Posted in [witchy reviews]

[Witchy Review] “The Holy Wild” by Danielle Dulsky

Full Title: The Holy Wild: A Heathen Bible for The Untamed Woman
Author: Danielle Dulsky
Published: September 2018 by New World Library
Genres: Nonfiction, Wicca, Gaia-based Religions, Comparative Religion, Spirituality
Edition Details: 304 pages, trade paperback
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

First Glance

To be candid, I bought this book based on the cover. My mate and I have matching hoodies with that wolf-woman image on it, and I couldn’t resist taking a closer look at a book with the same art on the cover. Since it was in the New Age section, I took a chance and grabbed it without looking up reviews or skimming the contents.

Positive Bits

Right off the bat, let me applaud Dulsky for how easily equality slipped into the story. Even though the title would imply this book is focused on cisgender folks, she immediately makes it clear (less than a dozen pages in) that she chose to emphasize the pronoun She/Her while seeing that divinity as “irrefutably pan-gender”. Again and again, she makes it clear that all feminine-leaning folk are welcome, regardless of physical form, to include mentioning their ability to use a Prayer for the Energetic Womb without having a physical womb (as it is about the energies of creation). This isn’t a common practice in books, which are either actively cisgender in their focus or passively so.

The writing portions throughout the book encourage you to write your own mythology, and to recognize the God-Goddess-Mystery within yourself in each story. As a writer myself, I find guided journaling to be an important tool for spiritual growth. The appendix at the end includes further questions and meditations to ponder, all of which fit in nicely with the path she outlines throughout the book.

I think there’s a lot of beauty in the poetic-prose Dulsky used to tell her tale. She built the book to be used out of order, and it shows in the way she allowed each elemental section to stand alone in its own story.

Less Enjoyable Bits

As someone who has never been a Christian, I have a hard time connecting to biblical stories. Unfortunately, the main myth that’s retold in each section is based on a feminine figure from the Bible. Salome, Mary Magdalene, Lilith – they all have interesting pasts and are retold with a beautiful shift to the focus of each story, but I’m not familiar enough with the Christian mythos to really connect with them on the level Dulsky likely hoped I would.

Another issue came in the form of an unexplained reference to “the Red Road”. After getting about 50 pages in, I finally looked onto for what she might be talking about. I assumed it was Christian, but it actually comes from a loose interpretation of various Native American beliefs. Considering how often it came up, I’m surprised to say she never explained it from start to end.

I don’t think this book is made to be read in one sitting. I read it all at once, and the poetic-prose became a little foggy after too much flowery imagery. If you read it in pieces over a few days, though, I think that’d be mellowed out to something more enjoyable.

Tidbits Worth Repeating

I am sucking the poison of patriarchy and privilege out of the soil and spitting it moonward, for these are the dire days of the fallen kings and raising queens. – page 44

There are few things in this world that cause more anguish than realizing that you are not who you thought you were, and, quite often, such a realization comes on the heels of a great wounding. The sword of the Dark Goddess hits us in the belly, the seat of our sense of self, and forces us to release the parts of our outward identities, the masks we show the world, that have become restrictive to our souls, the truest parts of ourselves. – page 130

The skeleton of any spell is formed from intention and energy raising, with its specific shape, the flesh laid over the bones, sculpted from the infusion of energy into the intention. – page 193

Is it worth the coin?

Yes(ish) – if you’re looking for a guide on exploring your ties to divinity and your personal mythos, I think this is a great starting point. If you’re looking to explore goddess worship, I’d find a simpler and more focused resource.

Author:

bookdragon, poet, witch

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