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Merry Meet and Welcome!

We hope that you will find our content to be uplifting and educational. Please keep in mind that this is not a space for debate or criticism but rather a place for respect, curiosity and learning.

You are encouraged to take what you can from what we share here. If you want to know more, do not look to the contributors of this blog to teach anything beyond what we post. Seek out what feels right for you, trust the Spirit to guide you and have faith in our heavenly parents who are the givers of all pure knowledge.

July 1, 2011

Book Review: Paganism

                                    An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions

                                    By Joyce and River Higginbotham

I went to the library a few days ago, armed with a list of books I wanted to read about women and pagan religions and goddesses.  I couldn’t find any books on my list, but I did a search for paganism, and this one popped up.  So I took it out and started reading it.  In between nursing Sprout, cooking dinner, hanging laundry to dry, and occasionally sleeping, I finished it in two days.  I couldn’t put it down.
The book is divided into seven chapters: What is Paganism?, You Are What You Believe, A Pagan View of Deity, What About Satan?, The Living Universe, Magick, and Ethics and Personal Responsibility. 
The first chapter dispels myths about witches and paganism and the people who practice any of the myriad of religions that fall under the umbrella of paganism.  The book is generalized toward the type of people who consider themselves pagans without focusing on one particular religion.  Some of the religions mentioned that fall under said umbrella are Celtic paganism, Druidism, Ceremonial Magick, Santeria, Voudon, Asatru, Shamanism, Eclectic paganism, Solitary paganism, Blended paganism, Wicca, and Family Traditions.  There is a brief description of each and its roots.
The rest of the book mainly focuses on finding what you believe.  It has exercises in each chapter—journal writings, meditations, group discussion questions, etc.—designed to help the reader find her way to whatever practice and/or religion fits what she believes.  There is a strong emphasis on personal responsibility, accountability, the sacredness and interconnectedness of Earth and all her living creatures, and ethics.  While different religions come to light in different sections, it gives a very interesting objective view of them and mainstream religions. 
My favorite part of this book is the emphasis on personal worship.  The meditations and exercises are designed not to ‘convert’ one to paganism, but to unlock what you truly believe in your heart and to remove limitations that keep you from practicing those beliefs.  The chapter on Magick compares spells and rituals to what other religions call prayer and divine inspiration—after reading the chapter, I agree!  Sending a thought or intent or ‘spell’ out to the ‘universe’ and expecting things to happen while going about doing everything you can to help it along is just about exactly the same as sending your prayer to Heavenly Parents and having faith in your righteous desires.  The authors even specify that if the inspiration you receive during meditation (or prayer, or whatever you want to call it) involves hurting someone else, or breaking the law, or hurting yourself, it’s not true inspiration and you should ignore it.
I highly recommend the book to anyone who wants to know more about paganism in general, or is seeking to bring more pagan ritual into her life but is concerned about the implications for church activity, or even anyone who is lost and looking for any religious or spiritual path. (please go through The Amethyst Network if you want to buy this book, as they get a percentage of each sale:  just use the amazon link on the right of the page)

1 comment:

  1. I just got this book, and I am LOVING it. It has a lot of "study questions" (or just good things to think about), as well as some guided meditations, and some exercises.

    The chapter about belief is really good, it challenges you to realize that every belief you have also forces you to not believe certain other things (ie, we are all biased in some way). So, for example, if I believe that humans are inherently 'fallen' or flawed/sinful, then I cannot believe that they are inherently good...and visa versa.
    The belief chapter also briefly addresses the issue of belief persistence. I learned about belief persistence in my psychology classes, and essentially it is that we tend to believe the first thing(s) we learn, and to stick with believing them, even when we are presented with conflicting information (information with more solid factual basis than our prior held beliefs). We tend to ignore or blatantly disregard things that conflict with our already held beliefs. There is no logic to belief persistence, it's strictly 'first come first served' as it were. An interesting issue to contemplate!


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