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Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > Cakes and Ale for the Pagan Soul Search

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Book Review:
Cakes and Ale for the Pagan Soul

Author: Patricia Telesco
Trade Paperback, 234 pages
Publisher: Crossing Press
Publication date: 2005
List: US$14.95
ISBN: 1580911641
Price & More Info: Click Here

Over the years the series of "Chicken Soup" books have served as inspiration for many people. Now there are inspirational stories for those of us who walk the Pagan path. This book includes not only reflections, but spells and recipes from some well-known Neo-Pagan Elders and teachers.

These folks share stories of activism and raising children, rituals and the powers of nature. There are ideas to try as well as lessons to inspire. You should be able to find whatever you are looking for within these covers.

Patricia Telesco has gathered together the thoughts and feelings, and a few recipes, from folks as diverse as Margot Adler and Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, Selena Fox and Starhawk.

Not all of these Elders and teachers are well-known. That isn't the point of this book. Insight, wisdom, and the ability to inspire are not restricted to those who are most notable. Many people feel intimidated when meeting with "the leaders" of our community. Patricia has presented such a variety of thought that it should be obvious that, first and foremost, these are people who enjoy sharing stories with others.

Some of these stories she has collected seem to lack focus (that may simply mean that I didn't need to, or wasn't ready to, connect with that story at this time). Regardless of their seeming relevance, each of these stories reveals something needed in the world - if not for you, perhaps for a friend, covener or family member. There are stories of all types herein, as I said earlier, and the range and breadth is quite amazing.

You don't need to read this book in a linear fashion. You can feel free to pick and choose from any of the six chapters. Chapter One relates to finding, and following, the path appropriate for you. Chapter Two relates to forms of wisdom. Chapter Three reminds us of the guidance which is available from nature. Chapter Four deals with community, which is something which needs to be addressed in many areas. Chapter Five shares rituals, while the final chapter deals with spells and other miscellaneous items. Each of the chapters has about eight stories, representing the offerings of over forty authors in total. The styles range from "chatty" to "instructive".

This would make a good bedside book. Most of the offerings are short (none of them over a dozen pages, and most ranging from two to four pages), so you can take a few minutes before retiring into the arms of Morpheus to, perhaps, inspire your dreams.

It appears to me that this is field which is ready to be explored in much greater depth. There are now, and will continue to be, plenty of books in the "How I came to the Path" vein, but not a lot of books of this type, which is more of a "You may not believe this" vein. I'm sure there are a lot of anecdotal stories out there that can illustrate the unexpected power of our beliefs (heck, I can think of two in my own family right off the top of my head). Sharing this kind of story may help to encourage others to look for the power of the gods in unexpected places.

The gods know there are a lot of Elders out there who have knowledge to share. It would be nice if that knowledge could be shared with the entire community-at-large, instead of just the local community. I would like to see further compilations of this type become available. It would provide a major service to the Pagan community. I'm sure Ms. Telesco has enough on her plate that she doesn't have time to revisit this topic, but surely there are other authors who could pick up this thread and work with it. The raw material is there, certainly. Anybody else want to take a stab at it?

Reviewed by Mike Gleason

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