The new pagan movement has been going long enough now that it began needing its own line of theology. The discipline of theology is part of the credibility of a religion and something to bring to the table at interfaith gatherings and discussions. Recently pagans have been taking a greater part in the ecumenical scene as well as the political scene to powerful effect. There are two elected pagan officials in the United States (both ran publicly as pagans in their respective races and each is from a different political party). And I think we all remember the role Selena Fox and Circle Sanctuary Coven played in helping Wiccan veterans gain the right to pentacles on their graves. Over the last few years there was seemingly a vacant spot for much pagan theology, but pagans have stepped up to the plate and their are a lot of great books out there.
Frankly, theology is heavy stuff, and I can’t say I have read everything out there. But, I have read four very good books on specialized topics in the pagan sphere: polytheism, henotheism, pagan ethics, and magic over psychology.
A World Full of Gods by Michael Greer
This is pure theology on the subject of polytheism. This is an unapologetic appraisal of the philosophical arguments for athiesm and monotheism and the way in which polytheism trumps the issues between each an arises a viable option. Much of this book is focused on atheism and classical monotheism and so sometimes can feel a little off topic for a polytheist, but a survey of those theologies is necessary to create the space for a new polytheology. Greer is a druid, but little of his discussion focuses on anything celtic. More often than not, Hinduism as the large scale polytheist body holds the most powerful examples and has a greater history of theology for him to draw on. Believe me, it works and aids in crediting the pagan movement as what we who practice it to know it to be: a better option for living today and on this planet.
Four out of Five stars!
Devoted to You Edited by Judy Harrow
One of the ways of being polytheist, is henotheism. Henotheism is worshipping specifically one god among many. All the pagan’s focus is on that one god or goddess. This book, although it is subtitled as a Wiccan publication, actually has essays relevant to Egyptian, Celtic, Reclaiming and Greek pagan practices. While all four essays are excellent, for myself, the Essay by Alexei Kondretiv on Brigit was most excellent and relevant to my life. I am not a henotheist, I, like most pagans today, worship different gods and goddesses at different times based on the season, need, or holiday. However, henotheism is a valid and fascinating path, and understanding more about it, will help pagans understand each other.
Five stars, something for everyone!
The Other Side of Virtue Brenden Myers
There are several ethics books out there today for pagans. Myers breaks from the standard harm none rhetoric and examines an Aristotelian virtue based ethical system. Couched in classical polytheist history, virtue ethics is a great lens to focus on what the myths and legends can guide us through life choices and a code of honor. The strange part of the virtue ethics is they seem to be gendered and Myers does not spend very much time examining the female aspect or reconciling the dichotimy of a gendered virtues system. Don’t get me wrong he does address it, but I felt like I needed more, being a female reader.
Four out of Five Stars
UnderWorld Initiation by RJ Stewart
This classic out of print book is needed more today than ever. RJ Stewart takes on the emasculation of magic from psychology head on. He explains why magic falls beyond the reach of psychology and urges magicians to look deeper than the popular discipline to find enlightenment. Stewart examines the symbols in English folk songs to fish out an authentic magical tradition. He merges the trees of initiation together with the Qubala Tree of Life and makes his own corrections to the system to lead the magician on a shamanic path to underworld initiation. This book is very heavy. Often the words although plainer language than some ceremonial jargon were still over my head. I needed a dictionary on hand to expand my vocabulary. Don’t read this book while you are distracted, the meaty stuff takes quiet and concentration to absorb. I suspect I will need multiple readings of this book. However, I think that the struggle is worth it. This book delivers.
Four out of Five stars.