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pagan magick tips and tricks

How to find Pagan books

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find pagan books
It used to be difficult to find books on Pagan subjects. Most stores simply didn't carry them; the few books available were often sensationalist trash (Become A Witch In Three Easy Steps or a similar title). Today however there are many options for finding not only pagan books, but good and useful pagan books. Suitable books can be found with very little effort. Where can they be acquired, though?





Where to find Pagan books

Local library:

Not only convenient, but also free and good for the budget. If you can't find the title you seek, there is always interlibrary loan. Sections to check would be occult (133s), psychology (155s), philosophy (180s), general religion (200s), classical religion (290s), anthropology (301), folklore (398), health (613-615), and plants (715 and 716). The children's section will also have many mythology storybooks that may be of interest.

College library:

Many college libraries are open to the public. Take a look around to see what you might find -- you may be surprised.

General bookstores:

Barnes and Noble has large sections under 'metaphysical,' 'new age,' and 'magical arts.' Also visit women's studies, gardening, folklore, science fiction, even self-help for interesting books. If they don't have it and you know the title and author, the store can order it for you.

New age and pagan bookstores:

While it is good to support small businesses, often such stores are limited in their selection and less inclined to do special orders. However, some stores do specialize in obscure texts, so take a look.

Online bookstores:

Many web sites are now affiliates of online bookstores. Thus, one can order books directly from these sites. In addition, the commission thus earned from these associated bookstores often goes directly back to support the web site, so it becomes a win-win situation for both the site owner and the book purchaser. Take a moment to support your favourite web site in this manner.

I found a book, now what?

Now that you found a book, how do you know if it is a good one? How does one determine which books are worthwhile and which ones are all air with no substance (aka 'fluff')? Unfortunately, the 'fluff' books are becoming more and more prevalent in the last few years, with more being printed each year. In fact, most books available (and nearly all the 'popular' ones) are considered 'fluff' by the standards of educated Pagans who want something more than 'Paganism 101'. So what distinguishes a 'fluffy' Pagan book? Some signs include:

A lack of sources:

Most scholarly books include a bibliography so those who enjoy the book can read more about the subject. A book listing no sources tends to indicate that the author has done no research and is merely pulling this information out of thin air.

A lack of reputable sources:

If the author includes a volume that is known to be 'fluff' as a source or a biased source (as in Caesar's accounts of early Druids), it casts doubt on that author's research abilities, and hence the book you are reading.

The 'unbroken lineage' claim:

It is highly unlikely that any magickal or religious system has been in existence in the same form for more than a couple hundred years, much less the 10,000+ years of tradition that many authors attempt to claim. Possible exceptions might be certain Native American and Australian systems, but those are few and far between.

Recycled writing:

Check the flyleaf of the book for other works by that author. If it begins to read like a grocery list of cultures or systems (Egyptian Magick, Norse Magick, Celtic Magick, Enochian Magick etc), put it back. It takes years of training to become fluent in one magickal or religious system. It is highly unlikely that this author has lived long enough to have done more than cursory research for each system. Such authors may merely write one text and alter the names of the tools, places, and deities to suit whatever culture they are writing about at the moment.

Sweeping generalizations:

It's often said that by asking any twelve Witches about something, one will receive thirteen different answers. Since diversity is a defining characteristic of Paganism, it's highly unlikely that all Pagans believe any one thing. Such generalizations are patently false.

Shop responsibly

In short, the books being published are published because that is what publishers believe will sell. If they see that people are willing to buy fluff, that is all that will be available. What can John Q. Pagan do to help? Don't buy such books. Instead, encourage friends, seekers, and students not to buy them. Point them toward reputable and responsible publishers.


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