Book review- What’s the Deal with Wicca?

This is a Mind And Media review, by Andrea Powell.

“The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn”

–Martin Luther

As a youth, I delighted in stories of mockery. My husband, Matt, tells a story of talking with a young woman about her witchcraft when he was a young man. She threatened to cast a curse on him. And with a cocky toss of his head, he dared her to. Matt tells this much better than I can, but I remembered it appealed to me to mock the devil and his fools. I’m afraid my first response to Wicca is to mock it. While mocking the devil, as Martin Luther encouraged, may be effective with the devil, to truly engage people in sincere discussion about the gospel, mockery will only undermine my desire to speak to those deceived by the philosophy of Wicca. I picked up Steve Russo’s book, What’s the Deal With Wicca: A Deeper Look Into the Dark Side of Today’s Witchcraft, expecting to be irritated by the whole discussion.

I was very impressed with Russo’s handling of Wicca. He wrote the book for those “already involved in Wicca, at the curiosity stage, or wanting to help a friend…” (p.9). He wants to help “sort through the confusion…about this earth-centered religion…give you some real answers about spirituality and your desire to make sense out of life.” (p.9) He did his homework. He documents the book well, and gives plenty of quotes from the “experts” of the religion. His concern and care for the youth being seduced by Wicca is apparent and winsome.

The bulk of the book is Russo explaining Wicca, the appeal of it and its doctrines. I can see why it is such an attractive religion to teens. It is a very self-centered, dramatic religion, steeped in secrets and pursuit of power. When I was discussing some of this book with Matt, he made the observation that Wicca appeals so well to teens because it is a religion that draws heavily on the religions of human history’s infancy. You don’t see mature, successful, powerful people using Wicca. It may be somewhat popular with celebrities, but they are the exception that proves the rule.

I don’t remember my teen years fondly. I remember being characterized by a false sense of importance, arrogance in the midst of ignorance, and a very distasteful self-centeredness. I suspect this is why I find many teenagers I come in contact with, annoying. It is a painful reminder of my own distasteful past. Teens are Russo’s target audience, and he treats them with respect and love. I don’t think I could have been so gracious. I’m thankful God has raised up such a man.

Russo successfully cuts through the confusion inherent in such a personally designed religion to lay out the basics. He describes the underlying principle for all behavior in Wicca to basically mean “that witches have the total freedom to do whatever seems right to them, as long as they don’t harm themselves or anyone else.” (p.19) He points out their fatal flaw of worshiping the creature instead of the Creator, and contrasts effectively Christianity’s Creator/creation distinction.

I did find times where Russo and I parted ways. For instance, he says, “A lot of kids today feel like the Christian church isn’t relevant to their daily lives. One of the problems is that they’ve bought into a religious experience rather than establishing a personal relationship with God.” He never defines religious experience. If he means they bought into an emotional experience devoid of any anchor to truth, then I agree–that’s a bad religious experience. When I hear the word religion, I don’t think of a dirty word. I believe the Bible uses the word very positively and usefully (see James 1:27 for instance). My religious experience is in the context of the historic, biblical creeds and church structure God has given His people. My religion is not dependent on feelings and experiences. I have real experiences but they flow out of truth, they don’t determine it. I don’t believe it is possible to have a “relationship” with God outside of His doctrine, outside of His covenant promises. I felt like Russo’s use of the term religion only catered to the audience’s misconceptions about religion.

I really appreciate Steve Russo’s use of God’s authority in scripture. However, I believe he inadvertently undermines his goal. While, encouraging people to look scripture up for themselves, he uses different translations without noting the translation. I found the following passage especially troublesome:

“God has every right to exercise his judgment and his power, but he also has the right to be very patient with those who are the objects of his judgment and are fit only for destruction. He also has the right to pour out the riches of his glory upon those he prepared to be the objects of his mercy-even upon us, whom he selected.” Rom 9:22-23.

I don’t know what translation he used because he doesn’t indicate it. As you can see, by comparing his chosen translation with the KJV below, his translation obscures God’s willingness to show wrath. Did he choose the translation he did to soften God for people? Did he not like what God said about Himself?

“What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,” Rom 9:22-23 KJV

How can he establish God’s word as a high authority when God’s word changes from translation to translation? His target audience, young people already prone to reject God’s authority, would only find it confusing. I don’t want to get into a long discussion of the modern day church’s use of translations, but I do think one of the problems with it is demonstrated in Russo’s book.

I appreciated Russo’s attempt to use logic to show the weakness of Wicca. I certainly believe God determined the rules for logic and they should be a tool in every Christian’s arsenal, but unfortunately his logic breaks down pretty obviously in at least a couple of instances. I am not trained in logic, so if I can spot a logical fallacy, it must be an obvious misstep. On page 129 he attempts to defend the Christian Bible by appealing to miracles. “And if you examine all the other religious leaders in the world, you will find that only the Judeo-Christian leaders were supernaturally confirmed by genuine miracles that couldn’t possibly be some form of mental or emotional experience or some kind of trickery.” But every religion has their story. In fact God says in Deut. 13:1-3:
“1: If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
2: And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
3: Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Clearly He allows others to use miracles to deceive. The test is to be doctrine. We test the truth of something by doctrinal truth.

I really loved Russo’s call for his readers to examine truthfully the biblical faith and Wicca. On page 135, he says, “Biblical faith is based on facts. God is not some vague All, or force, or some imaginary thought.” I believe this is the only legitimate way to respond to lies of the devil. Christians are people of the Word. We live and fight with the truth of Scripture. It’s the cults (like the Mormons’ “burning in the bosom”) that use vagaries and experientialism.

I found the first part of this book very helpful in getting the facts of Wicca straight, and I really liked Russo’s appeal to absolute truth. Later in the book, when he tries to establish the Bible’s authority, I found his use of logic weak in several areas. I do think it had some strong and valuable points, however. At the end of the book, we part ways when it comes to his use of soteriology. While I don’t think a discussion of predestination would be helpful in this context, I do think it has implications for how we witness to people. Ideally, I would like to see a call to repentance from self-love and rebellion against God, and a call to complete submission to one’s Creator. God’s sheep will hear His voice.

7 thoughts on “Book review- What’s the Deal with Wicca?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Andrea – reading this book review made me really nostalgic for our once-on-a-time book group. Your insight of the author’s good and weak points reminds me of your informed observations and questions when we ladies would tackle literary works. I hope you’ll write often about what you read. Bettyann

  2. andreapowell says:

    Bettyann, thank you for the kind comment. I miss our group keenly, and you especially. I will always remember those long, indulgent afternoons of literary talk fondly.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wicca isn’t a “Do what you want” religion, Wiccans aren’t allowed to hurt anyone (Wiccan Rede)no suduction, mulnipulation, coercion. Wicca is NOT satanism, they don’t belive in a personfication of evil and they must take action that harms NO ONE. They are only allowed to do GOOD, also any action that harms anyone they belive they will be punished three times worst (Three fold law). Also belive in a God and Goddess of course some do belive in ancient gods and goddesses. Unlike Christianity men and woman are equal sometimes woman maybe are more important then males, in Christianity woman are considered inferior. JESUS ISN’T THE ONLY WAY TO SALVATION!
    I am 14 years old who just decided to become Wicca. So far Wicca is perfect for me, Christians seemed to be one of the most ignorant to other religons. I was raised Catholic and disliked being told everyone is evil, if you don’t beg for forgiveness you are going to hell forever, and of satan and his kingdom (earth). Also that woman were the cause of sin. So I completly rejected all religion then I heard of Wicca, I research it and found it perfect for me. I got a tarot set and noticed when I asked a question I would get the perfect answer everytime. There is more to Wicca then what pop culture and myths show. Also, I am sick of Christian compliants adout Harry Potter books it is pure fantasy(I didn’t affect my idea towards Wicca, it isn’t real at all).

  4. Anonymous says:

    You are also not allow to hurt yourself or anyone else emotionally, physically, mentally and spritually. You are not allowed to curse anyone and we are not evil.

  5. Kristin,
    Thank you for your comments. I’m sorry if I implied that Wiccans were Satanists. Mr. Russo’s book,
    the one I reviewed, makes it clear that you are not Satan worshipers. I, as a believer in the Bible,
    believe that Satan is the father of lies. Since I believe Wicca is a lie in that it contradicts God’s
    revelation, I believe it comes from the devil.

    Mr. Russo also defined the Wiccan Rede in his book exactly as you do: ” Wiccans aren’t allowed to
    hurt anyone (Wiccan Rede)no suduction, mulnipulation, coercion.” Here is my problem with that. I’ve
    worked with people who, in order to justify theft, said, “I’m not hurting anyone. The person or
    company I’m stealing from is rich. They’ll never miss it.” Or the Man/Boy Love group insists that it’s
    okay for an older man to have sexual contact with even very young boys because it’s good for boys to
    be involved in such a loving relationship. Most people insist their actions aren’t hurting anyone. The
    abusive husband or father will say “My wife or child needs a firm hand, so I’m not hurting anyone. This
    is for their own good.” You can see that if we each determine within our own selves what is right, we
    can very easily come up with reasons why our actions aren’t hurting anyone. I know Wiccans say they
    are not allowed to hurt anyone, but who gets to define what hurting someone else is? I believe God is
    the final authority so it is never right to have inappropriate sexual relationships, it is never right for a
    father to abuse his authority, and it is never right to steal. Not because I say so, but because the God of
    all creation says so.

    “Unlike Christianity men and woman are equal sometimes woman maybe are more important then
    males, in Christianity woman are considered inferior.”

    I’m sorry you were taught as a Catholic that women are considered inferior. The fact is, Christianity
    was the first religion to recognize women as equal. Women, at the time of Jesus, were considered
    property. But Christianity said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is
    neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galations 3:28. Christ honored women
    throughout His ministry, as did the Apostle Paul.

    I find it ironic that you criticize Christianity (incorrectly, as I’ve said) for preferring men over women, but
    think nothing of saying women are more important than males sometimes in Wicca. If it’s not okay to
    oppress women, why is it okay to oppress men?


    I can not say it better than God Himself did in John 14:6:
    “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

    You said:
    “Christians seemed to be one of the most ignorant to other religons. I was raised Catholic and disliked
    being told everyone is evil, if you don’t beg for forgiveness you are going to hell forever, and of satan
    and his kingdom (earth). Also that woman were the cause of sin.”

    You are right that some Christians are ignorant of other religions. I didn’t know much at all about
    Wicca before I read Mr. Russo’s book Everything you’ve said so far, however, confirms his accuracy.
    I confess to being ignorant of a lot of things. I don’t know anything about quantum physics, or how to
    ranch, or a whole host of things. It is impossible to know enough about everything to speak intelligently
    about everything. There are thousands of religions, and I don’t know anyone who knows them all. I’m
    sorry you were taught as a Catholic that women are the cause of sin. I don’t know how they defend
    that doctrine. Genesis 3 is pretty clear. Adam and Eve, through the instigation of the Devil, were both
    responsible for the fall of mankind. In fact, Adam is charged with the greater guilt in the fall (I Timothy

    I agree with you. I’m sick of complaints about the Harry Potter books. As you point out, it’s just
    fiction. I happen to think it’s pretty entertaining. I also find it interesting how often Harry is portrayed
    as someone who must die in order to save others, but then is brought back to life.

    As for the Tarot cards, I will point you back to my review where I quote Deut. 13:1-3.

    You might pick up Steve Russo’s book some time. He really doesn’t contradict any of your claims
    about Wicca. You may disagree with the implications of those claims, but at least you won’t be
    ignorant of the Christian critique.

    Thank you again for your comments. I appreciated the feedback.

  6. Joshua says:

    Andrea, I had no idea you were such a talented writer!! Such a nice article.
    And I think you hit the nail on the head about positive commands such as “Harm no one.” As you may know, I too was involved with Wicca (and other occultic studies)for a while. The original command in Wicca is this, “As long as thou harm no one, do what thou wilt. This is the whole of the law. So mote it be.” The problem here is that which is harmful is left for the individual to decide. Sometimes telling the difference between what is right and what we want are very different things. That’s why negative commands must come from a higher authority. What if the State of Colorado, instead of saying “Thou shalt not drive over 65 miles per hour” said, “Thou shalt be a kind and safe driver”? Well, we know what would happen.
    And finally, no matter how hard Wiccans try to seperate themselves from Satanism, the fact is it’s all under the same umbrella. When we think of Satanism, we think of human sacrifice, cannibalism, the Black Mass, wearing black hoods and red goat penticles and people going out of their way to be Jack the Ripper style evil. But this very dramatic and fantastical form of Satanism has never really existed. In fact, it was a “media” creation of the Catholic Church during Inquisition times in order to justify the inquisitions and to give Witch Hunters jobs. But there has not been one documented case of this style of Satanism on any scale worth mentioning. The modern form of Satanism has it’s roots in Aliester Crowley in the early 20th century. Aleister Crowley (an admitted Satanist) stated that the beginning of the “harm no one” command was not needed and he abridged it to simply “Do what thou wilt”. He stated that if one is “purified” and “sacred” then one can do whatever he/she wants to. There are MASSIVE amounts of Crowley directly lifted and infused into Wicca. So, Wicca at it’s heart really is a “Do whatever you want to” religion. Satanism supposedly is the Male manifestation of Nature. Wicca focuses on the “female” aspect of Nature (whatever that means) which is why teen age girls are attracted to it and teen age boys are attracted to Satanism. But even within Wicca are rituals and “summonings” designed to attract the attention of the Horned God. They are the same rituals that “Satanists” use. Therefore, Wiccans saying they are not Satanists might be technically true, but it’s like Baptists saying that they are not Methodists. While Baptists are not Methodists sure, we are allowed to put them under the catagory, namely “Protestant Christians.” Wiccans and Satanists do sleep in the same house, they are simply different “denominations” of “Paganism”.

  7. andreapowell says:


    Thank you for the nice comment and clarifications. Your comments were very enlightening. I didn’t know you were in Wicca. I suspected it, I suppose, but didn’t really know enough about it back then to apply proper terms.

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