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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 19,187,460  

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Question of the Week: 5 - 9/4/2000

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. Reverse Sort 

It Is A Good Thing That This Question Has Been Asked Because... Sep 7th. at 4:54:12 pm EDT

"A" (Mahopac, New York US) Age: 23 - Email

It is a good thing that this question has been asked because I myself have pondered about the whole "marketing" of our beliefs, Some say we should hide away from the rest of the worlds religions while others are out there making it known we are here to stay grown and share with others who do not see the way of the other religo-sects.

To go out onto the net and see a vibrant array of information is grand, it gives us something a community of millions of people, to connect with.

While having the ability to goto a store and purchase a book does help out to certain extents. Learning from those in person also can help those seeking spritual guidance. It gives one information that they have to digest and try out for themselves. What it doesnt do is keep interest due to many conflicting influences.

When a person sits and absorbs the information given on paper (net/paperback) and then goes to teach or share they're learnings with another how do they know it is right?

Practice makes perfect and knowing your limits and trusting your instincts for each and every working is key. Moderation & concentration is key in all things majick. With this in mind you will succeed in any thing you choose to accomplish.

Some websites have much information but also a lot of them miss the whole point of mother earth. It is a world where corporations own the natural resources and the human mass accepts this. While this happens you have those who doubt what they are given and they eventually find themselves looking into pagan beliefs, Sometimes these same people are lead astray to thinking that being a pagan is something "evil" or "cool" so they can fit into a acceptable cliche within certain age groups.

Education of the "non-pagan" public should be left up to them. Let those who seek information be able to decide for themselves. Ive watched the "jews for jesus"the "watchtower" people, and all sorts of other fanatical groups parade around down in NYC and in the subways of times square, and they become a symbol of what not to be. Which is pushing the acceptance, looking for money upon a multicultural-internationally known city, preying upon those who can not find spirit within themselves.
It is amazing that the Tribes gather every year and share the lost words of the past and also share the words of the present to bring forth the future. It is my hope and wishes that parents and individuals who are pagan (new or not)can overcome the hurdles that "modern" society has constantly marked us with, That we as a people can look past all of it and one day come together, creating a place out underneath the moon where we can all share in the wonders of all the Gods.

Use Your Common Sence! Books On Paganism, Witchcraft Or Wicca Should Be... Sep 7th. at 5:30:49 pm EDT

Hunter (Peterborough, Ontario CA) Age: 23

Use your common sence!

Books on Paganism, Witchcraft or Wicca should be approached the same as any other topic, with some common sence. I was raised with horses, and bringing home books on the topic from my school`s library was often quite funny, some of the things said were way out in left field and then some things were right on. This example applies to everything, the Occult studies being no different. I do believe that popularity shows acceptences and as more publishers begin to print books on this topic the more common people will regard our beliefs. For me my search for spiritual idenity was ended when I picked up Laurie Cabott`s ``A Witch in Every Woman`` (and I`d like to thank her here for writting such a wonderful book) Without having found such a book I think I might still have been searching. As far as evaluating their role in properly reflecting Pagan beliefs well its like the eariler examples some people write books and post web pages, and they actually try to give something back to a system that has given them so much, these are the good ones, but as we all know everyone is in business these days so for some if it looks like an easy way to make a buck or get themselves known, then no matter if they know anything or not they sure will try to atleast make it sound like they do. But no matter from which angle these books and sites are wrote the truth always finds its way into the open and for those who really have no idea in the long run they only hurt themselves.

When I First Found The Path, My Biggest Disappointment Was All The... Sep 7th. at 7:38:24 pm EDT

Lilly (Champaign, Illinois US) Age: 26 - Email

When I first found the path, my biggest disappointment was all the books I was reading seemed to repeat the same things. Few gave real guidance. Those that did offer guidance were boring to read. I did gain enough knowledge to wobble through. But my best help was finding a strong community and Pagan friends who would offer advice and experience. I would like to see more "counslers". Persons willing to come out of the shadows and create a community for new initiates and experienced practioners. I have recently left a strong community in San Antonio and have found no community in my new location. It has been difficult getting persons to even meet socially for fear of persecution. Fear is a powerful thing. It takes strength to overcome it.

This Is An Interesting Topic, Especially For Me Since I Have A... Sep 7th. at 10:09:39 pm EDT

Wytchling (Taipei, Taiwan) Age: 21 - Email

This is an interesting topic, especially for me since I have a Pagan website! I think there are many reputable sites and books which reflect who we are and what we believe well.

But I think a lot of books and websites are aimed at "the converted", so to speak. I find that people who aren't interested in Paganism largely don't bother reading stuff written by us, for us.

I definitely think the myths around Paganism should be got rid of, it will make the world a bit more harmonious! With all the books and websites that are out now, the media could write reviews or publish excerpts from books written by our authors. I think positive media exposure would be helpful to letting people know that we are not fairytale cliches who should be burned alive.

I Have Found Many Good Pagan/wiccan Websites In The Past Few... Sep 8th. at 9:45:38 am EDT

Dragonah (Peoria, Illinois US) Age: 20 - Email

I have found many good pagan/wiccan websites in the past few months. Here's a few that I recommend:

AREN (Alternative Religions Educational Network):
CAW (Church of All Worlds):
CMA (Council of the Magickal Arts):
Mama Silver's Circle (Silver RavenWolf):

Something I Have Personally Given A Great Deal Of Thought To Is... Sep 8th. at 2:41:37 pm EDT

Soli (South Hadley, Massachusetts US) Age: 26 - Email

Something I have personally given a great deal of thought to is this subject, seeing as how I just recently completed working at a large bookstore, where I was in charge of the 'New Age' section. I am very glad of it because I have since found -many- wonderful Pagan (and religious) books that I have enjoyed. I have also had some books come in that I know for a fact were either not worth the stock they were printed on or fraudulent. (and I had great joy in sending them back)

Personally, I wish people would branch out from just looking in the New Age/Metaphysical section for their guides. Anthropology, Religion, Mythology and History sections can also produce some real gems (ie, our bookstore kept titles like Golden Bough and When God Was A Woman in these areas). What else I would like to see are people starting up 'Pagan Reading Groups', to go beyond alot of the 101 material on there and see where some of those authors got their background.

And some of my personal favorite books/authors:

Yasmine Galenorn
Trish Telesco (whose Advanced Wicca I am really wanting to get a hold of)
Freya Aswynn (for Runes and Asatru material)
The Wicca Handbook (yes it's new, it's also a huge reference)
People of the Earth
The World Is As You Dream It (slender book dealing with the Shuar tribe of South America, and just beautiful to read)

(I would also love to hear from people who have read a great deal of Pagan books)

I Do A Lot Of Reading, Both Books And Websites, And My... Sep 8th. at 3:16:51 pm EDT

Andrea Crowley (Cranston, Rhode Island US) Age: 30 - Email

I do a lot of reading, both books and websites, and my perspective has changed dramatically over the years. A lot of the websites I find are just thinly veiled (or not veiled at at) copies of some of the popular pagan books out there. I can't tell you how many times I've seen sites that are basically one of Silver Ravenwolf's books, with a few words changed here or there. Ugh! But then you find a really creative, original website, and it makes up for all the crappy ones. I really like Isaac Bonewits' page-, plus of course the Witches Voice!

As for books, Starhawk is a classic, especially The Spiral Dance. I like most of Scott Cunningham's books. Isaac Bonewits' Real Magic is a terrific read. I think basically the important thing for someone new to paganism is to read a LOT of books, not just read one book and take that as the TRUTH. You need to find your own truth. I've done tons of reading, solitary work, group work, etc, and I'm still figuring out what I believe, what I think. So what I recommend to anyone new to this is to get lots of perspectives, and if you read a book you like, read the books that that author recommends for further reading.

Sturgeon's Law States That 90% Of Anything Is Crap, And This Holds... Sep 8th. at 3:43:52 pm EDT

Matt (Bloomfield, New Jersey US) Age: 21 - Email

Sturgeon's Law states that 90% of anything is crap, and this holds true for books on paganism as it does for every other form of art, literature, and human experience. The remaining 10%... Well, that's another story. :-)

The two most valuable resources I've found for exploring paganism are 1)books and 2)websites. Granted, many of them are fluff, and redundant fluff to boot, but repetition is an effective pedagogical tool. Read a description of the Sabbats 45 or 70 times, and it's likely that at the end of that you will have absorbed a bit of information, especially if you're motivated enough to seek it out on your own.

Fortunately or unfortunately, however, these resources seem to be most valuable to beginners; at a certain point one is presented with the choice either to stop practicing due to lack of information, or to begin to develop what has been learned. At that point it's probably good to have some fellow pagans around to bounce ideas off of, and believe me, there are other pagans around you. They just all think that they're the only ones, too. We recently founded a pagan student organization on my college campus, and people came crawling outof the woodwork in droves to join up. :-)

My favorite authors/recommendations:

Dreaming The Dark - Starhawk
Drawing Down The Moon - Margot Adler
Green Witchcraft - Aoumiel (Ann Moura)
Green Witchcraft II - Aoumiel (Ann Moura)
Green Egg Magazine - Church Of All Worlds
Anything by Scott Cunningham

I've also found Llewellyn Press to be an excellent resource; anything that you can get from them is usually of at least some value.

If It Weren't For The Internet, I Probably Would Have Given Up... Sep 8th. at 4:07:20 pm EDT

Artemis Moonshadow (Kfar Saba, Israel, Israel) Age: 15

If it weren't for the Internet, I probably would have given up my search for Witchcraft. I started my path as a little joke, you know looking for "magical powers" *ducking tomatoes* I know I know, I grew out of that fase.

As a little Newbie, I at first took everything very literaly, I then learnt that you don't really need a whole library of books on Paganism and Witchcraft.

You need Books on mythology, religion and theoligy.

Most of the books and websites I've read and surfed on are just repeating each other. So I took what I thought was good for me and disregarded what I thought was unrealistic and just, well useless.

I'm really happy I read the books I have be them good or bad, you can learn from every book.
But don't forget to follow your gut when on this sort of path.

I once heard that for a song to work, you must work from your gut and heart, same with your studies on the path, but use some common sense as well.

Yeah, There Is Drivel As Well As "the Good Stuff" Out There... Sep 8th. at 6:02:31 pm EDT

Jana Marsella (Duluth, Minnesota US) Age: 29

Yeah, there is drivel as well as "the good stuff" out there. This goes for any religion. I have a Catholic friend who absolutely *abhors* Fundie Bibles. She called them "evil, " heh heh. What you find all depends on the kind of human you are--I myself have always loved researched, both sacred and secular--which is how I entered the Craft in the first place. I researched the religion I grew up with, Christianity, and found that it didn't speak to my basic perspective of the world. In that way, I suspect, I am like many of you out there who *awakened* to their own Pagan hearts. I then began researching more and more on Paganism and found more and more that it fits with who I have always been. So, if you're a "research bookworm" type like me, then you will utilize Spirit to guide you to the books which speak to you. If you're just being silly and frivilous, then you will find the "how to change people into toads" type books.

Having said that, here is a partial list of books I recommend:

Animal Speak by Ted Andrews
The Healing Energies of Trees by Patrice Bouchardon
Witchcraft from the Inside by Ray Buckland
Wiccan Warrior by Kerr Cuhulain
The Truth About Witchcraft Today by Scott Cunningham
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham
The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer
A Witch Alone by Marian Green
The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology
Hereditary Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi
Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi
The Wiccan Mysteries by Raven Grimassi
Herbal Defense by Robyn Landis
The Witches' Almanac
and the surprise...
Diet For a New America by John Robbins

Certainly not everyone will enjoy these books as much as I have, and I don't mean to imply that everything *every* book has to say I 100 per cent agree with, but they all have wonderfully useful information in them.

I Think They're Doing A *great* Job Of Helping To Educate The... Sep 8th. at 10:50:26 pm EDT

Tarrah (Fort Worth, Texas US) Age: 14 - Email

I think they're doing a *GREAT* job of helping to educate the pagan, as well as the non-pagan community about beliefs, customs, how-to's, and the like. I praise the web sites, and many of the books, for they're the reason I found my religion when I did. If it hadn't been for that New Age section, with the help of AOL's Pagan Community web pages, I wouldn't have found what is now the most important part of my life. I also think that if the non-pagans wishing for some clarification actually looked for, and found the right books or web sites, that it would make a world of difference. If we can reach just one person and teach them what we really are, then we know, that we can get the word spread to everyone. The day that I can walk upto someone and say, "I'm Pagan and Proud!" without having them run from me or scream, is the day that I pray for; and with the help of pagan books and web sites, that day, to me, seems to be very near.

I Think These Books And Websites Reflect Only The Author's Personal Beliefs... Sep 9th. at 12:16:11 am EDT

Delstar (Houston, Texas US) Age: 19 - Email

I think these books and websites reflect only the author's personal beliefs. They might give a general idea of how others are, but the details only apply to the author. I believe that they should only give the overall basics, and leave everything else up to what is in the reader's heart. But that's just me....

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