Paganism 101 - An Introduction to Paganism by 101 Pagans
Paganism 101 is an introduction to Paganism written by 101 Pagans. Grouped into three main sections, Who we are, What we believe and What we do, twenty topics fundamental to the understanding of the main Pagan traditions are each introduced by essay and then elaborated upon by other followers and practitioners, giving the reader a greater flavour of the variety and diversity that Paganism offers.
With introductory essays from leading writers such as Emma Restall Orr, Mark Townsend, Brendan Myers, Jane Meredith, Alaric Albertsson and Rachel Patterson and with supporting vignettes from those at the heart of the Pagan community, Paganism 101 offers a truly unique insight.
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Paganism 101 is a very well organised book. The contents are divided into three sections; “Who we are”, “What we believe” and “What we do”. The 101 essays are just the right length and peppered with the names of recognized authors and acknowledged experts in their various fields of influence. It is easy to read and gives a broad view of paganism in a variety of forms. It would be ideal for a seeker exploring the pagan path, but also of interest to those who, like me, have been many years on the pagan path. As a solitary Druid with Wiccan/ Goddess leanings I had no idea there was a Heathen or Eclectic pagan path and knew little of Shamanism. I enjoyed sharing so many people’s stories of how they discovered their path and the “Who we are” section of the book emphasises the freedom and flexibility available under the umbrella of paganism in an interesting and engaging way. The “What we believe” part of the book give clear information that demonstrates the common threads in paganism that link us all together. I found the sections on deities and ethics particularly interesting and informative. But it was the last section; “What we do” that engaged me the most and would, no doubt, help a new seeker have a very clear understanding of the practices pagans engage in. From the detailed descriptions of herbs used in healing, to the essay that tells of a Celebrant singing a soul home, this part of the book goes a long way to demystifying paganism and demonstrating its potential for beauty, reverence and service to others. I would, without hesitation, recommend this book. Trevor Greenfield has done an excellent job of casting a light over the many paths through the forest of paganism that gives an intelligent and helpful answer to the question: “What is a pagan?” Linda Perfect ~ Penny Billington, Touchstone
Trevor Greenfield (ed.) Witchcraft Today – 60 Years On. Moon Books, 2014. Trevor Greenfield (ed.) Paganism 101: An Introduction to Paganism by 101 Pagans. Moon Books, 2014. Richard Metzger (ed.) The Book of Lies: The Disinformation Guide to Magick and the Occult. Disinformation Books, San Francisco, 2014. These books are similar, in that all are collections of essays by different authors on contemporary occultism. Witchcraft Today – 60 Years On, which refers to Gerald Gardner’s 1954 book, is 180 pages long, whereas The Book of Lies, which is primarily about Aleister Crowley (from whom the title is borrowed, and who resurrected the old spelling of ‘magick’), is much larger, 352 pages with small print in double columns. It is now six decades since the appearance of Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft Today, which sold 5,500 copies. To those not familiar with publishing, this might not seem many, but actually very few books sell more than 5,000 copies. He originally intended to call it New Light on Witchcraft, and included a lot of material on yoga, which his editors deleted as irrelevant. The sensational point was his claim that witchcraft was still practised, albeit on a very small scale, when most people assumed that it was extinct, if it had ever existed at all. But Gardner’s biggest influence was by way of a work that he never published – the ‘Book of Shadows’, which contains a set of witchcraft rituals, and has now been copied worldwide. The various contributors to 60 Years On discuss the diverse offshoots, ‘Alexandrian witchcraft’, derived from Alex Sanders, the ‘Seax Tradition’, which is based around the Saxon deities Woden and Freya, the feminist Dianic Tradition which naturally is for women only, and so on. There has also been a widespread revival of Paganism generally, witchcraft being just one aspect of it. Greenfield has assembled an even larger group of contributors, 101 as his title indicates. These include Druid, Heathens, Goddess Followers, and there are discussions of Deities, Nature, Ethics, Afterlife, Ancestors, Ritual, Magic, Healing and Celebrant Work. Jack Parsons was a prominent rocket-fuel scientist, and certainly the only disciple of Crowley to have a crater on the far side of the moon named after him. He died in an explosion in his laboratory in 1952. An explosion in a rocket-fuel laboratory should not be too surprising (it was rocket science), but his ‘Scarlet Woman’ Marjorie Cameron, who went on to star in Kenneth Anger’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, “always believed that Howard Hughes was somehow behind it.” The connection of H. P. Lovecraft with Crowley is tenuous: in his Supernatural Horror in Literature he discussed Leonard Cline’s novel The Dark Chamber, which mentioned Crowley. Erik Davis observes that “while most 1930s pulp fiction is nearly unreadable today”, Lovecraft has a ’cult’ status, with a curiously literal dimension. Fans are not content to read stories about weird otherworldly entities, Cthulhu, Hastur, Nyarlathotep, and the rest of them, but often invoke them in magickal ceremonies. This is an interesting example of how a piece of fiction takes on a life of its own. To this day the London headquarters of Santander Bank, which is located in Baker Street, employ a secretary to answer letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes. Even more remarkably, the city of Verona employs several secretaries to reply to letters sent to Juliet by lovelorn women. Allen Greenfield looks at the influence of Crowley on Wicca, based upon his research into unpublished documents. As he observes, there are Crowley borrowings in the Book of Shadows used by Gardner. In consequence, “I think Aleister and Gerald may have cooked Wicca up.” The problem with this hypothesis is that the Crowley borrowings, on close inspection, all turn out to have been taken from a 1919 volume entitled the Blue Equinox. Notably, Crowley’s Book of the Law is nowhere quoted at first hand, only at second hand, which proves that he was not personally responsible for the Book of Shadows. -- Gareth J. Medway. ~ Gareth J. Medway, Magonia
-- 5/5 --> Goodness, but it took me a really long time to finish this particular book! But, that was not because the material was boring or uninteresting. Yes, this book is an Introduction to Paganism. Yes, I have been a Pagan for nearly a quarter of a century now. But that does not mean that material like this would be something I could not learn from. And learn I did. Written from many different perspectives, the book covers the realm of what Paganism is about, and what Pagans do (in general). Extremely accessible for both the newcomer and the old-hand, the information in here starts with various authors covering the topics - and then other Pagans from various Paths chiming in with their thoughts. The material is not only thoughtful, but also thought-provoking. For me, it helped me to clarify some of the manner of approaching the inevitable question: "What is Paganism?" In the past, I have always recommended Margot Adler's tome "Drawing Down the Moon" as an introduction for newcomers. That does not change in my mind, but "Paganism 101" will be handed over with that as well, with the directive that "Paganism 101" should be the starting point - and Adler's book the immediate follow-on. If you are curious about what Paganism is about, and are looking for a way to see which of the many Paths might be interesting and/or appropriate for you - this is where you should start! ~ Tommy Elf, Goodreads
Twenty topics fundamental to the understanding of the main Pagan traditions are each introduced by essay and then elaborated upon by other follower and practitioners, giving the reader a greater flavour of the variety and diversity that Paganism offers. ~ Watkins Mind Body Soul, Issue 39
Paganism is a very broad, much misunderstood term, and it has been said that there are as many kinds of paganism as there are pagans, it is, so to speak, a broad church! So, the editor has undertaken to collect short essays from one hundred and one pagans, which must have been like herding cats. He's done a great job. We hear the contributors speak about their own traditions and experiences, grouped loosely under subheadings, Druid, Heather, Witch, Wiccan, Shaman, Christo-pagan (yes, they are our there!) Goddess follower and Eclectic Pagan. We learn of their attitudes, beliefs, rites and philosophers, and it's great introduction to a huge subject. I particularly liked the pieces by Ferdiad Selkie and Elen Sentier, but I'm sure you will find your own favourites. This is not a particularly academic book, rather it seeks to give a voice to real people with real and vibrant inner lives. A break of fresh air! ~ The Inner Light, Volume 34 No 3
The term '101' is an Americanism for a simple beginners' guide to any subject. The first part of the book introduces the varied forms of neo-paganism that have developed over the last fifty years in the West. In the second the contributors discuss neo-pagan spiritual believers and practitioners to nature, ethics, the afterlife, their relationship with ancestors, and the past and present of paganism. The book ends with a section on ritual magic, prayer and meditation, teaching, herbalism and 'celebrant work'. The book concludes with a suggested reading list that includes a lot of books written by the anthology's contributors. ~ , BM Cauldron
It is often said, correctly, that Paganism is an umbrella term covering a rich profusion of traditions, attitudes, experiences and beliefs. What better way to reflect that reality within one book than to get so many good writers to represent it? ~ Professor Ronald Hutton.
This is a much-needed book that gives voice to the diversity of ideas and opinions being voiced by contemporary Pagans. As I read it, I felt as if I was sitting in a circle, in a community of like-minded souls,hearing new points of view, challenging ideas, old ideas expressed in different ways. Warmth, humanity, creativity all flow from these pages. ~ Philip Carr Gomm, Author and Leader of The Order of Bards Ovates & Driuids.
This book is far from your average Paganism 101 book. In this book will be found a fantastic range of people commenting on a wonderfully diverse selection of topics. Just looking at the list of topics explored in the book should give an indication of how wide ranging the book is in terms of exploring Paganism. But the decision to include 101 different Pagans discussing those topics gives a sense not only of the richness of diversity within modern Paganism, but also hints at an underlying commonality of worldview. Something that is hard to capture with the words of just one author. I thoroughly recommend this book as an introduction for people who are exploring Paganism for the first time, and also to Pagans who have been walking their paths for some time for the insights it provides into how other Pagans view and experience their paths. ~ Mike Stygal, President of the Pagan Federation.
The very idea of a Paganism 101 reader co-authored by 101 pagans is a breakthrough in itself. This excellent sourcebook highlights significant recent writing by practitioners of Druidry, Wicca, Shamanism, Goddess worship, Herbalism - and a whole lot more. Highly recommended. Dr ~ Nevill Drury, Author of The Shaman's Quest and Pan's Daughter.
A fascinating diversity of genuine experiences offered from a wide range of key earth-centred practitioners today. Sharing their personal stories with courage, wit and honesty about their paths, clarifying The Big Questions many around the world of 'all faiths or none' have today about the rapidly growing Pagan traditions. Organized in three parts: 'Who We Are', 'What we Believe', and 'What we Do', each story provides a river of wisdom all its own, a cornucopia to feast on for all readers…Highly recommended. Dr Karen Ralls, historian, religious studies scholar, member of OBOD, and Oxford-based author of Medieval Mysteries & Music and the Celtic Otherworld. ~
Paganism is undoubtedly a faith in need of definition - and here it is, 'Paganism 101' makes essential reading for anyone seeking building blocks for the modern movement & for all those followers a little unsure of what they have found. ~ Mark Olly, Author, TV presenter and archaeologist.
In this wonderfully multi-voiced collection, 101 Pagans demonstrate that contemporary Paganism, rather than being a single religion, is instead a diverse religious *movement* -- a gathering of related spiritual traditions. In sections dealing with Pagan identities, beliefs, and practices, Paganism 101 offers a balance of well-informed descriptive essays and reflective, personal pieces. The collection captures the evolving quality of Paganism as a new religious movement where important issues are actively being negotiated: some of the essayists explicitly respond to each other, reflecting the lively debates that characterize Pagan community. This intelligent anthology is sure to spark the interest of readers new to Paganism and offers excellent discussion prompts for Pagan and interfaith study groups. ~ Christine Hoff Kraemer, Managing Editor, Patheos.com Pagan channel.