Pagan Alliance SA Inc.
Book Reviews
Book Reviews

We want to hear what your favourite Pagan-related books are - what books have inspired you, what books have you learnt from? We're not saying that everything can be learnt from books, but they are still a very valuable tool in self development and spirituality. We would like Pagan Alliance SA Inc. members to contribute to this page - please email your reviews to coordinator@paganalliancesa.net

The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford - Lon Milo DuQuette

I was actually recommended to read this book as an introduction to the Qabalah. I am now a devoted fan of DuQuette, whose 'seriously funny' and 'uniquely practical' style of writing is a refreshing contrast to the many books that are available on this topic. DuQuette's style of learning the Hebrew alphabet - 'Lamed looks like a snake that has swallowed a brick and is now having second thoughts' - is actually very helpful, and this imagery makes it a lot easier to learn.

Rabbi Clifford's gems include 'It's all in your head, you just have no idea how big your head is', and 'Qabalistic study and thought is designed to make you crazier than most people by requiring that you attain the all-encompassing consciousness of the real you.' The Tenth Command-Rant is 'Look hard enough at anything and you will eventually see everything', which to me is what the Qabalah is all about! Of course, this book also covers all the basics of the Tree of Life, such as the Four Qabalistic Worlds and the Sefiroth, as well as 'Chicken Tarot'.

I'll finish this review with the author's description of the book: 'A new improved Qabalistic text of great cynicism and wisdom written expressly for dilettantes with really short attention spans who pretentiously consider themselves Hermetic Qabalists but who are nonetheless serious about utilizing a tiny portion of the Hebrew Qabalah for spiritual enlightenment.'
Reviewed by Michelle

When I See the Wild God – Encountering Urban Celtic Witchcraft - Ly De Angeles

I felt that this book provided a reasonable sense of balance to the (predominantly) female bias that is found in most volumes on the subject of witchcraft.

The author gives the reader a modern perspective of witchcraft – with a Celtic twist. The highlight of the book is the seasonal rituals, where we are taken on an urban-style ritual journey through the Equinoxes and Solstices. These are GREAT! The writing style, content and ingenuity surpass any other ritual ideas that I’ve ever seen in any other book. The author has successfully broken free from the standard format, and with the use of story-telling, she has produced meaningful rites that are a joy to read.

Sometimes this seems more like a collection of essays than a book with any sense of continuity, but there are many chapters that stand out brightly, glowing like the eyes of the Wild Gods which she writes about so eloquently. On the whole, this is an entertaining and rewarding book.
Reviewed by Domhnall

Pacts With The Devil: A Chronicle of Sex, Blasphemy and Liberation - S Jason Black

A refreshing change from the influx of new age fluffy bunny modern Wiccan 101 material that we have been surrounded with. This book is not exactly about "making a pact with the Devil" per se (in the Christian sense) - its aim is to challenge that thinking of the modern occultist or magickian practitioner as to realising just how much Christianised Western society dominates our subconscious.

There will be those who knock this book because it doesn't follow the fluffy new age modern Wicca aspect but if you want something to actually challenge you in the way you think, especially useful for any kind of serious occultist, then this book does just that - in fact the introduction does that!

While I have worked with the left hand path, I do not call myself a Satanist or Setian or anything like that - I believe in the polarity of things. And just as there is the yin/yang and masculine and feminine which balance out each other, so do the "light" and "dark" aspects.

I really don't understand so-called Pagans, Wiccans and Wytches who are afraid of the shadows - take a closer look at what happens within nature without your rose-tinted glasses. Or take a deep breath and read something challenging - like this book.
Reviewed by Frances

Listening People, Speaking Earth - Graham Harvey

Who are contemporary Pagans and what do they do? Graham Harvey’s quest to find this answer has resulted in an informative book that covers the history and modern practices of Druids, Heathens, Shamans and Wiccans. Back in 1997, Adelaide’s Wakefield Press published Listening People, Speaking Earth, and it is the best reference book on Paganism that I’ve seen in a long time. Graham Harvey is a British lecturer in Religious Studies, and he’s been very thorough in this extensively researched account of our spiritual path, even including Australian magical methods.

In this book, Harvey explains how Pagans honour Earth, the seasons, spiritual folklore and life itself. He also acknowledges the underlying humour that many Pagans have, so there are plenty of Terry Pratchett quotes liberally sprinkled around.

This is a broad introduction to the trends of contemporary Paganism, but it is also much more than an academic listing of Pagan topics. Harvey has spoken to the people involved in these areas and has empathised with their beliefs, and in reading between the lines, he has probably experienced the spiritual connection of many of these paths himself. It’s obvious that this researcher has been listening to the people involved in Paganism, and has truly understood the words of the Speaking Earth.
Reviewed by Don

Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Millennium - Vivianne Crowley

This book was one of the first books on Wicca that I read over 10 years ago - but for those starting out with Wiccan today maybe it is not recommended. Why? Because, as the writer is a Jungian analyst, and due to the type of language used and the style of writing, some younger followers of Wicca and the Craft may struggle with this book - but don't let this put you off because this book is well worth it.

Compared with what is available today, this book still offers an area of relief as the Wicca described amongst these papers is the Wicca that was practised 10 or so years ago - not the new age, fluffy bunny version that is fast appearing today.

This book is about what Wicca was like - the more traditional based British Craft that was not all about spell casting but viewed the Craft as a serious spiritual tradition that affects the practitioner on more levels than just the mundane. However if you are not into British Traditional Craft, you can benefit greatly from the insights that the author provides.

Unlike other books, the author actually describes what you should be thinking, feeling etc when you cast a circle or draw down the moon's energy - something that is largely overlooked in many modern books.
Reviewed by Frances

Craft of the Wild Witch - Green Spirituality and Natural Enchantment - Poppy Palin

Poppy Palin is a talented writer whose words take you on an evocative, lyrical journey into the ways of the wild witch. Every paragraph is rich with expression. ‘Craft of the Wild Witch’ is a book about the basics of Natural Witchcraft, but Poppy’s way of weaving eloquence amongst her lessons is an enchantment in itself.

This is a large book in many ways, it is over 300 pages in length, and it covers many aspects of the earthy, practical paganism that most books on Wicca tend to ignore. We are shown the value of deep meditations, which can be used to connect to the knowledge stored within various realms (spirit and plant alike), and we are encouraged to seek the fullness that seemingly mundane situations can offer.

I loved this book, and if seeing the world from a fresh, new perspective appeals to you, and if you like the idea of literary lushness seeping deep into your soul as you read, then you will love this magical book too.
Reviewed by Black Donald

Magick Without Peers: A Course In Progressive Witchcraft for the Solitary Practitioner - Ariadne Rainbird and David Rankine

If you are looking for a book that while explains about Witchcraft, offers more practical workings as well as other magickal techniques then this is the book for you. "Magick Without Peers" is based on the correspondence course the authors produced on Progressive Witchcraft which, in their own words, is a further evolution of Alexandrian and Gardnerian Wicca.

There are three main elements to the Craft which the authors define as Magick, Mysticism and Religion. Unlike other books these elements are covered in depth in this book, and are produced in a manner which is practical for the reader. But there is more.

This book seems to continue where other books leave off. It covers many techniques (some not covered in your Scott Cunningham/Farrar books) and visualisations, meditations and rituals. There are also information about the Sabbats and Esbats, a personal insight into the God and Goddess, working with natural energies such as site guardians, and so much more! All written professionally and in an unpretentious manner that has a double benefit of being practical.

While written specifically for the solitary practitioner, with a bit of hindsight, this book can be easily adapted to group workings.

David Rankine is a well known and highly respected writer/author in the UK. He has over 20 years experience in the occult realms. Ariadne was his wife at the time this book was written. I personally was a student of theirs in the 1990s (both in actual and correspondence) so can vouch for the teachings of this course. Do yourself a favour and grab a copy of this book.
Reviewed by Frances

Sunwyse - Celebrating the Sacred Wheel of the Year in Australia - Roxanne T Bodsworth

At last! An entire book devoted to celebrating Pagan festivals in the Southern Hemisphere. The description given about each festival includes information for that time of the year from diverse viewpoints... Traditional Aboriginal lore is mixed with modern Australian activities, and Celtic customs are interspersed with snippets of information about the seasonal effects on our animals and local plants. This is followed by “Ways of Celebrating” each festival, and ideas from that section have formed the basis for many of my recent rituals.

Unlike many writers on this subject, the author doesn’t just transpose Northern Hemisphere traditions and ideas upon Southern Hemisphere seasons. Roxanne Bodsworth has taken into account the varied lifestyles, agricultural diversity, and multiculturalism that exists across the broad landscape of our country, and she integrates this knowledge into a useful patchwork of ideas for our seasonal celebrations down under.

This book is highly recommended for those who appreciate the inclusion of locally relevant ideas into their rituals and festivals.
Reviewed by Sean Nachai

An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present - Doreen Valiente

This book is certainly a must have for all those interested in Wytchcraft, Wicca or even Paganism in general. This book reads like a reference book of numerous Craft related topics - albeit some very British in nature.

With Valiente being one of the most respected experts on the Craft, each topic is well researched and explained. From Sabbats to people involved in the Craft (both famous and infamous) - from ancient sites to ancient British customs. Valiente succeeds in dispelling more widely accepted explanations for the mysteries by providing an interpretation not distorted by the Judeo-Christian spectacle through which much of the modern world is viewed, therefore muddling the history and shadowing the truth of such mysteries.

This book is a reference book that should appears on the shelves of both beginners and experienced Crafters alike.
Reviewed by Frances

Divining Earth Spirit - Alanna Moore

Australian author Alanna Moore’s revised and updated edition of Divining Earth Spirit is crammed full of interesting chapters on Geomancy (earth energies) and environmental awareness. It is the most comprehensive reference book of its kind. The author has been involved in dowsing for more than twenty years, and she is an acknowledged expert in this specialised field of research.

My only gripe about the book is the amount of space given to the ‘visions’ received by various clairvoyants in and around sacred sites. Most are unsubstantiated by experiences from anybody else. Does anybody really want to know about the lady who camped in a stone circle and saw a ten foot high elf called Asulan, who promised to help her look for her lost dog? I certainly don’t!

With a healthy respect for pagan traditions, and an awareness of deity and sacred space, Alanna Moore’s Divining Earth Spirit is an insight to a different method of reverence and appreciation for the Earth Mother. This is a valuable reference book for anyone with an interest in sacred sites and the world’s subtle energy fields. And it has opened my eyes to the variety of earth energies that one can explore through geomancy.
Reviewed by Balthazar

Tennage Survival Guide - Marina Baker

The author is a witch and environmental campaigner and it shows. It's a great book for young greenies, pagans, witches, the unsociable and anti-establishment. I love it but it might be too much for some parents, although I think it's quite mild really. I like that Marina is honest & tackles hard issues. She offers sound advice with a sprinkling of magick.

The book is a survival guide with scatterings of helpful spells, essential life tools, quotes from the wiccan rede and environmentally friendly alternatives. The intro includes the one and only swear word and talks of a growing band of merry thinkers known as the (no)alternatives.

The motto: be a good ancestor, Mission: to save the world, The Plan: 'is up to you'. Marina writes as one teenager to another with things like: 'adults will eventually grow up if we set them a good enough example.' I also liked: 'Make the right choices for you, adults are not always right.'

A few of the many subjects covered are: Witchy stuff, health, food, home, family, love, body, life, & more.

The back has a contact list for books, eco & people friendly companies & organizations. My daughter, her friends, their mothers and I, really enjoyed this book. Great future reference for when she takes over the world! (of fashion)
Reviewed by Orbmoth

Animism: Respecting the Living World - Graham Harvey

Graham Harvey’s interest in animism arose while researching his previous book, Listening People, Speaking Earth. In this one, he delves into the nature of animism (excuse the pun); historical examples; and the ethical dilemmas of being an animist in today’s world.

The first part of this book is spent attempting to define ‘animism’. The previously used term of ‘a belief in spirits’ was thrown aside, and new definitions were introduced. According to Graham Harvey, “Animists are people who recognise that the world is full of persons, only some of whom are human, and that life is always lived in relationship with others.” He also states “...not all animists agree that everything that exists is alive or personal.” But there does seem to be a consensus that Animism is directly linked with indigenous and environmental spiritualities, and is about “how to be a good person in respectful relationships with other persons.”

In these 248 pages (of fairly small print) Harvey also manages to explore the role of shamans, deities, totems and cannibals in animist cultures and communities. Even though Animism is fairly heavy reading, with most of it being textbook style, humour is slipped in occasionally to keep you turning the pages. There’s many quirky headings such as “Gods, Fairies and Hedgehogs” and “Animals Are People Too”. It’s also a philosophical book, and it makes you think about the broad range of topics that can be covered under the term ‘Paganism’, and the way in which today’s Paganism is far removed from its roots.

Along with Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough, this is essential reading for those who are interested in anthropology and the source of Pagan principles and practices. In this book, we get to see animism as a vitally present way of life – a way of being that is life-affirming and respectful, and in Harvey’s own words, animism does this “with grace and beauty.”
Reviewed by Domhnall






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