The original idea was inspired by an old Questos Theatre chum Michael Green who’d written The Art of Coarse Acting and the series of other ‘coarse’ activities. Subsequently the first book in the Coarse Witchcraft series – Craft Working – was published in 2002 by ignotus press with the following introduction:
Coarse Witchcraft is a squint-eyed look at what passes for Craft in many modern groups and just how much of the teaching has been dumbed-down so that everyone can acquire rank and have a ‘crack at the priesthood’.
This blind grope for titles, rank and public acclaim have replaced the enlightened quest for genuine wisdom and ability, while the old Witch-magic is practised by fewer and fewer of those who would call themselves Witches. There are also those who insist on being recognised as instant Adepts in a system that takes years of study and preparation – but book-learning is not enough as many have found to their cost when confronted by real Old Crafters.
Coarse Witchcraft: Craft Working is a no-holds-barred view of what is going on today in many Craft circles. Hopefully, those who read this book will laugh with us, and realise that it is possible to mix mirth and magic, while still retaining respect for oneself and the Old Ways.
Fans of the Coarse Witchcraft series are aware of the story behind the trilogy. How the authors were unhappy with the proposed ideas for publishing the first book as humour instead of the polemic typescript they had originally proposed. They finally agreed for the text to be given to Melusine Draco (as a fellow Old Crafter) to ghost-write and Coarse Witchcraft: Craft Working was duly published – provoking more good natured laughter about British witchcraft than we could have expected in our wildest dreams. Even provoking esoteric author and long-time chum, Alan Richardson, to day of the book: ‘Coarse Witchcraft made me laugh out loud in more than a few places. In fact, I think it is the first book of its kind; although it pokes fun at modern excesses and can laugh at itself, it still manages to teach the real stuff at a very high level.’
Coarse Witchcraft is like Marmite – you either love it or hate it! Those who hate it usually object to the initiatory, hierarchical, god-oriented and perceived elitism of the Tradition whilst failing to understand that the participants themselves can mock the very essence of the beliefs and practices they follow – but in a spirit of fun. After all, if the antics of traditional witchcraft were half as dour as the historians and academics would have us believe, do you really think the Tradition would have survived as long as it has! Old Craft has always had a certain graveyard or gallows humour about it that makes light of subject matter that is generally considered taboo, particularly subjects that are normally considered serious or unpleasant to discuss.
There was almost enough material left from the first book to launch a second: Coarse Witchcraft 2: Carry On Crafting that was supplemented by additional stories from other Old Crafters - and
was dedicated to all those who did believe that reverence should be tempered with mirth and
merriment. For reasons that will become apparent, the third (and last) title, Coarse Witchcraft 3: Cold Comfort Coven was a long time in the writing. Written in the same vein as the previous
titles, it continued the unexpected, but true, story of the Coven from the numerous notes supplied by, and lengthy conversations with, the original members.
Despite the popularity of the books, the original authors decided to hand all copyright back to the ghost-writer who had created the series (with the proviso that the true identities of the characters should never be revealed), and retire from the scene. In light of the fact that they’d been subjected to a concentrated ‘witch-hunt’ by members of the pagan community who wanted to track them down – for reasons best known to themselves – we can only support their decision to go back into the shadows.
Whatever any of us feel about Coarse Witchcraft, in its own way the Trilogy (republished in 2013 by Moon Books) represents a small but important capsule of Craft history that ignotus press was lucky enough to preserve for the next generation of witches. The books encapsulate three decades in the life of a genuine traditional British Old Craft coven through the 1980s … 1990s … 2000s … and it may be that the time of the covens is passed.
But I doubt it!
The Coarse Witchcraft Trilogy by Rupert and Gabrielle Percy (Introduction by Melusine Draco) is published by Moon Books. ISBN 978 1 78279 285 7 : 256 pages : UK£10.99/US$18.95. Available in paperback and e-book format. www.moon-books.net