What does it mean to live as a Pagan in this uncertain world of climate change, economic hardship and worldwide social injustice? What does it mean to hold nature as sacred when ravaging the land is commonplace? How do we live our Paganism in our families and homes, our communities and countries? Pagans are stepping up in all kinds of ways. This is a Moon Books community project, sharing the energy and inspiration of people who are making a difference at whatever level makes sense to them. This is a book of grass-roots energy, of walking your talk and the tales of people who are, by a vast array of means, engaged with being the change they wish to see in the world.
Disclosure: This review contains affiliate links, and the book in question was given to me by the publisher free of charge.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by some editors at Moon Books, who you may recognize from their Pagan Portals series, and asked if I was interested in reviewing their books – in exchange for free books. Of course I said yes haha, so I’ll be doing a lot more book reviews in the coming months.
For my first book I chose Pagan Planet, not only is it brand new, but I feel like this is a really important topic – what it’s like to be pagan in our modern world. I wasn’t wrong.
I almost wish I could make this book mandatory reading. It covers a range of subjects like pagan activism, pagan families and parenting, feminist paganism, etc. The book is an anthology of essays by all different writers and that allows it to cover all of these subjects with very different, but very authentic, voices. I found this to be a wonderful way to read about faith.
Not surprisingly, my favourite essays were ones that dealt with pagan activism – this is something I care a lot about and think about very regularly. The very first essay PaganAid and the Road to Social Justice by Ian Chandler stands out as my favourite. Mr. Chandler is the founder of Pagan Aid, a brand new charitable aid organization run by and funded by pagans. A lot of things he said in his essay really struck a chord with me, but these two passages particularly resonated
“I believe that all of Mother Earth’s creations have an inherent value and beauty, equally deserving of our love and respect. Humanity as a species has been responsible for destruction on a massive scale, but individuals are not equally to blame or worth of punishment. My love extends beyond the rivers and the mountains, and the flora and the fauna of the natural world, to include those struggling to survive, fighting to feed their children, and longing to live with dignity and security.”
He went on to say
“I believe to be a true pagan, to live our lives with love and integrity, we cannot be neutral in the face of extreme poverty and environmental destruction; we have to stand up for what we believe in.”
What a truly powerful statement, and one I completely agree with. After finishing this very first essay I went online and researched Pagan Aid and found a website and facebook page, invited everyone I know to like the page and am working on a way to get involved. This became common practice after reading many of the essays – I had to take time after and absorb what I’d read and maybe do some research on some of the issues or events highlighted in the story. Since this book was published in the UK by UK writers I was a bit in the dark for many of the issues they mentioned – which I feel pretty embarrassed about.
The reason this book only gets four crystal balls out of five is not an issue of content, but rather of structure. As much I loved this book, I didn’t love or connect with every single essay. I mean, how could I? I read every single one, though, and the fact that the essays were just randomly organized was pretty detrimental to my personal reading pace. I would have loved to have them separated by a sub-topic so I could get into the right from of mind. For example, the essays that I liked best, that outlined activist efforts conducted in a Pagan manner were spread out and I’d get all pumped up and then have an essay right after about raising Pagan children – which is so not my style. It took me longer to read this book, and I think part of that was for this reason.
Now if you’re sitting there thinking this is a super serious book of ethics I’m going to go ahead and stop you, because lots of these essays were a LOT of fun. Some really made me laugh and I’d love to read more by the author because their tone and voice just made me smile. One example is an essay called Squirrels on Shrooms: Divination in the Deep Woods by Hearth Moon Rising. That title totally delivered and I howled with laughter when I read this line
“Now things were beginning to make sense; these squirrels are tripping along the boardwalk.”
and I smiled with complete understanding during Modern Pagan Life by Rachel Patterson, which starts off with
“When I looked at the subject for this essay, ‘Modern Pagan Life, being, believing, and belonging in the 21st century’ my initial thoughts were, ‘Wow, this is a bit grown up for me.'”
I feel that, Rachel. Adulting is hard, even adult witching.
I highly recommend this book, even if you pick it up, pick an essay at random and laugh or cry or think along with it and then put the book down for a while. Like I said, I wish I could make this mandatory reading. New pagans and people who teach them often want to know about all of the spiritual and magical stuff – what are spells, when are sabbats, what up wit dat moon tho – and that stuff is totally important! It’s also important to know stuff like, what are my rights as a pagan? How can I get involved in my communities? What’s a handfasting? How do pagans conduct funerals? How do I raise pagan kids? Just because you’re a pagan or witch doesn’t mean you stop living in the real world and it’s important to know how to fit magic and paganism into a regular life. This book gives you a bit of a window into how other people are doing it, with purpose, intent and compassion. That’s what is really great about Pagan Planet, and that’s the reason I think everyone should read it.
Check out the page on Pagan Planet on the Moon Books website here, and you can grab the book either in paperback or as an ebooks on Amazon – which I linked to above.