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

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  2,474 ratings  ·  350 reviews
A whip-smart and illuminating exploration of the world’s 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 they’re 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 gu
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 4.06  · 
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 ·  2,474 ratings  ·  350 reviews

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Sarah Buchanan
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 t
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it
As another reviewer said, I hate that I didn’t love this book. I’ve loved Pam’s 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. It’s 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 va
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 wouldn’t suggest this; it’s 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 Grossman’s journey and fleshed out
Part memoirs, part history book, part gender theory text, part film reviews – this book has it all, and is read by the incredibly smooth and pleasantly-voiced author. I loved the audiobook of this, although I want to obtain a physical copy as well – the cover is aesthetically pleasing and this author deserves ALL of the support, too. She talks about actual witchcraft, but more importantly, examines the ideas of witches in so many other areas of life.

First, I enjoyed the not-too-deep historical
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
If you want an intersectionally-minded book about the history of witches, as well as the popularity of witches and witchcraft in pop culture, you will want to pick this one up. Grossman reads it on audio, and she does a fabulous job.
Jackie ϟ Bookseller
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: four-stars-great
4/5 stars: ★★★★☆

"The witch owes nothing. That is what makes her dangerous. And that is what makes her divine."

This book makes me proud to refer to myself as a witch. Inspiring. Intelligent. Funny. Educational. Empowering. Wicked.
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
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 re ...more
As a lifelong feminist from a family of (mostly) recovering Catholics, there’s nothing that draws me in like magic. It’s rebellious, it’s mysterious, and it’s so deliciously subversive. From tarot cards to altars to amulets, the world of the witch has my full attention. And, as Pam Grossman points out in this book, these days, “witch” is essentially synonymous with powerful, self-assured and self-directed woman who has the audacity to live without shame in a patriarchal and oppressive society.

Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books I picked up not really knowing what it was about. I hoped to learn something from it and break up my fiction books and for the most part this definitely delivered. This was a witty, sometimes heartbreaking book that covered the history of the archetype of the witch, it’s connection between historic and modern ideas about female sexuality, motherhood, and its appearance in popular culture and the current political atmosphere. I took a star off for the chapters that seem ...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 th ...more
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 affir ...more
Sean Kenin
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I absolutely loved this book. I’ve had the pleasure of attending some of Ms. Grossman’s 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. ...more
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. ...more
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.
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.
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
Highly reccomend this book.
Off to listen to the podcast.
'Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power' by witch podcaster (and spellcaster) Pam Grossman is a very good contemporary nonfiction book about witches, and their legacy and impact - throughout history, and in most notable aspects of popular culture.

It attempts to answer the immortal question: how have witches evolved over the centuries?

How have they possibly survived?

How do they fit in with the times?

Witch - a word containing so many meanings to so many people, depending on each
So much of what most of us know about witches comes from children’s lit and those are decidedly biased and one sided images. This book is an excellent, balanced history of the concept of a witch. Grossman examines all the mythology in all major religions and cultures as to the place and power of these special, gifted women. She documents how they were treated by their various cultures. Then she follows that pattern right up to the present looking at our literature, art, music, films and TV shows ...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!

Jan 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Very engaging history of the relationship between what society thinks about witches and what society thinks about women.
Laura Jayne Tricker
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Musings from a modern day witch. Enjoyable to a point. Pam’s 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 don’t need you to spend two pages on the plot of buffy... ...more
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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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  Here at Goodreads, we've noticed that a funny thing tends to happen when we start talking about audiobooks: The same few titles get...
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“The witch is the ultimate feminist icon because she is a fully rounded symbol of female oppression and liberation.” 6 likes
“Books were my broomstick. They allowed me to fly to other realms where anything was possible.” 5 likes
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