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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.

The Circle Within

Author: Dianne Sylvan
Trade Paperback, 189 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn
Publication date: September 2003
ISBN: 0738703486
Price & More Info: Click Here

There are a lot of books on the basics of Wiccan beliefs and practices, but unlike most religions, there aren't yet many books on how to be a better Wiccan. The Circle Within: Creating a Wiccan Spiritual Tradition is a start. This book deals with relationships with deity, ethics and behavior, sacred space, daily practices, the wheel of the year, and creating personal rituals and traditions. It's not the usual Wicca 101 discussion of these things, however. Instead it is a discussion of how to live as a Wiccan and grow spiritually closer to the Wiccan God and Goddess. The second and much shorter section of the book gives devotions, prayers, and minor rituals to help get the reader started using the ideas in this book.

Dianne Sylvan's style is friendly and easy to understand, but not so familiar that you think she is your mother. This book, while not perfect (some of the theological concepts presented in the first chapters are a bit dodgy, for example), is full of ideas for incorporating Wiccan beliefs into everyday life. Solitary Wiccans will find this book particularly helpful, but even more coven-oriented Wiccans may find some personal insight in this book. For most Wiccans, this book is definitely worth a look. -- reviewed by Randall Sapphire

A Wiccan Bible

Author: A.J. Drew
Trade Paperback, 430 pages
Publisher: New Page Books
Publication date: August 2003
ISBN: 1564146669
Price & More Info: Click Here

Several years ago I ate at a very pretentious Italian restaurant. Unfortunately the food was awful and the service even worse, but that did not stop the staff from having their noses high in the air. Unfortunately, A.J. Drew's A Wiccan Bible: Exploring the Mysteries of the Craft From Birth to Summerland reminds me of this bad dining experience. Not only does the book call itself a "bible," its chapters are called books and given Latinish titles (Liber ab Nomen, Liber ab Genesis, Liber ab Tres I, etc.). The pretension level would not be so annoying if the writing and information were excellent. Unfortunately, they are not.

While the book claims to be about Wicca, I doubt any of the more traditional Wiccans and many of the eclectic Wiccans I know would recognize all that much of their religion in this book -- at least beyond the more vague generalities. The author has his own unique and different version of Wicca. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is not fair to foist it off on the world as standard Wicca in a book. Worse, the book is poorly organized and includes lots of material that has nothing to do with Wicca -- like Hellenic, Roman and Hindu holiday schedules and the author's political views. Over 100 pages are devoted to a list of deities from around the world with some (very general and sometimes inaccurate) information on most of them.

While there is some interesting and even useful material in this book, it is hard to find because it is buried in a morass of less useful and questionable detail. If you are a fan of A.J. Drew's version of Wicca, you will probably find this book a welcome addition to your library. But if you are looking for a good book on general Wicca, A Wiccan Bible is not the book you are looking for. -- reviewed by Randall Sapphire

Spirit of the Witch

Author: Raven Grimassi
Trade Paperback, 288 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn
Publication date: October 2003
ISBN: 0738703389
Price & More Info: Click Here

Raven Grimassi's books often annoy me greatly. While Spirit of the Witch: Religion & Spirituality in Contemporary Witchcraft does not impress me greatly, it does not annoy me nearly as much of some of Grimassi's other books have as there isn't as much revisionist history. There is some, but it is not the main thrust of the book. In this book, Grimassi discusses the spiritual side of religious witchcraft (which is not quite the same thing as Wicca).

This book attempts to get the reader to think about some of the "whys" behind the practices of witchcraft. I believe it succeeds in doing so to some extent, but a lot of space is wasted on reexplaining the "how-tos" of things like dedication rituals, consecrating tools, and even Sabbat rituals. I really can't figure out what these things are doing in what many seem to consider a more advanced book. It may come as a shock to many authors and publishers, but it really is not necessary to provide the basics in every book. Had these not been included, Grimassi would have had more space to develop the spiritual aspects this book is about. While I have to issue my standard warning to check all historical "facts" this author provides against current scholarship before accepting them, I found the parts of this book which were not rehashed Wicca 101 to be a more interesting read than I expected. -- reviewed by Randall Sapphire

Apprentice to Power

Author: Timothy Roderick
Trade Paperback, 292 pages
Publisher: Crossing Press
Publication date: September 2000
ISBN: 1580910777
Price & More Info: Click Here

Apprentice to Power: A Wiccan Odyssey to Spiritual Awakening is a rather forgettable book. While the author's experiences are surely valid for himself, I don't see that anything contained is necessarily Wiccan in nature, nor is it anything new on the spiritual scene.

I did like the author's discussion regarding Pandora's box and hope. An interesting take on the story. But otherwise, Apprentice to Power: A Wiccan Odyssey to Spiritual Awakening is an eminantly forgettable book. The rituals are simplistic and similar enough to 100 others published elsewhere that they're no recommendation, either. -- reviewed by Mattie

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