The 1996 edition is the revised and updated version of Dr. Crowley's consummate work first published over a decade ago. This is an expository work that contains a wealth of ritual, rites and poetry and synthesizes it all into a practical framework. Dr. Crowley has sometimes been criticized for "psychologizing" Wicca; William James and C.G. Jung were the targets of similar criticisms in that they were often accused of "psychologizing" religion. There is, however, a very thin and permeable line between psychological reality and genuinely moving religious experience. Dr. Crowley brings insight and understanding to this paradox through her treatment of Wicca from this perspective. In discussing the rationale and realities of magic, she expands upon some concepts of Cade, Jung, and Le Shan on alternate realities. She examines four primary concepts: sensory reality, mythic reality, transpsychic reality and unitive reality. She then looks at the types, purposes and symbolism of initiations from the perspective of personal growth and wholeness. From there she moves into a discussion of the interrelationships of the Goddess and God as collective and as personal divine experiences. She discusses the Sabbats as a journey through the year and a journey through life. Finally, she explores the Third Initiation as the gateway to the self. The following are a few passages that exemplify the scope and depth of this book.
The Sabbats are a journey. The Spring Equinox celebrates the mating of the Goddess and the God. Beltane celebrates the coming of Summer and the marriage of the Goddess and God. Midsummer is the celebration of the Sun, the Lord of Life, and the coming of the God into his maturity and kingship. Lammas celebrates the harvest, the sacrifice of the God, which is necessary to fertilize the land, and his death which liberates him to the challenge of conquering a new kingdom--- that of the Underworld. The Autumn Equinox celebrates the return of the God from the Underworld as the conquering hero who comes to reclaim his Queen and take her with him to his Underworld kingdom. Samhain is the feast of the dead, and the worlds of matter and spirit draw close to one another and the dead may pass to and fro through the veils. Yule celebrates the birth of the Sun God and at Imbolc the God releases the Goddess from the Underworld so that she may re-emerge into the world as a virgin once more.
Annual cycle, or lifetime round? It operates on both levels. The developing God, although linking with the Goddess on the annual fertility cycle, is also progressing around the circle on a lifetime quest. Jung calls myth that which is not objectively true but is psychologically true: the bridge to all that is best in humanity. It is the inner reality that our ancestors portrayed in ritual. The method of portrayal was to use allegories found in Nature; for it was in part through observation of the cycle of birth, death and rebirth in Nature that human beings understood that this, too was their own fate-- to be born, to die and to live again. The experience portrayed by the seasonal rituals is that of transcendence — a sense of the enduring Self which though part of the Wheel of Life and Death is yet beyond it.
Again, in addition to the scholarly treatment of principles and concepts, this book contains vast amounts of material suitable for ritual, worship, and meditation. Much of this was previously unpublished material written by Dr. Crowley and her husband, Chris, who is also a transpersonal psychologist. One of the most striking examples is a poem she wrote in 1969. This poem is the header for Chapter 9.
The Pipes of Pan
In caverns deep the Old Gods sleep;
But the trees still know their Lord,
And it's the Pipes of Pan which call the tune,
In the twilight in the wood.
The leaves they dance to the Goat God's tune,
And they whisper his name to the winds,
And the oak tree dreams of a God with horns,
And knows no other king.