Book review: “God/Goddess: Exploring and Celebrating the Two Sides of the Wiccan Deity”

A. J. Drew and Patricia Telesco. 2004. “God/Goddess: Exploring and Celebrating the Two Sides of the Wiccan Deity”. Franklin Lakes: New Page Books.

A. J. Drew and Patricia Telesco are both prolific writers on all things Neo-pagan. In this book they focus more specifically on the Wiccan understanding of deity as an embodiment of both masculine and feminine principles. Written at a fairly elementary level, the book contains a handy overview of the subject. Each chapter written by Drew on the masculine aspect of deity is followed by Telesco’s take on the feminine. Their writing styles are different (the publisher even chose two different fonts), which adds to the internal dynamics of the book.

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I found some of Drew’s interpretations useful, such as his disagreement with Starhawk’s book “Spiral Dance”, emphasizing that Wicca is actually not a Goddess-centered religion, but rather one that centers on the union of God and Goddess, as two aspects / principles of essentially one deity. I’m not sure whether this is something that most Wiccans would entirely agree with it – throughout the book he seemed convinced that at least some of his ideas would raise eyebrows within Wiccan circles, especially those with a more feminist bent.

Chapters written by Telesco all contain additional activities, such as visualizations and meditations, including those specifically designed for men who wish to deepen their understanding of the feminine. I was hoping to find similar activities in Drew’s chapters on the masculine deity, but there were only few, and to be honest, not particularly useful. Instead, those chapters were abound with the author’s anecdotes, personal stories and an occasional joke. Some might enjoy his casual style, a bit sexist at times, but it didn’t quite sit well with me.

Although this was an easy read, I’m not sure I would recommend it to a complete beginner. The reason for that lies in the authors’ tendency to assume that the readers will be familiar with most of the references. Passing remarks are made which are not further elaborated; works (such as “Spiral Dance”) are mentioned only in passing, and are not even included in the bibliography. There are no footnotes or endnotes, either. Clearly, this is not a scholarly book, but it would have been useful to see where the authors derived particular pieces of information from.

One thing that should certainly be improved in future editions, if it hasn’t been already, is spelling. For example, in the chapter on God as Lover/Husband, Drew consistently refers to divine aspect of love as “agope”. Obviously, the term is agape, and seeing it misspelled over and over again throughout the chapter didn’t leave a good impression.

On the whole, this title did clarify a few things for me when it comes to Wicca as a religion, but it was really more of a quick read than a reference book I’d imagine returning to.

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