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Author Topic: Really well-written books on any aspect of paganism  (Read 1731 times)

Selenography

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Really well-written books on any aspect of paganism
« on: June 17, 2014, 07:17:16 am »
I am a writer, so I can be kind of snobby when it comes to books written by other people.  It's hard for me to get past bad writing even if the information is good.  

I was wondering what you all think some very well-written books are. They can be about any aspect of Pagan life. I am happy to read about mythology or rituals or history or herbs or divination or anything else.

If this helps direct you, my two favorite Pagan writers are Starhawk ad Phyllis Curott.

Redfaery

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Re: Really well-written books on any aspect of paganism
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2014, 09:23:44 am »
Quote from: Selenography;150271
I am a writer, so I can be kind of snobby when it comes to books written by other people.  It's hard for me to get past bad writing even if the information is good.  

I was wondering what you all think some very well-written books are. They can be about any aspect of Pagan life. I am happy to read about mythology or rituals or history or herbs or divination or anything else.

If this helps direct you, my two favorite Pagan writers are Starhawk ad Phyllis Curott.


John Michael Greer is an excellent writer. I'd quite recommend The New Encyclopedia of the Occult. It's got a good bit of information in it about the histories of various parts of the Pagan movement. As I mentioned, Greer writes well. He also cites his sources!!!! *swoons* He has a lengthy bibliography, and he lets you know exactly where he got his information.
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RandallS

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Re: Really well-written books on any aspect of paganism
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2014, 10:51:20 am »
Quote from: Selenography;150271
If this helps direct you, my two favorite Pagan writers are Starhawk ad Phyllis Curott.

This just shows that what is considered "good writing" is at least somewhat subjective. :)
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Sarah

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Re: Really well-written books on any aspect of paganism
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2014, 11:47:11 am »
Quote from: Selenography;150271
I am a writer, so I can be kind of snobby when it comes to books written by other people.  It's hard for me to get past bad writing even if the information is good.  

I was wondering what you all think some very well-written books are. They can be about any aspect of Pagan life. I am happy to read about mythology or rituals or history or herbs or divination or anything else.

If this helps direct you, my two favorite Pagan writers are Starhawk ad Phyllis Curott.

 
It would be easier for people to answer this if you said what paths you are on/interested it

To be honest I don't read a lot of "pagan" books. I uses The Element Encyclopedia of 500 Spells,, The Complete Book of Incense, Oils and Brews, I'm working my way through Trance-portation, and I've got Mastering witchcraft on my wishlist because it comes highly recommended by people i respect. And I use the Clann Bhride book of hours

For Witchy type stuff I am more likely to discus things with people (people here, people whose blogs i read etc) than get things out of a book, or I will look on websites and then cross reference stuff.

Otherwise I have books by trained  historians, folklorists, mythologists, gardeners, aromatherapists. none of which should be taken as gospel but are usually far more reliable sources than a lot of general "pagan" books.
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Darkhawk

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Re: Really well-written books on any aspect of paganism
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2014, 11:53:36 am »
Quote from: Jacob;150298
Otherwise I have books by trained  historians, folklorists, mythologists, gardeners, aromatherapists. none of which should be taken as gospel but are usually far more reliable sources than a lot of general "pagan" books.

 
Indeed.  Essentially nothing I would list off as a good start point for Kemetic religion, for example, is a "pagan book", but I don't know whether those things are actually included in the "I want pagan books" questions.
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Selenography

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Re: Really well-written books on any aspect of paganism
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2014, 12:23:19 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;150299
Indeed.  Essentially nothing I would list off as a good start point for Kemetic religion, for example, is a "pagan book", but I don't know whether those things are actually included in the "I want pagan books" questions.

 
Let me clarify. I don't want "pagan books." I want well-written books that happen to mostly focus on issues pertinent to pagans. Not necessarily all pagans, of course, because there is subjectivity and there are many paths.

I did not specify a particular path of interest because I am doing research for one of my own writing projects.  Learning other things from these books will be a benefit, of course, but my primary interest is in seeing how different people write about various issues that are relevant to pagans of all stripes.

Darkhawk

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Re: Really well-written books on any aspect of paganism
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2014, 12:28:13 pm »
Quote from: Selenography;150303
Let me clarify. I don't want "pagan books." I want well-written books that happen to mostly focus on issues pertinent to pagans. Not necessarily all pagans, of course, because there is subjectivity and there are many paths.

 
So you want, what, books addressing topics of interest to several dozen (at least) largely unrelated religions?  That is, um.

Roughly speaking, that's, "Your local library.  You could read that."
as the water grinds the stone
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HeartShadow

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Re: Really well-written books on any aspect of paganism
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2014, 12:30:00 pm »
Quote from: Selenography;150303
Let me clarify. I don't want "pagan books." I want well-written books that happen to mostly focus on issues pertinent to pagans. Not necessarily all pagans, of course, because there is subjectivity and there are many paths.

I did not specify a particular path of interest because I am doing research for one of my own writing projects.  Learning other things from these books will be a benefit, of course, but my primary interest is in seeing how different people write about various issues that are relevant to pagans of all stripes.

 
If you're doing research for writing projects and trying to build an authentic fictional religion, honestly I'd go for a sourcebook more like GURPS religion.  Maybe Fantasy Flight's Path of Faith, while you're at it.  Y'know - books on how to build religions.

Jenett

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Re: Really well-written books on any aspect of paganism
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2014, 12:47:08 pm »
Quote from: Selenography;150303
Let me clarify. I don't want "pagan books." I want well-written books that happen to mostly focus on issues pertinent to pagans. Not necessarily all pagans, of course, because there is subjectivity and there are many paths.

I did not specify a particular path of interest because I am doing research for one of my own writing projects.  Learning other things from these books will be a benefit, of course, but my primary interest is in seeing how different people write about various issues that are relevant to pagans of all stripes.

 
Beyond Darkhawk's excellent suggestion of your local library (wherein there are librarians who would likely be delighted to help with this kind of question, because it is much more interesting than "Where is your bathroom?" and "How do I turn on this computer?") there are other considerations.

There are many different approaches to writing about religion, religious topics, and topics of interest to people in a particular religious perspective (Um. In my case, we're talking about cooking, knitting, astronomy, folklore, other religions and their approaches to prayer, a philosophical look at the history of poisons in the US and what it says about our culture, and that's just in books I've opened in the last week or so.)

Some of those books are going to be about facts (things we know happened.) Some of them will be about guesses or theories or approaches (that start with facts, and build from there.) Some are going to be practical - here is how you deal with this religious situation, or this religious community situation, or this ritual technique. (Spell books and the like mostly fall in here too.)

Some things will be about someone's personal experience (and I'm wondering if that's a thing that particularly interests you, because both Starhawk and Currott go in that direction very heavily)

But these are all very different kinds of books.

Reading history or archaeology or science well takes some degree of literacy not just with reading, but with those kinds of books. Reading a book written by a modern academic means understanding some of the conventions of academic writing. (And reading a book from 100 years ago means understanding the writing conventions then). And these things are both different from a personal story, a book about personal current practices, about lived experience.

Plus, as Darkhawk says, you're talking about a large number of religions, which often have very little in common.

If you'd like recommendations, I suspect you'd get much better answers if you can provide more context. If you walked into the library I work in, and asked for help, I'd do what is called a reference interview.

I'd ask you what kind of material you were looking for. (Books? Ok, what kind of books? Academic texts? Personal texts?)

About religion? Which religions? (And while not all librarians are going to know about the incredible variety of religions under the Pagan umbrella, I do, so I'd ask you about which specific groups, if not specific paths. Are you interested in a reconstructionist perspective? An American approach? A particular kind of community or interaction?)

What kind of things are you going to want to do with the information? You want to use it for a fictional project. Ok, so do you want purely factual information (because you're trying to write from the perspective of a particular path?) Information about what it's like to live a particular path? (In which case there's a few books, but really, I'd suggest looking for blogs or forums, too.)

And so on.

Simply saying "Hey, give me some books" is not a good use of your time, and it's generally a frustrating question to be asked, without more of an idea what's going to be of interest.
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Holdasown

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Re: Really well-written books on any aspect of paganism
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2014, 03:27:14 pm »
Quote from: Jacob;150298
[/I] I'm working my way through Trance-portation, ...


I would love to hear what you think of it when your done. I was going to buy it but went with another book instead.

Selenography

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Re: Really well-written books on any aspect of paganism
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2014, 05:29:45 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;150304
So you want, what, books addressing topics of interest to several dozen (at least) largely unrelated religions?  That is, um.

Roughly speaking, that's, "Your local library.  You could read that."

 
I don't see why it's so difficult to name some books that you thought were well-crafted rather than quibble and nitpick over the way I asked. (This is not just directed to you, Darkhawk. I just chose your post to quote.)

Further, I said I was doing research for a writing project. I never said I was writing fiction and/or creating a fictional religion. It is a very different kind of project, and I did not share the details of it because I never share details about works in progress until they have solidified more.

Redfaery

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Re: Really well-written books on any aspect of paganism
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2014, 05:36:15 pm »
Quote from: Selenography;150332
I don't see why it's so difficult to name some books that you thought were well-crafted rather than quibble and nitpick over the way I asked. (This is not just directed to you, Darkhawk. I just chose your post to quote.)

Further, I said I was doing research for a writing project. I never said I was writing fiction and/or creating a fictional religion. It is a very different kind of project, and I did not share the details of it because I never share details about works in progress until they have solidified more.


I'm sorry, but I was kind of confused by your original post, as it seemed like you were asking for books to read for your own spiritual purposes, not simply professional research. If you want the former, I can give you lots of ideas. If the latter, I just can't tell you anything unless I know what kind of writing project this is. What are you trying to find out about? If you want accurate information on Wicca, I'd have to point you to different books than if you were looking for information on Asatru.
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HeartShadow

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Re: Really well-written books on any aspect of paganism
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2014, 06:03:23 pm »
Quote from: Selenography;150332
I don't see why it's so difficult to name some books that you thought were well-crafted rather than quibble and nitpick over the way I asked. (This is not just directed to you, Darkhawk. I just chose your post to quote.)

Further, I said I was doing research for a writing project. I never said I was writing fiction and/or creating a fictional religion. It is a very different kind of project, and I did not share the details of it because I never share details about works in progress until they have solidified more.

 
I'm seeing a common problem here.  You're posting as though there is such a thing as a generic "pagan" religion.  There isn't.

I can suggest things about FlameKeeping.  That's IT.  If what you're looking for is Wicca-like things, or Reclaiming, or anything like that, I've no idea what's useful and what isn't.  FlameKeeping isn't Wicca isn't Asatru isn't Kemeticism.  They're TOTALLY DIFFERENT THINGS.  So demanding universal "pagan" books .. doesn't mean ANYTHING.

Darkhawk

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Re: Really well-written books on any aspect of paganism
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2014, 06:12:24 pm »
Quote from: Selenography;150332
I don't see why it's so difficult to name some books that you thought were well-crafted rather than quibble and nitpick over the way I asked.

 
Because, in the grand scheme of things, I have no idea what you're looking for, because your question is both too broad and too vague to supply any sort of meaningful answer to.

Things that are relevant to my religious beliefs, practices, and aspects of my paganism:  ancient history, other history, folkloric studies, sociology, ethics, horticulture, brewing, cooking, mathematics, physics, astronomy, art history, art technique, politics, economics, nutrition, religious and ethnographic studies, other religions (including but not limited to: Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, African diaspora religions, West African religions, and other modern paganisms), crafting and creation techniques (including but not limited to: pottery, sculpture, smelting, weaving, jewelrycrafting), ecology, poetry, a selection of fiction, and stuff someone might find on the shelves of the pagan section.  And I'm probably missing a few major categories here.

If I recommended you a rhyming dictionary, a guide to how to brew mead, and a parenting guidebook, you'd probably be just as cross with me, I suspect, but those are some of the most relevant aspects of my paganism in my life right at the moment.
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Jack

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Re: Really well-written books on any aspect of paganism
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2014, 06:15:36 pm »
Quote from: Selenography;150271
I was wondering what you all think some very well-written books are. They can be about any aspect of Pagan life. I am happy to read about mythology or rituals or history or herbs or divination or anything else.

 
I really enjoyed Kindling Our Stars by Genevieve Wood and The Traveller's Guide to the Duat by Kiya Nicoll.
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