by Whitley Strieber
Barry, a practicing witch, [Wiccan] has collaborated with well-known SF and horror writer Strieber in CAT MAGIC. A story about Witchcraft and Wicca, written in 1986 – before the New Age wave hit hard and Wicca as a religion was still a taboo. The book helped keep the focus away from “black magic” nonsense that the movies of the same period were trying to hype. It became a sort of ‘spokespiece’ for Witchcraft, relying on the ancient wisdom of worshipping the earth and the seasons, of living with and respecting nature and the holy in people and animals.
The story focuses on young Amanda Walker, who has come to rural Maywell to work with Constance Collier on her latest book. But Constance is really a witch, the spiritual leader of a large coven, and unbeknownst to Amanda she has picked the girl to be her successor. To complicate matters, Amanda’s eccentric uncle George, who is involved in research in resuscitating the dead, has finally gone over the edge and is looking for a healthy young woman as his next subject. And Brother Simon Pierce, local fundamentalist preacher, himself quite mad, is determined to enforce the Biblical injunction, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”
• I’ve read this four times now, and I love it a little more each time. There are times when the story tries to incorporate ancient Witchcraft myth & legend into a book that is trying to portray Wiccans in a positive light. While that does help the author weave a more fascinating web, it actually casts a shadow over the overall effect. I loved the fey, shown as a race which can be elusive and enduring, as well as dangerous and a little frightening. The Wild Hunt is exciting, proving Amanda to be the person everyone hopes she is, and where she begins to realize it herself.
There is a part, in the lab with George, where he is performing an experiment on a frog. It’s told from the frog’s perspective (as odd as that may sound – it’s really not). That part breaks my heart every time I read it. Feelings going from confusion to pain, back and forth – until, finally… the pain is gone, Summerland is within reach. Everything is finally ‘right’. Then it’s ripped away & it makes me curse life.
I really hope you’ll try to find a copy of this book. It’s a story I’d love to discuss with you. I’m interested to hear the views from Christians AND Pagans, I’m curious to see how different one view is from the other.
P, L, & N ♥