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: Nov. 17, 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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| So Far, I Have Been Unimpressed By "wiccan" Literature That I Have... ||Sep 6th. at 2:34:27 am UTC|
|the ShadowDancer, JDavis (Tucson, Arizona US) ||Age: 46 - Email |
So far, I have been unimpressed by "Wiccan" literature that I have seen in bookstore sections dedicated to the upcoming Age. Most seems trying to make $$$$$$$$$$$$ of the current Neo-pagan fad. I will try some of the those suggested by you others in this Opinion section.
However, I am not Wiccan. So there are somre excellent books that I can recommend. All are dynamic, and have been important to my understanding.
"The Way of the Shaman" by M.Harner. This is the bible of neo-shamanism--a book of methodology and great power. I practice many of the methods in this books on a daily/weekly basis.
"The Spear of Destiny", by T. Ravenscroft is a truly amazing piece of historical non-fiction about WWII written from an Occult point-of-view -- a must for anyone interested in higher powers which affect the physical plane on this planet. It will blow you away and possibly change your life-- it did mine!
Though difficult (like text books), anything written by "The Tibetan" channeled through A.A.Bailey is well worth the effort. "A Treatise on White Magic" is a good one to start with if you wish to begin to understand the Occult(that which is hidden).
I picked up "True Magic- A Beginner's Guide" by Amber K. in a used bookstore. I found it full of excellent and well thought out advice for beginners. Get it!
"Magic and Mystery in Tibet" is an odd book, but facinating. It was written as a documentary by a woman, Alexandra David-Neel, who spent years in a country of sorcerers, magicians, and lamas. This was 1st published in 1929, and describes magicks that likely no longer exist, but did right into modern times-- probably until the Chinese communists under Mao Tse Tung invaded Tibet.
Most stuff written about G. Gurdjieff and the 4th Way are almost impossible to follow- even for me, and I have great patience when reading about real life magicians. "Meetings with Remarkable Men" is the generally recommended starting place, it is even a movie and on video. "In Search of the Miraculous", is very good, but very difficult. There are others.
Finally "Last Call" is the 1st book in a trilogy by Tim Powers. This fiction is so magical that it was for me hard to escape from it back into this world. I had to be reminded, by one of my Upper World teachers, that the series is fictional, not reality. For me that is amazing. I am generally firmly rooted in this existence, not prone to being mystical or to spacetrucking.
Of course there are more, but these have had the most impact on me.
| In Terms Of Educating The Public, I'm Afraid The Majority Of The... ||Sep 5th. at 11:27:55 pm UTC|
|Skyler Lark (Phoenix, Arizona US) ||Age: 38 |
In terms of educating the public, I'm afraid the majority of the books on the market will not inspire much confidence of outsiders about our views. There are a few good books out there, but how would a non-pagan know how to choose? Therein lies the difficulty. If I had to suggest a single book to give to a non-pagan to explain my beliefs, I'd be hard pressed to know what to choose. Marion Weinstein's "Positive Magic" might be a good one, but it includes some information that might be difficult for a non-believer to grasp. However, it does emphasize the positive aspects of the Craft and indicates clearly what to avoid in her "Ten Foot Pole" section. It's definitely a must-read for anyone new to the path and might be suitable for a non-pagan skeptic, as well.
Relative to books for those new to the path: As with any genre of books, there is an enormous variety in accuracy and quality of writing. As an absolute bookworm, I haunt occult bookstores online and in-person. Upon my initial interest in a pagan path several years ago, I checked out several books that had been recommened here on WitchVox, such as Margot Adler's "Drawing Down the Moon, " Starhawk's "Spiral Dance, " among others. In addition, I perused the basic "Intro to Witchiness" books out there, including Scott Cunningham, Silver Ravenwolf, and others. I found a wonderfully diverse set of approaches, although I was disappointed to see so much "fluff." However, I think the serious seeker will bypass the fluff after a few such bad buys (I've made my share) and focus on those books that offer more indepth knowledge, clarity in voice, and sound scholarship. They are out there, but aren't as easy to find. There are many ways to study the path and I feel the best way is to read, read, read and then read some more: Anthropology, Sociology, Mythology, Comparative Religions, History, etc. Pull the threads together and weave from them a solid base of scholarship from which to pursue your chosen path.
One of the most interesting books I've laid my hands on (and am currently reading) is by a noted archaeologist, Anthony Aveni, and is called "Behind the Crystal Ball: Magic, Science, and the Occult from Antiquity Through the New Age." It is a scholarly and objective. It traces the roots of magical practice, the rise of Christianity and science, and how each subsequent time period has imprinted its mark on and distinctions among religion, magick, and science (he refreshingly questions the distinctions among those, and specifically questions organized religions' tendency to relegate magick based paths as non-religions). I find it to be a fascinating reference that I will turn to again and again to check out where certain practices began and what original documents survive that refer to them.
My main complaint is that once you move out of the "newbie" Witchcraft 101 stage, the number of books available that are written by pagans for pagans becomes dismally small. I suppose at that point it is best to begin a study group with others to research and share information from other sources.
| The Books That I Have Been Fortunate Enough To Get A Hold... ||Sep 5th. at 10:26:37 pm UTC|
|Kaicielia BlueDragon (Madison, Wisconsin US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
The books that I have been fortunate enough to get a hold of are, in my opinion, very good at educating seekers and non-pagans alike. I have heard some bad stories, however. Such as the story of a friend of mine. She has always considered herself a pagan, she is part indian and has had close ties with Native American beliefs. However, as she told me at one time, when she started getting interested in the new age stuff, all the information she could find was Dianic. This was some time ago, and I don't think she had access to the internet at the time, but this fact really bothered her. When her son was born, she began looking for ideas for a ritual to perform, and all she was able to find were rituals for baby girls, as if boys just didn't matter. This disconcerted her very much, and she has since stayed away from any of the new age stuff, relying instead on her own inventiveness.
| Boy This Is A Rough One. For Those New Who Are Confused... ||Sep 5th. at 5:31:44 pm UTC|
|fey (hubbard, Ohio US) ||Age: 38 - Email |
Boy this is a rough one. For those new who are confused or need a general area to start their are many good books out there to help build a basic foundation.
Silver Ravenwolfs ( except teen witch...but that is another story..)
These are a few authors that could grant insight as well as: Starhawk, Margot Adler, Amber K. So the wealth of literature is well...but there is always gonna be crap along side it because the ones out to make a buck have to have there paws in too.
But I do not beleive books are the be all know all. I think they can give you ideas, lend creativity or spark it but ultimately the magick lies within yourself. The path may be littered with books, but you still have to take that final leg of it with in to know your true self.
And on line I would say the ratio of good sites versus bad sites is pretty equal. Because there are so many children out there with sites.
But there are very many great ones you just have to be patient.
| I Love To Read. Ever Since I Was Five Years Old, I... ||Sep 5th. at 4:44:08 pm UTC|
|Jessica (Denver, Colorado US) ||Age: 18 - Email |
I love to read. Ever since I was five years old, I would read anything that came my way. And in all that time I've read more trash then treasure. But the treasure has stuck with me. The same thing applys to pagan books. There are countless sorces of information, some good, some bad, and some down-right weird. A few lines into the book, or even a glance at the table of contents will give you a good indication of what catagory the book would fall in. I've found that the truth that good pagan books hold will come out much more stongly to a true seeker then the sensational lies the the weird books have in them. When you come across new material, give them the Rede Test (is it harmful to yourself or others?) and the ever-true Golden Rule (would you like it if someone did it to you?). A little common sense is needed when you are looking into something new. And if you are compleatly unsure about whether what you have discovered is useful to you, pray. The Lord and Lady won't let you down.
| I Think There Are Some "wiccan" Or "pagan" Books That Are Completely... ||Sep 5th. at 4:24:28 pm UTC|
|Fiana (Janesville, Wisconsin US) ||Age: 24 |
I think there are some "wiccan" or "pagan" books that are completely absurd, like one I recently saw in a bookshop titled something like "How to turn your ex into a toad and etc." . I would however definitly reccomend books by Starhawk, and Scott Cunningham, these are the ones I think people can learn the most from
| Hummmmmm, Oy Gevauld! What A Couldron Of Worms! i Really Get... ||Sep 5th. at 1:35:56 pm UTC|
|Silver MayKitten (Springfield, Missouri US) ||Age: 55 - Email |
Hummmmmm, Oy Gevauld! What a couldron of worms! I really get upset at some of the _*CRAP*_ that pretends to be responsible and useful pagan literature. But there are a lot of good books out there too. Perhaps Lluellen in trying in their mission to expose _every_ pagan viewpoint has caused us to suffer a torrent of Goddessless drivel, but they are also providing a soapbox from which the nuttiest witches can expoud their theories. Thank goddess we havn't found a witch Rush Limbaugh yet.
I guess whatever the subject, there is junk books on the subject and trustworthy as well as opportunist authors. I know I am kinda angry at computer book publishers who print three junk titles for every book that can be used as a good source of information. *(Did you attend my last yard sale?)* Giving the devil his due, Tim O'Reilly has done a marvelous job of publishing only quality computer books; now if only we could get a craft publishing house to set up sinilar quality guidelines . . .
| When I Started Down My Path Of Pagan Studies 28 Years Ago... ||Sep 5th. at 1:23:50 pm UTC|
|Sunfell (unknown) ||Age: 39 |
When I started down my path of Pagan studies 28 years ago, most of the books available were badly printed facsimilies of old occult tomes, complete with blurry type, poorly reproduced artwork, and vaporous references. Sadly, today's books are hardly better- just hashed over for today's eager teen consumers. And I guess that's my biggest gripe. Paganism and Wicca are a Teen Fad, and Adult Pagans and grizzled old vets like me are pretty much left to fend for ourselves, or special order palatable books like "Zelator" and "People of the Earth". Everything else is "Pagan 101"- meant for starry-eyed beginners or faddish teens, or worse, poorly researched and presented. Fluff like "how to turn a person into a toad" is shelved beside Crowley's stuff, which, in the hands of beginners is asking for trouble. I look at it as being Pagan Darwinism. The ones who get stuck in the fluff usually give up and drop out. If they cannot see beyond the obvious nonsense in the pages of their $19.95 magickal whoopie cushion, what does that say about their common sense and insight? Or willingness to find out the facts? Harsh? Perhaps. Now, don't think I'm down on teens because their 'fads' control the output of the 'bigger' publishers. I started down my path as a teen. But unlike today's beginners, I had to work hard to sift the nuggets of fact from the vast pile of chaff presented to me as 'truth' and "ancient lore". That process created in me a very powerful BS detector and deep trust in my own research capabilities, which have served me well. Today's teens have an even larger pile of fluff to sort through. If they win through, they can go beyond the fluff-bunny 101 stuff to the real reward of living a fulfilling Pagan life free of the mythical nonsense which plagues us.
I really cannot comment on most Pagan sites on the Web, because I tend to run screaming from those who have the bad manners to run music on startup, or have to many huge graphics or multiple animations. Lose the music, make your graphics smaller, and use the spell checker. And limit animations to ONE per page. BB MYSNC Sunfell"
| I Hear Alot Of People Complaining About Particular Publishing Houses With Respect... ||Sep 5th. at 12:15:23 pm UTC|
|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!
| If One Realizes That, As With Most Other Things, Pagan Books, Or... ||Sep 5th. at 10:19:47 am UTC|
|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 Have Read Many Pagan Books And Websites And I Believe That... ||Sep 5th. at 5:55:41 am UTC|
|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.
| I Have A Very Nice Collection Of Pagan Books, But It Is... ||Sep 4th. at 11:41:54 pm UTC|
|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.
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