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Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > Mini-Reviews: Pagan Books Search

Pagan Books

Here are some some mini-reviews of Pagan books. These reviews are shorter and somewhat less detailed than our full reviews.

Divination for Beginners

Author: Scott Cunningham
Trade Paperback, 240 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn
Publication date: June 2003
ISBN: 0738703842
Price & More Info: Click Here

Divination for Beginners: Reading the Past, Present, & Future is not a newly discovered Scott Cunningham "lost" book. It is the new Llewellyn edition of a book that has preciously been published by Crossing Press as The Art of Divination and as Pocket Guide to Fortune Telling. While I've always thought that this book was a bit skimpy and superficial in the details of the various methods of divination it covers, I've also considered its first seven chapters on the theory and practice of divination to be an excellent introduction to the basics of divination for the beginner. This first section covers the history of divination and practical things like how to prepare for divination, understanding symbols, the tricky nature of time, how to decide what type of divination is best for a question, and the important question about whether the future is fixed or changeable. Cunningham does an excellent job here.

The second section of the book deals with various less complex methods of divination. It briefly touches on things like water gazing, omens of many different types, casting lots, crystal gazing and much more. The third part deals with more complex divination techniques. It has brief chapters on Tarot reading, palmistry, and the I Ching. Brief is the operative word here. None of these three chapters gives enough information for a beginner to actually use one of these methods. Appendixes define many different words for types of divination and provide a fairly lengthy bibliography. If you are a complete beginner at divination, you will find that the first part of this book provides you with a strong background in divination theory. However, this is not the best book available to the beginner on the practical aspects of divination. -- reviewed by Randall Sapphire

The Complete Guide to Divination

Author: Cassandra Eason
Trade Paperback, 304 pages
Publisher: Crossing Press
Publication date: September 2003
ISBN: 1580911382
Price & More Info: Click Here

The title of Cassandra Eason's latest book is a mouthful, The Complete Guide to Divination: How to Foretell the Future Using the Most Popular Methods of Prediction. For "marketing department speak," this is a fairly accurate description of the book. Like most books claiming to be "complete guides," it really is just a introduction to its subject. However, it is a very good introduction to divination. This is especially true for someone who is interested in learning enough about a number of popular divination systems to to actually use them a while to see which ones click and deserve further study.

Eason's book covers ten divination systems: Tarot cards, playing cards, the I Ching, numerology, palmistry, runes, tea leaves, pendulum, trees, and crystals. The number of pages devoted to each system varies by its complexity from about seven pages for divination by pendulum to about fifty pages each for the Tarot and the I Ching. In all cases, she gives enough information to actually use the system completely, although at a basic level. This puts the book miles ahead of the many multi-system introductory divination books on the market that are so skimpy on details of the systems they purport to cover that one often cannot really use those systems. Easton's writing is clear and easy to follow. The The Complete Guide to Divination: How to Foretell the Future Using the Most Popular Methods of Prediction is a well-written introduction to many divination systems for the complete beginner. -- reviewed by Randall Sapphire

Tarot & Dream Interpretation

Author: Julie Gillentine
Trade Paperback, 240 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn
Publication date: July 2003
ISBN: 073870220X
Price & More Info: Click Here

Tarot & Dream Interpretation is another book in Llewellyn's interesting "Special Topics in Tarot" series. Like the other book in the series, this book focuses on a more advanced method of Tarot use. Julie Gillentine explores ways to use the Tarot to help interpret dreams and vice-versa. The majority of the book, the last two-thirds, is special Tarot interpretations for dreams and a symbol dictionary which includes both dream and tarot symbols. Explanations and nine special spreads make up the first third of the book. It's really hard to say a lot about the contents of this book as they provide what one needs to combine the Tarot with dreams in a very straightforward manner. While there is a lot of information, there's not a lot to talk about.

What really makes this book work, however, are the many example readings in the fourth chapter. The author provides ten concise sample readings that did more to show me how dream interpretation and tarot reading can work together than all the preceding explanations did. Tarot & Dream Interpretation is an interesting book. If you divine either by dreams or tarot and would like to expand your horizons, you will want to take a look at it, but those familiar with both methods will benefit the most from this book. -- reviewed by Randall Sapphire

Karmic Palmistry

Author: Jon Saint-Germain
Trade Paperback, 176 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn
Publication date: June 2003
ISBN: 0738703176
Price & More Info: Click Here

In India and surrounding areas, the concept of karma is apparently applied to many fields, including divination. While karmic astrology has been the focus of a number of books in the West, Karmic Palmistry: Explore Past Lives, Soul Mates, & Karma is the first book I know of on karmic palmistry. While it provides an overview of palmistry in the first chapter, this really isn't the best book for complete beginners. It is too specialized and lacks the huge number of illustrations that a good palmistry book for beginners will have.

A knowledgeable palmist may find this book adds a new dimension to palmistry by adding in karmic references and the I Ching. Personally, I question the usefulness of karma considerations in the West as most people haven't studied Eastern religions or philosophies and therefore have a very warped idea of how karma works and what karmic debt is. Adding karma to a reading may simply make it harder for the average person to understand. Then again, from reading this book, it's clear that using these techniques can add insight to a reading. The I Ching methods are really a separate idea and provide an interesting way to expand a reading by using the I Ching. I like it, but my respect for the I Ching may be biasing my opinion. Overall, this is an interesting book that some palmists will find very useful and others will consider a waste of time and money. -- reviewed by Randall Sapphire

The Dark Archetype

Author: Denise Dumars and Lori Nyx
Trade Paperback, 221 pages
Publisher: New Page Books
Publication date: September 2003
ISBN: 1564146936
Price & More Info: Click Here

The Dark Archetype: Exploring the Shadow Side of the Divine deals with the "dark" side of mythology and magick, the part that is often swept under the rug in the interest of making the universe look safe and inoffensive. The first half of this book discusses nine "dark" goddesses (Baba Yaga, the Black Virgin, Coatlicue, Hekate, Hel, Kali, Lilith, Medusa, and Oya) and nine "dark" gods (Anubis, Dionysos, the Grim Reaper, Loki, Lucifer, Set, Shiva, Tezcatlipoca, and Volos. (Calling some of these beings "deities" seems a bit much to me, but that's a minor quibble.)

While I can't vouch for the accuracy of the information provided about all of these deities as I am not that familiar with them, the information on the two I am most familiar with, Hekate and Dionysos, does seem fairly accurate historically. The article on Hekate even mentions that she was not seen as a crone or considered part of a triple Goddess in ancient Greece. Relatively recent books from university presses are listed in the bibliography which is always a good sign for those looking for more accurate information than is often given in popular Pagan books. A spell or ritual created around each deity makes up the latter half of the book. These spells are thoroughly modern.

Judging by the two deities I'm familiar with, The Dark Archetype: Exploring the Shadow Side of the Divine is one of the better deity books published for the Pagan marketplace. The authors seem to have done some actual research into academic sources instead of using the revisionist views of the Gods that seem to be so popular with many Pagans. I wish more Pagan authors would do this as it makes for a much better than average book. -- reviewed by Randall Sapphire

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