“I didn’t decide to become a witch. I remembered I was one.”
Witch, Lisa Lister
I’ve been following Lisa’s work for a while now. Her first two books, Code Red and Love Your Lady Landscape are really good reads and I’ve recommended them a number of times to people feeling out of tune with their bodies and menstrual cycles. So I was keen to read Witch.
The fact that Hay House had picked up the book (and they sought Lisa out) piqued my interest even more. This was kicking things up a notch or ten. In Lisa’s earlier books she definitely had an embodied, kind of magical/ holistic take on things, but this is the first book where she’s properly come out of the broom closet and declared herself Witch.
“The witch represents the part of each of us that has been censored, ignored, punished and demonised. And it’s a part that wants – no, needs – to be accessed and fully expressed.”
Witch, Lisa Lister
What’s in the Book?
Witch is divided into 13 (of course) chapters.
The first seven cover history, herstory, different witchcraft practices, plus some autobiographical stuff, but the main thrust of this first part of the book is making the case for women (and I’ll get onto how woman is defined by the author later) to remember who they are and take back their power. Lisa wants to #wakethewitches.
The second half of the book goes through the five main goddess archetypes, as Lisa sees them, alongside a kind of witchy 101 of information about practices, spells and correspondences. The final chapter is a rousing call to brooms – The Witch Has Woken!
Overall this structure works, but it does feel like the chapter titles came first and then some of the content was shoe-horned in afterwards.
The book has sold a LOT of copies, it’s been consistently top of the Amazon charts in pagan/ wicca/ spirituality etc since it’s release) people are buying it in numbers. But if you read the reviews it does seem to be dividing opinion, and I think that’s because it is intended for a very specific audience – and if that’s not you, then you probably won’t like it.
So, who is this book for?
The ideal reader of this book is a natal female, still in her bleeding years, who has an interest in witchcraft, but not a great deal of knowledge or experience. Even better if she’s at a place in her life where she’s had enough of patriarchal bullshit and is ready to step fully into her power and start taking steps to fully realise her life as she wants to live it. If this is you, you will likely LOVE this book.
Who is it not for?
*If you are following a specific pagan or witch path then you probably won’t jive with the pick and mix approach taken here. It’s more suited to an eclectic, and solitary, style of practice.
*If you’re easily offended by crass language and swearing (why are you reading books on witchcraft?) you’ll probably struggle to see past the language used here.
*If you are a woman who does not have usual female biology and/or monthly bleeds (or if those years are behind you now) then you may not enjoy some of the ideas and language in this book as it is very much an embodied practice Lisa describes here. This has led the book to be criticised for it’s narrow definition of woman – and I’ve seen Lisa being called a TERF (trans exclusionary radical feminist) by some. I’m not totally sure how I feel about this. As an intersectional feminist I do feel very strongly that all marginalised groups need recognition and support to eradicate discrimination. But does that automatically mean that every writer need to address every person’s experience in their work? Some will say, yes of course, but I don’t think so (or even believe that it is possible to do this). I am aware that could lead to me also being “called-out” as a TERF, so be it. In Witch, Lisa is addressing a history and a present which keeps women in a position lesser than men, and she’s calling time’s up on that. I feel that is a positive message.
Overall the book is a quick and interesting read, which some have found to be incredibly inspiring and powerful, but is not for everyone.
If you connect with the ideal reader definition above you’ll likely get a lot out of it, and even if you’ve been a practising witch for a long time you may still connect with the message and some of the practices shared here. I enjoyed it, and I’ve been walking a witchy path for almost three decades now.
There were a few things that niggled me in the book (some of which I wonder may have been due to a little but of push/ pull between Lisa and Hay House) that I won’t go into here. But I’ve also made a video review of the book where I talk about this in more detail.
Have you read Witch? Let me know in the comments.