BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

A lively discussion of ancient and modern Pagan literature -- including children's books, graphic novels, science fiction, fantasy, and mysteries -- along with interviews, author highlights, and profiles of Pagan publishers.

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On MidWinter

It is finally winter here. We have had little in the way of snow; actually, only frost on a few bitterly cold nights -- which I then had to get up extra early to scrap off my car. But then the sun would rise and the day would warm and I would forget about the fifteen minutes of lost sleep.

Not today, though. Today dawned cold and gray and foggy. Then the wind rose up and pushed the fog away, and even most of the clouds. But it stayed cold. Even without Christmas looming in a few days, weather like this still would have driven people into the book store in search of hot cider, hot chocolate, hot tea and (of course) a good book.

That "good book" is the subject of this column. Now, there are plenty of books about Christmas. Lots and lots and lots and lots of books about Christmas, geared towards every possible audience. There are even quite a few books about Hanukkah. But Heliogenna? Dies Natalis Solis Invictus? 'Ashuru Ari? Yule? Jul? Mothers' Night? Saturnalia? The Solstice itself? ... Um ....

There are a few children's books on the Solstice. Wendy Pfeffer and Jesse Reisch's The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice, for instance, which looks at the science and cultural history of the day. Ellen Jackson's The Winter Solstice takes a cross-cultural approach, examining how ancient peoples marked the day and how some of their traditions have survived into the present. And then there is Heather Conrad and deForest Walker's Lights of Winter: Winter Celebrations Around the World, which takes a much broader approach and discusses festivals throughout the season (Kwanzaa, Diwali, and -- wow! -- Saturnalia, et cetera). 

There are also books aimed at families or older audiences. Dorothy Morrison's Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth immediately comes to mind, as does The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales From Around the World for the Winter Solstice by accomplished storyteller Carolyn McVickar Edwards. There is also the fiction and poetry anthology Pagan Writers Presents: Yule, edited by Camenae E deWelles and company, which is explicitly aimed at Pagan readers. 

But ... there must be more. Am I just missing the beautifully illustrated children's book about Saturnalia? The book about the birth of Mithras? The Heliogenna anthology collecting rituals, recipes, poems and prayers?


Hhmmm. Several months back, in one of my first columns, I argued that Pagan authors can do better than Percy Jackson. Midwinter, and the many holy days and festivals which surround and commemorate it, is another example of how we can do better. There are so many wonderful, rich traditions waiting to be shared and enjoyed.

Next year? I want that Saturnalia kid's book sitting under my Solstice tree.


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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


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