Part 2: The 10 books that pushed me forward (for good or bad)

Part deux of my book list.  Just to reiterate that this list is not meant to be a Top 10 of must reads for Occultists/Neopagans/Magicians.  It is merely a walk down memory lane, a way for me to analyze how these books influenced my path or moved me forward.  Most of these were read or viewed many many many years ago. Here are the Last 5-

   

1. Speak Daggers to Her by Rosemary Edghill

This book is mystery fiction.  Why it’s on the list is because it was a book that helped bring me back into the Neopagan fold.  I read it at a time when I had stopped all of my spiritual practice, after several years of Occult involvement I was disengaged, I felt that as a grounded person, not given to whimsy and fantastical ideas, the Pagan way of life was not for me.  Then I came upon Edghill’s Bast series.

It presents a fictional look at the New York Wiccan scene in the guise of a fun mystery novel.  The first few sentences say it all, ” I live in New York and I’m a Witch. Put away your pitchforks-or more likely in the nineties stifle your yawns…It’s just my religion.” , this statement hit me right in the head.  Here was a Neopagan women who displayed her belief realistically to readers, not in terms of fluffy bunny happy fairies, or a Paganism that was so separated from modern reality that it was unrecognizable to everyday life.  For me it was a reminder that Paganism didn’t need to be about courting experiences of extreme vision or deity intervention or seeing fairies playing in the woods, it was about a way of living that reflected a religious sense of harmony within self and even more it displayed a deep sense of community.

I really can’t think of one instance when the book veers into the fantastic and as far as I know it was the first of it’s kind that portrayed a realistic look into Pagan community and purpose.

I would recommend just getting all three of these small novels – Bell, Book, and Murder fits them all into one anthology.

2.  Bulfinches Mythology

Not much to say about this.  As a kid I loved mythology and fantasy, and in my high school years it grew as I became more acquainted with the mythologies of world religions.  I was especially drawn to the Norse mythologies and remember how powerful the image of Odin presented at the beginning of the Norse Tales was for me.  A bit simplistic of a book now, but I still have a copy, and it’s good for those wanting a general overview of cultural mythology.

3.  A Practical Guide to the Runes by Lisa Peschel

My first book on Runes.  I don’t have this book anymore because it’s a little too new agey for me these days.  When I first started my study of Runes this was the one book I began reading.  It’s not bad.  Overall it’s a good primer on Rune divination, which is also why it’s not that good.  The book doesn’t provide anything other than divination information, and it also includes the Wyrd Rune which, if your going to take Runic work serious has no place in the field.  Again, not a serious book on Runelore, but good for those starting out with Runes as a divination form.

4. Astral Projection by Denning & Phillips

Astral Projection was a book that opened my eyes to the world of meditation.  I’m not sure that was the goal of the book, but for me that’s what it did.  The book made use of mediation and visualization quite alot, and after implementing many of the books exercises I didn’t find myself Astral Projecting but I did find meditation very stimulating and powerful. Of course my meditations changed throughout the years, but there was some good information in the book that got me started.

5. Robin of Sherwood the TV Show

Not a book obviously, but in my mind integral to pushing me to read mythology and investigate nature.  I lived in the country growing up and as kid I spent alot of my time in the woods, near streams, sitting alone in gullies and walking across prairies.  I very distinctly remember silently communing with the wild as a kid, sitting still and feeling and knowing that I was a part of the world around me.

How does that tie in with the Robin TV show?  Well, the show presented a landscape that was alive.  When I first saw the show I was frightened a little because it verified my inkling that the natural world was alive, and it presented it through the magic of hidden forest paths and the figure of Herne.  It was a magical show that I often hear other pagans discuss…check it out if you haven’t.

I may post another top 10 of books or references that are more current.

The 10 books that pushed me forward (for good or bad)

This is a top 10 list of sorts – Not of great reads or of books that I think everyone should own, but of books that pushed me forward religiously speaking.  Some weren’t good, and some I would suggest to stay far away from, but nonetheless here they are.

I thought it would be fun to revisit some of these and riff a little about them. The first 5:

 

 

1. Celtic Magic by D.J. Conway

This book was the first book that I ever picked up regarding Magic(k).  It had a great cover, and went over some Wicca basics. At the time I really liked it, and it gave some things to try and think about.  It didn’t take long however, as I read more books and myths, to realize that most of the book is hogwash and very poorly researched.  The cover is still nice, though.

2. Circles, Groves and Sanctuaries: Sacred Spaces of Today’s Pagans by the Campanellis

A book which showed me that what I was interested in and experimenting with wasn’t odd or fanciful, there were actually “normal” people involved.  When this book hit the shelves, I realized it would be part of my collection for a long time, and there it sits.  This was a remarkable book when it was published.  Included are pictures of sacred spaces along with narration by those who use the spaces.

3.  Earth, Air, Fire & Water by Cunningham

This is a spell book.  Though I never considered myself a witch or a Wiccan, it gave me an insight as to how to manipulate reality by using simple natural configurations.  Not that I used it too much, I found it more useful as a reference for how magic(k) could be a simple act with limited tools and lots of intention.  I’ve actually purchased this book twice.  I think however it was given away a few years ago.  I might get another copy someday.  It’s companion is Earth Power and is just as good.

4.  Way of Wyrd by Brian Bates

Though this book is a little dated now, back nearly 20 years ago it really opened my eyes.  It was more or a less an Anglo-Saxon answer to Carlos Casteneda’s Don Juan books, but in it’s pages was wisdom about my ancestors and maybe how they saw things.  It is fiction based on historical dosuments, but it’s honest about it, which is more than I can say for Carlos’ works.  I’ve been meaning to read this again…soon.

5.  Druids by Ellis

What a surprise.  I’ve always been interested in Druids and this book fed my curiosity.  Still a great read on the topic and one that I cherish, bent pages and highlights throughout.  It is little skewed toward the Druids as humble and truth loving, and the author tries his best to ignore the human sacrifice issue, but overall full of good stuff.

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The next 5 coming soon….

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