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Silver Ravenwolf (born Jenine E. Trayer) is a Neopagan writer who draws highly divided reactions. A prolific author of many books for teenagers considering Neopaganism (To Ride a Silver Broomstick, Teen Witch, etc.), she is the starting point for many Neopagans. Many Neopagans who come to the religion on their own thus feel a strong attachment to her, to the point where she is often referred to as "Mama Ravenwolf."
However, many older Neopagans consider her work to be historically revisionist or overly simplistic, and it often involves either erasing the differences between Neopaganism and other religions (and even more often between different branches of Neopaganism), or else just mindlessly castigating Christianity. The idea that she's driven by money, rather than any sincere religious ideals, has earned her the derisive nickname "$ilver Ravingwolf."
While many mature Neopagans find her earliest books "fluffy," it is her later work that really twists them in knots. Teen Witch in particular has been noted for making sweeping claims about what all "magickal" people believe. Leaving out that many Neopagans would cringe at being called a "magical person", there is no single orthodoxy for all Neopagans.[note 1] In particular, she just claims that any practice she doesn't like (black magic, blood magic, etc.) is not practiced by real Neopagans.
She also makes up her own interpretations of long established symbols (including the most ubiquitous Neopagan symbol, the pentacle), and refers to people who worship a monotheistic god as "grovelers."
Issues for those outside of the Pagan milieu
Her books also encourage Neopagan parents to preach to other people's kids, despite the fact that Neopagans in general hate proselytizing. She also encourages young Neopagans to lie and deceive their parents.[note 2] Her books also push an unrealistic form of the religion. She says invoking the proper spells or using the proper herbs/candles/metals will make all of your problems go away.[note 3]
She is also guilty of the (sadly common) negationism in which the "Witch Burnings" of the Middle Ages were an attempt to squash the last of the paleopagans, killing up to nine million people. Of course, they were no such thing (and nowhere near that many people were killed).
Most conspicuously bad, from any kind of rationalist point of view, is her insistence that Neopagans are in fact just practicing science. In her best-known work, To Ride a Silver Broomstick, she wrote "It is my personal opinion that most people are attracted to the Craft not by its religious content, but by its scientific and technological allure." So spirituality and/or religion don't enter into it? It's like saying you're drawn to Christianity because you like communion wine! *burp*
Another of her books, MindLight, uses the most laughable version of quantum woo to say that you, too, can use quantum physics to get whatever you want. She also tends to use the energy crux of most woo-masters, but doesn't even try to come up with any kind of explanation for what that "energy" means.
Ravenwolf also refers to people in her books that don't believe in magick or reincarnation as "once-borns." Apparently "once-borns" are easy to trick and deceive because they are ignorant and don't have the supposed knowledge of "magickal people."
- In fact, it is this lack of orthodoxy within the Neopagan movement that brings many people to it.
- For kids in deeply fundamentalist families, this may be a good idea, but should not be promoted as the general rule she claims.
- She has written many books like Silver's Spells for Abundance which claim that you will become rich just by casting her spells.
- Ravenwolf (1993), p. 13
- Ravenwolf (1993), p. 43
- Ravenwolf (1993), p. 19
- Which isn't to say witch killings weren't—and aren't—horrible things; it's just that we shouldn't exaggerate their size or scope.
- Ravenwolf (1993), p. 27
- Ravenwolf (1993), p. 158
- Ravenwolf, Silver (1993). To Ride a Silver Broomstick: New Generation Witchcraft, St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, ISBN 087542791X