Prayer, photo by Sundaram RamaswamyA Book of Pagan Prayer, by Ceisiwr SerithA Book of Pagan Prayer, by Ceisiwr Serith
Weiser Books, 1-57863-255-2, 245 pp. (plus Appendices, Bibliography and Notes), 2002

This is a book I never thought I would see. Most of the Pagans I know aren’t big on formalized, scripted prayer. There are going to be those out there who will swear by this book, and those who will swear at the author. Many neo-Pagans feel that prayer should be completely spontaneous and will find the idea of A Book of Pagan Prayer (akin to the Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer) to be incomprehensible, if not incompatible with Pagan religion.

Part I of this book, the first 68 pages, explains the basics of prayer: how to pray, when to pray, how to write prayers. It sets the groundwork and helps to build the foundation of what is needed for effective prayer.

I don’t agree with everything the author says, especially the statement that “Paganism is defined by its rituals rather than its beliefs,” but since is admitted to be a personal opinion by the author, I can accept it.

One of my teachers insisted that whatever we offered to the Gods, even in something as simple as a food offering at a feast, be the best we could afford and made to appear as attractive as we could, but I am not sure I agree with the author’s contention that the Gods demand material offerings (with the exception of a relatively small number). I think most of the more “modern” (or more “civilized”) deities welcome material offerings, and perhaps anticipate them, while the more “primitive” and “less civilized” deities expect that their demands will be met exactly.

The views of this author are far more structured than many of the current generation of neo-Pagans may feel comfortable with. The current attitude seems to harken back to the “If it feels good, do it,” philosophy of the 1960s and ’70s. This author’s approach owes much to mainline religious tradition.

The prayers in this book are separated into categories, to make it easier to find what you are looking for:

  • Callings/Prayers of Praise Prayers for the Family
  • Prayers for Times of the Day/Month/Year/Life Thanksgiving/Graces
  • Petitions/Blessings Litanies and Mantras

The appendices include a very basic Table of Offerings, a Glossary of Deities (again, very basic), and an index of the first lines of prayers.

This book is going to appeal to a select minority within the neo-Pagan community. I’m afraid that it will be passed over by the majority, and many of those who do purchase it will let it languish on the shelf. Take the time to use it for inspiration, don’t expect it to have all the answers. Anyone can benefit from the ideas contained in it, if they are willing to put some effort into its use.

Image credit: Sundaram Ramaswamy