In recent months, I have been hearing about a book for Junior Witches. One or two of the folks in our 3 PaaC Facebook Group have mentioned it, so I decided to buy a copy to review. Good golly Miss Molly. While there needs to be great content out there for parents to give to their Junior Witches in training, this book is not it. And let me tell you why.
Junior Witch’s Handbook Misses The Mark
So, there are immediate red flags for me about The Junior Witch’s Handbook, written by Nikki Van De Car, illustrated by Uta Krogman, on the cover of the book.
There is the use of the term “white magic.” In my view, using “white”, “black,” or even “grey” magic is problematic. In fact, I prefer not to give magic a color at all nowadays. Why? Because of the long-held belief that “white magic” equals “good” and “black magic” equals “bad.” Which takes us into the realm of “black magic is evil.” Rather, it is better to teach beginning witches that magic is based on the intention of the Witch, and allow their parents to guide them in deciding ethics.
But that is not the only problem I have with this book. There are only girls on that cover. Van De Car clearly indicates that witchcraft is the purview of women. In the binary sense. Alone. Indeed, the author takes a very “Charmed” turn with the notion that witches are “other” or “inherit” their witchiness.
From the Introduction, in the section on Empowering: “It will help you shed any limitations you might think you have and fully step into your power—power that is your birthright, has been passed on through generations of women, and is yours to claim.”
There are male, trans, and non-binary witches who will take exception to this exclusionary wording. Let’s not train our Junior Witches to have such narrow thinking. I could go on to include the standard “light is right” theme of the book or the inclusion of appropriative language (“smudge”) that so many of us are trying to correct. Ode and I prefer to use “smoke cleansing” when speaking of how to dispel negative energy/spirits with the herb smoke.
My Final Thoughts
What is most disappointing about The Junior Witch’s Guide: A Kid’s Guide to White Magic, Spells, and Rituals by Nikki Van De Car is that there is some good information in here. She describes altars, crystals, oils, and correspondences. She includes some lovely spells, rituals, and meditations for Junior Witch’s to try. But these useful lessons are interspersed with a narrow and exclusionary view of witchcraft, giving young witches misinformation or concepts they will have to unlearn at some point in the future. For me, that outweighs the value this book could offer.
Personally, if my kids were still young and interested in witchcraft, I would cherry-pick this book for the best bits to teach them. Or create a grimoire for them to use. I would not hand this over to a child and say “have at it.” If the book just has to get into a kid’s hands, parents should read it with them and correct it as needed. I’d explain the actual history of witchcraft, Wicca (not the Charmed version), and that all who are called to the path can become a witch with time, study, and practice.
So, sorry to all you parents who thought (or think) this book is awesome. It has a lot of flaws and the next generation deserves better (in my opinion), more accurate information so that their practice can be rich and filled with true power.
If you want to hear the full review I shared (along with Ode’s input), check out our latest 3 Pagans and a Cat podcast episode.