For months, I avoided this book in the bookstore, choosing others from the Pagan section. The blurb on the front cover stressing "YOUNG witch's guide" antagonized me: it implied anyone older than, say, 27 was a fossil who had to hobble out of the way!
I'm glad I finally bought and read this book. The author may have been about 25 when she wrote it, but she expresses herself in a clear, practical, deeply thoughtful, and respectful way. There is absolutely no thumbing of the nose at the Gardnerian geezers, or any other youthful snottiness.
Instead, Jennifer does something truly radical, and writes -- not another 101 spellbook -- but a personal account of her involvement with the Craft. What were those deep yearnings that drew her to Wicca when she was sixteen? How did mom and other family members react? How did she think of mature responses to their often silly questions? How did she soothe fears, cope with prejudice, inform the curious, and keep the peace while asserting her right to practice her religion?
More fascinating situations follow. What's it like to go off to college as a practicing witch? How "out" of the broom closet does a young undergraduate want to be? Does she want to be a solitary or find a coven or even be a political activist? Welcome to the dorms where candle and incense burning is prohibited, and frat boys make rude comments when she steps into the hall in her ritual robes.
The first Wiccans I myself ever encountered were a guy and then a girl, each about 21. They acted like insecure, flashy people addicted to the fuss raised at their "witchy" image. I thought they were idiots, and it really turned me off from investigating Wicca for myself, though I had once been deeply drawn to it 20 years ago. If you're a teenager and you read this book and follow Jennifer's example, you will represent Wicca with dignity and grace to an intolerant world.
One thing I especially liked: the profiles and remarks of the pagans and witches Jennifer interviewed for the book. You meet men and women who are gay and straight, and all different ages. They come from different regions of the U.S., and practice different traditions for many different, heart-felt reasons.
This book gives no real spells. Instead, it encourages you to think for yourself, and create your own. To Jennifer, you must always question and clarify your spiritual path. I loved this book!
I've been a practising Witch for over 5 years now, and I've hada number of new Wiccans whom I've met over the Internet ask me tosuggest books - this is the first one that I suggest! This is NOT a how-to book. What this book provides is a starting point. It makes you question what you believe, and how strongly you believe it. It says "this is your potential - now find a way to get there". This book is wonderful to read, and written with intelligence. I read it after 4 years of practise, and it gave me insights into the Craft that I haven't gotten elsewhere. Scott Cunningham is still one of my favourites, especially for beginners, but Jennifer Hunter's 21st Century Wicca is so much better to start out with. It's a breath of fresh air, and nowhere in the book does she say "this is the way that you do such-and-such". She guides you into finding a way to do ritual, meditation, and worship in a way that suits you best... There are no preset rituals in the book, which I understand is a turnoff for a lot of new Wiccans, but the problem I found with printed rituals is that I had a hard time, in the beginning, composing my own rituals, because I never really learned to do it myself... Now, that's not so hard.