A Teaching Handbook for Wiccans and Pagans, by Thea Sabin
Llewellyn Worldwide, 978-0-7387-2710-3, 309 pp., 2012
It has been a number of years since I have read any of Thea’s writings. In fact, it had been so long that, when I saw a quote from my review of her previous work, I had to go back and reread that review. As I delved into this latest work, my original opinion seems to have been more than borne out. I was impressed by her practicality at the time, and I am even more impressed by it at this time. If there is one thing sadly lacking in the field of Pagan education (after discounting the lack of uniformity) it is common sense. Thea supplies that in abundance.
This is a collaborative effort. Ms Sabin approached numerous teachers of Pagan topics – those who teach in-person; those who teach online; those who have been teaching for years; and those who are just starting out as teachers – on a variety of approaches, techniques and pitfalls. You know those things which are “needless to say…”, she says them because since everyone knows them, we often forget to include them in our thinking and preparations. You know the kind of disaster I mean – you have all your media on a flash drive, but when you arrive at the location you discover that the files have been corrupted (or even worse, you grabbed the wrong flash drive)…how do you recover? Or you have that one student who seems bound and determined to wrest control of the class away from you…how do you deal with the situation? Continue reading
The Shamanic Witch, by Gail Wood
Red Wheel/Weiser, 978-1-57863-430-9, 244 pp. (incl. Glossary, Notes, and Bibliography), 2008
The Shamanic Witch is targeted at introducing practicing witches to neo-Shamanism. As such, the first two thirds of the book introduce and instruct one in beginning a neo-Shamanic practice, and the last third is directed at incorporating Shamanic elements into a pre-existing Witchcraft practice. Even if one is not a witch, the introduction to neo-Shamanism is well written, accessible, and assumes no prior knowledge. It would be unwise to pick up this book with the intention of beginning witchcraft, although a reading list is provided at the end of the book.
The first two chapters introduce the concept and context of Shamanism and provide the reader with some expectations as to what the experience of journeying will be like. Wood includes a number of exercises to prepare the reader: becoming comfortable with their own style of visualization, connecting with drumming and non-ordinary states of consciousness. The third chapter is dedicated to introductory journeys, following what seems to have become standard practice for neo-Shamanism: journeying to the lower world to meet a power animal and then journeying to the upper world to meet a guide or teacher. Wood writing is casual and approachable. She draws directly from her own experiences both as teacher and student, presenting components of her own personal journeys but also alerting the reader that their own may take very different forms. Continue reading
Night of the Witches: Folklore, Traditions and Recipes for Celebrating Walpurgis Night, by Linda Raedisch
Llewellyn Worldwide, 978-0-7387-2058-6, 238 pp., 2011
This is a book which is dedicated to one specific observance (May Eve). It is not intended for the active practitioner or even for the individual striving to learn about Witchcraft, rather it is aimed at the individual who has no background in folklore. It is set against a backdrop of European custom and beliefs, which makes sense, because of the dominant European derivation of modern witchcraft beliefs. Continue reading
Near-Death Experiences, The Rest of the Story: What They Teach us About Living, Dying, and Our True Purpose, by P.M.H. Atwater
Hampton Roads, 9781571746511, 288pp., 2011
Phyllis Atwater is a well known researcher and author in the field of near death experiences, in fact she is one of the first researchers in the field and Near-Death Experiences, The Rest of the Story is her final book on the subject as she’s retiring. As someone with a few NDE in my past and an interest in the subject I was very excited for this book. I was worried that it would be a rehash, like many books on the subject tend to be, but I was not disappointed and in fact this book exceeded my expectations. This book contains “forty-three years of research involving nearly seven thousand adults and children” and while some of it is familiar, there is a lot of new material as Atwater is retiring she “finally say[s] things [she] never dared to say before.” Continue reading
Bridging the Gap:Working Within the Dynamics of Pagan Groups and Society, by Crystal Blanton
Megalithica Books, 9781905713431, 146 pp., 2010
Those of us who have been in the Pagan “community” for any appreciable amount of time are well aware that the topic of this book is one which in of vital concern as Paganism becomes more acceptable in the world outside our Circles, Groves, and Covens. From the very beginnings of the public existence of Paganism in the modern world there have arisen situations which needed to be addressed, but which frequently were shuffled to the side with a “We’ll deal with that later” attitude.
The past decade or so has seen the rapid rise of both “solitary” and “eclectic” segments of the Pagan community. This has led to even more destabilization of the overall community, since there appears to be a high level of distrust, if not outright antagonism between these segments and the more “traditional” groups which exist. Continue reading