Saturday, September 14, 2013

Every Pagan Book I Own Part II

Wow, haven't done this in a while!  I have loads of books so I better get cracking.  For part two I'll be going through three books: Sacred Paths for Modern Men, Urban Primitive, and Wicca in the Kitchen.

Sacred Paths for Modern Men: A Wake Up Call From Your 12 Archetypes by Dagonet Dewr
This was my first male-centered Pagan book.  It's not a bad book, although there are some pretty big problems with it.  It contains some stories that I absolutely love, and there are a lot of useful exercises.  This book is very group-centered and would be a good addition to a men's group.  It is broken up into 12 male archetypes (Divine Child, Lover, Warrior, Trickster, Green Man, Guide, Craftsman, Magician, Destroyer, King, Healer, Sacrificed One) and after each has an activity that is meant to be done solitary and another that is a group-oriented activity.  Each archetype has a couple stories of Gods or other figures (Gandalf and Merlin are featured) to illustrate.
Pros
One of the absolute best Set-oriented stories I've ever read is in this book.  I use it in a lot of my personal workings.  If you're a Set worshiper, you will probably like the Destroyer section for that reason.  This book will probably appeal to most Pagan men who are interested in masculine energies and archetypes.
Cons
Archetyping Gods and Goddesses is problematic as it pigeonholes multicultural figures into largely Western categories.  If you aren't interested in this guy's ManKind Project it's going to really-fucking-annoy you by the end of the book.  Falls into heterosexist norms, doesn't address trans issues (so-called "binary" trans people are often interested in gender mysteries which is why it's important to address them if you're affirming).
History
Not a lot of history to speak of.

Appropriation Level
Relatively high but not infuriatingly high.  Presents stories of a lot of Gods without really presenting the context.  Has Jesus in it.
Relativism Level
This is based on a specific tradition therefore this is mostly irrelevant.

The Urban Primitive: Paganism in the Concrete Jungle by Raven Kaldera and Tannin Schwarzstein
This is one of my favorite books.  I bought it at the airport in Milwaukee when I was going through a crisis; I have been rural for most of my life, but I was expecting to move to the city and I was having a hard time dealing with that.  I actually still live in the country several years later, but this book is useful to more than just urban Pagans.
Pros
Most Pagans are urban-dwellers, but culturally we assume regular access to natural spaces.  This book is great for people who don't have that kind of access... magick and religion involving  the ebb and flow of the city, the spirit of the city, and things you tend to find in an urban environment.  It's also very creative and contains things you will not find in any other book.  It even describes modern deities.  I like that it has information on "darker" subjects (including blood sacrifice and use of animal parts).
Cons
A personal pet peeve of mine is encouraging litter among Pagans.  Although it's not a central theme, this book does do that (tying condoms to chain link fences?).  A lot of people seem to have a problem with their newer Gods and Goddesses.  I don't, but if you have a difficult time with the idea of modern deities it's going to grate on you.
History
There isn't that much history in this book.  I found it odd that it claims Sekhmet considers tame lions offensive as her temples had captive lions in them.

Appropriation Level
It's there, but this book tends to create things from scratch rather than mindlessly take them.
Relativism Level
Some preachiness about cursing, but tends to be relativist about other aspects.

Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen by Scott Cunningham
This is, as the title would imply, a book about magickal cooking.  It's an older book and so there's a lot of out-of-date stuff in it, but it's certainly usable.  I honestly would have liked for it to be... better?  But hey, that's what the "cons" section is for.
Pros
I like this book because the very concepts of kitchen witchery and magickal cooking are incredibly appealing to me as a home foodie.  There are solid recipes and a lot of entries for different ingredients, so since I bought it I've been looking up practically every food I use.
Cons
Alright, I'll just say it... "Where's the beef?"  He has sections for all sorts of obscure ingredients and then doesn't put any meat in the damn thing.  Well, that's not entirely true... he does feature seafood, and there is red meat in his recipes, but animal flesh has such potential with regard to magick and he basically treats it like an outlier.  It would be one thing if he were vegetarian, but like many authors he actually dedicates space rationalizing meat eating so there's no moral reason for him to omit it.  The alcohol section on absinthe is out-of-date and makes it seem like an inherently dangerous and mortifyingly illegal beverage.  It hasn't been illegal for quite a while now, not in the United States anyway, and it's just not the demon people made it out to be.  He also implies that tea---yes, tea--is dangerously addictive if you don't watch it.  Again, this is an older book so take things like this with a grain of salt.  I also find it unsettling that he seems to consider fast food a huge, horrible evil and then he has a section on it anyway.
History
Pretty standard for this book's time, really with regard to history the big problem is that it's out of date.

Appropriation Level
Each entry has cross-cultural associations that aren't always adequately explained.  I remember one entry he basically said that Native Americans had all these stories about the food item... and then he doesn't give any synopses of these stories or even what individual Nation told them.  So Google things before you assume them.

Relativism Level
This book concerns a specific tradition and so this is mostly irrelevant.