A guest review from writer and historian Francis Young.
Michael Howard, who has been editor for many years of The Cauldron, the oldest journal of modern British witchcraft, is better placed than most to write a history of those strands in contemporary witchcraft that do not conform to the standard Gardnerian pattern. The pages of The Cauldron have witnessed the emergence of most of the alternative claims to occult lineage that Howard’s book explores. This book is in one way a supplement to Ronald Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon (1999), which understandably concentrated on the principal Gardnerian strand within modern British witchcraft. Whilst Hutton did deal with other figures, such as Robert Cochrane and Bill Liddell’s Pickingill Papers, at the end of reading Triumph of the Moon I was left feeling that I still did not really understand the difference between a Gardnerian and a non-Gardnerian witch. This may have been because I was insufficiently knowledgeable about modern witchcraft, but it may also have been because Hutton himself was not personally familiar with traditional witches in the way that Howard is. For this reason, Children of Cain is a most welcome addition to the growing academic literature on contemporary witchcraft, not least because at the end of it, I felt that I finally had a good sense of what traditional witchcraft is, and how it differs from Gardnerian Wicca.