Synopses & Reviews
Imagine yourself sitting on the cool damp earth, surrounded by deep night sky and fields full of fireflies, anticipating the ritual of initiation that you are about to undergo. Suddenly you hear the sounds of far-off singing and chanting, drums booming, rattles "snaking," voices raised in harmony. The casting of the Circle is complete. You are led to the edge of the Circle, where Death, your challenge, is waiting for you. With the passwords of "perfect love" and "perfect trust" you enter Death's realm. The Guardians of the four quarters purify you, and you are finally reborn into the Circle as a newly made Witch.
Coming to the Edge of the Circle offers an ethnographic study of the initiation ritual practiced by one coven of Witches located in Ohio. As a High Priestess within the coven as well as a scholar of religion, Nikki Bado-Fralick is in a unique position to contribute to our understanding of this ceremony and the tradition to which it belongs. Bado-Fralick's analysis of this coven's initiation ceremony offers an important challenge to the commonly accepted model of "rites of passage." Rather than a single linear event, initiation is deeply embedded within a total process of becoming a Witch in practice and in community with others.
Coming to the Edge of the Circle expands our concept of initiation while giving us insight into one coven's practice of Wicca. An important addition to Ritual Studies, it also introduces readers to the contemporary nature religion variously called Wicca, Witchcraft, the Old Religion, or the Craft.
"Competent, persuasive, and succinct, this book is effective both in questioning ritual studies theoretical standard and in presenting a balanced case study of a Wiccan ritual. Highly recommended." --Choice
"In this fascinating study of membership in a Wiccan community, Bado-Fralick combines first-hand records of religious experience with analysis on insider-outsider problems in the study of religion. An excellent resource for undergraduate teaching that students will want to read and discuss."-- Amanda Porterfield, author of Healing in the History of Christianity
"Coming to the Edge of the Circle is an account of the Wiccan religion as it is practiced and lived in modern America, but the book offers much more than a simple description of faith and practice. Throughout, the author has much worthwhile to say about the dilemmas of being an academic observing and participating in religious ritual, and in the process, she raises many good questions about how religion and ritual can be taught in the contemporary academic world. A real contribution to the scholarly study of ritual." -- Philip Jenkins, author of Dream Catchers: How Mainstream America Discovered Native Spirituality
"For all the generalized talk about ritual, there are few sustained studies of actually performed rites. In Coming to the Edge of the Circle Nikki Bado-Fralick offers a lively narrative account of Wiccan initiation into the Merry Circle. Her stories become occasions for reflection on crucial topics -- bodiliness, intimacy, ritual learning, group formation, and group dissolution. Too many studies of ritual activity are either conducted awkwardly by outsiders peering in at the dancers or written desperately by insiders courting the approval of doubting critics. Bado-Fralick's interpretive dance is of another ilk. She crisscrosses the circumference of ritual and academic circles with remarkable alacrity, performing candidly and playfully." -- Ronald L. Grimes, author of Deeply into the Bone: Reinventing Rites of Passage
This book offers an ethnographic study of the initiation ritual practiced by one coven of Witches located in Ohio. The participants are members of the religious community that describes itself as Wicca, the Old Religion, or the Craft. Within this community, initiation is seen both as the
ceremony through which an individual becomes a member of the community and as a central transformative religious experience, expressed through performance and bodily praxis. In addition to contributing to our knowledge of this secretive religious movement, Nikki Bado-Fralick's analysis of the Wiccan
initiation ceremony offers an important challenge to the commonly accepted anthropological model of "rites of passage." As a High Priestess within the coven as well as a scholar of religion, Bado-Fralick is in a unique position to contribute to our understanding of this ceremony and the tradition to
which it belongs. Arguing the value of her dual role as scholar/participant, she also offers a thoughtful and perceptive self-analysis of the dilemmas this role involves.
About the Author
is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Women's Studies at Iowa State University. She is also a High Priestess within the Merry Circle coven.