I don’t know if it is just my viewing habits, but lately I’ve been coming across a lot of videos and blog posts about Pagans and Witches’ book collections. Now I can’t feasibly do that (my library is split between two states), but to add to the conversation I present to you my favorite Pagan-related books. These aren’t necessarily the tomes richest in information, but are the books I go back to again and again. In reality, these books are foundational to my personal practice, so I want to share them with my readers in hopes that they inspire others as much as they have inspired me. Continue reading
As I write this post, I sit next to my shelf of pagan and herb books. They are well loved and have been read a million times. Authors like Scott Cunningham and Starhawk have been with me since the beginning of my path. While I strongly believe that faith is personal, these books augment personal worship and growth.
But damn they are expensive! Obviously Amazon is great to find used books, and libraries are wonderful places to find books on myths and sometimes basic Wiccan tomes. And the internet is a fantastic tool for finding information, but it is so easy to falsify. For example early in my path, everything I found was about the need to get the tools and do a full ritual every time. And I mean EVERYTHING. Mind you, pagans have been way more proactive about getting good information out there. But in my opinion books are still the best way to educate yourself.
Access is also an issue for some people for a variety of reasons. Teenagers don’t usually have the freedom to buy more than a couple books. Twenty-somethings (myself included) can’t necessarily start pagan personal libraries because of financial reasons.
So a few days ago I had a thought. Can’t we share?
I would like to start a project for pagan readers to share our books. I am posting a poll below to see if there is any interest. If anyone is in to exploring this idea and helping out, let me know.
© Ariadne Woods
I’m sorry, school bound Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches, but the summer holidays are almost over. Time to start thinking about the scholar’s new year, the first day of school. What kind of year do you want to have? What are your goals? These are a few tips to start the year magically and mundanely.
- Start Getting Back Into Your Sleep Routine Now: Left to your own devises, it’s hard to maintain a consistent sleep schedule due to vacations, summer job shifts, and late night movies. Don’t do it all at once (it won’t work). Start by going to bed a half an hour earlier every night. Making a routine (example brush teeth, read a book, take vitamins, turn out lights) also helps.
- The Desk Altar: While you are free to put this on your desk at school, the intention behind this altar is to extend the feeling of scholarship into your homework space. Mine always takes up a small corner of my desk. You can dedicate it to any scholarly deity (examples: Athena, Thoth, Saraswati) or just to the spirit of scholarship. Some ideas: a yellow candle, a picture of an appropriate deity, incense or potpourri made from dried orange peel and Earl Grey tea, etc.
- Look Into Taking Off For Sabats: If you (or your kids) are in public school, this is something your parents will have to do for you. I would not recommend doing this for every sabat (that would mean 6-7 missed days of school), but try getting off for at least Samhain and Beltane. Although parents if your kid’s Halloween party is on Samhain, consider sending them in with a plate of cookies instead (when else in your life will you get to wear fairy wings to school!).
- College and Boarding School Students, Research Room Restrictions: Some typical Pagan supplies are banned for safety and legal reasons. These can include (but are not limited to) candles, incense, matches, lighters, athames (and other knives), ritual wine, certain herbs (anything experience altering namely pot and peyote), tapestries, singing bowls, bells, smudge sticks, and wind chimes. If you need any of these things for ritual practice and cannot seem to be able to alter your practice, discuss it with your RA or campus religious figure. The pot and wine might not go over well, though, so make a decision about those for yourself.
- Smarter School Supplies: Eco-friendly notebooks, pencils, and binders are fairly cheap and easily accessible. If they are a little two rich for your blood, at least buy a lunch box, water bottle, and storage boxes.
- Buy New Pagan Books: Learning doesn’t have to stop at the school bell, especially if you want to expand your awesome witchy knowledge. Cool Pagan workbooks are also a great idea. Some recommendations: Ariadne’s Thread by Shekhinah Mountainwater, Circle Round by Starhawk, and Living Earth Devotional by Clea Danaan (comes out in September, but I’m excited about it.)
- Relax: The school year is stressful, so enjoy the rest of the summer.
© Ariadne Woods
So I stumbled upon a fantastic blog, Pagan Blog Prompts. It offers great suggestions to inspire Pagan bloggers and to keep their work open, engaging, and thought provoking. I’m going to respond to my first one, let’s see how this goes!
If you could recommend just one book to a newcomer, what would it be?
Oh goddess this is going to be hard.
Alright, we all know that’s not very fair. So you can share up to 3 books that you feel all people looking to explore Paganism should read.
Oh phew. I’ve got this.
- The Pagan Book of Living and Dying by Starhawk: Starhawk is my favorite Pagan author. Her work discusses the deep, spiritual side of this religion, not just spells and rituals. The Spiral Dance changed my life. But why did I pick The Pagan Book of Living and Dying? The hardest thing for me to grapple with when I converted was what happens after we die. If there isn’t a heaven or hell, well what are the alternatives? This book challenges so many preconceived notions and social mores. I recommend it for anyone serious about converting to Paganism or working over the big questions.
- Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler: I know I’ve talked about this book on my blog before, but I want to reiterate the idea that it is essential for anyone in any faith to know its history. Hense, this book.
- Any Book of Myths: These stories, brought from our ancestors, are the ultimate basis of modern tradition because they not only present stories but also give insight into old school ritual and faith practices. So, grab your Bullfinch’s or Edith Hamilton and get reading.
© Ariadne Woods
I love books so much I am making them my career as a librarian. They are an investment of space and knowledge. When it comes to collecting books on Paganism, Wicca, witchcraft, and related activities (tarot, herbs, etc.), there are so many to choose from on such a wide range of topics. But if you live in an apartment or have a small income, you can’t buy every book off Amazon. How do you proceed, though, if you really want to grow a working Pagan, Wiccan, or magical library?
- Think of the Amount of Space You Have: I have 2 drawers in my dorm room and 1 drawer at home to store all my Pagan things. That includes books, herbs, incense, candles, spells, etc. Until that changes, I have to keep that set space in mind when making any purchases, especially books.
- Start Small: Buy one book at a time. Read each book and finish it before buying a new one. This method will not only ensure you read what you have, but also keep you from over spending.
- If Possible, Buy Local: Not every community has a local new age store. But if you are fortunate enough to be in a town or region with access to one, it is an invaluable resource. For one, it is good for your local economy. Also, the more you frequent a shop, the more the staff will get to know you and perhaps can give good recommendations.
- Amazon, etc.: Internet shopping can also be a fantastic way to obtain books. It can also be addicting. My big word of caution is you should do research on the book you want to buy if you have never read or seen it before. That way, you know what you are getting.
Now, what to put in your library? It’s maddening for me to say it’s up to you, but that is how you should work. For example, I have never had the desire to read Silver Ravenwolf, but she may really speak to you so go ahead and buy a few of her books. Of all of my books, here are my five favorites:
- The Spiral Dance by Starhawk
- Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler
- Living Wicca by Scott Cunningham
- The Pagan Book of Living and Dying by Starhawk
- A Book of Pagan Prayer by Ceisiwr Serith
One piece of advice I can give is to note your buying habits. In looking at my list, you can see that I read a lot of Starhawk. I pretty much can guarantee if I have a few dollars to spend and I’m trolling Amazon and their algorithms recommend one of her books, I will like it. Keep a running list of your books and bring it with you to bookshops and festival gatherings.
For anyone with a large collection of Pagan, Wiccan, or magical books, do you have any additional pieces of advice? And what are your favorite books?
© Ariadne Woods
Okay so in the Spring I went to see if my university library had any books on Paganism. Bit of an epic fail on my school’s part. A couple of tomes on witchhunting, and that was it. So I wrote a note anonymously and slipped it in the drop off box before the end of last semester. Basically, I said that students who are Pagan or exploring Paganism may be interested in checking books out of the library, so kindly consider adding a couple Pagan-related books to the list on the next book buy.
While doing something else in the library, I decided to check to see if my note made a difference. And to my surprise, it worked! They bought a little Margaret Murray and a second copy of The Triumph of the Moon. I only gave a quick glance, but I am pleased my voice made a difference.
© Ariadne Woods
Today I went online to buy a piece of tumbled Lapus Lazuli to heal my Fifth Chakra and to aid in creative writing. After checking all the usual shops, I went on Etsy. Instead of buying ONE stone, I ended up buying EIGHT stones, only ONE of them being Lapus.
Pagans have the tendency to need (or think they need) a lot of STUFF. Candles, incense, deity figures. Three of the most popular practices associated with Paganism are herbalism, divination, and stonecraft. Perhaps not for divination, but think of how many herbs and gems comprise the basic of basic in those practices. It’s mind boggling!
My biggest weakness is books. Right now I have a little over a dozen, but my “To Buy” list is LONG.
If you are financially challenged, this can be a serious problem because people sometimes feel like the stuff is integral with spirituality. If you are, my best advice to you is to choose wisely. Buy one stone, book, or herb at a time. If space is an issue, keep quantities small.
This most important thing to keep in mind is that all you need is you in your magical practice.
© Ariadne Woods