The trouble with introductory books in Pagansim, is that most of them keep introducing the same things – basic guides to well trodden paths tend to dominate. There’s a logic in this because it is in theory the biggest market and the author who becomes the definitive writer on how to be a what-have-you could do quite well. Except mostly this doesn’t happen and we get a proliferation of ‘how to do the things you already know how to do’ books, and from a reading perspective that’s not a great thing. What do you do once you’ve read a couple of introductions and want to go further? That transition out of beginner Pagan status can be immensely frustrating.
One of the things Moon Books is doing that I think has considerable merit, is offering an array of very small introductory books. Little and cheap, they don’t require a big investment of your time or money, which makes it easier to poke about and see what appeals. They are introductions to niches, small areas of thinking and practice introduced in more depth, which makes them handy for transitioning out of beginner status, and also useful for the more experienced Pagan reader who just likes to have some idea of what everyone else is up to. Kitchen Witchcraft, hedge riding, working with power animals, fairy witchcraft, pathworking through poetry, to name but a few. It’s a diverse set of books, and growing all the time as authors come up with new niches they want to explore. I’ve read many of them, the diversity is wonderful, and I’ve learned a fair bit.
There’s now a page where you can look at all of them, which is handy for browsing. Do check it out.
There is one of mine in here. Spirituality without Structure is in part a response to Alain du Botton’s Religion for Atheists. It’s a look at the nuts and bolts of religion, considering what religious experience does for us socially, psychologically, and in discernible real world terms to help a seeker figure out what it is they need. Even Pagans following a defined path tend to be on their own in terms of putting together a practice, and for that matter a belief system, and I think there’s much to be gained from asking how and why we do that, what we get out of it, and what it might cost us. There’s a trade-off between dogma and reassurance, conformity and authenticity, we have to weigh shared participation against personal experience often, too. I know from reader feedback that this is not a happy, uplifting sort of book full of joy and sunshine, but on the other hand if you need to poke around in the underpinnings of what you’re doing, it may prove helpful to you – I have had some good feedback on that score.
If you’re reading this, and have looked at the page and are thinking ‘but why isn’t there a book on…’ do please consider that you might have a job to do.