My husband and I are in the process of a move, and this necessitates (okay, it gives justification for) scanning all of our books over to GoodReads and deciding which ones we should take with us and which ones we should donate to the library. It also means that I get a glimpse into my journey as a polytheist via the sorts of books I've been given and bought. Some of them I'm proud of, some of them make me cringe, and I wonder which ones I'm lacking.
Which books do you consider to be essential reading material? Which books do you wish you could get your money back on? This appears like it's going to be an ongoing project of mine, so I would appreciate any and all advice.
I hesitate to say any of this is essential for everyone, because it really depends on your path, and what you're interested in, but the books I've enjoyed and got the most out of include: - John Michael Greer, 'A World Full of Gods' (general polytheism) - Christine Hoff Kramer, 'Seeking the Mysteries: An Introduction to Pagan Theologies' - Erik Hornung, 'The One and the Many: Conceptions of God In Ancient Egypt' (kemetic polytheism; don't let anyone tell you it's about monolatry, because it's not) - Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera, 'Talking to the Spirits: Personal Gnosis in Pagan Religion' - Richard Wilkinson, 'The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Egypt' - Raven Kaldera, 'Hermaphrodeities' (queer paganism/polytheism)(though I'd have liked more non-binary stuff. /pedant)(then again, I've only read the first edition; IDK if the second edition is any better in this regard.) - Nimue Brown, 'Druidry and the Ancestors' - Alaric Albertsson, 'Travels Through Middle Earth' and 'Wyrdworking' (Anglo-Saxon polytheism) - Faulkner's translation of the Book of the Dead (considered (one of) the best translation(s) out there) - Paul Huson, 'Mastering Witchcraft' (the book that would have sold me witchcraft when I was first getting started if I'd read it first, instead of Silver Ravenwolf) - Marco Zecchi, 'Sobek of Shedet: The Crocodile God in the Faiyum in the Dynastic Period' (...it's an academic book about Sobek. ) - 'Hekate: Her Sacred Fires', edited by Sorita d'Este, was my introduction to Hekate in a more devotional form, and it both inspired me and scared the crap outta me. (In a good way.) - Everyone should read the 'Principia Discordia' for lulz and good times.
I spent a long time, actually, not really reading Pagan books, and my library was quite dismal for many years until I started buying books again. So I feel like I'm still catching up. I still haven't got hold of any decent books on Greek and Roman polytheism, but that's partly due to it being lower on my list of things to research at the moment. I do have some saved on my Amazon wishlist, but I haven't got around to buying them yet. I only have so much money. I've also started acquiring some of the more classic Pagan/Wiccan books, for no other reason than I'm interested in reading those older books and to get a better idea of what Wicca was meant to be before the solitary eclectic neo-Wiccan stuff turned up and muddied the water.
There are certainly some I'd ask for my money back on, but I keep them, because I like knowing what I don't like, as much as I like knowing what I do like, and marginalia and arguments with authors is always great. Unless it's an ebook. I can't add marginalia to an ebook. Boo. Well, okay, I won't keep shite Egyptian books, but I have kept the other ones listed down there, for 'arguing with the author' purposes.
Off the top of my head, books I haven't been so keen on are: - any book on anything Egyptian that cites Budge as a source. Or doesn't cite any sources at all. (Okay, this is a general rule, rather than a specific book, but it still stands.) - Rae Beth's 'Hedgewitch', which did not agree with me. Too much of the heteronormative Wiccish nonsense for my liking. - Nimue Brown's 'Pagan Portals: Spirituality without Structure' also didn't agree with me. The tone of her writing put me off, and I felt her biases against any organised religious structure at all were coming through too strongly for me to feel like I could really engage with her arguments in a reasonable manner. Which is a shame, because I think this is a good topic that needs to be written about. Just. Not with the 'all groups are ebil!' mindset, plz. - 'Lyblác: Anglo-Saxon Witchcraft' by Wulfeage - for pedantic 'I didn't like the organisation of the book' and 'will you explain some of these unexplained things plz' and 'can you fix these formatting errors they are terrible and you have misprinted a rune!' reasons. It is a solid book, with a good tradition outlined in it, and I don't even mind that it's Wiccish, because I did get inspired by some of the rituals and spells and charms in there, but nggrh, niggles. /pedant. I think it's been done better elsewhere, tbh. - I've never been overly keen on Christian Jacq's writing, either. He does a lot of Egyptian themed books, and IDK. 'Magic and Mystery in Ancient Egypt' was good, but I'm lukewarm on the rest.
Honestly, I'd replace Paul Huson with Scott Cunningham. Cunningham while light white, is more kitchen witchery, more english magic focussed and less 1970's mix of Key of Solomon with various occult traditions. Cunningham has more to help. The only thing that Huson has that Cunningham doesn't is the Weatherwax view of cursing, aka make sure you get them into the right headology.
Edited to add, that Paul Hutton should be on it.
If you are interested in the middle eastern Gods, then go put William Dever on it.
Last Edit: Jun 9, 2014 5:28:15 GMT -8 by moonwolf23
And yet I found Cunningham lacking in a lot of substance that I felt I needed in my practice, so. *shrugs* Whether you prefer Huson or Cunningham will depend what you're into, I guess, and what you're looking for. Certainly, Cunningham might be an easier route into Paganism for some people, and that's alright. Like I said, depends what you're into, and what works for you.
Also, I didn't add a bunch of Kemetic books I've seen recommended all over the place because I haven't read them. Books like Eternal Egypt, and Temple of the Cosmos, and a couple of others. I've heard they're good books, but I haven't read them. Then again, Eternal Egypt doesn't appeal to me because I'm not interested in the Temple cult. Cos we're not all priests, surprisingly enough.
Post by moonwolf23 on Jun 10, 2014 15:24:52 GMT -8
Sorry, when I said middle eastern I was meaning Caanan, Sumerian etc. I haven't really read Egyptian enough to know. I know Dever was considered one of the premiere archaeologists of his time.
Ummm For Huson, it for me was such a mish mash. Cunningham is better for English kitchen witchery, especially the herbs. I have also found Cunningham to be the master of the K.I.S.S. principle. His stuff is elegant in their simplicity. I figured if people were more interested in the ceremonial, they'd skip Huson and go for Israel Regardie or the other ceremonial authors.
It will probably be a month or more, but I hope to dig into the books I have read to add to this and why.
Nah, it's cool. It was just a memory prompt, that's all. Similar region, etc.
(omg hdu read a public profile omg ) Actually, I am sadly lacking in Ronald Hutton atm, but I have heard his books are very good. I might pick up 'Stations of the Sun' when my next pay comes through, since I think my spendings are going to settle down now for the time being.
You know, I thought Cunningham had good ideas, but I have to agree with Sobekemiti in the end, in that I didn't really get a lot of solid practice help from his books(although I did get some useful things, for sure. And it's not a bad place to start). Also, going back and reading his encyclopedias of herbs and stones and such, I find that his information is based mostly on one or two medieval sources instead of practice experience, which I suppose is interesting on an academic level but frequently useless when it comes to using these things in the practice of magic. (However, I now know about a wide variety of foods and herbs that cause "insatiable lust in the loins".) I found some New Age books(one or two, anyway) that I considered much more helpful than his stone book. I really like Paul Beyerl's encyclopedia on herbalism, too.
If I were to recommend someone in a neo-Paganism-style magical practice a place to start, I would actually recommend Chris Penczak's Temple of Witchcraft books, for having a pretty comprehensive and honest history of the neo-Wiccan/Pagan movement(which it took me a while to really figure out on my own), and a pretty solid lesson plan involving straight up energy work and personal work before the external forms of spellwork, which would have saved me a lot of frustration in the beginning. And for listing several relevant book recommendations at the end of every chapter. (He is also a pretty cool person, having taken a couple classes from him.)
Going back and looking at my library I'm a little sad to find that the vast majority of my books are from my Pagan years, with several books specific to certain Deities(I have three Sorita d'Este Hekate books! And a couple books about Hermes), but I think that's more a reflection of the time and money I have to buy and read books these days than anything else. :/ I also have Drawing Down the Spirits by Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera, but I didn't know about Talking To the Spirits. Gonna have to put that one on my wishlist for sure!
Haloveir, which books did you decide to keep or give away?
Yeah, I mean, Cunningham was kind of inescapable for a baby Pagan when I was getting into Wicca in 2000/2001, and he certainly got me started, but I needed more than he offered. My draw to the Egyptian gods drove me to search out a 'purer' Egyptian path than Wicca, but that's me, I suppose. I certainly don't begrudge anyone who finds Cunningham useful, though. He wouldn't have been so popular if he hadn't offered something that resonated with people. He didn't resonate with me, but you can't please everyone. I haven't read any of Penczak's work, but I have heard good things about the Temple of Witchcraft series, though.
'Talking to the Spirits' is really good. I did kind of skim the chapters on groups, because I'm a solitary, but it's a good solid book about dealing with UPG, and it ought to be read by every Pagan. There's some really good stuff in there. It was the book we were doing for Book Club on the forum here, which is why I got it, and it was a good choice. It's an excellent book.
You all just blow me away with some of the neat things you have in your libraries. I'm absolutely jealous, and absolutely embarrassed over some of the things I have! Some of them I consider to be almost like path markers, showing me the places I've been to along the way. I have Anton LaVey's "The Satanic Witch", many many MANY of Cunningham's works, more than a few of D.J. Conway's works, but also some things I'm genuinely proud of...countless pieces of classical literature like The Odyssey and the Aeneid, Kharis: Hellenic Polytheism Explored by Sarah Kate Istra Winter, "Dwelling on the Threshold: Reflections of a Spirit-Worker and Devotional Polytheist by Sarah Kate Istra Winter", and some of Penczak's books.
Branching off of the original point of this thread (which I'd like to continue), I wonder if anyone would be interested in having the occasional book swap?