As mentioned in General Neo-Paganism page, there is a lot of good research recently published on Neo-Paganism. Because of the maturing of the Neo-Pagan movement, there are a greater number of reference materials being produced to catalog the diversity of the genre. They probably would also make good starting points for further study.
IMPORTANT NOTE We haven't read all the following books, but are in the process of procuring them for the Gould Library of Carleton College (the seminary of the Reformed Druids). Unfortunately, it is often difficult for your libary to borrow reference materials from other libraries. However, I would recommend that you check the book carefully for poor scholarship before using them and send your opinions to email@example.com
First a short version of the titles followed by a detailed list of the contents, ordering information, book descriptions and reader reviews
by James R. Lewis Amazon Price: $75.00 Hardcover - 370 pages (December 1999) ABC - Clio; ISBN: 1576071340 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.30 x 10.28 x 7.30
No details on this one. Perhaps an expanded edition of the above title? Wait a while and check it at Amazon.
by J. Gordon Melton(Editor) 1999
No details available on this encyclopedia. But one to keep an eye open for. It may be a reprint of the book below....
by J. Gordon Melton, Isotta Poggi Amazon Price: $30.00 Hardcover 2nd edition (June 1992) Garland Pub; ISBN: 0815304994
From Book News, Inc. , December 1, 1992
Melton (Religious leaders of America, Directory of religious organizations) assembled the first edition for release in 1982 under the title Sects and cults in America bibliographical guides, v.1. The second edition has nearly doubled (to 2,540 entries) with the publishing of the 1980s. Two prefaces and an introduction, two appendixes, and an index give good access.
by J. Gordon Melton, J. Gordon Our Price: $67.00 Paperback 1st edition (May1995) GALE Group; ISBN: 0810371596 ;Dimensions (in inches): 1.12 x 9.32 x 6.26 From Book News, Inc. , October 1, 1990
Book review by Book News, Inc. Portland, Or
Some 300 substantial essays provide specific coverage of beliefs, concepts and people, definitions of terms, references to additional sources, and names and addresses of New Age organizations and publications. An introductory essay traces the historical development of the New Age and examines its current patterns and trends. .
by James R. Lewis (Editor), J. Gordon Melton (Editor) Amazon Price: $59.50 Availability: Hardcover - 369 pages (September 1992) State Univ of New York Pr; ISBN: 079141213X ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.03 x 9.27 x 6.23
Review From Book News, Inc. , March 1, 1994
Inaugurates a scholarly assessment of the New Age movement. This collection of 19 essays begins with a delineation of the shape of this many-tentacled subject and then proceeds through considerations of the historical roots of the New Age phenomenon, perspectives of the movement from inside and outside, comparisons to other major alternative spiritualities, to a survey of the New Age's international impact.
Review by David L. Heiserman from Columbus, Ohio U.S.A November 24, 1999
The essays in this book provide scholary insight and terrific references for the religious/spiritual side of the New Age movement. An essay drawing strong parallels between Christian Charismatic Movement and the New Age Movement to be impartial and very enlightening.
Although it is not a comprehensive work (compare with Marilyn Ferguson's "The Aquarian Conspiracy"), it is a great place for a serach for the more responsible features of New Age mysticism and spirituality.
Reviewer: A reader from Pittsburgh, PA October 25, 1998
Silly me. I thought perspectives meant more than one view. This book, while claiming to be an indifferent look at the New Age Movement, obviously is written by staunch backers of the Movement with too few exceptions to be considered balanced. People shouldn't pretend to be scholarly when they're simply being cheerleaders for an idea.
by Michael Jordan List Price: $19.95 Paperback (October 1, 1998) Trafalgar Square; ISBN: 1856263053
Amazon Book Description
This unique reference offers a complete assessment of modern paganism and magic as practiced by witches, druids, feminists, and others who believe that conventional religion has little relevance in the late 20th century. Presented alphabetically, fully cross-referenced, and strikingly illustrated, Witches covers all the key figures and practices of paganism in the Western world today, dispelling the myths that have long cloaked the subject. The many factual entries are supplemented by candid interviews with four prominent pagans, whose observations lend a powerful insight into the workings of their collective faith.
About the Author
Michael Jordan is the author of Gods of the Earth, Encyclopedia of Gods, and Myths of the World.
Review by Pandora
I promised a review of The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft next, but I read this book as a resource for my coven, and found it to be a very good book indeed. So I had to share my opinion.
Edain McCoy is regarded as a poor scholar in the circles I run around in. However, this book does not delve into a history of Witchcraft, instead focusing on the ups and downs of finding and belonging to a coven. It's chock full of common sense. Which requires a lot less work than researching the Godsof ancient times, but still is important to share with others. McCoy shines in this work.
After all, we all need to be slapped with a little common sense now and then (okay, some may need slapped with a lot). The ideas in this book are so simple, but someone overwhelmed with the urge to find a coven may ignore them without a little push to remember. Anyone searching for or thinking of creating a coven should read this.
Some of the points covered are safety, trust, and organization. In this day and age, safety is something that we always can use a brush up on, and McCoy reminds us of warning signs and basic safety that could help steer away from less scrupulous individuals. Trust is also emphasized, and the concept of "Perfect Love and Perfect Trust" is well explained.
For those founding a coven, the organizational information is invaluable. There is an outline of what kind of decisions need to be made before problems occur, types of covens, and planning for growth.
While I never thought I would say this about one of Edain McCoy's books, this one will soon find a permanent place on my bookshelf.
Long Review by Pandora
Writing a review about an encyclopedia is difficult. And when it contains such a wide variety of information like Rosemary Ellen Guiley's Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, it makes it that much harder. But this was one of those "bolt of lightning" books for me, and I have to share it with others.
It's all in here - from the animism and shamanism of prehistoric times through the witchhunts of the middle ages, to today's religion of Witchcraft. This is one of the most complete resources I have ever seen. Information on Satanism is included to highlight the differences and emphasize that Pagans and Witches are not Satanists. There are entries for famous witchtrials, founders of modern Paganism, beloved authors, and for the tools and beliefs of Witches.
One of the things I find most amazing about this book is the publisher - Facts on File. They are widely respected, and their titles are available in many public and school libraries. Which in this case, makes accurate information about modern Witchcraft available to many, many people. A new edition of this title is being planned (it's nearly 10 years old now), and hopefully it will bring even more information to a broad audience.
About the only inaccuracy regarding the modern information I have come across in the book is a statement that only Satanists use black candles. Hopefully that will be corrected in the next edition, and my one peeve will be satisfied. The accuracy of the older historical information is something that I can't comment on, but I always recommend reading as many different authors on a subject. In that way, different figures and their reasons come to light, and we can make our own judgement.
One of the reasons I find this book useful is the reason any encyclopedia is valuable:base information, and inspiration to find out more. Encyclopedias are meant to inform quickly - a framework to build on through other sources as well. If there is information here that inspires someone to find out more, then it's a very valuable book indeed.
Words from Ms. Guiley
In the decade-plus since The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft was written, there has been a veritable explosion of information on the subject of witchcraft, especially as it is perceived in Western society. Some of it is historical, dealing with new accounts of the European witch-hunts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Most of this new information relates to Witchcraft (with a capital W) the contemporary Pagan religion: a Nature- and Goddess-based spiritual path reconstructed from Pagan beliefs and rites, folk magic and ceremonial magic. This contemporary religion, also called Wicca, bears some resemblance to witchcraft as a tradition of folk magic, but has nothing in common with the sensational Devil-worshiping beliefs of the witch-hunts. The Devil-thundering of the Inquisition was in part intended to terrorize and control the masses.
I wrote this book because of my interest in the history of magic and religion. The intent of the encyclopedia is to provide a compendium of entries related to the history and aspects of witchcraft, up to and including the contemporary developments of Witchcraft, Wicca and Paganism. Although I have included some cross-cultural entries, the focus of the book is on Western magic and witchcraft. I have been working on revisions for a new edition, to be published in the future, which will include updated existing entries and new entries on historical figures and topics related to folklore, magic, folk witchcraft and Wicca/Paganism.
Contemporary Witchcraft is a rapidly growing religion evolving on its own in its own directions, and probably needs an encyclopedia of its own. I do not attempt to provide an exhaustive account of the many and ever-changing permutations of, and debates within, Witchcraft and Paganism, nor do I attempt to compile a who's-who list of personages. Witchcraft the religion is but one aspect of the overall subject of witchcraft.
The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft broke ground as the first mainstream reference work on the subject to capitalize Witch, Witchcraft, Pagan and Paganism when referring to contemporary religious persuasions. Because the distinctions between Witchcraft the modern religion and witchcraft the magical art are confusing to the general public, I have to side with the Witches who are preferring the term Wicca. I expect the use of the terms Wicca and Wiccan to increase as this religion continues to grow. Nonetheless, there remain many Witches who are firm about retaining Witch and Witchcraft to describe their religion. It is up to the public, then, to learn to distinguish between Witchcraft the religion and witchcraft the folk tradition. Paganism (including Witchcraft/Wicca) is now a topic of serious academic and religious study, and is taking its place among the diverse faiths of the world. Much of the credit for this goes to a contemporary romance with nature, a desire for personal transcendent experience (which Paganism offers), and to the Witches and Pagans who have campaigned tirelessly to educate the public about what they believe and practice. Ten years ago, few were willing to be open in the public. Today, the public can choose from countless books, periodicals and websites.
Such proliferation of information hopefully contributes to the spiritual enlightenment of the public. We must respect the right of every person to choose the spiritual path that is best for her or him. We're all headed to the same destination. Our experience of the Divine, our discovery of Truth, should unite us, not divide us.
Good review of the occult, but not very useful for Neo-Pagans (look for an update).
Like the title says, Gordon has an tract on every sizeable religion in America, including many articles on the Neo-Pagans.
One of the problems with most "cult" guide books is that they are more likely to be heavily biased handbooks for the purpose of denouncing the reviewed groups (from a Christian stance) rather than in actually providing useful information for the curious or listing any remarkable accomplishments by those groups. Editorial Reviews
From Booklist , November 1, 1998 The pages of this work contain information on approximately 1,000 religious groups, ranging from small churches with less than a hundred members (Chishti Order of America) to organizations such as the Assemblies of God that number in the millions. Most entries are relatively short. The more controversial religions, as well as religious groups that have had a high profile lately, receive more lengthy treatments. Also included are entries on broader religious movements such as the New Age and the Charismatic Movement. Some of the longer entries are signed, although no affiliations or credentials are supplied for the authors.
Lewis, chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the World University of America, spends several paragraphs of the introduction discussing the connotations of the terms cult, sect, and new religion, explaining that they were used in his title because "they represent the most commonly used terms for non-mainstream religious groups." The introduction does not specifically address how the included groups were chosen and why others were left out, except that all are "non-mainstream." Emphasis is on the U.S., although some non-U.S. groups are included, such as Aum Shinrikyo and Wiccan Church of Canada. Starting with the Aaronic Order, an offshoot of the Mormon Church, and ending with Zion's Order, Inc. (also of Mormon derivation), the book covers a very broad range of organizations. Gnostic, Theosophist, Hindu, Moslem, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Native American, New Age, and occult groups are profiled. Examples of entries include channeling movement, Druids, Hare Krishna movement, Hasidism, Heaven's Gate, Salvation Army, Satanism, Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and Voodoo.
Each article outlines the history of the group, its founders and leaders, its main teachings, and an approximate number of followers or congregations. The explanations are clearly written, interesting and understandable, without too much scholarly jargon. There are a number of pictures, most provided by the religious groups. There is a table of contents, but no cross-references or index; both would have been useful. There is nothing to direct the reader searching for Nation of Islam to American Muslims (which the entry claims is the current name), or to link names like Jim Jones and Herbert W. Armstrong to the entries for People's Temple and Worldwide Church of God. There is a 64-page bibliography of books, pamphlets, and periodicals. A few entries included Web addresses, but none are in the bibliography.
The similarly titled Sects, "Cults" and Alternative Religions: A World Survey and Sourcebook [RBB Jl 97] covers only 69 groups, but the entries are longer--16 pages for Scientology as opposed to two pages in Lewis. In many ways, the books complement each other. Because of interest in the subject, public and academic libraries will want Lewis' book, though smaller libraries may not have the budget or patronage to justify this particular expense. CopyrightŠ 1998, American Library Association. All rights reserved
If you have questions or advice on the materials discussed here, or if you have more resources to add; email me firstname.lastname@example.org
This page was created in March, 2000 c.e. No copyright by presenter, excerpts taken from Amazon and various other cited sources.