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Home > Article Library > Editorials > 101 Book Phenomena Search

The Anatomy of the
Pagan 101 Book Phenomena

Editorial Opinion by AthenaPrime

It's pretty easy to smack out a Pagan 101 book because the formats of your basic 101 books are pretty formulaic. A good 101 book reads like a training manual, almost. You are given some concept material, and then a series of "job aids" to help you perform the tasks required. (Funny, but this is exactly what I do for a living, except not for witchcraft--how weird is that?). Beyond that, you can load up on appendices with charts, tables, color correspondences, etc. and you have a pretty thick book.

Example: HappyBunnyWicca for Beginners by Pansy Moonfart and published by Lleweleweleweleweevil Press has the following chapters:

  • Chapter 1-What is Wicca?
  • Chapter 2-What are the Tools?
  • Chapter 3-Who Do We Worship?
  • Chapter 4-How to Cast a Circle
  • Chapter 5-How to Perform a Full-Moon Ritual
  • Chapter 6-How to Perform a Sabbat Rite
  • Chapter 7-How to Cast Spells
  • Appendix A-Colors
  • Appendix B-Astrology
  • Appendix C-Pre-Made Spells for Love, Money, and Protection

There's a tried-and-true model out there that is guaranteed to sell books. Much of the information in there is standard--it is livened up by the writer's style, voice, and personal slant on things. But it's still the same basic type of information. Not to say all 101 books are the same, but they do cover the same topics.

But as anyone who's pursued an education knows, the higher-level the course, the more expensive the book. For something as spiritual as this, a higher level book requires more subjective research, because you're dealing with a lot more conceptual material, which is also subjective.

At the top of my wish list, I would like to see the following: A 202 book, written by a Regular Joe, that focuses on Pagan Living for Real People. Unfortunately, since we're such a small culture, the minute someone comes out with a 101 book, they become an "expert" on the subject. For a spiritual subject, that indicates clergy, at least in some form.

So by the time her second book comes out, Pansy Moonfart is no longer a person who wrote a book about her faith and its practices, she is now a Pagan Celebrity. Her life revolves around going to New Age shows, astrally-projected book tours, and Pagan festivals, and managing her psychic services help line. She wears her ritual robe 24/7, doesn't pour her organically grown cornflakes without consulting the tarot, and bakes crystals in her meat loaf. In between, she visits with a steady but relaxing stream of seekers who come into her living room and have tea and tarot.

I can no longer identify with this person. This person can no longer identify with most Pagans, who are still getting up at ungodly hours (or coming home at them), wash their faces with soap and water instead of hand-gathered pixie dust and lily dew, and spend too long of a grueling work day at computers, counters, on phones, etc. and guzzle coffee to stay alert. And who definitely do not have time to arrange a spell involving 90 candles, seven days' worth of chanting, and several hours of quiet, healing bath time.

So Pansy's second book, Navel Contemplation by Full Moon's Light, comes out, and I hate it because it is of no use to me. Another useless celebrity graces the shelves....

Maybe one day, I will write that 202 book...As soon as I've finished collecting my lily-dew.

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