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Initiated: Memoir of a Witch

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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes meets Women Who Run With The Wolves in this "gorgeously written, fierce, political, personal, and deeply inspiring" (Michelle Tea) memoir about finding meaning, beauty, and power through a life in witchcraft. An initiation signals a beginning: a door opens and you step through. Traditional Wiccan initiates are usually brought into the craft through a ceTea) Smoke Gets in Your Eyes meets Women Who Run With The Wolves in this "gorgeously written, fierce, political, personal, and deeply inspiring" (Michelle Tea) memoir about finding meaning, beauty, and power through a life in witchcraft. An initiation signals a beginning: a door opens and you step through. Traditional Wiccan initiates are usually brought into the craft through a ceremony with a High Priestess. But even though Amanda Yates Garcia's mother, a practicing witch herself, initiated her into the earth-centered practice of witchcraft when she was 13 years old, Amanda's real life as a witch only began when she underwent a series of spontaneous initiations of her own. Descending into the underworlds of poverty, sex work, and misogyny, Initiated describes Amanda's journey to return to her body, harness her power, and create the magical world she longed for through witchcraft. Hailed by crows, seduced by magicians, and haunted by ancestors broken beneath the wheels of patriarchy, Amanda's quest for self-discovery and empowerment is a deep exploration of a modern witch's trials - healing ancient wounds, chafing against cultural expectations, creating intimacy - all while on a mission to re-enchant the world. Peppered with mythology, tales of the goddesses and magical women throughout history, Initiated stands squarely at the intersection of witchcraft and feminism. With generosity and heart, this book speaks to the question: is it possible to live a life of beauty and integrity in a world that feels like it's dying? Declaring oneself a witch and practicing magic has everything to do with claiming authority and power for oneself, of taking back our planet in the name of Love. Initiated is both memoir and manifesto calling the magical people of the world to take up their wands: stand up, be brave, describe the world they want, then create it like a witch.


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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes meets Women Who Run With The Wolves in this "gorgeously written, fierce, political, personal, and deeply inspiring" (Michelle Tea) memoir about finding meaning, beauty, and power through a life in witchcraft. An initiation signals a beginning: a door opens and you step through. Traditional Wiccan initiates are usually brought into the craft through a ceTea) Smoke Gets in Your Eyes meets Women Who Run With The Wolves in this "gorgeously written, fierce, political, personal, and deeply inspiring" (Michelle Tea) memoir about finding meaning, beauty, and power through a life in witchcraft. An initiation signals a beginning: a door opens and you step through. Traditional Wiccan initiates are usually brought into the craft through a ceremony with a High Priestess. But even though Amanda Yates Garcia's mother, a practicing witch herself, initiated her into the earth-centered practice of witchcraft when she was 13 years old, Amanda's real life as a witch only began when she underwent a series of spontaneous initiations of her own. Descending into the underworlds of poverty, sex work, and misogyny, Initiated describes Amanda's journey to return to her body, harness her power, and create the magical world she longed for through witchcraft. Hailed by crows, seduced by magicians, and haunted by ancestors broken beneath the wheels of patriarchy, Amanda's quest for self-discovery and empowerment is a deep exploration of a modern witch's trials - healing ancient wounds, chafing against cultural expectations, creating intimacy - all while on a mission to re-enchant the world. Peppered with mythology, tales of the goddesses and magical women throughout history, Initiated stands squarely at the intersection of witchcraft and feminism. With generosity and heart, this book speaks to the question: is it possible to live a life of beauty and integrity in a world that feels like it's dying? Declaring oneself a witch and practicing magic has everything to do with claiming authority and power for oneself, of taking back our planet in the name of Love. Initiated is both memoir and manifesto calling the magical people of the world to take up their wands: stand up, be brave, describe the world they want, then create it like a witch.

30 review for Initiated: Memoir of a Witch

  1. 4 out of 5

    Leah Dieterich

    The right book for this moment. Yates Garcia shows us how to rise up against patriarchy in our thinking and living and inspires us to re-enchant a world that feels cursed.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own. I really enjoyed this memoir. Garcia has writing chops that are strongest when she’s describing landscapes, which thankfully she does often. Her reverence for the natural world is palpable, as is her devotion to social justice, anti misogyny and anti capitalism. She’s also extremely well-read in the history of myths, witchcraft, and folklore from many parts of the world, and I really like the c I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own. I really enjoyed this memoir. Garcia has writing chops that are strongest when she’s describing landscapes, which thankfully she does often. Her reverence for the natural world is palpable, as is her devotion to social justice, anti misogyny and anti capitalism. She’s also extremely well-read in the history of myths, witchcraft, and folklore from many parts of the world, and I really like the connections she is able to draw between all of these stories- it has the effect of painting the world as a connected orb rather than a bunch of broken pieces, which is what things like borders and wars make. I am definitely not a witch, but I do find witchcraft and astrology very interesting and very queer. (And btw, there is queer stuff in here, I always like to point that out for people who are looking for it, as I always am.) It’s no wonder that queer people gravitate toward it, as it inherently values emotion, community, agency, healing the individual and the collective from trauma, and the earth. While not all of it resonates with me, Garcia makes some compelling points about how important ritual can be and how crucial holistic thinking is. But this isn’t a comprehensive guide to witchcraft, it’s a memoir, and Garcia’s story is incredibly interesting in itself. Her mother practiced witchcraft, so she was exposed to it from birth. After several traumatic events related to her family, Garcia struck out on her own, and had a long period of time when she didn’t necessarily practice witchcraft but always felt attuned to something spiritual, and saw significant signs that she sometimes misread. She writes about her experience as a sex worker, her deep and ultimately abusive relationship with a drug dealing manic pixie dream girl, living in Amsterdam and finally reconnecting with her mother. Garcia’s relationship with her mother felt extremely real to me, in that as much as they love each other, they revert to their younger selves when they’re together. I have experienced this a lot with my own mother. I liked how Garcia readily admits to feeling irrational anger at her mother for seemingly innocuous things. Garcia’s transformation into the Oracle of Los Angeles happens at the end. It’s an interesting story but this is where the woo-woo gets to me a little. I’m just not sure about people being oracles. But I’m willing to embrace this uncertainty. It’s what witches do 😉 Overall, despite a little bit of uneven pacing, I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it. Another great memoir to add to the shelf!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Harlowe

    Such a privilege to have been gifted an early copy by Grand Central– this book BLEW ME AWAY. INITIATED features a deft interweaving of Garcia’s vast esoteric and cultural knowledge with her captivating personal story of trauma, self-discovery, empowerment, and metamorphosis. I was astounded by Garcia’s spellbinding, nimble, gorgeous prose (particularly its supernatural ability to carry me away from a crowded Friday night Amtrak car with broken air conditioning). This is THE memoir for all the wi Such a privilege to have been gifted an early copy by Grand Central– this book BLEW ME AWAY. INITIATED features a deft interweaving of Garcia’s vast esoteric and cultural knowledge with her captivating personal story of trauma, self-discovery, empowerment, and metamorphosis. I was astounded by Garcia’s spellbinding, nimble, gorgeous prose (particularly its supernatural ability to carry me away from a crowded Friday night Amtrak car with broken air conditioning). This is THE memoir for all the witches and witch-curious folks whose spiritual engagement and magical practice cannot exist in an apolitical vacuum by virtue of their experiences – Garcia refreshingly unpacks the covert toxicity inherent in a certain sort of New Age detachment from the socioeconomic and political realities surrounding spiritual engagement, and instead shares her fearless journey of confronting the shadow aspects of our world head-on. Just pre-ordered another copy as I desperately need a hardback of this, and strongly encourage you to get in on the action early – INITIATED is guaranteed to empower you, hypnotize you, transform your perspective on your own darkness and the underworlds that you encounter, and will no doubt serve as a catalyst to the genuine empowerment, liberation, and personal transformation of the many readers who need Garcia’s inspirational story of rebirth.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lowry

    Amanda Yates Garcia is an intellectual giant. This book is riveting and beautifully written and also acts as a guide for readers seeking to engage in magic as a route to personal empowerment. I cannot recommend this book enough!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Zandria Senft

    I could not put this beautiful memoir down. I fell in love with Amanda's story about the magical life she leads and how she uses that magic to find herself. The detail Yates goes into describing her life, rituals and initiations makes you feel as though you are experiencing the same things with her. This book will inspire you to be brave in any way you can. This book is exactly what the world needs!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Natali

    It’s hard to explain exactly what this book is so I will just throw around some adjectives while I digest, having just finished it an hour ago. It is: unique, brave, erudite, inspiring, raw, and real. It is a feminist anthem from a daughter and a leader but that is almost a byproduct. It seems she set out to write memoir to share her experiences of learning her power through personal pain. But along the way, she learned to spiral herself up into the empowered witch she would eventually become th It’s hard to explain exactly what this book is so I will just throw around some adjectives while I digest, having just finished it an hour ago. It is: unique, brave, erudite, inspiring, raw, and real. It is a feminist anthem from a daughter and a leader but that is almost a byproduct. It seems she set out to write memoir to share her experiences of learning her power through personal pain. But along the way, she learned to spiral herself up into the empowered witch she would eventually become through lessons in survival, as well as her studies of historical figures, both real and myth. That knowledge becomes a rally cry to us all to climb our mountains alongside the heroines of the past. She is a wonderful example of how you can study the stories and use them practically in your life for energy or inspiration towards real change in your life. She does not try to convince you that witchcraft has virtue or value. She explains how it comes into her life but she does not get very practical about it. She does quite a bit of demystifying of the art and practice but also that is a byproduct and not the point of the book. I appreciated that. I learned of this book because I listen to the author’s podcast, Strange Magic. I can see why she elected to launch the book during Scorpio season but I also somehow feel like the timing was a gift just for me. I needed something to help me find some control inside of my energy this week and this met that need and then some! Life is always going to be better if you believe in your own ability to practice magic!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    A Bewitching Read! Garcia lives her life as a modern witch. She takes the reader through her journey of being Initiated onto this path. Garcia unpacks so much in these pages, Memories, Mythology, Trauma, Self-Discovery, Empowerment and more! Her writing is strong and decisive. This is one of thoes memoirs that really shows what the human spirit can endure and what it looks like to come out the otherside. A reccomended memoir, and especially if you have ever been curious about the prac A Bewitching Read! Garcia lives her life as a modern witch. She takes the reader through her journey of being Initiated onto this path. Garcia unpacks so much in these pages, Memories, Mythology, Trauma, Self-Discovery, Empowerment and more! Her writing is strong and decisive. This is one of thoes memoirs that really shows what the human spirit can endure and what it looks like to come out the otherside. A reccomended memoir, and especially if you have ever been curious about the practice of modern witchcraft. • Thank You to the publisher for #gifting me this book opinions are my own. • For more of my book content check out instagram.com/bookalong

  8. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Wappler

    Review forthcoming but for now: what a beautiful gift of a book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is one of the best books I've read this year. It satisfied my hunger for witchy folklore, stories of *becoming*, and how to have faith in oneself. Will be combing through this for book recommendations and other rabbit holes for years to come, I can tell. May write a more thoughtful review later, but didn't want to let this slip through without saying something!

  10. 4 out of 5

    SUSAN *Nevertheless,she persisted*

    Need to process this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    I nearly gave up on this because I felt the author/narrator's voice in the audiobook was very affected but I'm glad I gave it another chance because I ended up quite enjoying this witchy memoir.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Beyond the sheer amount of trauma in this book (suffering as initiation), it's written in lengthy paragraphs that meander. For example, the author will start each chapter with a quotation and then talk about part of her induction into witchcraft and the growth of her practice, but it's not linear. So she's walking us through her practice and what it means, how it developed, etc... but then she'll take a break to talk about her past. This is a little confusing, but what made it difficult for Beyond the sheer amount of trauma in this book (suffering as initiation), it's written in lengthy paragraphs that meander. For example, the author will start each chapter with a quotation and then talk about part of her induction into witchcraft and the growth of her practice, but it's not linear. So she's walking us through her practice and what it means, how it developed, etc... but then she'll take a break to talk about her past. This is a little confusing, but what made it difficult for me to read was that she'd say something like "I'd do this for the next seven years," but then go right back to I think a few weeks after the events discussed? I had a difficult time figuring out where I was in the timeline of her life and how her practice was developing during each phase. Of course she's speaking from the present day with the benefit of hindsight, but it's tied together in a way that stands somewhat outside of time and reality. At times it feels like the book is trying to be a how-to and why-to be a witch, which is at odds with the very personal narrative she's trying to shape. Overall, a book that could be one or the other but doesn't quite succeed at being both. It's gotten rave reviews elsewhere, so *shrug* Content Warnings: child molestation and rape, discussion of repeated rape and abuse of her mother by mother's father, sex work, drugs, pretty much every traumatic thing that could happen to a cis woman's body, mental illness I received a copy of this book for review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    I enjoyed parts of it very much, but when it drifted into feminism and other politics, not so much. this was a goodreads giveaway

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kate Mercier

    This is the witch memoir I’ve been waiting for all my life. That it came from a peer (we’re close in age and our lives have some overlap) makes it all the more special to me. This is not an unfamiliar story, and I realize now that Amanda Yates Garcia is not an unfamiliar person to me. From afar, she’s the famous Oracle of Los Angeles, a very popular and well regarded witch. She’s been on the TV! But in reading this book, I’m realizing that she could have been me, or one of my friends, or all of This is the witch memoir I’ve been waiting for all my life. That it came from a peer (we’re close in age and our lives have some overlap) makes it all the more special to me. This is not an unfamiliar story, and I realize now that Amanda Yates Garcia is not an unfamiliar person to me. From afar, she’s the famous Oracle of Los Angeles, a very popular and well regarded witch. She’s been on the TV! But in reading this book, I’m realizing that she could have been me, or one of my friends, or all of us. She is authentic. She is knowable. She is the truth. Initiated is a little bit memoir, a little bit grimoire. Feel free to use that on the jacket for the reprint, AYG! :) Funny and sad, frustrating and humble, dreamy and dark, goofy and intense, feminist and fierce, and touching and confronting: this is what I wanted in a memoir. I already knew I had a massive affinity for AYG because of her notable contributions to the modern witch community (especially her podcast, Strange Magic), but this book has turned me into a devoted fan for life. What only really occurred to me at the end is that the whole book is a beautiful and passionate love letter to her mother. Her mom is just as flawed and human as the rest of us, but also just as heroic and just as sacred. I won’t lie: I totally cried. It was very sweet. I highly recommend this book, even if you aren’t interested in witchcraft.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    Well, if all of this is true, no wonder she wrote a book. For about the first half, I saw it as a man-hate manifesto. But again, if these experiences are true, I get it. Certainly, this was not what I expected. Maybe that's a good thing. This is a very different insight to the witch life than anything I've read before. And, of course, that's because it's not about life as a witch. It's about life as Amanda Yates Garcia. This is her personal life experience and she just happens to have Well, if all of this is true, no wonder she wrote a book. For about the first half, I saw it as a man-hate manifesto. But again, if these experiences are true, I get it. Certainly, this was not what I expected. Maybe that's a good thing. This is a very different insight to the witch life than anything I've read before. And, of course, that's because it's not about life as a witch. It's about life as Amanda Yates Garcia. This is her personal life experience and she just happens to have an unconventional overlay of an ancient religion guiding her life choices and ideas. It's not about secrets revealed or about practicing an ancient belief system. I guess on the whole I was disappointed. I was looking for something else in the story. Not the author's fault. The expectations are on me. More power to her for distilling her life into reminiscence from which she learned, became stronger, and survived. Whatever it takes...it takes. And more blessings to her for her courage. The writing is engaging. Her voice is personal and candid and natural.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    One of the best memoirs I’ve read! The author had an unconventional childhood; her mother was a priestess following the Reclaiming tradition of Starhawk. She also had to deal with the more common parental problems of drug use, domestic violence, and divorce. She tried to leave those problems behind in her adult life; however, her choices led her deeply into her own underworld darkness. The story moves from the hippie havens of San Francisco to the Burning Man Festival in the desert. She travels One of the best memoirs I’ve read! The author had an unconventional childhood; her mother was a priestess following the Reclaiming tradition of Starhawk. She also had to deal with the more common parental problems of drug use, domestic violence, and divorce. She tried to leave those problems behind in her adult life; however, her choices led her deeply into her own underworld darkness. The story moves from the hippie havens of San Francisco to the Burning Man Festival in the desert. She travels with an eclectic dance troupe across the country, and across Europe, looking for her identity in many faces and places. Returning home, she tries to settle down into a dance academy, but her Gypsy soul always leads her to travel. She returns to her upbringing & a reconciliation with her mom & her new life. This book flows well; it doesn’t shy away from the bad times but doesn’t linger there either. I found it fascinating, both for the personal story as well as the philosophy behind the story.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    An interesting read, and an important book of a female witchy voice. Something we need right now, with the toxic patriarchy running wild. Some quibbles: I think it's too long. I think the narrative thread meanders and repeats itself, and I wish there was more research in its place. I also don't love the narrator's voice. It feels weird to say this, but the narrator, to me, is not the easiest to like at time - occasionally veering into 'holier than thou' territoy. It feels, also, like sometimes t An interesting read, and an important book of a female witchy voice. Something we need right now, with the toxic patriarchy running wild. Some quibbles: I think it's too long. I think the narrative thread meanders and repeats itself, and I wish there was more research in its place. I also don't love the narrator's voice. It feels weird to say this, but the narrator, to me, is not the easiest to like at time - occasionally veering into 'holier than thou' territoy. It feels, also, like sometimes there are things being made up - and in creative non-fiction, often things are fudged, but this feels a little too obvious.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Chassen

    I had seen Amanda’s appearance on Tucker Carlson and then on Vanderpump Rules. She seems incredibly approachable, kind and normal. So I had very high hopes for this book, but I was sadly disappointed. The formatting of the book was a mess, and it’s filled with so many rarely referenced terms and mythology that it was very hard to get through. Her television appearances have always been so great because they present witchcraft palatable and understandable. This just felt like it was solely aimed I had seen Amanda’s appearance on Tucker Carlson and then on Vanderpump Rules. She seems incredibly approachable, kind and normal. So I had very high hopes for this book, but I was sadly disappointed. The formatting of the book was a mess, and it’s filled with so many rarely referenced terms and mythology that it was very hard to get through. Her television appearances have always been so great because they present witchcraft palatable and understandable. This just felt like it was solely aimed at people who are already in the know, which is a shame.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Abby Rubin

    ARC from Publisher This book is an interesting introduction to the life of someone living as a modern witch. Yates Garcia has such a long and winding path to get where she is at the time of writing the book. If "memoir" wasn't on the cover, I would be hard-pressed to believe that one person could live through all of the experiences she had. I feel like this book just scratches the surface of her powers and her story. I would have loved to learn more about modern witchcraft and what it ARC from Publisher This book is an interesting introduction to the life of someone living as a modern witch. Yates Garcia has such a long and winding path to get where she is at the time of writing the book. If "memoir" wasn't on the cover, I would be hard-pressed to believe that one person could live through all of the experiences she had. I feel like this book just scratches the surface of her powers and her story. I would have loved to learn more about modern witchcraft and what it means to be the Oracle of Los Angeles. Perhaps a second book is in her future?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Quentin Montemayor

    This is my favorite book of the year hands down. Her voice is transcendent. I can only appreciate a woman that is willing to open some of her deepest, darkest wounds to help heal others. I’m happy that she tries to teach but is open about not having all the answers. Even the last chapter of the book with her Mom is a testament to that. We are all working on our relationships both spiritually and physically. Truly loved it and would recommend to anyone seeking something more spiritually meaningfu This is my favorite book of the year hands down. Her voice is transcendent. I can only appreciate a woman that is willing to open some of her deepest, darkest wounds to help heal others. I’m happy that she tries to teach but is open about not having all the answers. Even the last chapter of the book with her Mom is a testament to that. We are all working on our relationships both spiritually and physically. Truly loved it and would recommend to anyone seeking something more spiritually meaningful to read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    A beautiful magical memoir from one of my favorite witches. Amanda’s writing is so poetic and evocative, and she is so vulnerable about her life story. This reads like an Alice Hoffman or Francesca Lia Block novel but it’s a true story. I loved the weaving of myths and stories from the ancients as well as some beautiful ideas on how to “re-enchant the world”.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brandie

    Half memoir and half self help for witches. I thought it was pretty interesting, her life definitely has had her hellscape. If you’re looking for something to relate to in ways you didn’t think it’d be possible, I recommend this book. Thank you to Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rhiannon Johnson

    [I received a copy of this release from the publisher in exchange for an honest review] With Halloween on the horizon, witches are prevalent in decorations (like my framed Hocus Pocus song), memes, and spooky stories, but "Initiated: Memoir of a Witch" by Amanda Yates Garcia (releasing 10/22/19) is a story of "true" witchcraft--one woman's story of her lifelong practice of Wicca. [I received a copy of this release from the publisher in exchange for an honest review] With Halloween on the horizon, witches are prevalent in decorations (like my framed Hocus Pocus song), memes, and spooky stories, but "Initiated: Memoir of a Witch" by Amanda Yates Garcia (releasing 10/22/19) is a story of "true" witchcraft--one woman's story of her lifelong practice of Wicca.⁠

  24. 4 out of 5

    Aja

    Having read about 5 memoirs this year, I'm through. I'm not that interesting in people's childhoods. I thought this would be interesting for the intersection of witchcraft and memoir. I'm not sure I believe the author's entire story. However, I found there were profound treasures of wisdom hidden in this book that really spoke to me. I hope the author writes more - nonfiction.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jena

    Deeply engrossing, relatable, and inspiring. A work of inspiring vulnerability and honesty. Sharing the truth of things is how we remake the world. Blessings and thanks to Amanda Yates Garcia for this brave book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    kayley j fonts

    This book really captures the heart and soul of witchcraft and what it’s like to live a magical life. Her writing is poetic and beautiful, and I feel so inspired to make more time for the important little things in my life after reading this.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gloria

    Thank you for an advanced copy. I appreciated not only the witches experiences/life lessons as well as discussions on the traditions/difficulties of being a witch.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Tedious. Ms. Yates Garcia needs a lesson in correct use of “who” and “whom.”

  29. 5 out of 5

    Christianne Hedtke

    This book is GORGEOUS - I’ve never read anything quite like it, but Yates Garcia seamlessly blends memoir, myth, poetry, and how-to witchcraft into one magickal potion! Highly recommend!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Basile

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