Paganism In Depth – A New Book

Paganism In Depth – A New Book February 12, 2019

My second book Paganism In Depth – A Polytheist Approach is now available for pre-orders at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at Llewellyn, the publisher. It will be released on June 8 as both a trade paperback and as an e-book.

It seems a bit odd to be talking about book sales when I just turned in the final edits a little over a week ago. But that’s the nature of the book business. It takes a long time to write a book, but it takes just as long to edit it, do layouts and cover art, market it to booksellers, print it, distribute it, and finally ship it to readers.

If you know you’re going to buy it, I encourage you to pre-order it as soon as you can. My first book The Path of Paganism has been successful, but I’m still not a big name in the publishing world. More pre-orders mean bigger orders from booksellers, a larger print run, and wider distribution. All that means more people will read the book, which is why I wrote it in the first place.

What’s Paganism In Depth all about?

The clichéd advice for writers is “write what you know, not what you think you know.” What I know about Paganism is how I got here and how I do it now that I’m here. The Path of Paganism was about how I escaped fundamentalism and how I built an experienced-based foundation for my religious, spiritual, and magical practice.

Paganism In Depth is the story of the next steps on my Pagan path. Because it’s a deeper book, it is necessarily a narrower book. This is not the only way to go deeper into Paganism, but it is how I have gone deeper. As the subtitle states, it’s a polytheist approach.

Here’s the summary Llewellyn put together.

Paganism In Depth is a next level book for Pagans interested in taking their practice deeper. Author John Beckett helps you develop a detailed understanding of practical knowledge as well as ideas for working through new challenges you’ll encounter as you advance in your practice, such as what happens when a deity makes demands of you, how to form and sustain community, and how to lead a community as a medium for the divine.

This book shares several keys to help you find your way forward when you feel you’ve gone as far as you can, including daily spiritual practice, ancestor veneration, perceiving the otherworld, religious ecstasy, direct experience of the gods, offerings, divination, magical practice, and devotional practice. Your relationships with your community and with the gods and spirits are of the utmost importance. John Beckett helps you navigate those relationships so you can give and receive the energy you need on your unique spiritual journey.

I would have preferred a different word than “energy,” but on the whole I think it’s a pretty good summary.

How did Paganism In Depth come to be?

I’m often envious of established religions. If you want to be a Baptist or a Catholic or a Tibetan Buddhist there are institutions with centuries of unbroken heritage waiting to support you on your spiritual journey. Huge chunks of our Pagan heritage were destroyed (much of it intentionally) when Europe and the Middle East converted to Christianity or Islam.

We’re rebuilding that heritage, but we have a very long way to go. Druidry and Wicca have a fair amount, but the kind of Pagan polytheism I practice has a lot less. I’ve been doing this work for the past several years, as have other Pagans and polytheists. But we’re working without a map.

The original title of this book was Paganism Off The Map. It was going to be a guide for doing the kind of mystical polytheist work I do. But there were two problems.

First, Paganism Off The Map sounds like a Pagan travel book, and very few people would want to read that (trust me – my travel-related blog posts aren’t well read at all). Dealing with publishers has taught me that the purpose of a title is grab the interest of the people who want to read it, not to sound pretty and poetic.

More importantly, I was trying to take readers from the 200-level of The Path of Paganism to a graduate level, with nothing in between. I was trying to write Book 3 or maybe even Book 4 before I wrote Book 2. That wouldn’t work.

I’m very thankful for Elysia Gallo, my editor at Llewellyn, for helping me write the book I needed to write instead of the book I wanted to write.

What’s inside?

Here’s the Table of Contents:


Chapter 1: Introduction

Part 1: Foundations

Chapter 2: Seeing the World in a Different Way

Chapter 3: Pagan Foundations

Chapter 4: Polytheist Foundations

Interlude: The Deeper Call

Chapter 5: I Like It Here – Why Do I Have To Leave?

Part 2: Practice

Chapter 6: Devotional Practice

Chapter 7: Magical Practice

Chapter 8: Divination and Oracles

Chapter 9: Ecstatic Practice

Part 3: Challenges

Chapter 10: Overcoming Roadblocks

Chapter 11: Living With Gods and Spirits

Chapter 12: Building Deep Religious Communities

Chapter 13: The Cost of Deep Practice

Chapter 14: Pagans Chop Wood and Carry Water Too

Epilogue: An Invitation To A Journey

Bibliography and References

Paganism In Depth – the on-line class

As the title implies, I think people who read this book are more likely than your average Pagan to want to take their own Paganism deeper. To help facilitate this, later this summer there will be a six-week on-line class based on Paganism In Depth. It wasn’t written as a textbook, but I think we can use it for that just fine.

Each week will have a video presentation delivered on-demand. I keep seeing all these cool classes by great teachers and I never take them because their times never work for me. Even if they make their classes available afterward, I still never take them. The ones I’ve actually done have been classes I can do when I can do them. So that’s how I’m going to structure my own classes.

Each class will have homework: reading, practice, and writing about what you experience. It isn’t mandatory – if you don’t want to do the homework that’s your business. But if you go to the trouble of doing it, I’ll go to the trouble of reading what you turn in and offering my feedback. No, there will be no grades – sorry, all you Hermione-types.

There will be a private Facebook group for discussions. Again, participation is entirely voluntary.

I’m going to try to keep the cost as low as possible – probably in the neighborhood of $50. Some teachers charge that much for a single class. But I’m new to this, plus you’ll need to buy the book. There will be a limited number of scholarships available for those experiencing financial difficulties.

We’ll start the class sometime after Mystic South, so late July or early August. Look for more details and signup announcements sometime after the book is released.

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