Book review: Paganism An Introduction To Earth Centered Religions by River HigginbothamMost pagan primers jump right into the seasonal calendar, Celtic strands, pentagrams, spell casting and the like. True to form, this offers a judicious overview of the calendar and the general characteristics and essentials of Paganism as the Higginbothams see it interconnectedness and blessedness. To their credit, though, the authors have crafted a very different kind of book, one of great spiritual depth that could be of genuine and lasting service to anyone who is interested in sorting out the whats and whys of belief. Early on, they outline the "big tent" of Paganism that shelters a dozen or more passageways (Wicca, Druidism, Shamanism, Santer?a, etc.), comparing it to Christianity and its popular denominations (Methodist, Roman Catholic, etc.). Throughout, they employ calm and rational prose that seeks not to proselytize as much as to aid discernment, making good on the authors' claim that, "Whether or not you decide to be a Pagan once you finish [the book] is not as important as providing you with tools to help you identify your values and goals." The seven chapters are nicely paced with illustrations, diagrams, visualization exercises, discussion points and journal prompts, all of which can be used by individuals or groups. The authors tackle the charge of Satanism head-on with success, but even more progressively (and clearly) they weave new discoveries in physics into the life fabric of belief and action. The final chapter explores ethics, and similar to the others, serves the broadest common good.
The founders of both a pagan church and the Council for Alternative Spiritual Traditions, the Higginbothams here offer an overview of the belief systems comprising neopaganism. Included in the discussion are Wicca, Shamanism, Asatru, Celtic traditionalism, Druidism, Santeria, Voodoo, and other forms prevalent in paganism today. The authors proceed from central concepts of interconnectedness and blessedness, to a definition of neopaganism and a discussion of personal responsibility for one's beliefs, to concepts of Deity, Satan, the living universe, "magick," and ethics. The format is similar to that of many self-help books, with text, diagrams, discussion questions, and meditation exercises. This clear, rational, and sympathetic introduction to neopaganism for nonpagans will be helpful to all readers interested in exploring their spirituality. This first book by the Higginbothams complements existing introductions, such as Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon and Graham Harvey's Contemporary Paganism: Listening People, Speaking Earth, at least one of which libraries should already have. Recommended for public and undergraduate libraries and for religion collections.
This book goes in two directions. First is a very good overview of many of the different groups that are under general Paganism. Explored are the basic philosophies and beliefs of Druids, Wiccans, Asatru, shamanism, magic, general paganism and all the various offshoots. There is a good section on many of the various paths under that 'umbrella'. There are many theories that have given rise to the modern pagan movement that are explored as well. There is discussion on what makes the pagan paths different from other world religions and discusses beliefs and practices as well as myths and misinformation.
The second direction of this book is a basic handbook on the practices of many of the different beliefs. From the Wheel of the Year to connecting with personal Deity to individual responsibility, the book reads as a guide to incorporating many of the philosophies and basic Tenets of these beliefs into your own life. Ethics are also discussed throughout the book and there is a good chapter on Ethics and Personal Responsibility.
The book also has 'aids', or subsections that allow the reader to absorb or digest the material in the book, encouraging the reader to think about the material, add it to their journals for further research, discuss with others or question for themselves. This gives the book more of a handbook feeling.
There are good notes for each chapter, a glossary and an excellent bibliography that allow the reader to pursue those things they may find they want to explore further. There is also an index for easy reference. There is much information in this book that is worth looking over. If you are unfamiliar with Paganism in general, this is a good primer. If you are looking to expand your base of knowledge on Paganism, this book offers a good overview. And if you are looking for a good basic handbook, while there are many specific to the various paths, this book would make a good overall view for those who are looking at the various paths and need a guide or are looking at paganism in general for their path.
Paganism An Introduction To Earth Centered Religions
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