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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: 20,987,464  

Vox Q Stats

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Reponses: 46

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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 

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....

Hooray For Sturgeon's Law! Although I Suspect That With Pagan Literature The... Sep 9th. at 3:48:57 am EDT

Mark From Hutchinson (Hutchinson, Kansas US) Age: 44 - Email

Hooray for Sturgeon's Law!

Although I suspect that with pagan literature the figure might be closer to 80% crap and 20% "Class". In the eleven years that I have been "practicing" I have seen much of both. I have really enjoyed traveling to pagan events and meeting many of the authors face to face. They are real people indeed. I think the more information the we as a group can place before the public, the more accepted we will become.

I would heartily recommend:

Trish Telesco, Amber K, Maya Heath, Phyllis Curott,
Silver (It's a system Not a religion) Ravenwolf
Gerald Gardner, Vivianne Crowley, Doreen Valiente,
Janet and Stewart Farrar, and Scott Cunningham.
I would also recommend Fire in the Belly by Sam Keen

Well, There Are Wonderful Books/sites And There Are Some Not So... Sep 10th. at 2:03:30 pm EDT

Rhiannon (Seattle, Washington US) Age: 33

Well, there are wonderful books/sites and there are some not so wonderful. But in the long run, I am very glad they exist. Without them it would have been very difficult for me when I was discovering this path. One just has to browse carefully and choose the things that speak to you. I have some books I agreed wholeheartedly with, and some not. But this is how I found what I wanted to do and what I didn't. Some are from only that author's perspective, but those to can be helpful, to see how another person handles things. It doesn't mean you have to do everything you read.

The only books that worry me, are these quickly written little spell books, that offer no insight as to WHAT or WHY you would be casting spells for, or what the craft is. So anyone can just come along and pick up this book for "fun". But in the end, what goes around comes around, yes?

I will mention the book that started it all for me "Ariadne's Thread". I thought it was beautifully written, and it made me feel. Since then I have bought so many more I can't even begin to tell you! I am eclectic, so these avaible books are a goddessend to me. It also allows more avenues to ponder, if you are not ready to speak to a "live" witch about it. And you may not want to go down that particular witches' path. Inthe end, for me, I love this self exploration and study. Then I feel more capable of disscussing with others, perhaps we have read a common book.

And let's not forget online, the Witchvox of course is priceless!

There Are Many Excellent Resources Out There, And Not Just In The... Sep 10th. at 3:01:27 pm EDT

Gwen (brentwood, Tennessee US) Age: 28

There are many excellent resources out there, and not just in the New Age section, as many have pointed out. There's also a lot of garbage, but consider for a moment that what may be worthless to one person may be valuable to another, depending upon individual needs. A spiritual quest usually involves knowledge coming from unlikely sources. I would simply encourage everyone to exercise their minds in their searchs.

The pursuit of spirituality cannot be reduced to simplistic statements, platitudes, and sound bytes. The Religious Right has attempted that, and anyone who brouses the "Christian" section in book megastores will find some truly terrifying material as a result. Butin that same section, you can also find some beautiful and inspirational material alongside it, as you will in almost all religion sections.
If a book resonates in your heart and your mind, then it probably contains something you need. If it repulses you, it can also teach you - about what you don't want to be. If you don't like Silver Ravenwolf's book (for example, and To Stir a Magic Cauldron is a favorite of mine), then be very certain why YOU feel that way - ditto if you love something. But don't let someone else make that decision for you.

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