The Body Sacred: Wiccan Words of Wisdom to Guide You in Reclaiming the Goddess Within

My favorite books are written by authors who add something new to the conversation.

When it comes to the topic of helping women come to terms with their negative body image issues, Dianne Sylvan, author of the recently released "The Body Sacred," is a startlingly refreshing addition to this age-old dilemma and discussion.

A practicing Wiccan since she was sixteen years old and now an ordained minister and founder of the Blessedways Wiccan Temple, Sylvan bears her soul on multiple levels to get to the heart of this potentially life-consuming issue.

By "emphasizing feminine deity as a path back to our own sacred femininity," she does this with an uncanny ability to "call it as she sees it" without crossing the line into being crass or over-dramatic.

As a self-described "woman of size in a world of stupid...if you go by the ideals set forth in advertising and on television, [she] should be a suicidal virgin with no friends that sits around in her muumuu eating donuts and watching Jerry Springer." While that isn't her reality, she does admit to still having some days when she looks in the mirror and wanting to "crawl back in bed until they invent a cure for RDU (Really Damned Ugly) syndrome." However, she comes to the table now to share her food-for-thoughts about how the religion of Wicca and the art of Witchcraft can help lead woman back to the full-figured meaning of "Thou art Goddess" within each and every luscious size and shape of feminine being.

While Sylvan devotes an entire chapter to discussing society's role in our "fall from grace," she doesn't simply point an accusing finger at big business, the media, men, and religion and then hike up her plus-sized dress and head for the protective cover of a plate of brownies. Sylvan actually sticks around and provides us with strategies to build a bridge between "ourselves and self-acceptance as woman and as Wiccans."

Sylvan also goes into detail about how "Wiccan theology and philosophy offer a magical and beautiful alternative to the warfare we've trained for." By helping us "return to the altar" with various exercises, meditations, and rituals, we are introduced to the six main female archetypes that affect "a different aspect of [our] relationship with the body sacred" and that embody "both the negative and positive expressions of these parts of our life."

Pamper yourself, find a comfy chair, and sit down to read about The Reflection, The Mother, The Healer, The Lover, The Dancer, and The Crone. Meet the "Goddesses and humans that embody each archetype." Best of all though, revel in "the skeletons" that Sylvan has dragged out of her closet and "dress[ed] up for the parade."

While Sylvan states that "this is not a Wicca 101 book," it is an easy and enjoyable read for those who "have either already decided to make this [their] path, or at least know enough about it to read without scratching [their] head every other paragraph." However, I would classify myself as only being vaguely familiar with the ways of Wicca and I found this to be an enlightening "Goddess-embracing" book regardless of my lack of knowledge about what I can only describe as a highly misunderstood approach to life.

The big-bottomed line about Dianne Sylvan's life-affirming "The Body Sacred" book that provides roly-poly belly laughs from bluntly stated realities is don't have to be a Wiccan to appreciate the messages found within its pages. Woman who read it are left with yet one more way to fight their way out of the jungle that prevents them from being able to look in the mirror and to see the sexy babe and Goddess that's winking back at them, curves, lumps, bumps, scars, flaws, and all.

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Donna McLaughlin Schwender is the "soul proprietor" of One-Eared Dog, Ink. As a freelance writer living in upstate New York, she can be reached at