order. This makes the book hard to read as a whole and harder to review.

Overall the book serves as a more than adequate introduction to occult topics, but even the more detailed articles are barely an introduction to often complex fields of study. Some of the information given seems out of context and oddly presented. Some is less correct than it could be, although I didn’t find anything that was out and out wrong.

Interestingly, although this magical encyclopedia is aimed at young, solitary Neo-Wiccans it isn’t until the final section that this focus comes through. This section deals with applying magick to real life and many of the situations presented are aimed at teens and college students. To RavenWolf’s credit, she is very good at pointing out that the solution to many problems require mundane action as well as magick -- something many people entranced with the idea of doing magick tend to forget. For example, the best "spell" to prevent suicide is pick up the phone and call a suicide hot line. More of the author's "Mama Silver" voice comes through in this section, but she doesn't seem to be talking down to her audience quite as much here as in some of her other books.

Solitary Witch: The Ultimate Book of Shadows for the New Generation is a fair book on Neo-Wicca, but does very well at being a "young adult's encyclopedia of the occult, magick, and spellcraft."

~ review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author:  Silver RavenWolf
Llewellyn Publications, 2003
pp. 590, $19.95