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Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,322 ratings  ·  204 reviews
A whip-smart and illuminating exploration of the worlds fascination with witches from podcast host and practicing witch Pam Grossman (The Witch Wave), who delves deeply into why witches have intrigued us for centuries and why theyre more relevant now than ever.

When you think of a witch, what do you picture? Pointy black hat, maybe a broomstick. But witches in various
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Gallery Books (first published June 2019)
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Mary ~*Sweary McCoffeehound*~ I was unable to get my hands on a list from the book itself, but Grossman does have a blog (sorely in need of tech updates) that has tons and tons of…moreI was unable to get my hands on a list from the book itself, but Grossman does have a blog (sorely in need of tech updates) that has tons and tons of info and witchy goodness.

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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  1,322 ratings  ·  204 reviews

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Sarah Buchanan
Jun 09, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5 stars

I hate that I didn't love this book. I love Pam and her Witch Wave podcast, and I'm not sure what I expected from this book, but what I got wasn't it.

First off, I happen to have the same political views as Pam, but I was so sick about hearing about Trump by the end of this book. We get it. He's terrible. I stopped paying attention to the news because I was tired of hearing about what an idiot he is. I didn't expect to be bashed over the head with it over and over again in a book about
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: witchcraft
I have been following Pam Grossmans work for quite a while now, and so when I heard that she was being published I was ecstatic for her and for all of us readers. This book reads very much like her--her tone is very clear and shines through & is very conversational and intuitive. I had no problem zipping through this book, and I connected with much of it. She blends history and personal narrative quite well in this work, and it felt like floating in and out of a comfortable conversation with ...more
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it
As another reviewer said, I hate that I didnt love this book. Ive loved Pams writing for years, and her podcast is one of my favorites. I preordered this book and bought it in more than one format.

I have trouble figuring out who the target audience is, and what each target audience might be expected to gain from the book. Its sort of part memoir, part wide-lens historical summary, part modern political OpEd, and part love song to muses, all of which are very loosely threaded together by a vague
Renee (The B-Roll)
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
YEEEESSSSS!!! This book is packed with history and culture, and serious female power and witch pride. I loved reading this book; it really sparked something in me. I would highly highly recommend this book if you want sort of a primer about witchcraft and witch culture, are interested in Pam Grossman, or are just curious about it all. I love the way this is written and how it feels like a conversation rather than a book.
Angela Natividad
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a personal trajectory entwined in a larger history of witchcraft, specifically in pop culture, art and music. It is not a vast survey of modern paganism, but you can feel a fond, acknowledged debt to Margot Adler.

If you want something historically deep that scales wide, I wouldnt suggest this; its too slim, touching on necessary tributaries without wading too deeply in. This is a jumping-off point, punctuated by the diversity of things that informed Grossmans journey and fleshed out her
this was a super easy read! non-fiction, a brief and sprawling history of witches and feminism. i really enjoyed some chapters more than others, but overall it was really readable.

a lot of people were like "she mentions trump too often" like, i don't really think so? i thought it was pretty relevant. although i really did wish a lot of the artists mentioned had a photograph of their work because i didn't necessarily have time to google each artist while reading.

i found a lot of her insights
Jess Zaikova
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Pam Grossman is a great writer and I am looking forward to checking out her podcast.

I enjoyed this book in the arsenal of witchy awakening writings aside from a few small issues.

Mostly, please don't dedicate so many pages to describing works of art with words. Have pictures put in. It got tedious pausing and looking up painting by painting on my phone so I just stopped. I would have loved seeing the pictures as I read. I ended up just skipping most of that chapter.

Other than that, I have some
Ariel Kusby
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In this must-read for anyone interested in feminism or witchcraft, acclaimed podcast host Pam Grossman illuminates a history of female power and persecution, and eloquently analyzes why witches are so relevant today. By exploring the figure of the witch across culture, Grossman explains her theory about why the newest wave of feminism just might be "The Witch Wave," and why millions of women now draw upon the magic of the witch to reclaim a sense of power amidst uncertain times. Part memoir and ...more
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Grossman does an impressive job of jam packing every reference to witches in media and talking about all the influences they bring into our daily life. I think I was expecting more knowledge about the practice of Wicca and being a Witch more, but it was interesting all the same.
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review is only for the first quarter of the book as I will not be finishing it any time soon. I also received this ARC as a giveaway at my work and was not familiar with Pam Grossman or her podcast. As someone who is very interested in the portrayal of occult female figures in pop culture, this book sounded super enticing and I was looking forward to getting an in-depth study on how and why witches are portrayed. To be fair, there was a lot of great info but unfortunately the memoir vibe ...more
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-arcs
I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for my advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I've been following Pam Grossman for a while and love her podcast The Witch Wave. I connect with her intuition and sensitivity toward spiritual subjects. I was elated when I received this ARC. I am a feminist but not very outspoken about it. I am spiritual in private and I am bookish and academic outwardly. Waking the Witch touched upon all of these aspects of me.
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This is the book I've been waiting for. A wonderful blend of memoir and well-researched information on witches and magic throughout history. This book was easy to read, engaging, and informative. I loved the blend of history, art and popular culture to weave a comprehensive narrative about the many meanings of witchcraft and magic. The author directly addressed the more challenging aspects of this story like race, gender, and economic disparity. This book is definitely worth reading if you ...more
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was always going to love this book, because Pam Grossman is one of my dearest friends. But imagine for a moment my relief when I read the manuscript for the first time and realized that I actually liked it? Friends, I am not claiming any objectivity here, but I can say without bias that Pam has written a wry, insightful, surprising, and questing book, and anyone interested in how the ancient archetype of the witch is being manifested in our modern age will find much to chew on here. Also? Lady ...more
Sean Kenin
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I absolutely loved this book. Ive had the pleasure of attending some of Ms. Grossmans curated art shows. The exuberance and fun she brings to her live appearances are very much alive in this book. I came away with a deeper understanding of the origins of witchcraft and I also appreciated the glimpse into how in fits into the history of feminism. Not to mention the fun turns into pop culture witchery we all know and love. A great read and I look forward to more.
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituaity, feminism
Waking the Witch delves into historical perspectives on witchcraft and feminism, how they are intricately linked, and how it's relevant today in our modern age. I would say this should be recommended reading for anyone interested or currently practicing witchcraft, as well as those studying feminism.
Marta Pelrine-Bacon
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It's a delightful journey through the history of the witch in various realms--pop culture, politics, art, and actual history. Reading this was part discovery and part recognition. I definitely recommend to all the witches, the almost witches, the kinda-sorta-might-be witches, and the witch adjacent. Brew your potion, find your place, sit down and read.
Shari Suarez
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A look into the fascination with witches and witch culture. It takes a look at everything from depictions of witches in movies and television to the history and rise of witchcraft being practiced as a religion.
The author makes the subject interesting as well as making you think.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Historical. Personal. Informational. Political. Pop culture-esque. Queer. Acknowledges WOC. Calls out imperialism and white privilege practicing witches. Sexism... Loved it.
gotta listen to the audiobook
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love any book about witches and this one goes to the top of my list! I loved the history but then how she connects it to real life. I learned alot and will probably keep referring to this many times. Definitely recommend.
Nightshade Purplebroom
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this quick romp through the modern trend of witchcraft, and like another reviewer, found this more affirming than revelatory. It grapples more with the pop culture witch and what "witch" means as an archetype in this day and age than with all the nitty gritty of different witchcraft ideologies and practices. It is well written and has smatterings of memoir, pop culture references and feminism throughout and is woven in a beautiful way. I did find some chapters more compelling and ...more
Sian Lile-Pastore
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this a lot (while at the same time sometimes getting a teeny bit bored with it?). Rather than a book 'just' about witchcraft it's actually a cultural history of witchcraft - hey Buffy, Sabrina and The Craft - that's also a super-feminist tract - discussing the me too movement , Hilary Clinton and present day 'witch hunts' . It also talks a lot about artists, writers and musicians and blends if all with a bit of memoir. I did feel that i didn't get masses from this book - but I think ...more
Nov 07, 2019 rated it liked it
A good mix of memoir, information, history and pop culture. Some chapters were more immersive than others, it doesn't really break huge ground for anyone interested in the subject for a length of time, however that's not the purpose, either. It's a well considered overview of the current "witch" trend and how it fits within history, feminism, spiritual practice, and politics. I enjoyed reading it!

Laura Jayne Tricker
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Musings from a modern day witch. Enjoyable to a point. Pams personal experiences and the things that have influenced her on her journey are very relatable and intriguing. However, this book comes from a broad place and it feels like information has been grabbed across such a wide spectrum it feels packed in without any real time or soul searching put into them being there.Some of it felt like it was there by default or by tangent. Like I dont need you to spend two pages on the plot of ...more
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting read. I liked the personal revelations of the first few chapters, but the history in the next to, not so much, but then she introduced the lady artists who were mediums and used what the spirits told them to make their art and were way ahead of their time. The art is just recently being showed, and was not really accepted as much during their lifetime. Good read, would recommend it for anyone interested in the paranormal, or the religion of Witches.
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reviewing this book is a little daunting. First I have known Pam since her days at the Observatory and think very highly of her which introduces bias. Secondly I am a cis male attempting to review an overtly Feminist book. We all have biases, those are mine so consult your salt cellar before proceeding. My take on this is from someone who has studied and been involved with Witchcraft and the Occult since the late 70s. Thats right, I predate the Satanic Panic though I played Dungeons and Dragons ...more
Feb 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More memoir than cultural analysis on the witch in pop art and history. I took a class in college on the femme fatale in literature, and this book seemed like a haphazard attempt at compiling a semester's worth of information in 200 pages. Random, hyper personal, slightly disorganized and meandering.
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I can't decide whether I wish I'd read this before I wrote my spring English project on witches and coming-of-age tropes in YA lit, or whether I'm glad I didn't, because Grossman basically makes all the points I was trying to make, and more.

I already knew most of the witchcraft history stuff in this book, but I just felt really at home here. Especially loved Grossman's stories of her own personal experiences. This is my witch history, not boomer or millennial but that late-Gen-X experience, all
Shayla Perreault
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
What I liked about it and what I felt was fresh was that Pam looks at the 'why now' behind a contemporary fascination with the witch both as a symbol and as a spiritual practice. Since her point is how female power, feminism and the witch are linked then it is clear that her book must speak to several audiences. It makes sense that she offers an overview that is accessible and inclusive. This isn't a topic that is meant for one group.

I'm a queer woman and artist and while I would love to see an
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
There's nothing in particular in this book that really made me go 'WOW I never thought of this before', but even so it's an amazing and comprehensive treatise on witches and nearly everything related to them. A must read for anyone who, like me, is in love with this theme since ever. Pam writes very neatly and passionately, her writing is never boring, it flows to where it wants us to go. For a non-fiction book, this is a page-turner of sorts. I especially enjoyed the references to ...more
Abigail Ainley
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
To cover previous comments about it being too broad, I personally felt that a lot of people didn't necessarily understand the point of the book. Waking the Witch is a comprehensive guide to the witch as a cultural archetype and the fact that she covers every cultural angle was a blessing in my opinion.

Fabulous! Everything you need to feel empowered and motivated by the witch archetype whether you consider yourself a witch or not. If you're a fan of the witch in popular culture, political
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Pam Grossman is the creator and host of The Witch Wave podcast and the author of Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power (Gallery Books, June 2019) and What Is A Witch (Tin Can Forest Press). She is co-founder of the Occult Humanities Conference at NYU, and her art exhibitions and magical projects have been featured in The New York Times, Artforum, and The New Yorker. Her writing ...more

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