Author: D.J. Conway
Trade Paperback, 448 pages
Publisher: Crossing Press
Publication date: October 2003
Price & More Info: Click Here
In Magick of the Gods and Goddess: Invoking the Power of the Ancient Gods, Conway attempts the massive task of providing a very basic overview on the deities and religious and magickal practices of over twenty cultures or groups: Witchcraft and Paganism, Shamanism, Ceremonial Magick, the Qabala, Egypt, the Middle East, Greece, Rome, Africa, Celtic Europe, Nordic Europe, Finnish, Slavonic Europe and Russia, India, China, Japan, Tibet, Pacific islands, Native North Americans, Mayas, Aztecs, Incas, angels, and planetary spirits. The chapters on specific cultures each have basic background, information on the culture's religion, information on the culture's dress, a few example myths, and information on the culture's major gods and goddesses.
Unfortunately, this book suffers -- as other similar books have before it -- from relying too much on popular press sources and not enough on academic sources. The bibliographies for most cultural sections are predominantly filled with popular press and even revisionist books. Some sections don't list any academic books at all, or only ones printed many years ago. Judging by those cultures I'm familiar with, some of the information is accurate and useful and some is just plain wrong or highly revisionist.
If one is not familiar with the culture or group at hand it would be hard to tell the accurate from the questionable. For example, if one is not knowledgeable on ancient Greek religion, one would probably have no idea that the ancient Greeks did not see Hekate as described in her entry in this book: she was neither seen as a crone or thought to be part of a triple goddess. Nor were her symbols the key and the cauldron -- they were the key and torches. Many of the descriptions of other deities in the cultures I'm familiar with have similar problems. The problems with information in this book are sometimes minor, but collectively, they give an inaccurate picture. The sad thing is that the author could have avoided many of these problems simply by using better sources.
While parts of Magick of the Gods and Goddess: Invoking the Power of the Ancient Gods are an interesting read, this isn't a book you want to quote as proof to a history buff or a Pagan Reconstructionist. This book might be useful for those Pagans who are not overly concerned with cultural and historical accuracy, but I really can't recommend it to anyone. It's a great idea flawed by poor research and poor sources.
Reviewed by Randall Sapphire