Treading the Mill – Practical CraftWorking in Modern Traditional Witchcraft

By Nigel G. Pearson

Capall Bann Press, PB, 248 pages

Reviewed by Nina Lazarus

In the opening lines of the introduction the author tells the reader that the book is meant as an alternative to Wiccan/Pagan practices, and continues with his own definitions for the term ‘Traditional Witchcraft’. In short like many before him he claims that his practices predate that of Gerald Gardner and Gardnerian Wicca. But does it really? Certainly the terminology throughout the book does give it that ‘olde crafte’ feel, but one does get the feeling that his views might be coloured by prejudice of some sort or another. Generalities, pompous wording and unnecessary comparisons to other traditions aside, the books is actually quite a good introduction to modern paganism.

The first section deals with circle casting or, ‘Hallowing the Compass’ , the circle as a space, the author tells us is called the ‘compass’ by the traditional crafters he know, so for this reason he uses it throughout the book – the presumption being that traditional witches will read it and that they had compasses? He then goes on to name the various tools, including the Stang, Wand and Knife. Here is where things get a bit twilight zone. He talks about the Knife as the symbol of ‘Will’ which is of course what it is used for by those in initiatory Gardnerian Wicca, borrowed no doubt from Aleister Crowley. He also talks about the ‘lightning flash of power’ a kabbalistic term. The author moves on to other subjects, which will also be very familiar to Pagans in general, such as ‘calling the directions’ – the colours are the same as those used by Doreen Valiente in her books, which makes sense considering her involvement with the Roebuck tradition.

The fact that the book is about ‘Traditional Craft’ is stressed too the point that you get the feeling that the author is reminding himself. This is all a great pity, because the material and exercises contained in this book, is make for a good introductory level book to modern paganism as already stated, it emphasises working with nature and presents a more balanced perspective on the subject as a whole than I have found in most books to date. (buy it, but ignore the its ‘traditional’ nonsense).