What Makes A Good Pagan Author?

I’m sure you’ve all run into this. Whether on the Pagan path for 2 months or 20 years, you’ve been wading through crap. Today almost every bookstore in America carries books of pagan bent, however the majority of them have poor research, are for beginners or are made up fairy tales in which the author claims absolute truth.
There are ways to find the gems in the dung heap. Here are some things to look out for and let you hopefully find what you are looking for.

Power in Numbers

If you are part of a pagan group, have meetings where members bring in a book to show & tell. Have each person give some info on the author and reasons why it is a good read. Recommendation is the best way to go.

Biblio Mania

A good Bibliography is a good step in finding well-researched material. Hopefully the author will quote well and come up with some new insights.

Go for the Source

Sometimes it is best to look for original or first recorded texts. There are a myriad of Fairy books out there, but sometimes it is best to find who wrote down those stories first and read that. Yeah some of it is dry but unbiased as far as new age authors go.

Accepted Practice

Some topics have obvious mistakes that any group that actually studies it will tell you watch out for. Books on Runes for example should follow to the aett system. Books on Wicca and witchcraft should focus on more that just either the white (fluffy bunny) or black sides. Almost anything that claims to be thousands of years old should be taken with a grain of salt. You best bet is to surf the net for comparison, debunks and email lists to help you.

Make Believe

Some people make up their own systems. While there is nothing wrong with it the author should state what they are doing. Those that don’t mislead newcomers into thinking they have not only the whole truth but the whole history. If one of these books are recommended to you make sure the person that recommends it has read other authors on the same subject including some original texts.

Spreading Thin

A really good sign that the author has little to offer is if they write on more that four non-fiction subjects. Be careful with this because there are various ’series’ out there that have some merit. Authors that tend to change from subject to subject very rarely have anything to offer but superficial clues to what you are looking for. They almost never go beyond a beginner’s level. Even worse, some of these authors don’t distinguish fact from their own personal interpretation or belief.

Just Plain Trash

Sometimes you come across a book that smells like a heap from a mile away. It can be fun to keep these books as joke. (I have one where at the end the author has an address to send all your money to, and all your worldly possessions in return for salvation and more books to sell to further his cause. Sad part was it was bought from a homeless man who truly believed in the book.) Cult books are fairly obvious in this sense. Another big clue is coming across a new way to use an accepted tool. Usually they claim a new (or old non factual) origin with little backup.

I hope that this little list had helped some of you out. This is from my own experiences, as well as suggestions from other pagans both online and in the real world. Don’t believe me fine; ask around for other opinions! FYI: I have excluded specific authors names on purpose, however I have some if you would like to email me about the subject.
© Michelle Norton

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