I don’t believe I’m going to say this. Seriously, I’m thinking someone should call a doctor or something. I have discovered a situation in which there is most definitely such a thing as too many books.
It is certainly not the type of thing I would normally utter, let alone think. There is always room for more books. I have more books than I have shelves for books. They’re taking over my house. I love them all, and it is getting to the point where I am going to have to part with some of them. Don’t panic! I’m not throwing them out. I would never do that. Nope, time to donate them either to the local library or local resale shop. But that’s another story altogether.
I saw a blog in which someone said there was no such thing as too many books on Wicca. This is where I would most strongly disagree.
WARNING: Ranting to follow. Proceed at your own discretion!
B.S. Complete and total B.S.
Nine out of ten books on Wicca these days have the exact same information in them. The biggest difference, if any at all, will be in the “flavor” of the Wicca. Saxon, Norse, Pict, Italian, etc., etc., etc. That’s it. They will present the same eight holidays. The same god/goddess. The same “Threefold Law,” with the same admonitions regarding spellwork…(never without permission, never do love spells, etc.). They will have the same charts of correspondences for spellwork; candles, colors, herbs…The same moon phases and astrological information. Same, same, same, same…
How many books like that do you really need? One. That’s it.
Now, I’m not saying that you only need one book. Just one “Wicca 101” book. You can completely paralyze yourself otherwise. What do I mean? Well, I “studied” Wicca for at least 5 years before I ever did anything. Why? Because I wanted to make sure I was doing things “right.” Which meant I was forever looking for the next book, the next authority, the next person to tell me what I was supposed to do. I was positive the next book around the corner might say something different from the one I’d just read.
It never did. They don’t.
So there are a lot of excellent “Wicca 101” books out there. Get one if you want to; two if you absolutely must and don’t believe me. It’s your dime. Well, in this case, your $20 or so.
Now…I am most definitely not saying this is the only book you need. Far from it. If you’re seriously looking into Wicca, or Paganism, stretch out your mind.
First off, figure out exactly what it is you believe. Not what someone is telling you that you should. I highly recommend Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler. Why? Because in that book she presents a wonderful variety of Pagans and Wiccans. All kinds of them, with many different beliefs. Yet they all refer to themselves as “Pagan” or “Wiccan.” Well, some might call themselves “Norse” or “Heathens,” but you get the idea. It’s a great sampler of people who all fall under the same umbrella. You might agree, you might disagree…but it’s sure to make you think.
Next, for the love of all the gods, angels, ancestors, and entities in the world, PLEASE read something about the actual history of Paganism/Wicca. Learn the difference between Gardnerian Wiccans and Eclectic. Please! Again, you don’t have to agree with things to learn them. It gives a great amount of perspective.
Also, books regarding Aleistair Crowley, Thelema, the Golden Dawn, Dr. John Dee, Ceremonial Magic, etc. Why? Because their history has affected Wicca and Paganism. Where did the Watchtowers come from? Where did all these tables and correspondences come from? Every building is built on a strong foundation. History must not be ignored, especially the history of religious belief.
But wait…there’s more! Mythology. Lots and lots of mythology. Not the Edith Hamilton stuff, either. (Sorry…I suffered Edith Hamilton abuse in Middle School…<sigh>) Whatever Pagan/Wiccan flavor you’re into, READ. Everything, from children’s books through the weighty college-level stuff. Whatever you can find. Some are harder to find than others. Basic Greek and Irish mythology you’ll probably find at your local library. If you have a college library near you, so much the better. Other cultures, such as the African and South American/African Diaspora will be down right difficult. With mythology, you’ll need way more than one book. Why? Because so much changes from one translator to the next. Many of them are trying to make their books more “readable” for the general public and therefore “dumb down” the stories. You’ll want to compare and contrast. A lot.
Speaking of compare and contrast, don’t stop at the mythology and stores of the cultures you’re drawn to. Branch out. Why? Because NONE OF THESE CULTURES EXISTED IN A VACUUM!!!! Sorry for shouting, but that really gets on my nerves. The Greeks influenced the Egyptians and the Romans. The Romans influenced the Egyptians. What continent is Egypt in? That’s right (for those of you who actually get this…) AFRICA. And both the Greeks and Romans had colonies in Africa. Not to mention the Middle East. The Celts and people of the British Isles had contact with all of the above. The Norse made voyages all the way around, down into the Middle East, as well as Canada, possibly even further. The Chinese might have landed on the shores of the USA before the Vikings did. The idea that they wouldn’t have traded information, swapped techniques, or simply rubbed off on each other is utter hogwash.
Which brings me to history. Really. If you’re not reading and loving history, you should be ashamed of yourself. I’ll forgive you though. Maybe you had a horrible history teacher. Or several of them. It seems to be a pretty prevalent problem in many public schools. Do yourself a favor though, and get over it. Why did Christianity spread so far? What other Gods have their birthday around December 21-25? When did the calendar change? When did Christians first land in Ireland? All these are great questions answered in history.
Okay, my rant for the day is done. I think. I can’t promise I won’t return to it again later, but I’m out of juice for the moment…