Modern Pagan Religions
This area contains books of interest to Neo-pagans of many traditions or paths.
Green Man: The Archetype of Our Oneness with the Earth. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1990 ISBN 0-06-250077-5.
Animal Speak: The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn, 2006. ISBN 0875420281
A useful reference work for the dictionary of birds, animals, insects and reptiles, including their habits and spiritual significance. Andrews also includes some exercises for discovering, and tapping into the power of, your totem animal. (LC)
Wheel of the Year: Living the Magical Life. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1989.
_______. Ancient Ways — Reclaiming Pagan Traditions. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 199?.
Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions. Syracuse, N.Y: Syracuse University Press, 1988.
Everyday Tarot: Using the Cards to Make Better Life Decisions. Boston, MA: Weiser Books, 2002.
Fairfield offers an interesting take on the Tarot, focusing less on fortune-telling and more on using the deck for personal emotional and spiritual development. One of the most helpful features of her system is that she groups the Minor Arcana by number: Aces are all about beginnings, Twos affirm the thing begun at the Ace, Threes are planning a course of action based on the affirmation at the Two, and so on. It makes it easier to remember the significance of each card.
Her biggest departure from traditional readings is in how she handles upright vs. reversed cards. Fairfield considers the cards to have basically the same meaning either way, except that upright cards deal with external processes (how you are dealing with the world around you) and reverses are about your internal process. It makes a lot of sense but it takes some getting used to. Less helpful is her reluctance to assign good/bad values to the cards; instead, she offers both good and bad interpretations for each card, and advises the reader to choose which one is best. Depending on your question, both interpretations may fit. In this case, the cards may do a great job of highlighting the nuances of your situation, but may not help you decide what to do next. Overall, though, this is a useful book. (LC)
Ravensong: A Natural and Fabulous History of Ravens and Crows. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2005. ISBN 1585423572
If Raven is one of your totems, you will love this book. Feher-Elston blends science, history, mythology, and personal observation to give readers a fascinating look at these often misunderstood birds. (LC)
The Old Girls’ Book of Spells: The Real Meaning of Menopause, Sex, Car Keys, and Other Important Stuff. Boston, MA: Red Wheel, 2002. ISBN 1590030184
This one is just for fun. Garrison’s breezy style adds a lot to this book of practical spellwork for “women of a certain age.”
A Complete Guide to the Tarot. New York: Bantam, 1982. ISBN 0553209965
This was my go-to Tarot reference book for decades. It has everything you need: descriptions and illustrations of each card in the Rider-Waite deck, sample layouts, and chapters on the Tarot’s connections to the Kabbalah and astrology. (LC)
A World Full of Gods: An Inquiry into Polytheism. Tuscon, Ariz.: ADF Publishing, 2005.
A World Full of Gods explores arguments for and against “classical” monotheism, atheism and polytheism. His basic assumption is that people's spiritual and religious experiences reflect underlying reality and that polytheism is the best explanation for people's widely varying experiences. The second half of the book explores how polytheistic viewpoints are applied to ethics, personal practice and belief, eschatology and time, and myth. I consider this a must-read for all Pagans. (SR)
A History of Pagan Europe.London and New York: Routledge, 1995.
A well-written and fairly objective study of the history of Paganism with solid bibliography and footnoted text. Some of the information, such as how intact Paganism “survived” in Europe, is more speculative than I would like to see in a history. (SR)
The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers, Ltd., 1991 ISBN 0-631-17288-2.
Hutton’s books challenge the widely-held concept that folk traditions and practices contain Pagan survivals. He works very hard to find what solid historical evidence exists and whether or not it can be used to support the existence Pagan survivals. Generally, he concludes that there are very few folk practices can be held to be genuine survivals of earlier Pagan practices. Some of his evidence is less than totally conclusive and I have to wonder how qualified he is to interpret archaeological and literary evidence when his own training is as an historian of the 17th century. Nonetheless, we highly recommend his books, especially Pagan Religions... since all too many Pagan writers perpetuate the “ancientness” of Pagan religion without critically examining the sources. Hutton’s works are a refreshing call to critical thinking when dealing with history. (SR)
Pagan Religions... is one of my favorite books debunking some common held interpretations of the spiritual practices of the Celts. The illustrations in this book are excellent and Dr. Hutton’s research made me re-think some of my beliefs and I agree with Dr. Hutton 80% of the time. (In a few cases I find his interpretations of the information totally off base). Some people think that Hutton is unfriendly to pagans, when in fact he is a champion of many pagan causes in England. This is a must read. (DT)
_______. The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. ISBN: 0-19-820570-8 (hardback); 019-288045-4 (softback).
Stations of the Sun... is a very informative book that details the history of such British folk traditions as Morris dancing, mummer’s plays, rushcarts, well dressing, pace egging and wassailing. This is one of the most thorough chronicling of these folk traditions and their history. As with all of Hutton’s books, I agree with what he writes 80% of the time but find some of his information off base. (DT)
________. The Triumph of the Moon : A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Hutton documents the history of Wicca or “Modern Pagan Witchcraft,” as he calls it. He looks at what evidence supports claims of Wicca being an ancient religion and what contradicts those claims, and charts the development of Wicca from the mentalities and cultural milieu of the late 19th century and the 20th century. His research is extensive and thorough. Every Pagan should read this book before they are exposed to other books that make unsubstantiated historical claims about Wicca, the persistence of Pagan worship, or the “Burning Times.” (SR)
________. Witches, Druids and King Arthur. Hambledon & London, 2003.
Slavic Sorcery: Shamanic Journey of Initiation. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1998. ISBN 1567183743
I am not sure how I feel about this book. Johnson includes a fair bit of information about Slavic cosmology, but his focus is on his own experiences with a couple of modern-day Russian shamans. It feels a bit as though he is trying to cash in on the popularity of Carlos Casteneda’s work. For those interested in a Slavic tradition, I think better resources are available. (LC)
Witching Culture: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004. ISBN 0812218795
The title may be somewhat misleading; Magliocco’s focus is less on Neo-Paganism in America as a whole than it is on Wiccan culture in California, specifically the San Francisco area. She draws from her background in anthropology to show how today’s Neo-Pagans are morphing folklore from many cultures into their own religious beliefs. (LC)
Mazes and Labyrinths. London: Robert Hale, 1990 ISBN 0-7090-5508-0.
This is a great book about the labyrinth throughout history and in many cultures. I like the historical information and I LOVE the photographs of labyrinths, especially in Britain. (DT)