Book Review: Pain and Faith in a Wiccan World
Pain and Faith in a Wiccan World: Spirituality, Ethics, and Transformation
By Crystal Blanton
Megalithica Books/Immanion Press, February 1, 2013
Reviewer: Christopher Drysdale
Pain and Faith in a Wiccan World: Spirituality, Ethics, and Transformation by Crystal Blanton focuses on developing ideas of transformational healing within a Wiccan spiritual context. The book specifically deals with the crises, trauma, and grief that accompany everyday life.
The core of PFWW was developed through the integration of the author’s professional work as a counselor with her experiences as a Wiccan High Priestess trained in the Rising Phoenix tradition. It was birthed from her own needs in a time of crisis, and her personal stories of transformation give the book a backbone of authority.
“The differences between Wiccans and those who are not become very minimal when we are thinking of the impact that pain, loss, grief, transition, and death have on people. Religion, spirituality, and beliefs have been used throughout history to support living a fruitful life and maintaining balance.”
As Wicca grows and becomes more recognized, professional resources are becoming more necessary. While other long-established (and commonly monotheistic) religious traditions have their own spiritual and ritual practices regarding healing, these aspect of Wicca are presently being developed through the community’s practical experience and hard work.
Crystal Blanton takes the state of the field of therapy surrounding crisis, grief, and transformation, and applies it in a Wiccan context. The book is not only courageous, but a necessary step in understanding how Wicca integrates with all aspects of life.
Pain and Faith in a Wiccan World addresses a needed gap in Wicca-focused publishing. By virtue of the structure(s) of traditions, many lineaged Wiccans may find themselves at times in positions as de facto teachers, priests, and covenmates. They may be called to support and assist others who find themselves overwhelmed in times of crisis.
Solitary practitioners may also benefit from PFWW as well. All people face times of crisis, and Wiccans and Pagans are no different. All of us are sometimes called on to offer both compassion and comfort to those closest to us. And the image of truly isolated practitioners has fallen by the wayside in recent years; even solitary practitioners are often active parts of the larger Wiccan and Neopagan communities.
PFWW is not meant to replace professional guidance in times of struggle and grief. With its practical advice, however, it can and does open the path for leaders who find themselves needing to support someone in trying times. Although the book may act as a useful resource for therapists working with Wiccan clients, its main thrust is for the non-therapist — especially High Priestesses and High Priests.
The book is rounded out with illustrative and interesting personal anecdotes, not only from the author, but also from other contributors. Survivors of grief and trauma share their voices through these pages, speaking from their own Wiccan and Neopagan perspectives on transformational journeys from crisis to integration.
Although Crystal Blanton’s professional experience and training come across in her writing, you’ll find that Pain and Faith in a Wiccan World itself is accessible in its writing style. Though the writing does at times academically-influenced, the book thoroughly explains its terminology. Terms that might otherwise be opaque are defined, sometimes on multiple levels as they impact her points. Techniques and approaches aren’t just presented, but are also illustrated with examples. Each chapter finishes with a set of helpful practical exercises.
Pain and Faith in a Wiccan World: Spirituality, Ethics, and Transformation is a practical and accessible experience-based resource for Wiccan leaders and therapeutic professionals. While the writing sometimes lacks snap and pizazz, the book itself is a unique contribution to the community. It addresses growing needs in the Wiccan community for both personal and spiritual integration and transformation. Four stars.
© 2013 Christopher Drysdale.