Magickware\’s Pagan Book Reviews

July 18, 2005

Celebrating The Pagan Soul

Filed under: Book Reviews — magickware @ 4:24 pm

Celebrating the Pagan SoulCelebrating The Pagan Soul: Our Own Stories of Inspiration and Community
Compiled by Laura Wildman, Citadel Press, 2005

I absolutely loved this book. In fact, it was one of the few recent Pagan books that I had a hard time putting down. This book made me laugh it also made me cry. Some chapters had me shaking my head in agreement. Others actually gave me goose bumps.

Celebrating the Pagan Soul is a collection of stories much in the style of the “Chicken Soup” series of books. Divided into five sections corresponding to the elements of Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Spirit the various writers take you on a journey through the ups and downs of a Pagan life.

I often recognized aspects of my own Path in the words of this book. The insights of such big name Pagans as Margot Adler, Judy Harrow, Starhawk and Wren Walker are collected in these pages.

I would recommend this book for any Pagan library. It transcends the differences of our many traditions, bringing us closer in our diversity. I would especially encourage the newcomer to our ways to pick up this book. Between the covers the reader will find an intimate history of what is currently the fastest growing religions in the world.

This book contains no spells or rituals but the memories and experiences of the writers are something that I feel every reader will learn from.

This book has been written by many people – making it more a collection of short stories than a novel. But that only adds to its charm. The book lends itself perfectly to a busy lifestyle. Read a chapter at a time as time permits. Or like I did, read it all the way through because it is so good you won’t be able to put it down.

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Exploring the Pagan Path: Wisdom from the Elders

Filed under: Book Reviews — magickware @ 4:23 pm

Wisdom From the EldersExploring the Pagan Path: Wisdom from the Elders (Exploring Series)
By Kristin Madden et al, New Page Books (Career Press)

Kristin Madden herds Pagans. Or something like that. In this delightful new book of essays from many well-known and respected Pagan Elders, Ms. Madden collects the accumulated wisdom and experience from many different Paths and Traditions.

The book brings together the accumulated experience of such authors as StarHawk, Dorothy Morrison and Grey Cat. Each one is an expert in his or her own field. The book is divided into three sections, Explore, Learn and Live. The reader learns what Paganism is, how to make a personal connection with Divinity and the basics of Magic. With that foundation the reader moves on to magical living, ritual design and tool creation. In the final section covens groups, activism and becoming public with your Path are discussed in depth. The book concludes with several appendices, all of which are very useful in either obtaining more information or expanding your knowledge of things Pagan.

I enjoyed most of the essays. There are a few that stuck out in my mind as not being quite up to par with the others in the book, but they were in the minority and didn’t subtract from the book’s focus or purpose enough to warrant removal. There was one essay I did find to be just shy of Christian bashing, which I found personally distressing.

This book reminds me of the workshops one might encounter at a big Pagan Gather. Lots of different voices collected together to teach and explain the many aspects of what being a Pagan can be. This book is a welcome addition to the Pagan library. It is more useful for those new to the Path, but the more experienced practitioner will enjoy reading the essays from authors they have not yet explored. If you ever wished you could have a mentor to guide you while learning, this book is the next best thing.

Exploring The Northern Tradition

Filed under: Book Reviews — magickware @ 4:17 pm

Exploring The Northern Tradition: A Guide To The Gods, Lore, Rites And Celebrations From The Norse, German And Anglo-saxon Traditions
By Galina Krasskova, New Page Books, (Career Press);(Reviewed by Windweaver)

Exploring the Northern Tradition provides a truly comprehensive foundation for anyone curious about the practice of Heathenry. This direct descendant of pre-Christian folkways and worship practices of far-Northern Europe is possibly the least-understood religion frequently lumped together with neo-pagan paths.

Who are the Gods and Goddesses Heathens worship? How do they worship Them? What values do Heathens hold dear? The author, a member of the Heathen clergy, has written of her religion in depth; researching and organizing her work thoroughly. It’s not an easy book to read, but then neither is it unnecessarily complicated. The author succeeds in conveying the importance of a respectful attitude toward the Gods.

Through reading Exploring…, I learned Heathenry is set apart from other “Pagan” religions, by being based on, -and practiced as closely as possible to- that of the ancient Vikings and others, as revealed through the study of written lore. This lore, comprised of centuries-old Eddas, (poems), Sagas, Anglo-Saxon Healing Texts, law codes and histories, as well as current anthropological, archeological, and historical analyses, forms the basis of Heathenry, and intense study is required of the would-be convert. This is no easy religion to adopt.

At times I found the many foreign names and words overwhelming, and I’m glad I don’t have to learn how to pronounce them. I appreciate opportunities to learn about groups different from myself, both to discover common ground, like the Nine Noble Virtues (Chapter 6), and an emphasis on scholarship, and what etiquette faux pas to avoid (including Heathenry as a Pagan religion, for instance.)

To satisfy curiosity, or to embark on lifelong study, this would be a great book to begin with.

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