This book is a collection of Essays, stories, practical work and wisdom from Elders, Writers, and Teachers within the Pagan Community. I picked up this book hoping it would fill a void within the pagan book section at home, and I believe that it did.
Dianne Sylvan Author of “The circle within” and blogger of the former “Dancing Down The moon” once said that the Pagan community was lacking books on how to get through life’s obstacles, how to deal with the very real tragedies and ups and downs in life. Her post deals mostly with Crises of Faith but it can apply equally to anything that shatters our world. Another note on her blog post is that Christianity has no lack of ministers, support groups and television programs. Not to mention when I’ve browsed the Christian religion section, they have tonnes of books on how to deal with certain issues and some of these books are personal stories of healing.
To an extent I agreed with this point.
One way Witches, Wiccans and Neo-Wiccans often deal with life’s issues is obviously through spellwork and ritual. But there are a plethora of books on Abundance, Cursing, Protection, Romance and anything else under the sun. Not all Pagans however are Witches, Wiccans and Neo-Wiccans, and even the ones that are, need more than just spells to get through life’s tragedies and problems. “The Pagan book of living and dying” I do not own yet (but it’s on my to get list), is one book that deals with this lack, it helps people to deal with death and the grieving process.
When this point was brought up elsewhere one person had stated that Paganism and Wicca were so broad and open, and therefore a book like this would not be necessary and would in fact not work within Paganism. And to an extent I agree with this as well. The beauty of the Path that I follow is that It is my own, and that it is my own system that I am creating. And I’ve gone through losing family, pets and rejection, financial problems etc without the need of these books, but desperately wanting them.
When I lost my father, I dealt with it by not practicing magic at all, not formally praying, not doing any magical rituals and generally just not being at all involved in the witchcraft community. I did not see a psychologist because I’ve been to psychologists in the past and I found it largely unhelpful, not to mention, they often do not get alternative spirituality especially in the form of Witchcraft. (This is not to paint all Psychologists by the same brush, or to say that others shouldn’t go to one as I think they can help, they just didn’t help with me).
Spiritually speaking, I was drained. I loved my gods and believed in them and spoke to them, but I was drained and I needed to talk to an elder, someone who had gone through this before, someone who knew what it was like to be a Pagan and a Witch, and to have lost a parent, and I had no one. I had no books. My mom was there for me, and so was my boyfriend and my grandparents, but it wasn’t enough I needed someone priestly and frankly the Pagan Priests that I had known were all ego-maniacs, doing it to be the biggest coven in SA, and just generally fluffy. Solitary witches, are often at a loss, because of this very thing. We have no coven support structure, we have no HP/S, and even though many books have started being written and getting out there, largely they remain inaccessible as the Esoteric section in book stores is largely new age or spells and My Pagan Book Stores have no clue about these books (shockingly).
Along the Way I found books, “Walking the Twilight Path” (Working with death and transformation) “Reaching through the veil to heal” (not exclusively a pagan book but on death and loss), but I was hungry for more personal stories, understanding and healing energies, and years later I stumbled upon this book “Cakes and Ale for the Pagan Soul” edited by Patricia Telesco.
Part of the Blurb says “Take a seat on the communal hearth and let these bards regale you with tales of hope, transformation, love, struggle, and victory. The bounty herein will fill you with warmth, sustenance, and inspiration that every spiritual seeker needs” This book is very much that. In my opinion it bridges the gap between How To get through_____ books and Spell books. It is filled with tales and reflections on grief, fear, pregnancy, financial struggle, and healing. It also contains spells and recipes. It keeps the openness of our pagan path, without being a “This is what you HAVE to do” and allows the reader to get involved in the stories to decide what they need to do with practical advice on how to do it along the way.
To a large extent Pagan books already offer practical solutions, and Pagan religions tend to be active, rather than passive, so we only have to look more closely at some of our texts.
I think for the most part, we know that we should talk to family, our gods and do therapeutic and recuperative practices, but while we are in the situation we feel completely at a loss and lost is what we are, a book like this can help you with a much-needed push, as it offers a means for recuperation and healing through pagan stories and experiences. It very definitely for me, offers the sustenance it promises in the blurb.
I only wish this book was longer with some focus on the dark night of the soul. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars (a very rare rating for me), because it was very much what I was looking for. I do, however, feel that there are more books like this that need to made accessible. “Herbal tea for the Pagan Spirit” looks like it could be good too, but what with my notorious spending habits, I’ll probably buy 30 more books before I get to that one, and unfortunately books like this are rarely sold in book stores near me.
There are many books I believe that have been overlooked in the pagan community because they are not well-known, many of them I still don’t know about. If there are any books you recommend on the dark night of the soul, pagan stories, dealing with grief, financial problems, love, through a Pagan’s perspective feel free to mention them in the comments. Books that aren’t exclusively pagan can be mentioned as well if they helped you.
M Shaffer has a review of this book so check it out!
Goddess Aloud- Michelle Skye
Circle of Isis- Ellen Cannon Reed
Magika Hiera: Ancient Greek Magic and Religion- eds Christopher A. Foraone and Dirk Obbink
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