WITCHES OF AMERICA by Alex Mar
Witches of America is a memoir of Alex Mar's immersive five-year trip into the occult, as both a journalist and someone searching for her own faith. She explores modern Paganism--from its roots in 1950s England to its present-day American mecca in the San Francisco Bay Area; from a gathering of more than a thousand witches in the Illinois woods to the New Orleans branch of one of the world's most influential magical societies--and decides to train in a coven herself. With keen intelligence and wit, Mar illuminates the world of witchcraft while grappling in fresh and unexpected ways with the question underlying every faith: Why do we choose to believe in anything at all? Whether evangelical Christian, Pagan priestess, or atheist, each of us craves a system of meaning to give structure to our lives. Sometimes we just find it in unexpected places.
"Witches of America is a seeker's memoir told through a quilted veil: a collection of strong, journalistic profiles of several fascinating American practitioners of the occult . . . She is the perfect guide . . . Mar writes eloquently about the search for meaning, our pursuit of the sublime within the mundane and the invention of self." --Merritt Tierce, The New York Times Book Review
"Mar is an often amusing guide to the household altars and henges of 21st century paganism, in which Wiccans conduct classes via Skype and online distance learning. But what will resonate most with readers is her genuine and touching search for transcendence, which leads to a conviction that all of these strands of belief are 'strategies for staying alive. Some are simply more elaborate and inexplicable than others.'" --Elizabeth Hand, Los Angeles Times
"Alex Mar's debut Witches of America, a fascinating exploration of Wiccan, Pagan, and occult culture in contemporary America, begins as something of an ethnography, but becomes even more captivating as Mar herself is drawn into these worlds. Avoiding the easy caricatures to which witchcraft often lends itself, Mar writes about her subject and its practitioners with empathy and genuine curiosity. Like her writing, Mar aches and stretches and yearns: she wants witchcraft to work for her--the way we all, at various points in our lives, want something seemingly fantastic to be true--and in reading her book, I wanted it for her, too. Ultimately, though, Witches of America is about the search for meaning, not its findings. Fortunately, Mar's is a deeply compelling one." --Katie Heaney, Buzzfeed
Alex Mar is a writer based in New York City, her hometown. Her work has recently appeared in The Believer, the Oxford American, Elle, The New York Times Book Review, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2015. Mar is also the director of the documentary feature film American Mystic. Witches of America is her first book.