The Witching Year
A Memoir of Earnest Fumbling Through Modern Witchcraft
by Diana Helmuth
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Pub Date 03 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 13 Oct 2023
Simon Element, S&S/Simon Element
Diana Helmuth, thirty-three, is skeptical of organized religion. She is also skeptical of disorganized religion. But, more than anything, she is tired of God being dead. So, she decides to try on the fastest growing, self-directed faith in America: Witchcraft.
The result is 366 days of observation, trial, error, wit, and back spasms. Witches today are often presented as confident and finished, proud and powerful. Diana is eager to join them. She wants to follow all the rules, memorize all the incantations, and read all the liturgy. But there’s one glaring problem: no Witch can agree on what the right rules, liturgy, and incantations are.
As with life, Diana will have to define the craft for herself, looking past the fashionable and figuring out how to define the real. Along the way, she travels to Salem and Edinburgh (two very Crafty hubs) and attends a week-long (clothing optional) Witch camp in Northern California. Whether she’s trying to perform a full moon ritual on a cardboard box, summon an ancient demon with scotch tape and a kitchen trivet, or just trying to become a calmer, happier person, her biggest question remains: Will any of this really work?
The Witching Year follows in the footsteps of celebrated memoirs by journalists like A.J. Jacobs, Mary Roach, and Caitlin Doughty, who knit humor and reportage together in search of something worth believing.
"Before I started reading this book, I had a limited and warped view of wicca, sort of like Diana’s mom who asked when she was going to start sacrificing animals. But thanks to The Witching Year, I got an entertaining crash course in this tradition. Diana is a wonderful guide, and her journey is thoughtful, funny, simultaneously open-minded and filled with doubt, and dare I say it, magical. I rooted her on as she learned her first hex, summoned the elements, and sprinkled spices around her house." —AJ Jacobs, bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically
"Helmuth's The Witching Year is a deeply human recounting of one woman's mission to craft and discover what often feels undiscoverable. It is so rare to see a heart bared in this way as Diana shares her deeply intimate walk on her quest to claiming her space at the Witching table. Witty, raw and relatable, it feels like being invited along to a close friend's personal, spiritual journey; the tears, the laughs and the realizations that may just surprise you." —Rebecca Beyer, author of Wild Witchcraft
"I made it to p. 8 before my pen was out, taking notes in the margins. Helmuth’s book is a witty crash course in witchcraft cloaked in the guise of a compelling memoir about one woman's quest for spiritual fulfillment. This is a valuable read for the blushing witch-curious among you." —Frances Denny, author of Major Arcana
"In The Witching Year, everywoman Diana Helmuth is looking to answer life’s biggest questions. Her spell is a year-long quest filled with self-doubt and unforgettable humor. This is the rare book that's both a transcendent spiritual journey and a laugh-out-loud read." -Joanna Robinson, writer and podcaster at The Ringer and author the forthcoming MCU: The Rise of Marvel Studios
"Stirring up a perfect brew of history, honesty and humor, Diana Helmuth's The Witching Year is a magical read for those searching for true north." -Kristin Russo, host of Buffering the Vampire Slayer