Pagan Studies - Reviews
The Winter Solstice:
The Sacred Traditions of Christmas
by John Matthews
This ain’t Yule For Dummies. John Matthews typically doesn’t dumb down his writing to the proverbial eighth-grade reading level, and this delightful book is no exception.
Introduction to Pagan Studies
by Barbara Jane Davy
AltaMira Press, 2007
As contemporary Western Paganism has grown and developed, so too has the burgeoning academic discipline that has come to be known as Pagan Studies. While the academy may not be quite ready for Pagan Studies as a mainstream discipline, there are those who have spent years studying the ethics, practices, and polythea/ologies of contemporary Pagans with tremendous success. In recent years we’ve seen the arrival of several excellent histories of Paganism in Britain and the United States, along with a variety of explorations into Pagan and polytheist theologies. To this growing field we may happily add Barbara Jane Davy’s Introduction to Pagan Studies, the third offering from ’Pagan Studies series.
A Field Guide to Modern Pagans
in Hamilton, Ontario
by Neil Jamieson-Williams
Australopithecine Press, 2008
As Paganism has matured, the quality and variety of texts has increased over the years. No longer limited to how-to books; deeper topics such as theology, ethics and sustainability, and demographics have seen more publication. Neil Jamieson-Williams offers up an in-depth ethnography of the Pagan community in Hamilton, Ontario as the first in a series of several planned titles. As both an academic with degrees in anthropology and sociology, and a member of the Hamilton Pagan community for many years, he offers a unique perspective.
After a good basic overview of Paganism, Jamieson-Williams offers up some much-needed perspectives on how to respectfully (yet effectively) observe and approach Pagans. He stresses honest communication and ethical treatment of subject material, though he’s also honest about the realities of academia, which may cause some Pagans to be concerned.
The Book of Abramelin:
A New Translation
by Abraham von Worms,
compiled and edited by Georg Dehn,
translated by Sephen Guth
Ibis Press, 2006
It’s not often that the magical community has the opportunity for a completely new look at one of its old classics, and it’s even less often that such a second look completely redefines its target, standing a century of assumptions on its collective head. The present book, however, is just such an opportunity, and its publication will be warmly welcomed by serious magicians.
The Death of Religion
and the Rebirth of the Spirit:
A Return to the Intelligence of the Hearth
by Joseph Chilton Pearce
Park Street Press, 2007
The Death of Religion and the Rebirth of Spirit is a far-reaching survey blending philosophy, religion, and sociology. It is not light reading, and challenges many of our perceptions about why we function as we do. Pearce begins his discussion with a survey of violence in human society and questions whether cruelty is truly part of human nature. He argues that the roots of human behavior aren’t violent, but instead derive from our culture. Succeeding chapters use recent neuroscience, cultural anthropology, and brain development research to explore our trend towards violence, before moving on to discuss spiritual understanding and how to reverse violence to achieve a higher level of being.
Loneliness and Revelation: A Study of the Sacred
Brendan Myers, O Books, 2010
Loneliness and Revelation is comprised of forty-five thought-provoking meditations on loneliness; Myers takes a close look at what it is and what it means for the individual as an existential condition.
More intense than just solitude or isolation, loneliness gives rise to the thought that one’s life may be “utterly insignificant and meaningless.” Myers believes that we combat this anomie through what he calls Revelation: ways of being in the world that assert our presence. He explores this theme through descriptions of conversations with friends, the writings of philosophers, and teachings of world religions both major and minor, referencing a broad swath of myth and literature.