Do you think that Edain McCoy falls in the same category as Silver and DJ Conway?

I definitely think Edain McCoy belongs in the same category as Conway and Ravenwolf. (Actually, I think Ravenwolf deserves her own subcategory, because I find her ethics absolutely abhorent on top of her already bad information.)

McCoy will publish whatever she thinks will sell, regardless of whether there's a shred of truth behind it. The book of hers that I have actually read is Celtic Myth and Magick. You can check it out on Amazon and read the reviews. The low rating ones sum up my feelings nicely. The problem? It's not about the Celts. It's Wicca with a thin veneer of Celt thrown on top of it. It might have been a decent book if she made it about Wicca, but she didn't. Instead, she spun it into pseudo-historical drivel.

Even the title grates on my nerves. There are reasons people add the "k" to "magic". There's no reason why it needs to be used if we're actually discussing an ancient culture. But "magick" is cooler than "magic," so there it is.

But the true crowning "achievement" of McCoy is Witta: An Irish Pagan Tradition, which is one of the biggest jokes in the neopagan community. It supposedly describes the 3000 year old Irish branch of Wicca, which honored the Ancient Irish Potato Goddess. Let's forget the whole Wicca-is-a-20th-century-religion argument for a moment. Apparently the Irish had a goddess for something they wouldn't encounter for another 2500 years. The potato is a New World crop.

What is possibly even worse is that when she was called on it, McCoy confessed/claimed she had based the entire book on the stories of a single Witta follower she thought she could trust. Let's pretend for a moment I was born yesterday and actually believe that: so you want me to take your research seriously when it's based on no evidence and the word of a single person? That wouldn't even fly for a college paper, much less a published book. Joanna Hautin-Mayer has lambasted the book in painful detail here, which is a read I highly recommend.


  1. Anonymous // January 30, 2009 at 12:26 AM  

    I'm reading the Hautin-Mayer essay right now, and a question occurred to me. In the introduction, she talks about the importance of critical thinking when constructing Neopagan views of history, and I was wondering how Wiccans (to the extent that one can generalize) account for new historical or archaeological information as it affects belief systems. Like, suppose you believe X based on historical fact Y, but then Y changes due to new info. That might be too vague a question to be answered, or too obvious to be bothered with, but forgive me -- I'm an interested outsider to Wicca, curious about how you do things.

  2. Catherine Noble Beyer // January 30, 2009 at 9:38 PM  

    I'll respond to this in another blog post, as my answer has gotten too lengthy ;)