In Witches of America, Alex Mar takes an insightful and thought-provoking look at modern witchcraft in the United States today (as, I’m sure, you deduced from the title).
This book helps draw a line between the things we think we know a witch does (lighting candles, mixing herbs and spices, holding secret rituals, etc.), and what they actually do in their everyday practice. Mar gives the reader an opportunity to glance at some of the more secretive and guarded areas of witchcraft - while still maintaining respect for information saved only for those initiated. She also spends some time exploring the history of Paganism and its practitioners.
The book starts with Mar’s examination of various sects of witchcraft in different regions: California, the Midwest, Louisiana. We read on as she experiences pagan rituals, voodoo, and conferences dedicated to the practice of witchcraft. She approaches all of these experiences with a skeptical, yet also sympathetic, eye. But as her intrigue with this way of life grows, she becomes center stage as we begin to learn about her own personal experience in training for and ultimately joining the religion.
Mar examines witchcraft with a very candid view, unafraid to share the parts of witchcraft that she finds silly or annoying. She shares the things that embarrass her and asks the questions you (as the reader) are already starting to think.
“I’m surprised by how hard I have to fight to believe in the idea of a goddess at the helm of the universe, rather than a handsome full bearded Jesus type. Why does that continue to sound like crunchy hippy bullshit? I should want to pray to something female - I’m her demographic!”
Unfortunately, there were parts of her personal narrative I found myself glazing over, possibly dulled in comparison next to the highly interesting investigation into practices that are unfamiliar to me. I didn’t go into this book expecting to read about the author’s personal spiritual journey, so when that topic became the forefront, I wasn’t really prepared for it (you gotta be in a certain mood for these things, ya know??).
On listening to the audiobook: This was the perfect way to consume the book for me. The narrator was believable (something I think is important in audiobook narration) and easy to listen to. It also didn’t hurt to have someone there to suss out all the pronunciations for me!