Paganism For Beginners
an introduction to natural magick
I've often heard it said that there are as many reasons for becoming Pagan as there are Pagans!
For me, it started in childhood with a feeling of kinship with the natural world... a belief that
divinity was not something apart from us but something within all of us... humans, animals, birds, plants...
within all life and
within the Earth Herself. Later I found out that there was a name for this belief system:
Other Pagan belief systems include the many varieties of witchcraft
one of which is Wicca (trying saying that three times fast LOL!) There are
also several Wiccan sects including Gardenerian and Alexandrian.
Other Pagan paths are Shamanism,
Asatru, Family Traditions, Celtic
Traditionalism, Druidism, Strega, Santeria, Voudon, Ceremonial Magick and Mystery Traditions.
There are many more.
Some Pagans believe in the divine pair, God and
Some honor a pantheon or group of deities, some do not believe
in god/dess personified but hold that
nature itself is a creative presence. Some Pagans are eclectic and not allied with any
one established belief system.
One thing Pagans do not do is worship the Devil or Satan, who is
actually a Christian figure, the opponent or adversary of the Christian God.
Pagans respect and love the natural world of which
we are all a part. Sexual parity and personal spiritual expression are
also usually firmly upheld.
We try to live our lives attuned to the cycles of Nature and often celebrate
the turning of the seasons and mark life passages like birth, marriage (handfasting) and death with solitary or group rituals.
These rites can be held outdoors or in... in fact, anywhere!
Man-made churches are not necessary because the entire Universe is a sacred place.
They may involve singing, dancing, drumming, quiet
or magick and energy workings... spells... which are just a natural extension of the Pagan belief that
spiritual practice can beneficially change physical reality.
Joyce & River Higginbotham put it this way in Paganism: an introduction
to Earth-Centered Religions: "Most Pagans believe that all parts of the universe, whether "animate"
or "inanimate" are connected at very deep levels that extend beyond the boundaries of space-time as we know them. Because of
this interconnectedness, many Pagans believe they are able to interact with the Universe
and the Divine as co-creators."
In other words, we as individuals and groups can effect the world around us by having the sincere
intent to do so. Spells can also be performed on their own, for any benevolent purpose.
Most Pagans will have nothing to do with magickal workings whose aim is to control or
harm someone else, believing that anything you do returns to you.
I don't mind at all if you'd like to skip right to the book list but
most Pagans on the web also like to talk about their own personal belief systems...
we're a communicative bunch!... and
this Pagan is no exception :-)
I'm a Solitary Eclectic Pantheist but seem to have more in common with Wiccans than
with scientific pantheists who tend not to believe in magick :-) I believe...
there is a spark of divinity in everyone and everything in the Universe
we're all connected. All that exists can and does communicate at some primal level
within a collective unconscious.
(This is how I believe magick works :-)
in sychronicity or "meaningful coincidence" because I've experienced it many, many times :-)
there is great power in
the universal sacred language of music,
rhythm and dance.
I'm also a seeker, believing that The Whole Truth About Life,
the Universe and Everything is a process, not a destination; my personal philosophy
is constantly evolving. There are always new things to be learned from
Nature... just walking along a beach or through a forest and really paying attention
Animals, especially cats, some of whom can communicate better than some humans :-)
Meditation, dreamwork, Tarot and the altered states that can be reached through dancing,
drumming & ritual
People, through conversation & through books
Although I'm not Wiccan some of my favorite authors are. I have found much common ground
with Wicca... respect for Nature, belief in Magick, and honoring the seasons of the year & the phases of the Moon,
One of the great things about Pagans is the way we respect and
learn from one another.
I believe that anyone who is attracted to a Pagan path will benefit from reading
(and re-reading :-) any of
Here are some of my current favorite introductory books on Paganism
and living in communion with Nature and our Magickal Universe.
Click on the title to learn more about the book.
Hands On Paganism: How-to Books
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham The essential primer from one of the best known authors on Wicca.
Focusing on the importance of individualism in your spiritual path,
Scott clearly & eloquently explains the Sabbats,
rituals, altars, tools & other Wiccan basics
and includes prayers, blessings, invocations and chants from his own Book of Shadows.
This was the first book I read on the subject
and it's still one of my favorites.
A Witch Alone: Thirteen Moons to Master Natural Magic
by Marian Green
This classic book is accessible enough for novices but there's also much to inspire
those who have been walking a Pagan path for years. Marion's
obvious love for God/dess and the natural world comes through on each page.
This book is meant to be to be read slowly and savored... the 13
moons refer to one turn of the Wheel of the Year...
and each chapter ends with exercises to expand your mind, heart and spirit
& increase your magickal capabilities.
A Witches' Bible: The Complete Witches Handbook
by Janet Farrar & Stewart Farrar
This is actually two books in one. The Witches Way provides in-depth training
in the philosophy of Wicca, while Eight Sabbats for Witches gives a detailed
introduction to the history, lore and ceremonial practices associated with each
of the major Wiccan holidays. The Farrars' writing style iw warm and accessible, while
their knowledge of the old ways is thorough and perceptive.
Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft
by Raymond Buckland
A true workbook, this guide includes 15 lessons, each of which ends with
questions designed to reinforce the material and assist the student in mastering
the basics of the Craft. There's even a set of examination questions in the back
of the book (with a separate section for the answers) This blends traditional
British Craft with a more contemporary, self-initiatory approach, making
it useful for both solitaries and groups.
The Craft: A Witch's Book of Shadows
by Dorothy Morrison, introduced by Raymond Buckland
This well-rounded introduction to Wicca contains highly detailed account of spells, wand skills,
sample blessings, altar setups, invocations, and examples of how to use a cup,
pentacle, cauldron, and athame.
There's also a Craft calendar,
listing celebrations and rituals for every month and season of the year.
Also recommended is
The Craft Companion, a workbook that will help you create your own personal Book of Shadows.
To Ride a Silver Broomstick: New Generation Witchcraft
by Silver Ravenwolf
Though it's short on history, this is a fine practical, hands-on guidebook for the beginner,
whether solitary or part of a coven. It covers the basics of the Craft--
the Sabbats, consecrating, charging, developing psychic abilities, finding yrou magical name,
setting up an altar and briefly delves into more advanced concepts
such as astral projection and telepathy. Ravenwolf's warm, friendly personality comes
through in the text, giving this book a big-sisterly feel.
by Doreen Valiente
A beautifully written classic full of heart and practical wisdom from a lady who trained
with the legendary Gerald Gardner, the founder of modern Wicca. Doreen believed that
magic is all around us and all we need is the ability to see it, understand it, and apply it.
Whether you're new to the Pagan path or having been walking it a while, read this book...
it will inspire you!
Shamanism: As a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life
by Thomas Dale Cowan
A wonderful book for anyone who feels drawn to the Shamanic path or would like to integrate
Shamanic teachings into their own spiritual practice. Learn about
power animals & spirit teachers... visionary techniques for exploring the
extraordinary in everyday life...
and the journey to an ancestral shaman to recover lost knowledge.
Thomas also encourages you to remember and reclaim
your own inherent shamanic sensibilities that we all knew as children
songs, secret hiding places, power spots, and imaginary (or maybe not so imaginary!)
Medicine for the Earth: How to Transform Personal and Environmental Toxins
by Sandra Ingerman
Citing the miraculous
cures accomplished with natural wells imbued with spiritual energy
Sandra believes that we can reverse environmental pollution through
spiritual methods. In this book, she coaches readers through inward and
outward preparation for performing transmutation, the channeling of spiritual energy
to create positive physical effects. Learn how to prepare for and create sacred space through
ceremonial ritual alone or in community with others.
An inspiring and empowering book.
Exploring Pagan Paths
A Woman's Guide to the Earth Traditions Exploring Wicca, Shamanism, Paganism, Native America and Celtic Spirituality
by Vivianne Crowley
This is a
a wonderful overview of the many flavors of Pagan belief, presented with
wisdom and respect for the underlying spiritual truths contained in each.
If you're not sure which of the Pagan paths is drawing you or would just like
to learn more about your fellow Pagans, this book is a good startinig point.
And despite the title, men will enjoy it too :-)
Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions
by Joyce Higginbotham & River Higginbotham
An excellent introduction to a myriad of Pagan paths including
Wicca, Witchcraft, Pantheism, Druidism, Goddess Traditions, Ceremonial Magick and Asatru.
You'll learn a lot about Pagan beliefs and practices and you'll also
find discussion questions, journal exercises, visualizations and magickal workings
to help you discover which Pagan beliefs and traditions resonate with you. This would
also make a thoughtful gift for non-Pagan friends and family members who are curious
about earth-centered spirituality. It's one of my favorites.
The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess
A poetic text combining intelligent scholarship with beautifully written,
enjoyable prose. The author shows how Witchcraft is, first and foremost,
a way to love the
Goddess. She tends to regard the Goddess
as the primary form of the Divine, but this book is by no means for women only. On the contrary,
Starhawk emphasizes that Wicca is for everyone regardless of sex, race or sexual orientation.
It was hard to decide whether to list this book here or the "how to" category as
it's full of useful exercises, rituals and visualizations, making it a valuable
spiritual resource that continues to be useful for seasoned as well as neophyte Wiccans.
Drawing Down the Moon Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers & Other Pagans in America Today
by Margot Adler
This brilliant book combines keen psychological insight with a journalist's ability
to report on complex material in a clear, easy-to-understand way. Adler's deft
unraveling of the Pagan knot explores not only the spiritual principles that undergird
the movement, but considers its larger social, political and cultural ramifications as well.
Wiccans, Druids, Egyptian and Greek revivalists, non-Wiccan Goddess communities, the Church
of All Worlds and even satirical groups like the Erisians and Discordians are covered.
Voices from the Circle: The Heritage of Western Paganism
by Prudence Jones & Caitlin Matthews (editors) Several leading figures in the Pagan community including Phillip Carr-Gomm,
R.J. Stewart and Vivianne Crowley contributed to this collection of essays
exploring various facets of modern Nature spirituality. Shamanism, Druidry,
Goddess Worship, Wicca, and traditional Witchcraft are all represented here
in articles exploring the dynamics of initiation, the wisdom of animals,
and the magickal symbolism of the circle.
The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft by Ronald Hutton
A brilliantly written, thoroughly researched and carefully balanced history of
Wicca, that succeeds both as an academic treatise as well as a useful
reference for Craft practitioners. Hutton considers numerous sources of
the modern Craft, including Freemasonry, Occultism, the village wise woman tradition,
and changing attitudes toward Goddess spirituality and Paganism in 19th and
20th century Britain. He then focuses particularly on Gerald Gardner before
documenting the many public Wiccan figures who emerged after Gardner.
A wonderful overview of Wicca.
History of Pagan Europe by Prudence Jones, with Nigel Pennick
A comprehensive study not only of pre-Christian European spirituality but
also of the many ways in which Pagan culture, which culminates in a consideration
of the modern Pagan renaisance. The book examines all the major streams of indiginous
European religion including Classical (Greek and Roman), Celtic, Nordic and
Baltic forms of Paganism.