The opinions posted on the Pagan Perspective pages are those of individuals and are not neccessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Pagan books/web sites-dynamic or drivel?
Books written by, for and about Pagans and Pagan beliefs fill the shelves of bookstores and Pagan web sites abound on the Internet. But do they really do a good job of reflecting Pagan beliefs, training new seekers or educating the non-Pagan public? What are YOUR recommendations?
| Reponses: There are 46 responses posted to this question.
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| Yet Another Addition To My Last Comment: There Is Actually Some Great... ||Sep 4th. at 10:38:24 am EDT|
|Michael (Dublin, European Union) ||Age: 22 |
Yet another addition to my last comment:
There is actually some great reading material out there, (I don't want to disrespect any genuine authors), but if you ask me this is the manner to proceed. (by study I mean read up on)
1) study the concept of religion (from an independent non-religour factual source. ie: BBC, national geographic or suchlike)
2) Study the history of the pagan religion and culture (if possible get it from an independent source, one that focuses on the history as opposed to the religous implications).
2) Read as much possible background information from independent academic sources, this will give you a neutral and unbaised view into the pagan religions. This will also provide you with some ability to sift between the factual and useful information and the publications with no value whatsoever.
This is all common sence, it essentially means that you are not walking into anything with your eyes closed. Any mentor worth their salt (and there are some very good mentors/teachers out there) will already have urged you to "read, read and read" before entering into paganism, and in my opinion the objective material is the best place to start, then you can move on to the more spiritual material.
Well I've babbeled too much, at any rate best of luck and enjoy your reading!!
| Lately, When I've Gone Book Shopping, So I Can Further My Studies... ||Sep 4th. at 11:17:22 am EDT|
|Sharon (Marquette, Michigan US) ||Age: 18 |
Lately, when I've gone book shopping, so I can further my studies, I've found more drivel than dynamic on the shelves. It has really started to make me mad. I am a firm believer in "do not manipulate" and "do not cast love spells", but it seems every other book is one on "Catching that special someone" or "Love spells for young pagans". I had a difficult time finding a book that would be beneficial to me last time I went to a bookstore. In a section that was five feet long, and about three shelves deep, I spent 45 minuteslooking for the right book, and not because I found so much good material to choose from.
Online, I have found a lot of helpful and what I believe to be true information, then again, I've gone to sites that have been recommended by other pagans, so that is no great surprise.
| I Have Been Reading Many Pagan Books Over The Years, And Have... ||Sep 4th. at 12:23:23 pm EDT|
|Blackthorne (Walnut Creek, California US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
I have been reading many pagan books over the years, and have stocked them in bookstores as a employee of a book chain. I have seen the amount of crappy books that only regurgitate what others have written abound since the mid 80's. I blame the publishers in the end. If you are to compare the genre to horror, when the horror sales increased, the publishers were hiring ANYONE who would submit, and alot of it was awful. Same for Pagan/Occult books . The Publishers (And when I say this I mean Llewellyn) Probably don't even look at the content. If a first time author turns in something, and it is not up to standards and it's printed anyway....why blame the author. Instead..send your cards and letters to the publisher telling them that until them publish something of merit..you are going to stop buying the product. We expect the product to have more esoteric consideration..but the publishers only see the dollar amount.
There are a few publishers out there who have tried to have integrity. Many of the Big Publishers have as well published paperback drivel..because they can, and it sells. I would not be surprised by this, These things go in waves. On the up-side..It keeps the good Pagan Books on the shelves.
Bookstores keep books on the shelves that sell, they don't care what is in it.
I noticed also that more pagan magazines started getting carried in bookstores when the market value increased. It's something to think about isn't it? It's all about money in the end.
| It's Sad But True That Most Of The Books You Find Out... ||Sep 4th. at 3:20:45 pm EDT|
|Jaiyla (Punta Gorda, Florida US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
It's sad but true that most of the books you find out there aren't what we'd like them to be. Especially the little "spellbooks" you find on the shelves at many of the large chains of bookstores, like "How to turn your ex-boyfriend into a toad". These books are not only useless, but they misrepresent the beliefs of the Pagan communiy as a whole. It's annoying that I have to wade through all that just to find the occasional good book, but I can't deny that i have bargain hunter in my blood, and though the search may be long and arduous, it makes finding the titles and authors I want that much more rewarding. I -am- the eternal optimist. Better than most of these new guides are the old books that make up th bibliographies of so many of them. I find I prefer searching through the shlves of used books stores to see if I can, just by chance, find something by Dion Fortune, or a copy of Robert Graves' "The White Goddess", or my most recent prize, the volume I abridged edition of "The Golden Bough".
| I Have A Habit Of Buying 99% Of My Pagan Reading Material... ||Sep 4th. at 8:07:00 pm EDT|
|Harvestmoon (New Orleans, Louisiana US) ||Age: 45 |
I have a habit of buying 99% of my Pagan reading material and gifts from a locally owned Metaphysical book store. Recently I went to Barnes & Noble to get a gift certificate for my Aunt, and thought I'd peruse the Wiccan/Pagan section. As usual, I found Anton LeVay's books right alongside Wiccan, etc. books and promptly moved them to the Christian section where they belong, as Satanism is an offshoot of Christianity. Before moving them I came across a teen witch spell kit, that made me want to puke. I love the fact that the majority of books on Wicca/Witchcraft say that no one should "charge" a fee to teach a student, however the books themselves that say this cost a pretty penny. I know because I've been stocking a personal library since 1992, and have probably close to 125 books on Paganism. (The reason for this library, is I'm no spring chicken, as a child I was interested in Witchcraft, practiced my own intuitive form, finding books to learn from was nearly impossible). Funny thing is that for the most part I always resort to an old standby of about 8 as references.
Blast me if you want for my following opinions. Anyone who pumps out a book a year, (as in many books) check their earlier works. Their earlier works, (notably the first) is probably the best they have to offer. An author that you know has been around a long time, such as Starhawk or Z. Budapest, that's only put out 3-5 over the course of 20 years are probably well worth owning them all. We have lost quite a few of our Elders in the last 2 years, purchase their works while you can. Doreen Valiente's ABC of Witchcraft is excellent. Patricia Crowther is still with us, but her book "Lid off the Cauldron" is hard to find. Get it if you see it, it's excellent. A new book that is an excellent reference book on our "modern history" is Ronald Hutton's "Triumph of the Moon". This is a scholastic work and important for anyone concerned with accuracy, as I think we all should be.
I've seen alot of crap on the Internet concerning Wicca/Witchcraft/Paganism by those who claim to be Wiccans/Witches/Pagans. As with books, don't believe everthing you read or see. Glean what you can of value, be circumspect.
End of rant, for the time being. Blessed be...Stephanie/Harvestmoon
| More Information Is Better Than No Information. Eventually, The Global Community Will... ||Sep 4th. at 8:34:10 pm EDT|
|Sephira (Eileen Biggerstaff) (Fremont, California US) ||Age: 40 - Email |
More information is better than no information. Eventually, the global community will, as Mary Summer Rain stated in one of her books "a point of saturation" and will move on to educating themselves on another subject.
I get asked my advice a lot on these subjects and much of my own crusade is in "presentation" of witches as ordinary people with an extrodinary perception of the world.
I stopped shoving my religion in peoples faces, that includes wearing ritual clothing as my everyday wear. I found that even my star was hindering my own progress because I was challenging people to ask me and my beliefs are my own business, period.
I don't disguise who I am or what I believe. Likewise I don't push it on others. If I do that, I am no better than a Christian Fundamentalist, or door knocking Mormon or Jehovah's Witness...and that thought is abhorrant to me.
Besides, as with all else in this world, not everything is meant for everyone. The appropriate voice will find its intended target, whether to dissuade or encourage.
| I Think That Pagan Books/websites Do, In Fact, Do A Great... ||Sep 4th. at 8:59:31 pm EDT|
|Weaver (Norfolk, Virginia US) ||Age: 27 - Email |
I think that Pagan books/websites do, in fact, do a great job in training new seekers. This is how I came to know my heart's home as a Witch. I also believe that a great deal of good is done in representing Pagan beliefs.
AS for the education of non-Pagans, well, if they go about seeking on their own, they are sure to find what they are looking for. In that I mean that if they go looking for the hokey fictional dribble that they have been fed all along, that is what they will find. If they go looking for real answers, those answers are there for the finding. Will all non-Pagans come away with the "real deal" on Paganism? Not if they only read one book, or only look at one website.
The problem with many monotheistically raised people is that they look for the fast easy answer. They do this because they are taught that what the preacher says is God's word and to question it is to question God. They are taught to believe what they are told, and so they do. It's hard for these people to seek out the truth when they are trained that the only truth that they need is what they are given. This truth, as we have seen, comes from others like them who have simply accepted what they were told by others who either did the same, or hushed truths that were there, because those truths were contrary to their own beliefs.
| I Think The Books And Sites Are Very Helpful. I Used The... ||Sep 4th. at 10:49:55 pm EDT|
|Mike Johnson (Canton, Ohio US) ||Age: 17 - Email |
I think the books and sites are very helpful. I used The Witche's Voice to locate a store close to me I never knew existed, and get a lot of very useful books. An Encyclopedia to magical and religious symbols, and "A Witches Bible"... very useful and informative, IMO.
| I Have A Very Nice Collection Of Pagan Books, But It Is... ||Sep 4th. at 11:41:54 pm EDT|
|Kerri galloway (Windsor, Ontario CA) ||Age: 18 - Email |
I have a very nice collection of pagan books, but it is quite small. I find that alot of the books out there are absolute rubbash.
The Witchcraft/Occult/New Age sections of the large franchise bookstores seem to be stocked up to the ceiling with crap. And it's quite sad. My own personal collection consists mostly of Cunningham, Dunwich, and Stepanich. Stockboys at bookstores seem to be quite misinformed about what belongs in the Witchcraft section and what does not. I have seen, unfortunately, in many bookstores copies of the infamous "Malleus Malficarum" aka The Witch Hunter's Handbook.
Now, I'm all for history, but this book should have never been published in the first place not to mention now when pagans are trying their best to be accepted by the general populous. Believe me, I'll be writing a not so nice letter to the obviously demented publishers of this heinus book. I have also seen other books which have no right being on any bookshelf.
One such book had in it an entire section on curses and hexes, as if this is not bad enough some of these so called curses and hexes involved hiding dog dropping in someone's house and urinating on their porch.
These sort of book do not belong on bookstore shelves. It's absolutely dispicable what people will publish, buy and read. My advice is to get in touch with someone who has been practicing for a while and ask what their picks are for book. Experience is a wonderful tool.
| I Have Read Many Pagan Books And Websites And I Believe That... ||Sep 5th. at 5:55:41 am EDT|
|Erica (Layton, Utah US) ||Age: 21 - Email |
I have read many pagan books and websites and I believe that they do help new pagans learn the way. Depending on who and what they are writing that is. Just like with anything else you have to be careful of what you read. Some of it is drivel but a lot of it is helpful.
| If One Realizes That, As With Most Other Things, Pagan Books, Or... ||Sep 5th. at 10:19:47 am EDT|
|diana rhode (amherst, Virginia US) ||Age: 68 - Email |
if one realizes that, as with most other things, pagan books, or books on any subject, are 90% garbage, and the rest really helpful. as one grows and learns, one is much more able to distinguish the difference. to begin with it is helpful to be guided by someone who is conversant with your chosen subject. one really must learn to develope and trust one's intuition regarding choices of any kind.
| I Hear Alot Of People Complaining About Particular Publishing Houses With Respect... ||Sep 5th. at 12:15:23 pm EDT|
|Autumn (New York, New York US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
I hear alot of people complaining about particular publishing houses with respect to that they publish garbage books. Now, I'm not saying I completely disagree. With the increased attention paganism is getting by seekers and/or those who wish to just get information, yep, there is some trash out there on the market. But then again, spirituality is highly personal and subjective and thus opinions and theories will differ greatly as well. Sure we all know that one cannot (at least most people I know) make a brand new car materialize out of thin air. But wouldn't that be cool? I digress.
My personal recommendation to anyone who asks me is: Read anything and everything that "speaks" to you from the title. IF it does turn out to be mostly trash, then fine.........we can learn from trash as well as from the best-written most intelligent pagan or Wiccan book on the market. Actually what I tend to tell seekers is that once they've read one or two beginner's books, put down the "Craft" type books for awhile and read Psychology, Anthropology, Mythology, Folk stories, books on other religions(after all many neo-pagan groups do borrow concepts from other places), books on general herbology (if being an herbal expert is something you think will assist you in your spirituality). Because the fact is that alot of books on the craft become redundant after awhile. And yes, there is some misinformation.
I did begin by reading Llewellyn books. And if I had not read those or found them IN Barnes and Noble, I may not have realized that others believed as I did or that I was in fact a pagan inside already. I may never have thought to seek out my local metaphysical bookstore. The first 4 books I read were: To Ride a Silver Broomstick (please hold your puke sounds to a dull roar because though I've learned much since then being in a traditional coven, this book gave me alot to think about, the basic wheel of the year, some ideas for helping me with meditation and a sense that what I was getting into wasn't EVIL....which is a difficult thing to overcome coming from certain backgrounds), To Stir a Magick Cauldron and Spiral Dance. Since then I've read as much as I can get my hands on and whatever interests me at the moment. Maybe my needs have matured. Maybe that was a good place to begin for ME.
Reading as much as you can is never a bad thing in and of itself. It's when you get your opinions only from books instead of using books as a source for personal exploration of your own personal views that reading anything can be bad. Question everything!
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