Modern Paganism Book Review
moved from Oaken Scrolls
Book: Introduction to Pagan Studies
Author: Barbara Jane Davy
Copyright: 2007 AltaMira Press, a division of Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
This text book is an introduction to the study of contemporary Paganism as a world religion. It goes beyond the bias found in many similar works to teach the reader about what Paganism is. It covers: beliefs, organizations, practices, origins, influences, ethics, issues and how research is conducted. While it tries to be generalized, the book does seem to focus, understandably so, on Wicca as it is the best documented and so the easiest to describe.
This book is refreshingly different from the others I’ve read in that the Christian bias found in similar works is not found here. The author does very well at not allowing personal bias to enter into her descriptions. It is a good beginner’s book for religious studies yet very readable for the layman. This is a book that would be good to give to someone who wants a general understanding of Paganism.
I only have two issues with this book. First would be the introduction. It seemed very dismissive to me and made it harder for me to buckle down and read the book. Once I got past the introduction, however I found it a worthy read. Second would be the lack of reiteration that Paganism a very broad umbrella term, as what applies to one group of Pagans may not apply to another. This is stated in a few places in the book but not reiterated enough as the repeated use of Wicca as an example demonstrates. She standardizes and generalizes to a great extent without clarifying that is exactly what she is doing. In fact, several chapters of the book didn’t even mention Druidism or reconstruction practices. The chapter that discusses magic was the worst offender in this vein. There are Pagans that do not do magic but she makes it appear that this is a common practice.
This book done nothing for me or my practice, although it did give me hope that Paganism may eventually gain the respect it deserves and be listed with other prominent religions. While there are a few problems with the book, in general it is one that I would give to someone wanting to know what Paganism is from a very general viewpoint.