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Magic has stepped out of the movies, morphed from the pages of fairy tales, and taken root in the modern mind. Soccer moms are getting voodoo head washings in their backyards, young U.S. soldiers send chants toward pagan gods of war, and a seemingly normal family has determined that they are in fact elves. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are turning toward the supernatural in new ways, blending the ancient and the modern for a hypercharged spirituality. They are reaching back in time to powers that have sustained the human imagination for thousands of years.

For many people, magic is taking hold in less obvious ways. Almost unconsciously they find themselves noting mysterious synchronicties that point to a plan for their lives, whether heeding premonitions, marking good omens, or scrutinizing dreams. Most of them never utter a word to anyone.

But others are bolder. The community of Wiccans, witches, vampires and pagans is growing faster than any other religious group in America. Voodoo, hoodoo, and Santeria are attracting middle-class believers across the country.

In Not in Kansas Anymore, former religion reporter Christine Wicker investigates what’s real and what isn’t in America’s faith in magic. She comes across as a tolerant outsider, and does a great job of profiling people and researching the roots of magical belief. However, she seems to be taking the middle ground often. She has her own belief system which she can’t break away from, although it is challenged while researching this book. She spends a lot of time telling readers how she believes neo-pagans and voodoo practitioners should be viewed, and not enough time on what these people believe in. As a result, the book only touches lightly on several different paths, rather than giving us detailed explanations.

The end result is an interesting trip through different magical belief systems. Wicker’s writing style is entertaining, while managing to stay respectful and open-minded. She covers voodoo, hoodoo, Wicca, vampires, dragon believers, chaos magicians, the aforementioned elf family, goth pagans, and more. Overall, I enjoyed it. It’s good reading for someone already experienced in magic or the metaphysical, but for anyone who is curious and wants to learn more about any of these subjects, this isn’t nearly detailed or informative enough.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars – worth a read

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