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Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > Old Stones, New Temples Search

Book Review:
Old Stones, New Temples

Author: Drew Campbell, Ph.D.
Trade Paperback, 352 pages
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
Publication date: September 2000
ISBN: 0738832014
Price & More Info: Click Here


Old Stones, New Temples by Drew Campbell has been billed as the first comprehensive introduction to Hellenic Reconstructionism, and it definitely fits that description.

As an introductory text, the author has stated there were areas that he had to skimp on in order to expand in others. He doesn't miss much, however, in this well documented work. Even the "thinner" sections present valuable information. Keep in mind that this book is from a Reconstructionist point of view, and is much different than many books published. This book is a scholarly approach to a religious belief that does not incorporate the normal magickal influences prevalent in Wicca and some other paths. As such, the reader will find a more academic approach with an emphasis on primary sources. The author makes an assumption that the reader has some background knowledge of the Greeks, so while it is an introduction, this is not a fluffy book by any means. The bibliography is excellent, and will provide further areas of research for the student or worshipper of the Greek pantheon.

My only complaint on this book is the lack of indexing; however, it is so very well organized it doesn't suffer from that omission. The author has divided the book into seven well thought out sections. A lot of information is included that is normally not seen in one work. I'll discuss each section separately.

Part One: On Gods and the Universe. This section is not meant to give the reader a comprehensive view on the Olympians or other Greek deities, but does give a solid foundation on something that has been vitally needed...a view on many of the epithets or aspects of the various Gods. The author has also included devotionals for many of the deities, which is another welcomed addition.

Part Two: Styles of Worship. While not an in-depth look, it nicely covers the areas of sacrifice, worship styles, oracles and the will of the Gods. There is also a brief section on the various movements in Greek worship (i.e., Pythagorean, Orphic, etc.). Something of a "teaser", it gives the reader a starting point for further research into the Mysteries and the beliefs of the Ancient Greeks.

Part Three: Hellenic Values. I think this was one of the most valuable sections for me. Mr. Campbell very capably discusses ethics and piety -- something that I find missing in many books. His chapter on Devotional Rites and Daily Observances will give the reader options on including the worship of the Greek pantheon in daily life.

Part Four, Celebrating the Life Cycle and Part Five, Rituals for Special Needs explore some of the different rituals available. The author has included marriage and funerary rites, as well as other rites of passage. With very little information widely available on these rites, these sections alone make the book worth its price.

Part Six: Heortai - Annual Festivals. In my opinion, the single most difficult aspect of Hellenic Reconstructionism is the festival calendar since it differs radically from the better known Wheel of the Year, and information is missing in areas. Utilizing the Athenian calendar, the author takes you through the festival months. Where historical information is incomplete, he states that. He has included a series of suggested rituals, complete with menus, to help the reader. He has also included a much needed description on the Hellenic priesthood and leadership roles, which can be very distinct things within Hellenism, and another area that is different from many other Neo-Pagan practices.

As Hellenic festivals were originally very large, ornate productions that might include a massive number of participants, it is sometimes difficult for a solitary worshiper to visualize conducting one. However, the festival suggestions are so very well written, it's not difficult to see how they could be converted for use by one person.

Section Seven: Kai Ta Loipa - A Hellenic Miscellany, is just that. This section includes incense recipes, where to look for further resources on Hellenism and a superbly written Hellenism FAQ.

Old Stones, New Temples is a marvelous work for anyone wanting to explore Hellenic Reconstructionism. Mr. Campbell's tone takes on just the right timbre. He presents difficult information from varying sources in a clear, concise manner and with some humor thrown in. As the founder of Nomos Arkhaios (an educational resource for Hellenic Pagans), priest to the Hellenic ritual group, Thiasos tes Glaukos, and valued member of the now-forming Hellenion, he brings valuable, authoritative insight into the practices of Hellenic Neo-Paganism to this book.

Reviewed by LyricFox

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