I have more books on the Craft than any sane person would keep. The useless ones I get rid of. This is one of the few I've actually read more than once. It contains quality material and makes an excellent first or second book for somebody new to the Craft.
Vivianne takes Wiccan tradition seriously, and doesn't cheapen it by making wild & unsubstantiated claims. She introduces her own material and names it as such. This book is complete. Rituals, directions, poems & liturgy. Everything you need but a coven, a calling and a connecttion to the Goddess.
Not only does this book describe Wiccan practice, but it describes it in sociological, historical, and psychological context, too. It is an example of applied Jungian theory. She uses the psychology of Carl Jung to explain the sense behind magic and Craft rituals. She bats around phrases like "Our Gods are the archetypal forces which inhabit the collective unconscious." To the question of "Are the forms of the Gods 'real'?" she answers first with a quote of Jung "they are images of contents which for the most part transcend consciousness." and then adds "what lies beyond the images is a divine reality ... true experessions of the nature of the divine translated into human terms."
This book contains a great deal of Craft practice, along with solid, original thought. Index, footnotes, a bibliography and a glossary round it out. A magnificent effort--more than earns its five stars! Every Witch ought to have read this book at least once!
This book is well-written, obviously carefully planned, and goes into the "why" behind the aspects of Witchcraft, which I don't see often enough in books. I like it and would recommend it. However, I wouldn't recommend it for newbies (I should know...this was the first book on Wicca I ever read, all those years ago :). This isn't really a "Wicca 101" book and assumes a prior knowledge of the basic, outward forms of the Craft (tools, etc.). Plus, it is heavily focused on the Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions, which don't include the great majority of Witches (no offense meant to Alexandrian and Gardnerian readers). There is a slight tendency to present these traditions as the only real Wicca, but I think this is unintentional. The beginner should read a few more balanced, eclectic books first, then come back to this one.