In October 2015 the New York Times published an article on Alex Mar’s first book, ‘Witches of America’. Having taught an undergraduate tutorial on witchcraft in Britain and the United States, I was itching to get a copy to see how this book could enhance my own tutorials. But as many of you know, sometimes it’s worth browsing the readers’ comments section before paying upfront for a book, so you can imagine my surprise when I came across the feedback from many practising Wiccans. Despite the fact that the New York Times praised the book in its entirety, the pagan community was rather upset about the information that transpired.
Several months later and I can safely say that the book was well worth the purchase, but I’m still trying to understand how her interpretation of neo-paganism could be so upsetting. Subsequently, I’ve written this post in the hopes that I can get some answers. In the meantime, if there are any viewers who could kindly explain why Mar’s book leaned on the offensive, that would be greatly appreciated. My hope for future classes is to be able to use this book as an ethnographic tool on how to write about sensitive material. Since Mar’s complimentary documentary ‘American Mystic’ received a lot of positive feedback, it would be interesting to see how the documentary compares to Mar’s written material.
New York Times article:
Comments from the neo-pagan and non-neo-pagan communities:
Alex Mar’s website:
Trailer for ‘American Mystic’:
Posted by ETE’s Founder/ Editor: Dr Ann Wand