'Pagan Pathways' by Charlotte Hardman and Graham Harvey

Book Cover

Pagan Pathways: Guide to the Ancient Earth traditions

This book is a large collection of essays on all aspects of modern paganism including neo-Paganism, Paganism, Wicca, Shamanism, etc, and on magical groups. There are essays on many subjects, and opens with a very honest and down to Earth look at the connection between modern paganisms and ancient religious practice. The essays are by various authors. There is an excellent essay on Halloween. It is worth a read if you need to know what is what amongst any of the popular esoteric religions.

First published by Thorsons 1995. All quotes taken from Thorsons 2000 edition.

Preface (notes on contributors):
"Charlotte Hardman is Lecturer in Religion and Contemporary Society at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne. [...] Graham Harvey was a research fellow at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, and is now lecturer at King Alfred's College, Winchester."

"Pagan has become for many a loaded word meaning [...] 'irreligious because unchristian', rather than its literal meaning of 'rural' (pagus, Latin for 'from the countryside'). According to The Oxford English Dictionary 'pagan' in late middle English comes from the Latin paganus meaning 'civilian' as opposed to 'soldier', meaning those who were not Christian since the Christians called themselves the enrolled soldiers of Christ. [...] The recent negative connotations with 'pagan' thus have to do [with] history in which anyone who did not follow the Christian religion was looked down upon as godless"

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    Introduction p10
    "The interest in Paganism today in the UK and the USA may be interpreted as a response to an increased dissatisfaction with the way the world is going ecologically, spiritually and materially; people are disillusioned by mainstream religion and the realisation that materialism leaves an internal emptiness"

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    Introduction p10-11
    "The main spiritual paths of Paganism to be found in the UK and the United States are Wicca, Druidry, Shamanism, Goddess Spirituality, Sacred Ecology, Heathenism and various magical groups"

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    Introduction p11
    "Pagans believe that no one belief system is correct and that each person should have the freedom to come themselves to the path of their choice. [...]

    For all Pagans there is no place for either dogma or proselytising The Pagan Federation Statement of the following three principles reflects the basic beliefs of many Pagan:

    Love for and Kinship with Nature: rather than the more customary attitude of aggression and domination over Nature; reverence for the life force and its ever-renewing cycles of life and death.

    The Pagan Ethic: 'Do what thou wilt, but harm none'. This is a positive morality, not a list of thou-shalt-nots. Each individual is responsible for discovering his or her own true nature and developing it fully, in harmony with the outer world.

    The Concept of Goddess and God as expressions of the Divine reality; an active participation in the cosmic dance of Goddess and God, female and male, rather than the suppression of either the female or the male principle.

    Those Pagan expressing some dissent from these principles are mainly Heathens who are more explicitly polytheistic and some magicians who are more concerned with Self understanding and less with deities. [...] Many Pagans believe in the 'threefold effect', that whatever they do, whether for good or for bad, will be returned to them threefold."

    Pagan Theologies by Prudence Jones.
    "I am using the plural ['theologies'] here deliberately. A polytheistic religion gives many different accounts of the divine beings, and these accounts, or theologies, reflect the divine patronage of their inventors. People sometimes raise their eyebrows when they hear of Pagan theology, but in fact the word 'theology' dates from Pagan times and was first used concerning Pagan deities."

    "Prudence Jones is a Pagan writer and spokesperson who has been active in the Pagan movement for over twenty years. From 1979-91 she was President of the Pagan Federation and from 1985-90 ran the Pagan Anti-Defamation League with Nigel Pennick. Her publications include Voices From the Circle (Aquarian, 1990, with Caitlin Matthews) and A History of Pagan Europe (Routledge, 1995, with Nigel Pennick)"

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    p110 "Left-Hand Path Ritual Magick" by Richard Sutcliffe
    "The term 'Left-Hand Path' has become an umbrella term of self-designation used by certain contemporary ritual magicians and is usually taken to incorporate practitioners of Thelemic magick (beginning with Aleister Crowley), Tantrik magick, and Chaos Magick (inspired by both Crowley and the magickal techniques devised by the occult artist Austin O. Spare, 1886-1956). The notion of the Left-Hand Path is derived from the Tantric term vama-marga ('left-path'), i.e., the Left-Hand Path in Tantrism. [...] Its usage represents a deliberate attempt by Left-Hand Path magicians to transcend the outmoded and value-laden dichotomy of 'black' versus 'white' magic [...] because it is held to reflect the 'moronic oversimplicity of the Judeo-Xtian distinction between good and evil'


    "Richard Sutcluffe is a PhD research scholar currently engaged in research connected with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Sydney, Australia, and University College, London. He is currently conducting fieldwork in the Pagan and Magickal subculture in Britain with particular emphasis on the role of mythopoeic imagination in magick."

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    By Vexen Crabtree 2002 Dec 09
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    Harvey, Graham & Hardman, Charlotte
    (1995) Pagan Pathways. First published by Thorsons 1995. All quotes taken from Thorsons 2000 edition. [Book Review]

    © 2015 Vexen Crabtree. All rights reserved.