With all apologies to Charles de Lint for borrowing his column’s title, here are some recently released and upcoming books that I think readers of The Wild Hunt will be interested in checking out.
“A Million and One Gods: The Persistence of Polytheism” by Page duBois: Page duBois, Distinguished Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at the University of California, San Diego, author of “Out of Athens: The New Ancient Greeks” has a new book coming out in June that comes to the defense of polytheism. Quote: “Many people worship not just one but many gods. Yet a relentless prejudice against polytheism denies legitimacy to some of the world’s oldest and richest religious traditions. In her examination of polytheistic cultures both ancient and contemporary–those of Greece and Rome, the Bible and the Quran, as well as modern India–Page duBois refutes the idea that the worship of multiple gods naturally evolves over time into the “higher” belief in a single deity. In A Million and One Gods, she shows that polytheism has endured intact for millennia even in the West, despite the many hidden ways that monotheistic thought continues to shape Western outlooks.” Considering how few mainstream-marketed books we get that really address polytheism, I’m sure this work will generate a lot of conversation in our interconnected communities. Out June 2nd, 2014.
“Walking With The Gods: Modern People Talk About Deities, Faith, and Recreating Ancient Traditions” by Dr. W.D. Wilkerson: Speaking of polytheism, here’s a new ebook, out now, that looks at contemporary Western polytheists. Quote: “In spring of 2011, Dr. Wilkerson began interviewing contemporary Western polytheists about their religious practices. The point of her research was to discover how “faith” is defined in a polytheist context, and to demonstrate how the experiences of polytheists constitute a unique type of religiosity that deserves to be taken seriously. It was anticipated that there would be between 20-30 interviews, but before the three years of research and writing were finished, over 120 people participated in this large-scale ethnographic study of emerging polytheist religiosity. As the research demonstrates, contemporary Western polytheists are intimately concerned with the business of connection: actively and deeply engaging with their Deities, ancestors, land, and community, and living a whole and fulfilled life within that nexus of connection. This theology differs significantly and substantially from the concerns of the pervasively monotheist culture in which they are immersed. More importantly, these differences raise important theological questions about our culture’s assumptions regarding Deity, faith, religion, nature, and humanity’s relationship with each.” Some of the interviews include folks we know, like P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, and Erynn Rowan Laurie. Ebook available now, print edition due May 1st.
“Spirited Things: The Work of ‘Possession’ in Afro-Atlantic Religions” by Paul Christopher Johnson (editor): This new collection of essays, edited by Paul Christopher Johnson, author of “Diaspora Conversions: Black Carib Religion and the Recovery of Africa,” tackles the sometimes complex topic of possession within African religions. Quote: “The word “possession” is trickier than we often think, especially in the context of the Black Atlantic and its religions and economy. Here possession can refer to spirits, material goods, and, indeed, people. In Spirited Things, Paul Christopher Johnson gathers together essays by leading anthropologists in the Americas to explore the fascinating nexus found at the heart of the idea of being possessed. The result is a book that marries one of anthropology’s foundational concerns—spirit possession—with one of its most salient contemporary ones: materiality. The contributors reopen the concept of possession in order to examine the relationship between African religions in the Atlantic and the economies that have historically shaped—and continue to shape—the cultures that practice them. They explore the way spirit mediation is framed both by material things—including plantations, the Catholic church, the sea, and the telegraph—as well as the legacy of slavery. In doing so, they offer a powerful new concept for understanding the Atlantic world and its history, creation, and deeply complex religious and political economy.” Out May 9th, 2014.
“Witchcraft Today – 60 Years On” by Trevor Greenfield (editor): It would be fair to say that the publication of Gerald Gardner’s “Witchcraft Today” in 1954 was a monumental moment in modern religious history. Not only launching Wicca into the public eye, but sparking a much wider Pagan revival. Now, on the book’s 60th anniversary, Trevor Greenfield at Moon Books has collected a number of voices in an anthology celebrating and examining the ramifications of this work. Quote: “In the sixty years following the publication of Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft Today, new paths have appeared, and older ones emerged out of the shadow of repression and illegality, to express with a new and more confident voice their beliefs and practice, and share, with a steadily growing audience, their knowledge, their certainties, their questions and their vision. This book is a celebration of some of the many paths that Witchcraft/Wicca has taken and of the journeys that people have embarked upon.” Vivianne Crowley calls the book a “fitting tribute,” and I’m sure there’s a lot here for those interested in Gerald Gardner’s legacy. Out June 27th, 2014.
Other Pagan Books To Look For:
- “The Power of the Bull” by Michael Rice looks at “mankind’s enduring obsession with bulls,” and argues that the animal was “the supreme sacrificial animal” of the ancient world. Out now.
- Sociologist Douglas Ezzy, author of “Practising the Witch’s Craft: Real Magic Under a Southern Sky” and other works, is publishing a new book entitled “Sex, Death and Witchcraft: A Contemporary Pagan Festival,” that will be released on May 22nd, 2014.
- Raven Grimassi will have a new book, entitled “Grimoire of the Thorn-Blooded Witch: Mastering the Five Arts of Old World Witchery,” out on August 1st, 2014. The book promises “a new system of witchcraft, one that draws upon the old ways and the old days to teach the practitioner how to master all that it is to be a Witch.”
- From Llewellyn, we have a new book from Tony Mierzwicki and Jo-Ann Byers-Mierzwicki entitled “Hellenismos: Practicing Greek Polytheism Today.” Quote: “The religion of the ancient Greeks has lain dormant for too long. In Hellenismos, Tony Mierzwicki shows how to bring it back in all of its primal glory.” The primal glory of this book will be unleashed on December 8th, 2014.
- Also from Llewellyn, we have “The Priestess and the Pen: Marion Zimmer Bradley, Dion Fortune, and Diana Paxson’s Influence on Modern Paganism” by Sonja Sadovsky. According to the book’s blurb, this “revolutionary work is poised to become the foremost historical resource and contemporary interpretation of the Pagan priestess.” I do think the topic of the influence of these authors is one that needs to be explored more. It is also out on December 8th, 2014.
- Finally, Diana Rajchel gives us a book on Pagans and divorce: “Divorcing a Real Witch: for Pagans and the People that Used to Love Them.” Quote: “Divorcing a Real Witch addresses the painful emotional journey of divorce from a Wiccan perspective. Along with sharing her own experience, author Diana Rajchel solicits the experiences and advice of other Pagans on how to handle this life passage.” This book is out on May 30th, 2014.
Do you know of some recently released or upcoming books that should be spotlighted here? Leave a comment or drop us a line and it may be featured in a future edition of this series. You can find previous installments of this series, here. Happy reading!