"Study"?!?! Wait an elderberry-pickin' minute! Isn't one of the benefits of being a Pagan that you don't have to study canonical texts? It is true that Paganism has no required readings, per se. But the fact that Paganism doesn't have a Bible or a Koran shouldn't absolve Pagans of the responsibility (yes, responsibility) of reading what practitioners, scholars and visionaries have to say about the religion. That said, finding a starting point can be challenging. At this time, Paganism doesn't have anything resembling a central structure or national identity. A text that might be critical to a coven in Austin might be irrelevant in Ashtabula. So keep in mind that the following texts are not meant to be the final word on the subject. Quite the contrary: they are meant to be a jumping off point for practitioners and curious lurkers alike. We encourage you to debate the relative merit of our choices, and also to tell us what works have been influential to you in your practice!
Drawing Down the Moon, by Margot Adler: Originally published in 1979 (and updated in 2006) by journalist Margot Adler, this book uses ethnographic research to help explain contemporary Paganism, and remains a must-read for all Pagans. If you are looking for a work with scholastic rigor from a Pagan perspective, look no further. Everything you wanted to know about "Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America."
The Spiral Dance, by Starhawk: If there is a Pagan with star-power, it's Starhawk. A poetic book from one of Paganism's most famous practitioners, The Spiral Dance offers numerous Goddess-worshiping rituals for our modern lives. Starhawk's combination of basic Wiccan ideas and feminist principles helped to make this a landmark book on Goddess spirituality.
The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft, by Ronald Hutton: If you are at all curious about the real history of modern Paganism, Hutton will tell you more than you ever wanted to know. This hefty academic work offers one of the most comprehensive histories of contemporary Paganism available.
The Paganism Reader, edited by Chas Clifton and Graham Harvey: Clifton and Harvey have assembled this collection of primary texts for contemporary Paganism from many different cultures, arranged chronologically from ancient to modern times. Clifton introduces each primary source, giving the reader a thoughtful academic perspective. At the same time, the reader is given the opportunity to read the original texts and come to their own conclusions.
Witchcraft Today, by Gerald Gardner: Published in 1954, shortly after the repeal of Britain's Witchcraft Laws, Gardner's book is hugely influential to contemporary Wicca-less for Gardner's purported "discovery" of early 20th century witch covens than for Gardner's creation of what would become modern Wicca.
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