Title: Pagan Degrees for Children
Author(s): Shadaramon
Published 2009 by Astor Press
ISBN: 055709867X
ISBN-13: 978-0557098675
Paperback, 236 pages
List: $17.99
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Reviewer: Mike Gleason

This is a book which will engender strong feelings in its readers. I expect it will polarize the community, just by the title and ever before the first page is read. Many will find the concept of "degrees" to be counter to their expectations of paganism (Wicca okay, but Pagan degrees?). Then there will be those who feel that degrees imply competition, and they perceive that as undesirable. And, of course, the entire concept of structure sets off some people (if it feels good, and it's kind of Pagan-ish, it's good enough).

On the other side of the divide (and with little or no middle ground) will be those who perceive structure as the most efficient way to convey information. Without structure, curricula and tests, how can you judge if your young Pagan has absorbed the lessons you have labored to instill into their hearts and minds.

This book is one of those "good news/bad news" situations. The good news is that it is very flexible and easy to alter for individual circumstances. The bad news is that it is NOT designed to be part of a nation-wide movement, so there is minimal support available.

On a personal note, I wasn't real thrilled with the type-face chosen for the headings (the lower case "r" can easily be mistaken for an "i"); but that has no effect on the value of the book itself.

This book will be most valuable to Pagan parents (and groups) which are fairly isolated. Patterned on the world-wide scouting organizations it can provide a local equivalent to Spiral Scouts where no branch exists.

There is a companion book which contains all of the achievement badges and awards in color (as opposed to the black and white illustrations in this volume). If you plan to use this system, go to Astor Press' website and check out the color volume.

This is the archetypal beginner's book. Having said that, I must also say that I feel it has been oversimplified for the final (Mage) degree. Youngsters working in this degree are expected to be at least 12 years of age, and they should be capable of absorbing more complex concepts ('The Wiccan Rede states that "as it harm none, do as you will"' is the complete explanation given on page 89). I've always believed in challenging children by encouraging them to be mature, and this final degree does not, in my opinion, do that.

In spite of my personal reservations, on the whole I have to say that this is a book which does what it sets out to do. As such, I suggest that if you have youngsters in your family who are interested in learning more about the Pagan way of life, this is a good basic guideline, and worth the price.


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