Monday, January 18, 2010

A Decision to Study


I devoted four years of my life and quite a lot of money to learning about Christianity, only to realize that the more I learned about Christianity the more I knew it wasn't for me. I've been a Pagan for several years now. I've learned the basics of Paganism and some of its branches. I've read many books on the subject. However, reading the books is not the same kind of in depth study you do when you get a college degree in a subject. I've always been more comfortable discussing the minutiae of Christianity than the basic premises of Paganism. It's time to change that. I've decided to try an recreate the kind of study I embarked on in college as applied to Paganism. I hope to start with the generalities of Paganism as a whole and the philosophy and psychology behind the movement. Than focus on the different traditions that are practiced by individual groups within the movement. I'm going to take a ridiculous amount of notes as I work through the books (writing helps me remember what I learn).

I've found a Pagan Seminary that I would love to take classes from someday, but since our budget doesn't really have any wiggle room right now, I'm going to use their syllabi to help determine the books I use for my study.

My reading list so far -

Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions
It seemed like a good general overview of Paganism to start my study with and has excercises and questions at the end of every chapter. (Plus I already own it) I'm only 24 pages in and already have 8 pages of notes. I'm really enjoying this book and have to limit myself so that I have time to process the new information.

Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion
One of the required reading books for the Cherry Hill Seminary. I don't own it as yet but was intrigued by the description and think it would be a good book to look into.

An Ye Harm None: Magical Morality and Modern Ethics
A discussion of the ethics of Paganism. Pagan ethics are a lot more situational and particapatory than the ethical structures of religions that give a "do this" and "don't do that" list of rules.

Drawing Down the Moon
I'm going to steal Honey's copy. I've heard several Pagans reference this book and it seems to discuss the history and origins of the movement and reasons behind the rise of Paganism.

I'll start my look at specific traditions of Paganism with Wicca since Honey is Wiccan and we already have a lot of books discussing it.

A Witches' Bible: The Complete Witches' Handbook
It seems to be an in depth look at the beginning of the Wiccan tradition. Some of the information might be dated and biased toward certain branches but overall a good source of information.

Crafting Wiccan Traditions: Creating a Foundation for Your Spiritual Beliefs and Practices
How to take all the dispirate elements of Wicca and personalise them into a system of belief that works for you.

I'm not planning on rushing through these books so don't worry if it takes months or even all year for me to get through the list. If anyone else wants to recomend books for my study, feel free. I would especially like recomendations of books that you think define any of the various traditions because I will be relying on others to guide me as to which books best define their traditions of Paganism.


  1. Thanks for sharing this list of books! My daughter and I are also studying and several of these I had not heard of yet.

  2. I found Starhawk's The Spiral Dance to be a very good read. My copy is the 20th edition with a new introduction and updated notes for each chapter in which she addresses how outlooks have changed since the first edition including how rituals evolved over time. I also have Circle Round and 12 Wild Swans in my personal library as well.

    I'm looking forward to reading about your readings

  3. Funny you should say that :) I got a couple gift cards to Barnes and Noble for Christmas and put in an order this weekend. Guess what was on my list? I figured since all the authors I appreciate are referencing Spiral Dance I should read it for myself. The whole "primary source" concept. And I found a copy of Drawing Down the Moon at the thrift store today for 50 cents so I don't have to study from honey's highlighted copy and then we'll have a loaner copy. Yeah for thrift goodness :)