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Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > The Urban Primitive Search

Book Review:
The Urban Primitive: Paganism in the Concrete Jungle

Author: Raven Kaldera & Tannin Schwarzstein
Paperback, 268 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn
Publication date: October 2002
ISBN: 0738702595
Price & More Info: Click Here


The back cover copy of The Urban Primitive: Paganism in the Concrete Jungle by Raven Kaldera & Tannin Schwarzstein makes this book look very interesting. "You live in a twenty-first-century city, so become an urban primitive. Learn how to live a magical life in the concrete jungle..." As most people live in an urban area, a good book on urban magick would be an excellent addition to the many books on magick and spellcraft that assume one is in or has easy access to a rural environment.

Unfortunately, while The Urban Primitive is an interesting collection of advice and material on urban magick, it has too many flaws to be more than a fair and somewhat superficial introduction to the subject. This is a shame because with a little more care and attention to details, this book could have been excellent. There is quite a lot of useful information for someone living in an urban jungle in this book. The authors discuss magick for getting a job, finding an affordable place to live and roommates one can live with, for example. They suggest places in urban areas to honor specific ancient deities. They touch upon dealing with the many other Pagan religions one may find in a large city, raising children, and more. While some of this information lacks depth, it is still more than is found in many books on the bookstore shelves -- and the illustrations in this book are excellent.

The flaws in this book, unfortunately, are many -- and some cut deep. First, the authors have written the book from a fairly Wiccan point of view. There's nothing wrong with this, except that they sometimes say "Pagan" when they mean "Wiccan." Second, the writing style indicates that the book is aimed at the teenage goth crowd which will grate on the nerves of many Pagans who live in urban areas but are not teens or who are not goths. The biggest flaw, however, is superficial information. While this book seems to be aimed at beginners, it assumes quite a bit of knowledge that many beginners would not have. No book can contain everything, of course, but a book aimed at beginners should at least point the reader to specific other books that fill in the gaps.

Finally, some parts of this book are just plain silly. For example, the urban triple goddess (Squat, Skor, and Skram) and the urban triple god (Slick, Screw, and Sarge) seem like a joke. I'm sure that if enough people believe in them, calling on them will produce results. However, they still seem silly. Screw, for example, is the God of One Night Stands. You pray to him when you want to get laid and make offerings to him by giving condoms to people you meet. If I'd have known this in college, I'd have never spent a night alone. Yeah. Right.

In summary, The Urban Primitive: Paganism in the Concrete Jungle is an interesting but flawed book. If you are having trouble seeing how to work magick into city life, you might want to take a look at this book at one of those nice bookstores where you can sit down and go through it carefully over a cup of coffee. Only you can decide if the book's useful information outweighs its flaws. It doesn't for me, but I'm not the beginner this book was written for.

Reviewed by Randall

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