Reviewed by Mike Gleason
Modern Pagans: An Investigation of Contemporary Ritual
by V Vale and John Sulak
published 2001 by RE/Search Publications
Paperback 212 pages
More Information on this book at Amazon
This is not a new book, but I have only recently begun to see copies of it locally. It is composed, overwhelmingly, of interviews with 50 individuals who each present their view of Paganism, its history and its future.
It starts with a short paragraph about what Paganism offers. That is followed by a two page glossary of small type (125+ words or phrases are defined). Bring your reading glasses or a magnifying glass for these two pages. The end of the book has some books and films which may be of interest to Pagans.
Between these two end pieces we move into the interviews, starting with Starhawk and ending with a Pagan teen. Some of these interviews are short (a page or two) while others are quite wide-ranging and extensive. The interviewees range from highly public members of the Pagan community to lesser known individuals. There is no uniformity in their views, which is to be expected given the eclectic make-up of Paganism. What there is, however, is a unity in their approach to living life as a part of
Nature, not as apart from
Some of the interviews are a bit dated (going back a decade or so), but the information and opinions are well worth reading and considering. In keeping with the diversity which is such a mark of Paganism in general the opinions, feelings, goals and desires which are articulated by the interviewees run the gamut from simple modification of the status quo to a revolutionary view of where we need to be in the future. Do I always agree? No, I don't. Do I object to what they have to say? No, I don't. Do I think this book on library shelves (public, university, and private)? Yes, I do.
This book represents an important aspect of our Pagan history. While there have been many books written which contain interviews with prominent, well-known Pagans, there have only been a relative few which contain interviews and reminiscences of people who have been living the Pagan lifestyle quietly. This is one of those books. We need, in my opinion, more books like this, so that upcoming generations of Pagans can hear their predecessor explain what they went through to gain the freedom and tolerance they enjoy.