I must admit I didn’t initially want to read A DEED WITHOUT A NAME by Lee Morgan. Truth is, I’m a bit of an occultist snob. If a book isn’t “worthy” enough to be published in hard cover then I’m not interested. However, a member of my study group – whose academic chops I respect – insisted I make the effort to read it. He even gave me a free copy. I’m glad I listened and followed their advice.
I LOVED this book! At only 168 pages it took me as long to read as some of the more academically challenging works on my Traditional Witchcraft reading list. The reason it took so long was because I felt compelled to read slowly for maximum comprehension. It was that good.
If you are looking for a grimoire on Modern Traditional Witchcraft then you may be disappointed in this important work (although there are some very worthwhile exercises at the back), because it is not so much a grimoire as a collection of essays explaining in detail exactly what is Traditional Witchcraft. In this regard it reminds me of Heart of the Initiate by Victor and Cora Anderson.
In the first chapter (A Deed Without a Name), which serves as the introduction, Lee Morgan states his intention to bridge the gap between scholarship and practice: a feat Morgan accomplishes decisively. Each chapter is referenced to a bibliography that reads like a who’s who of witchcraft scholars: Carlo Ginzburg, Eva Pocs, and Emma Wilby, just to name a few.
On the practice side there is a real sense of “the other” with this book that I’ve only felt once before with Emma Wilby’s CUNNING FOLK & FAMILIAR SPIRITS. I found myself restricting my reading to late at night using a book light in bed, along with a hardbound journal (Canterbury Journal by Peter Pauper Press) purchased just for taking notes. To be honest, the book has an eerie presence, almost as if it is inhabited by the material rather than being a simple inanimate object created to disseminate information.
As for the writing it is enjoyable. The chapters are short, on average about four pages long, which is the right length to convey the serious subject matter without being burdensome.
At this point I want to caution readers about the exercises at the end of the book, which are in my opinion advanced work. Traditional Witchcraft by its very nature is dangerous. The core practice concerns spirits and the Otherworld. Familiar Spirits in particular are not pets, but intelligent entities witches engage in relationships with that are often times intimate in nature. Lee Morgan warns reckless practice can leave the witch a dried out husk. I agree.
Warning aside, I think A DEED WITHOUT A NAME should be required reading for anybody interested in Modern Traditional Witchcraft. Actually, I recommend it be the first book a student reads as it will give them the necessary information to make an informed decision if further study into the subject is wanted.
Patrick Kyteler is a Firefly initiate and Traditional Witch.
He lives with his husband and cat in the Maryland suburbs of the DC area.