Return to Cauldron Home Page

Please donate now to pay our monthly server fees:
Donate to The Cauldron
[More Info]

Community Menu
Community Home

Message Board
Board Home
Board Rules
Board Extras:

CauldronMUX [Client]
Sister Forums:
   Asatru Lore


Site Info & Rules
Site Archives
Volunteers Needed
Advertise Here

Pagan Supplies
Buy Pagan Books
Buy Pagan Supplies

Books & Media
Books Home
Games Home
Music: Free | Pagan
Online Books
Pagan Book Browser
   Academic Books
   Divination Decks
   Fiction Books
   Pagan Books
   Speculative Books
   DVD & Videotape
Submit Review

Pagan Features
Article Library
Chat Log Index
File Library
Pagan Holidays
Pagan Primer
Pagan Rituals
Pagan Supplies
Pagan Youth
Spell Grimoire [Blog]
Web Resources

Pagan Living
Cauldron Cookbook
Take Political Action

Back Issues

Other Features
Greeting Cards
Syndicated Articles
World News/Opinion

Cheap Web Hosting
Doxy's Bazaar
Witchcraft Course

Old Indexes
Article Index
Webcrafting Index

Network Sites
Cauldron and Candle
Cauldron's Grimoire
RetroRoleplaying: The Blog
Software Gadgets
The Terran Empire

Site Search
Entire Web
The Cauldron

Member - Pagan Forum Alliance
Charter Member

Get Firefox! While this web site is designed to work in all major browsers, we recommend Firefox.

This site hosted on
a Linode VPS
Formerly hosted by

Why Use Dreamhost?

Site copyright
© 1998-2009
by Randall

Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > Out of the Shadows Search

Book Review:
Out of the Shadows: An Exploration of Dark Paganism and Magick

Author: John J. Coughlin
Trade Paperback, 262 pages
Publisher: Authorhouse
Publication date: May 2001
ISBN: 158820801X
Price & More Info: Click Here


Out of the Shadows: An Exploration of Dark Paganism and Magick is almost two separate books within one cover, one on Darkness and the other on the theory and structure of magic. I will approach the fist half of the book and then consider the second half for some clarity.

The section on Darkness opens with brief introductions to various "darkside" subcultures including the Gothic scene, forms of vampires, BDSM, and others. Although I do not feel they necessarily relate to Paganism (of the Dark or Light variety) it is an interesting segment nonetheless especially since it seems quite difficult to find fair and objective overviews of them. In addition, later on in the segment, he also introduces some other paths that could be considered Dark aside from Paganism, including Taoism and modern religious Satanism, and he provides enlightening information in regard to both. He goes on to discuss various Dark archetypes, the "Darker" aspects of many Pagan Deities, the Shadow (i.e. the part of the individual or of society that one represses and typically denies, in its personal and collective senses) ethics, blood, pain, and sacrifice. He also tackles the concept of "evil" in a Pagan context and how it has the potential to be present within both Light and Darkness.

This is perhaps the first book which really investigates the notion of Darkness from the viewpoint of polarity. It is certainly a wonderful examination of the concept of Darkness within a non-dualistic worldview, yet I had hoped for more information on its place specifically within Paganism. At this point in time, there are very few books addressing Dark spirituality or Dark Paganism directly, although this is slowly changing. A more widely available book on a very similar topic is published by Llewellyn: Nocturnal Witchcraft, which I have read as well, but I believe that putting in the extra effort to obtain Out of the Shadows is well worth it. I personally feel that Out of the Shadows, discusses the concept and meaning of Darkness in a much more in depth and thoughtful way than Nocturnal Witchcraft which seems more obviously interested in discussing superficial aspects or symbols associated with it. I do not think it gives the uninformed reader as much of a necessary philosophical background on the nature of Darkness as does Out of the Shadows.

The section on magic could in fact have been published as a separate book in and of itself (the author realizes this as well), but it is still a nice compliment to the first section. It provides a sound, down-to-earth introduction to the theories behind magic, yet it is not dry or overly academic in its presentation, it does not "demystify' magic at all. It is wonderful to find a resource that truly emphasizes the importance of personal knowledge and symbolism in magic and as such he provides guidelines for how a magical ritual or spell is structured, yet he refuses to supply pre-fabricated spells or corrospondence tables. Instead he addresses various means of raising energy and directing it. He has some very lucid things to say about mind-altering substances in magic and ritual. In fact, he makes a really remarkable comment that I wish more Pagan authors would make clear (especially in introductory books!):

"The only use I have for the spell books I collect is in artistic appreciation. Sometimes these spells give me ideas for my own spells and rituals, but typically I read them merely for the pleasure of reading a type of poetry. A spell is a poem in that it should reach inward to the individual with its symbolism and touch one's heart and soul. When a spell has personal meaning in this manner, if it gives you goosebumps or makes you pause in silent reflection of its words, that spell has the potential of being effective in magic working."

He also briefly delves into Chaos Magic and sex magic.

I would definately recommend this book to someone who is seeking to deepen their awareness of Darkness or to flesh out their particular flavor of Paganism with a greater knowledge of Darkness. Even if one decides that a Darker Pagan path isn't really for them, they should have a better grasp and understanding of those who do after reading this book. It should also help those Pagans (much like their Christian counterparts) who still think that modern Satanists are evil people who actually eat babies, etc. The section on magic should be of great use someone who wants an intelligent, non-fluffy introduction to magic. It is much more suited to the novice than is the first section of the book.

Reviewed by Sphinxmuse

Top | Home | Message Board | Site Info & Rules | Report Site Problems
Thanks to Cauldron Sponsors
(Sponsor The Cauldron!)

Cheap Web Hosting Report | Pagan & Magick Supplies
Witchcraft Course
Download Hundreds of Magic Spells