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Not In Kansas Anymore

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  395 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Wicker soon set out to discover what was so compelling about the philosophy and practice of magic, or witchcraft. From the moment she introduces a group of self-professed vampires, who challenge her as to whether she is a victim, she sweeps us into some seriously cobwebby corners of the American psyche. Impeccably researched and filled with details on the prevalence of mag ...more
Published (first published October 4th 2005)
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Jul 11, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: spirituality, pagan
I really disliked this book for several reasons. First, the author seems to believe that the different subcultures she portrays ("vampires," "otherkin," Hoodoo practitioners, Wiccans) are somehow all part of a unitary magical culture, an assumption which she never openly clarifies and which I think many members of these groups would resent.

Second, for each chapter she apparently chose the weirdest, most colorful representative of that group that she could find. (In a couple of cases, the individ
Oct 27, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was way more about the author than it was about magic, so it really wasn't what I was looking for. She met a lot of interesting, weird folks during her explorations, but I think her skepticism was too much in the forefront; it didn't help her to be objective, but instead, I believe, got in the way and closed her off to many possibilities. Her view of what constitutes magic is a little (a lot!) off, too, I think; if her idiosyncratic perspective is to be believed, then the fact that I w ...more
almost 3/5. This had some very entertaining moments and as I'm comfortably a skeptic not looking to be convinced of anything, I just wanted to learn something about what various groups actually do and believe so it wasn't disappointing in terms of the skepticism she employed. It had a tone not unlike Mary Roach in Spook and was at its best when reminiscent of that, although with less sciencey background. Sometimes the author's observations were really funny, others felt...uncomfortable? It's lik ...more
Dec 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
I expected this book to be interesting and it is. I found out that there are people all around the country who believe themselves to be vampires, werewolves, elves, fairies. I also finally found out the difference between hoodoo and voodoo. And what a root worker is. The author did a great job tracing the roots of magic all through American History. I don't know if I agree that anthropomorphizing computers and machines and some other superstitions is magical thinking, as the author says. But may ...more
Aug 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was... in turns inspiring and infuriating. She really didn't pay much attention to the people she was talking to, with the possible exception of the hoodoo folk. Being a "magical" person, myself, there were some glaring inconsistencies, and I really didn't like the ending. It's a good read, but take it with a grain of salt.
Jan 21, 2009 rated it liked it
I was fascinated by the concept of this book and also a little uncertain about its premise. She notably omitted Wicca or what I'd think of as credible alternative religions that include magic in their practices, and perhaps deliberately went for whacky, out-there stuff.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
I didn't love this book. I had to force myself to finish it. Oddly, there was much that I should have wanted to read in this, however, the tone was kind of "Tongue in cheek tourist" that put me off of wanting to get into it and enjoy this more.
As a member of the pagan community, I often attend events where there are non-pagan attendees who are just sightseeing. It's offensive at a certain point to become just someone that is not a real person but an object to be discussed like an exhibit or ride
Sep 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Emo Kids
Stumbled onto this book a few days ago. Did nothing to break down my stereotypes of New Age weirdos, though, I'm afraid ;)

A handful of the people interviewed in the book believed themselves to be "otherkin" (a catch-all category for Elves, Vampires, Werewolves, etc. -- anyone non-human). I felt those parts of the book probably hurt it more than it helped.

A large chunk of the story revolves around hoodoo, rootwork, and voodoo. There were a few interesting stories, but a lot of it just sounded lik
Jeremiah Genest
Aug 30, 2007 rated it liked it
A cute little book about a journalist who goes out and meets people who practice Hoodoo and other forms of magic and/or believe they're vampires, elves and werewolves. Its cute, and she does a good job of being friendly and open-minded about what is going on out there. She’s not a believer (well a little) and she’s not an outright skeptic so it’s a nice, low-key examination of several of the magical subcultures out there right now. A whole lot more readable than works by proponents (Gerneration ...more
Jul 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Pagans, Seekers
I found Wicker's book to be a fascinating look at the world of paganism from an outside perspective. Neither fully critical of paganism, nor ever fully embracing it, she straddles the fence excellently, and at points this lack of integrity towards either side can become irritating, preventing me from giving this book a full set of stars. However, there are numerous excellent quotes and moments in this book. I'd recommend it to pagans, but would NOT recommend it to those who are merely interested ...more
Truly fascinating. I think this book works because the author is a skeptic, but not a close-minded one. So she doesn't quite believe in all the things she investigates, but she doesn't completely discount them, either. Many of the things are kooky and out-there, but others are intriguing. I really enjoyed this and the questions it raises about how science, religion, and magic play their parts in culture.
Jan 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A skeptic interviews various “magical” subcultures including wiccans, hoodoo and voodoo practitioners, and vampires. There’s even a section on Otherkin—people who believe they are real elves and werewolves. The author attempts to be open-minded about her subjects although at times seems a bit tongue-in-cheek. Overall a curious read especially for anyone interested in seeing what’s just outside of mainstream.
Dorielys C.
Wicker is not an anthropologist, and it is clear by the way in which she observes and comments on the magical people she meets. It can be difficult to read, especially when she throws words that undermine the belief and systems of the varying groups she encounters, and how set she is on not really proving magic, but rather disproving it.

It's an entertaining read, I will admit. But the back of the cover includes a review from PAGES magazine stating that book is "Droll, deadpan humor"-- which I th
Sep 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Once, during my senior year of college, when I was immersed in the study of early American Puritanism, I came as close as one can to experiencing the inner lives of our ancestors, people who really believed not only that our lives had some higher meaning, but also that that meaning could be known, that it was made manifest in signs and omens. Stomping along, lost in thought, I wondered what it might have been like to hear in the crackling leaves behind you the creeping of Satan, or to expect the ...more
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Overall carries an "encouraging" tone, a "you do you/whatever melts your butter" kind of vibe, though occasionally threaded with a tone of gentle Southern condescention.

What I wanted more of, though, were facts and history and science, rather than the sociological storytelling and personal histories and narratives.
Nov 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
"My magical experiences were too little to convince me and at the same time too much to ignore."

Wicker visits and talks with various individuals and groups involved in some sort of magic/fantasy environment -- including attending a Vampires and Victims ball, taking hoodoo classes from a rootworker (a good chunk of the book), and observing several Wiccan rites -- throughout, she keeps an open, yet skeptical mind, drawing her own conclusions about what the participants are getting from their invo
Al Bità
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book has a certain charm about it — the writing is pleasant enough; it reminds me of the type of journalistic reports one might find in with-it magazines and journals, purporting to provide insights into modern trends and ideas. The subject here is supposed to be “magic”, and the type of people currently apparently immersed in its practice, at least in America. The Main title comes from The Wizard of Oz of course, and would suggest that the worlds occupied by the groups of people Wicker (co ...more
I wanted to give this book five stars just because the author used the word "kairos" in it. But sadly I had to actually review it on all of its merits, not just the particular use of a word. And having read Wicker's "Lily Dale" I had high expectations going into this book that just weren't fulfilled.

Not In Kansas Anymore attempts to explain how magic is invading America (or maybe already has been completely submersed in the culture). Wicker travels around the country attending parties of vampire
May 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Book Summary:
This was a pretty interesting book that takes a look at those who practice the "other" religion/belief systems out there. The author takes a respectful look at those who consider themselves werewolves, elfs, magicans, vampires and other magically inclined creatures. While doing research for this book the author is forced to consider her notions of what is good and evil, what is right and wrong and whether or not these people have a few gears lose. What she finds is quite simply tha
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
Christine Wicker set out to investigate alternative magical religious practices in the United States. Noting that the popularity of magical belief is growing, and turning up in unlikely places, Wicker's book seeks to understand how and why magic is turning up in unlikely places. The result, Not in Kansas Anymore, is part travelogue, part personal reflection, and part religious study. Wicker takes us through Voodoo, Wicca, Vampirism, and other magical traditions currently practiced in the United ...more
Kim Palacios
Jul 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book had a bit of a "blind leading the blind" feel to it. To her credit, the author transparently represented herself as a skeptic and a novice, but her biases and (worse) her shallow knowledge of the space she was working within limited what could have been a much better book.

If I had to name a single flaw, I would call out Wicker's apparent lack of journalistic judgment. She made missteps with several prominently featured figures (the Hoodoo priestess she interviews is a white Jewish cur
Jason Wisdom
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It almost seems like the couple of 1 Star reviews on this book box themselves into their particular magical belief system and discredit the author based on the fact that there are indeed other belief systems out there that also incorporate magick. Being a practitioner of several 'brands' of magick, I can say that, in my view at least, polarization is the worst enemy of anyone who wants to be a successful magician. I started off this way myself, choosing to only subscribe to this view/system or t ...more
This was an interesting book about an average person investigating magical folk. The author had a background in Christianity, so this book is from an outsider's perspective. The author writes about her experiences at a vampires/victims ball (fancy dresses & fangs included). She writes about Salem, MA and how some witches charge people to learn about witchcraft, take the money, and then don't deliver. She wrote about going to an Otherkin Convention, hoodoo/voodoo, chaos magic, animal sacrific ...more
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It was a totally fun read. Christine Wicker has a great sense of humor about herself and the world, and truly a kind heart.

I've been immersed, deeply, in the alternative magical world for years, to the extent that I no longer enjoy reading about it. I've seen the light of it and the dark.

It was really refreshing, and enlightening to read this naive perspective of the magical world. She was totally tuned into the the dark side of it, the wackiness, the neediness, the confusio
Feb 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The autor did a great job of investigative journalism and went to scary places in order to obtain the required subject matter (magic rituals) for her book. It was fascinating to learn about vampires, leprechauns and hoodoo. The prose is entertaining and full of details.

I feel that given the extensive cultural and religious diversity in the United States, this book fell short in terms of covering more types of magic, witchcraft or other similar religions? Perhaps there are so many that the author
Dr. Barrett  Dylan Brown, Phd
Disappointing. It started off with a good thesis and investigative tone, then somehow the writer gets lost in the different characters of the Magickal community and loses the journalistic perpective she started with. What starts off as a very compelling investigation of modern magic, ends up being a taciturn diary of one persons experience of certain personalities. Though Wicker does cut through a lot of magickal fluff and states some magickal "secrets" as if they are already obvious and well-kn ...more
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up because I enjoyed Lily Dale so much. I found this book far better organised and just as enjoyable. Wicker walks a fine line between willing to believe and completely skeptical. Its a line I walk a lot myself, so I appreciate having her as a guide in these worlds.

Hoodoo, witchcraft, pagans, vampires, otherkin -- these worlds are all explored. Wicker is both critical and kind to what she sees.

Several times she mentioned things that had me turning to the internet for more informati
Oct 03, 2010 rated it liked it
Belief in magic is not just for Wiccans, Pagans, and middle-aged women in gypsy dresses collecting crystals. Wicker points out the magical thinking involved in the belief, for example, in "the laws of attraction." She also looks at magical thinking historically, although not in scholarly depth. As a journalist, she was able to hold a position of openness (while acknowledging her own skepticism) that allows her to report on the sincerity and rationality of the people she interviewed, rather than ...more
Mar 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Christine Wicker uses a journalists eye to explore the weird and wacky world of magic. She befriends Wiccans and Hoodoo practitioners and tells their stories with respect and objectivity while referring to them as the magical people. I learned a lot about Hoodoo, which is not the same as voodoo, and got some insight into how thoughts about magic have weaved their way through western philosophy. She sums it up well when she says "I don't believe in magic, of course. Hardly anybody does, but we al ...more
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“It's often the outcasts, the iconoclasts, the hyper-religious, the young people, sometimes middle-aged women, those who have the least to lose because they don't have much in the first place, who feel the new currents and ride them the farthest.” 7 likes
“Tied to the physical, deaf to the eternal, riveted by my own shortcomings, I was thinking only of what a bad choice I'd made when choosing a partner for a chat. This guy was faking timidity to lure someone over. If I said victim, he was likely to start gnawing my neck. If I said vampire, he would demand proof. I hadn't the fangs enough to back that pretension.” 2 likes
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