Saturday, January 25, 2014

Paganism 101: A Review

This week's blog is a wee bit different than my normal weekly writing.  This week, it is a book review for my friends at Moon Books.  Moon Books is a company we should all watch.  I have a couple of their books and they are jewels in a world of re-hashed Wicca 101 literature.

The newest publication is Paganism 101: An Introduction to Paganism by 101 Pagans.  Part One, Who We Are, explores Druidry, Wicca, Shamanism, Heathen, Goddess Worshiper, Christo-Pagan, Witch, and Eclectic Pagan with five essays on each topic.  Each of these essays gives a different perspective on how the author identifies his or her practice using the preferred label.  Graeme K. Talboys sums it up perfectly in his Druid essay, saying, "Ask ten Druids what it means to be Druid and you will get eleven answers. This is because it is personal." (p. 4 Paganism 101)  Each of the eight topics in part one work well to give a newcomer to paganism a well rounded perspective on some of the most common paths found in today's world.

Part Two, What We Believe, explores Deities, Nature, Ethics, the Afterlife, Ancestors, and the Past and Present of pagansim, with five essays on each by another round of authors.  The section on ethics runs the gamut in terms of how pagans may deem their actions right or wrong, mentioning various things like relativism, the Wiccan Rede and Law of Returns.  The essays on pagan afterlife are just as intriguing and thought provoking.

Part Three, What We Do, speaks on Ritual, Magic, Prayer and Meditation, Healing, Herbalism, and Celebrant Work within the broader pagan community.  The essays on ritual hit home with me.  As one who has come to a point where ritual is, mostly, unnecessary to achieve a spiritual mind-set, the advantages and disadvantages were discussed.  Not only that, it was also mentioned, in one essay, how sometimes certain elaborate rituals become 'sterile' energetically.  While I have experienced that personally with more elaborate rituals, it should be remembered that smaller group rituals can also be susceptible to the same thing for various reasons.

Having hit (some of) the high notes in this review (as I don't want to completely spoil it for those who are seeking), I believe this compilation of essays has something to offer everyone who is seeking a pagan path, even if one doesn't know exactly what it is just yet.  It explores the most popular paths within the pagan construct, how we see Deity, the afterlife, ritual and magic, among other topics.  All of the essays are well thought-out, beautifully written in their varying styles, and a pretty easy read for one who may not know much about these topics.  This book was a joy to read (even for this more experienced witch) and I do believe that Moon Books hit it out of the park with this one!!

Brightest Blessings, Friends!

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