Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks & Covens - Paul Huson an early childhood favorite! the copy that i own was published in 1970, the year of my birth, and this perhaps encouraged my intimate connection to this handy field guide for beginners. Huson writes in a candid, engaging style, and is open about the problems that face the modern witch. such as the need for simple privacy, elucidated on page 31:

" supposing at just that precise moment the door to your place of working were to open and your husband or maybe your mother-in-law were to confront you, uttering words to the effect of 'Audrey! What are you doing dressed up like that in here? And what's all this terrible smoke? Are you trying to set the place on fire?'....Total anticlimax."

besides the actual spells painstakingly detailed throughout the book, i learned many things studying this resource manual during my formative 6th & 7th grade years:

(1) a guy can be a witch too!

(2) changing your given name is POWER. but then you're stuck with it, so reflect carefully and don't pick a stupid one that you'll regret later.

(3) there is a difference between romantic love and hot sex; fortunately there are spells for both.

(4) love spells are best performed on a friday around 8 in the morning. apparently this is when love sign Taurus is really on the move.

(5) one can love, believe in, and respect Almighty God (as He is referred to in this guide) while still understanding Satan (referred to, disturbingly, as "The Lord of the World" in this book).

(6) naked frolics are not just for hippies etc....they can also be convened for more sinister purpose! they are particularly useful, as the author states, "to get the black juices flowing".

(7) approach divination sensitively. the 72 beings formed out of primordial fire before man even evolved do not particularly appreciate the humiliation of being conjured up by apelike, clay-formed homo sapiens.

(8) the wearing of basic black at all times has an ancient tradition of coolness & don't-fuck-with-me-ness. i can't help but recognize that this continues to exist in this modern day. for example, noted witch Johnny Cash. and have you noticed that Gwyneth Paltrow overwhelmingly favors black in her wardrobe choices? something to consider.

(9) forming a coven is an important way to build community and create powerful spells. but what i did not learn was how to deal with upstart asshole witches who want to challenge your title of high priest. as a child, i felt this was a severe lack. it is simply being realistic to assume that there will always be some ambitious pain-in-the-ass to deal with if you've risen to the top (as i naturally assumed i would). if a youngster like myself realized this, why didn't Master Witch Paul Huson recognize this important topic?

(10) once you enter the world of the Black Arts, once you start noticing how the world really operates... OTHER THINGS BEGIN TO NOTICE YOU. shudder! this was perhaps the biggest reason that i never tried to enact any of the many spells described in this guide. well that and the fact that as a child, i read this book while attending regular Bible study classes, which caused some understandable and uncomfortable spiritual confusion.

i suppose the main reason i enjoyed this book so much as a youth was because it hinted at a much wider world existing on the edge of the world we know. it was fascinating to consider! on the one hand, the Bible presented a world that i earnestly wanted to understand and be a part of; on the other hand, Mastering Witchcraft presented a world that was just too cool for Bible school. of course, every child yearns to be cool, and certainly being a practitioner of the Black Arts would make me feel so much cooler - and it assured me that i would have a built-in cool witch peer group to befriend and get naked with. exciting stuff for an alienated young military brat who found this for a quarter or so at a neighborhood rummage sale. secretly reading this felt less like rebelling and more like understanding the secrets of the world, and how to get the best out of that world. it felt like a positive, celebratory, eye-opening experience. and thus i enjoyed Mastering Witchcraft, and loved the world around me, a little bit more.

i say, celebrate the power of Witchcraft!