Witches peek from greeting cards and advertisements, and they dig twisted roots from the ground. Witches dance beneath the stars and lurk around cauldrons. Witches heal, witches scare, witches creep, and witches teach! A compendium of witches through the ages, from earliest prehistory to some of the most significant modern practitioners, The Weiser Field Guide to Witches explores who and what is a witch. From such famed historical legends as Aleister Crowley, Marie Laveau and Elizabeth Bathory to the popular literary and cinematic figures Harry Potter and The Wicked Witch of the West, Illes offers a complete range of the history of witches. Included also are the sacredIsis, Hekate, Aradiaand the profanethe Salem Witch trials and The Burning Times. The Weiser Field Guide to Witches is appropriate for readers of all ages and serves as an excellent and entertaining introduction for those fascinated by the topic.
Illes (Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells) here wrestles with the thorny issue of what exactly a witch is and points out that some form of witch/wise woman exists in every culture. She also acknowledges that those definitions vary from magical beings that wiggle their noses and turn their husbands into cats to wise women serving as herbalists and healers in their local communities. Illes blithely and intelligently embraces all of the above and annotates brief descriptions of all things witchy. Chapters include types of witches, famous witches of the past (real and mythological), the media’s witch darlings, animal familiars, tools of the trade, and ideas for witchy travel destinations. Along the way, she clears up a few misconceptions-not all witches are Wiccan, and not all Wiccans consider themselves witches. VERDICT Well written and organized for ease of use, this small book should fly on its broomstick off the shelves of most public libraries.-Janet Tapper, Univ. of Western States, Portland, OR – Library Journal