SOCIAL SCIENCES

Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power

Gallery: S. & S. Jun. 2019. 304p. ISBN 9781982100704. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781982100711. PARAPSYCH
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Author (What Is a Witch??), podcast host (The Witch Wave) and practicing witch, Grossman delivers a series of meditations on the nature of women’s power as seen through the lens of the imagery and reputation of witches over the centuries. It’s a well-known story: the male dominated church and states perpetuated the fear of witches and their uncanny powers (supposedly often gained in an unholy alliance with the devil) to justify the persecution, objectification, and diminishment of women throughout history. But Grossman is not dependent on tropes, ultimately weaving a celebration of witches and everyday individuals whose independence and self-possession fuel their resistance and rebellion against the long-standing social contract of female disempowerment. A rich and unique mix of historical events, literary references, and contemporary popular media inform keen observations on how we have arrived at a place in which feminism and witchcraft find a cultural convergence.

VERDICT Reminiscent of Sarah Vowell’s work and equally affecting, this intellectually satisfying, personally liberating, and remarkably humorous classic is recommended for readers of women’s history, paganism, witchcraft, and feminism.

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