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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Pagan books

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Every religion is both a product of its times and, to the degree its vision takes hold of practitioners, transforms those times.  Ours is no exception. I think Pagans interested in our larger significance within American society as a whole will want to take a look at my new book, Faultlines: the Sixties, the Culture War, and the Return of the Divine Feminine, published last month by Quest. 

It was as a guest at a NROOGD Midsummer Sabbat many years ago that I had my first and most powerful encounter with the Wiccan Goddess. After that encounter my life existed in a context I had not even imagined possible. It would be years before I began to grasp how different.

At first the Pagan world differed only in the most obvious ways.  We dealt with different deities, and more of them and had different sacred days.  Often we had more fun and were rarely on time. But the longer I lived within our world the more I realized it opened me to insights far deeper than these relatively minor ones.

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  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Thank you Jamie. I think you will like the larger context, ultimately spiritual. in which I put the very accurate points you are
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. diZerega, I'm a fan of your writing, and your book made it onto my gift list shortly after I became aware of it. Spot on. Ev

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

How about a list of books for absolute beginners?

After I posted my very long list of recommended Wicca books, a couple of people asked if I would post a list just for beginners. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order.

The Spiral Dance by Starhawk

The Spiral Dance was written around 1979, when there were almost no beginner Wiccan or Pagan books on the market. Many, many people were introduced to the Craft through this book. It’s well-structured and full of great information and extremely useful exercises, meditations, and rituals. I have some quibbles with Starhawk’s view of the Goddess in history, and this book is a bit female-centric, but it is gorgeously written and can help women and men alike build a strong foundational practice. Get the most updated version if you can.

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham

Some people have made the argument that solitary Wicca exists because of this book. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but Cunningham was certainly one of the first to take all of the core ideas and practices of Wicca and make them useful, accessible, and practical for solitary Wiccans. This book and the follow-up, Living Wicca: A Further Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, are clear, easy to follow, and deceptively simple. There’s a lot more meat in these titles than what’s obvious at first glance. A beginner could practice Wicca for quite a while using these two books alone.

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  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    Nice, diverse selection! (But I believe it's "Bonewits.")
  • Thea Sabin
    Thea Sabin says #
    Doh! Fixed. Thanks!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Goddess Travel Books

I frequently find myself inspired by the books I read, and sometimes, a good memoir can even encourage my wanderlust.  I wanted to share three titles with you today that have me itching to get up and go experience the goddesses of these places:

Savage Breast by Tim Ward

With a wonderful narrative voice, Ward blends myth and history with his own personal quest, pursuing the vestiges of goddess culture from the Minoans to the Anatolian plains. Each chapter focuses on a certain goddess and her culture, and Ward's work is richly informed by archaeology and Jungian principals. Ward is brutally honest in his writing, including pieces of his own fragile soul in the telling. What emerges is an excellent work, part research and part memoir, examining the widespread yet vastly different goddess of ancient times. Through his fiance and other women in his life, Ward also learns to see the ancient archetypes play out in the modern world.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I’m new to Wicca/I have been studying Wicca for a few years. What books do you recommend?

I am asked this question a lot! These are books I have liked myself and/or recommended to students. If you're a beginner--or even if you're not--don't feel like I'm telling you to read all of them. This is a starting point for further exploration. Pick what interests you, and leave the rest. 

Per the suggestions in the comments, I will put together a top ten for absolute beginners. The books below are for everyone, not just newcomers.

There might be editions other than those listed here, and some of these might be out of print, but if you use your Google fu, you should be able to find used copies somewhere.

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  • 1
    1 says #
    If I might make further suggestions? Much of modern paganry, in my experience, comes to us from Celtic and British sources. The
  • Thea Sabin
    Thea Sabin says #
    Excellent choices!
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I echo Piparskeggr's recommendation: "Positive Magic" was the first how-to book on Magick I ever read, and one of the most down-to

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

As we roll around to a new year, I find myself reminiscing, thinking over the many many novels, anthologies, poetry collections, and graphic novels which I have read over the course of 2012. Most have faded, reduced to scattered scenes or memorable lines. Others remain more coherent, plot lines complete. A few notable books remain completely intact in my memory, characters permanently etched into my consciousness. 

Life is too short to waste on bad books. As such, here are my literary discoveries of 2012. Some are brand new books, just published; others are new to me; still others qualify as rediscoveries, books read many years ago and mislaid or forgotten.

The Jackal's Head by Elizabeth Peters definitely falls into that last category. As a teenager, I was at the library every week where I checked out one after another of Peters' mystery novels. While I was especially a fan of her turn of the century Amelia Peabody books, I also enjoyed her stand alone books. As a trained archaeologist, most of Peters' books deal in some way with lost treasure, lost artifacts, lost tombs, lost sacred texts -- you get the idea. It was a thrill to be carried along with her characters as they brought the villains to justice and brought lost history to light. Rereading The Jackal's Head (hint: Nefertiti) is the reminder I needed that old favorites are worth revisiting. 

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  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Kyrja and Michael -- Thank you for the recommendations.
  • Michael Zimmerle
    Michael Zimmerle says #
    I would like to recommend a series of books for you to have a look at. They are the Caitlin Ross books by Katherine Lampe. Caitl
  • Kyrja
    Kyrja says #
    Hi Rebecca ~ I must, of course, invite you to read "Rupert's Tales," a growing series written for Pagan children. They are, I sh

Some girls had a lust for Led Zeppelin, but I got my thrills by visiting metaphysical book stores.

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This month we’ll take a look at pagan elements in children’s fiction, beginning with the popular classic The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. Part of what makes this book a treasure is the magical aspects that exist right alongside the contemporary world. Cooper uses pagan symbols, like the number seven, magical names, and a one-horned man to weave her tale. Let’s look closer at the origins of these ideas.

 The Dark is Rising is the third part of a fantasy series published in 1973, and was made into a motion picture in 2007 (The Seeker). Will Stanton is the seventh son of a seventh son, who comes into his magical abilities on his eleventh birthday. He learns he is the last of the Old Ones, and quests to reclaim six items that will ultimately help him fight the Dark. Overall it is a charming story that takes place in winter and through the Solstice holiday. 

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Samhain is in the air, and with it a new year to celebrate life and read! For this installment of Well at World's End we'll take a look at the Pagan themes in Diana L. Paxson's novel, The White Raven, and specifically the depiction of ceremony filling the pages. It is the perfect book to begin the new cycle, as the story begins and ends on Samhain. To read along, you can visit: www.diana-paxson.com (If you're a Diana L. Paxson fan, you'll be happy to know I'm working with her on an in-depth interview, which is forthcoming in Witches & Pagans Magazine. So stay tuned!)  

The White Raven retells the story of the lovers, Tristan and Iseult, depicted in the book by their Celtic names, Drustan and Esseilte, who are later betrayed by the king. It is told through the eyes of Branwen, the White Raven, who is raised alongside Esseilte by the Queen of Eriu. Paxson's story is steeped in history and Celtic lore. Here we see the junction of the Old Ways and Christianity. Steeped with Pagan themes, it is the depiction of ceremony that makes this a treat. Let's look further. 

Beginning in chapter three, the Queen of Eriu takes Esseilte and Branwen to visit a sacred well. It is a site that has been important to the people long before Christianity, and as far back as anyone can remember. The well is surrounded by hazelwoods, and birdsong fills the sound. The queen explains to the girls, "Folk come here from all about this country to walk the pattern at the Feast of Brigid that begins in spring." Surrounding the well are fourteen flagstones, which the girls are instructed to kneel before and pray. The queen further explains to whom they pray, "She is the water and the well, the pattern and the prayer." They are told to drink the waters and make an offering, then they will understand.

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