B – By the Book

This is the second post for the  Pagan Blog Project 2012 – subject letter ‘B’ – so books it is. (I’m only doing one per letter to catch up with everyone else)


Hundreds of them! boxes and shelves and bags of them, everywhere, they’re by the bed (sometimes in it) in the smallest room, on tables and bookshelves and..well everywhere.
..and yet it’s often the same few I go back to time and time again.

What would us pagans do without our books? the old ‘books means knowledge’ retort to some childish insult I can’t even remember right now doesn’t bear out since I have enough books I ought to be a genius – and that I’m most definitely not – on paganism or any other topic whatsoever!


I read other stuff but it was brought home to me just before Yule when my long suffering non pagan partner said ‘you don’t read normal books any more (and we’ll ignore that for her normal means fantasy lol) it’s true! Over the last few years in my thirst for occult knowledge if I’m reading it’s generally a pagan book. Of course I like to have them on subjects I’m interested in – the animal lore section needs a library to itself frankly, but there’s druidry, shamanism, hedge witchery, golden dawn…you name it it’s probably there.


The occasional posts on pagan forums for selling books are the ones that move the fastest, on ebay you can find many a good deal (and many a rip off it has to be said) within the ‘pagan’ search. In fact I’d go as far as to say that most pagans have enough books to seriously stock a library, right now – and they’re still getting them.


What is it about the knowledge that we seek? We walk what is essentially an experiential path, every new seeker anywhere is often given a list of books, websites, forums and suggestions for further reading once the first lot is done with, and yet we value above anything else what we ourselves see, feel and hear within Circle or within our spirituality. If we value our own experience (which we should) more than reading others words on the subject we don’t really need those books do we?


I looked at my ‘library’ (the ones I could see – not inclusive of the ones ‘in use’ so by the bed or sofa, the ones packed away or put down somewhere else and forgotten for now) and realised that I can chart my progress along my chosen path with these books. In a way they can be as valued as people, old friends who are read when one is down, or upset, the ones that first inspired you and will continue to inspire you because they’re just so darned Good! The ones that were a passing fancy – and now you wished you hadn’t, the ones given by well meaning friends who equate ‘Wicca’ with solely spells and give you something sparkly and probably velvet covered. Then there’s the ones given to you by your oldest friend who asks, each Yule, what you would like this year and faithfully gets you whatever you want – even though she is a devout christian and getting this book meant she had to order it via amazon since Christ might well have struck her down if she’d set foot in an occult store (joke!) There are the ones we started with ‘wicca 101’s, overview of paganism and every other path, then there’s the slightly more involved ones, the ones you bought because they were new and looked good, you’ve since found that the old adage of never judge a book by it’s cover is very true lol Then there’s the ones about related subjects, ley lines, herb craft, folk lore, then there’s the ‘what to do next ones’ – for me ‘what to do next’ meant joining a coven, and so there’s a number of them about Covens and group working….the list goes on.


We gather books to us like we’re defending the castle with them, they are what we fall back on to quote when challenged in some online forum, they’re what inspires us and what we turn to when we need to gain more insight into something. They bolster our wavering confidence, and occasionally we challenge their content…and that’s when we know we’re progressing along our path. Books about the Occult, Wicca, Witchcraft, paganism, shamanism and all the other multitude of religeons and practices that come under the umbrella term of ‘pagan’ are where we start, the basic building blocks from which all other things are founded on. In the beginning we blindly follow everything ‘in the book’ every ritual, spell, invocation, dedication and suggestion, some may spend fortunes on the ‘right ingredients’ and not realise that within every practitioners arsenal should be a list of ‘correspondencies’ things which can be substituted for other things. The point of this path is not to buy everything – but to make, gather, collect and otherwise work in harmony with our own local land and area. Once we are at the stage we can challenge an author about something – or we intuitively feel that something can be changed – then we know we’re thinking for ourselves and not just doing it ‘by the book’ Once we think for ourselves our feet are truly set on the path and now we can look up from our books and see the path ahead with clear eyes.


About okarnill

Just another british Witch who follows the path of the wise. Like millions of others I live my life the best I can within my Wiccan beliefs. I am also a horse rider, a dog trainer and an artist. My home is a sleepy village in the UK where I share my life with my partner and all manner of creatures, cats, dogs, horses, hens, rabbits, and much treasured wildlife.
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