Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Read All the Things

As a young Witch studying the Craft, I was told to read a lot of books. Mind you, I wasn’t told to read anything specific, just everything that I could get my hands on. So I did. I read every single one of my Dad’s books on the occult, magick, Witchcraft, Wicca, New Age, and the like. Then I started to read what the local book stores had. I would sit in Barnes and Noble for hours reading the newest selection, or if I was slightly less poor than usual I would buy something and reread it many many times. I borrowed books from friends and read the few books on the subject at the local library.

The relationship between Contemporary Pagans and books has been a very strong one since the beginning of our movement. As the saying goes, “We are not the people of ’The Book’, but the people with libraries.” As happens over time, I slowly ran out of good Contemporary Pagan related books to read. I had read most of what was stocked on the shelves of the New Age section, which is still the case today. Additionally, as my practice grew and I become more learned between all the reading, training, and group and personal experience, the books that were available didn’t hold my interest. I am all for beginner books, everyone has to start somewhere, but as some point the step beyond them has to be taken.

The next phase of my Contemporary Pagan book reading took the form of Book Lists. With the entering of training with a different Coven in a new Tradition, I was given book lists full of things I had never read. These were books not available at the book store, many only able to be found used and tattered. It was at this time I made a big discovery in my seeking of books. I had decided to read what the authors of these books had read. So I researched and looked in the references and lived at used book stores and delved into the depths of the internet.

Looking back at that phase of my reading journey, I realize I made two BIG mistakes. For starters, I at the time was only looking in the New Age section of book stores. There is so much more out there that is relevant to our spirituality. At some point, I began to branch out and truly took the advice to “Read All the Books” to heart. Nowadays, I can be found in the New Age section (sometimes a gem will land here), psychology, mythology, science, nature, religion, poetry, philosophy, martial arts, and pretty much anywhere else in the store. Why? Because it is all relevant so long as I remember to read critically and make intellectual and intuitive decisions about the material as it relates to my practice. I have been doing this for some years now, and can honestly say that my Craft has flowered because of it.

The second thing that I discovered was small independent, albeit limited, specialty publishers of books on Witchcraft, Magick, or Contemporary Paganism. These publishers are doing great things in terms of putting more advanced books on the market. Mind you, many of these titles are in no way intended for beginners. Below are my favorites.

Know of a good independent publisher not listed; PLEASE share it in the comments.

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss
"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

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