Paganism In Depth

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 27 May 2019

Member Reviews

A truly deep look at the lived experience of spiritual paganism. Rather than a collection of spells or ritual transcripts, this book provides a glimpse into the author's pagan path. The value of this book is not in what it teaches you, but in what it opens your mind to. Too often, books on paganism fall into the trap of listing the things you need, the holidays you should be celebrating, etc, and miss the true spirit of pagan practice. Yes, the trappings are nice, but its the way the gods manifest in your daily life that really matters. Although the book is dense with information, Beckett comes across as a friend sharing his journey, making this an enjoyable read.
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I have loved John Beckett's writing and thinking on paganism, magic, and polytheism since first finding his blog a few years back. Now, this guide to how to begin or sustain a polytheist practice collects those insights and views that have been featured on his blog all this time into one volume. Using his own experiences to illustrate and emphasize his points (while somehow never sounding self-aggrandizing), the book is as accessible to someone just starting to explore the idea of working with deities as it is to someone who has been working with one or more gods/goddesses for years. While I may not agree with every thought Beckett has, they are presented as *his thoughts* rather than as some inherent truth. Thus these places of divergence are less off-putting than some I've read from authors seem to feel that because something worked for them, it must be the one true way of practicing. Ultimately, a worthwhile book that encourages self-reflection and the need for action over simple intent when it comes to  beginning and developing relationships with the gods.
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A great deal of detail provided by the author; his prose was thoughtful and informative and I appreciated the care with which he explained his practice and ideas.   I would recommend this book for a serious devotee to paganism as its content is dense.  That said, if you're looking for a light , how-to book with less prose - this might not be your choice.  Thank you!
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I found this book interesting to read even as a non-pagan Witch. I would recommend it. The writer has a nice flow.
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Let me begin this review by saying that John Beckett is a down-to-earth and genuinely unassuming and likable man. And, he also is committed to his path of Druidry, but not at the expense of also being very thoughtful and receptive to many of the other paths that fall under the umbrella of polytheism. These statements alone, in my opinion, make his writing all that more interesting because you can distinguish the underpinnings of a sound personal practice that allows for exploration of “what could be”.

Paganism in Depth is separated into three Parts: Part 1-Foundations; Part 2-Practice; and Part 3-Challenges. Each offers a very thorough and as the title suggests comprehensive discourse on the nature of paganism in its multitude of expressions. The Introduction contained as a section of Part 1 provides the reader with John’s experiences as he moved through the hunger that many new pagans feel upon finding out that there is a different type of spirituality that asks much of its seekers and integrates the natural, mundane and spiritual worlds. We are reminded from the beginning that going deeper into the path we are exploring or have committed to requires much from us, but that the rewards are well worth the efforts.

Reading through Paganism In Depth is much like having a conversation with an old friend. You may think you know lots about the individual and then they surprise you with something new and unexpected. This alone changes the dynamics between you and the dialogue opens, your mind begins to process and questions arise that set you on a path of wanting to know more. And, all the while this interaction is being done in a very gentle way that feels neither threatening nor invasive of what you already believe to be true.

By and far my reading was Chapter 5: I like It Here-Why Do I Have to Leave? This chapter spoke to the nature of settling in and at times simply “just settling” when the experience could be so much more had we just reached a little further beyond our comfort zone. John asks the reader to learn to trust their experiences, and use this as an opening for deeper connection to Deity, the magick and all that comprises your chosen path…

…. Learning to trust your senses is an act of will. And like so many other parts of ourselves, the will is strengthened by exercise.”….

Supporting this concept of will as needing exercise, Chapter 6: Devotional Practice is the first statement of devotional practice beginning with a choice (will): a Deity to worship. How we proceed from that choice is integral to how deeply we will ultimately connect with deity at all levels. Choice of which deity (ies) we select to offer our practice to is another step that although it may feel or seem very simple, the angst that surrounds this often holds us back from simply making the choice to “experience”.

Meditation, magick, leadership and all of those pieces that construct a whole in what we choose to call our spiritual practice are given the care of first hand experience and suggestion of how to improve upon and make it your own. This style is prominent throughout the book with each topic being made that much more relevant through the sharing of John’s personal experiences. This creates a space of community through common ground and even if the reader disagrees with or has never had any similar experience, it makes the book readable and engaging.

This closing statement in the Epilogue: An Invitation to a Journey, beautifully sums up the entirety of the book and in this case, perfectly aligns with what John Beckett has accomplished in its writing…

…. the mission of Paganism in Depth. It’s a guidebook to going deeper into the forest, higher up the mountain, and further out to sea. It’s an invitation to join this sacred work, to go where there are no maps and find your way through careful practice and intuition,,, and then draw a map for those who come after you.”

Visit the author’s blog: Under the Ancient Oaks
Review by Robin Fennelly of
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I follow John Beckett blog on Patheos and was more than happy when this ARC was approved.
I loved it, it gave a lot of food for thought and I appreciated the style of writing.
I will surely read it again because it's one of those book you read when you want to reflect about the next steps on your path.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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This book absolutely blew me away. It's a must-have for any serious pagan. So glad I got a chance to read it; it's a game-changer.
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I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Although I now realize there's two editions of this book on Goodreads, there's also the Kindle edition which I received, not the paperback.

I enjoyed the book. It was easy to read, although I would have loved if geasa had been explained a liiiiittle bit earlier. I had to Google it in the middle of reading.

The book is quite literally for anyone. For any follower of an Abrahamic religion, it's a good look at a generalized Pagan worldview. For an atheist or an agnostic, the same. For any Pagan, it's a good how-to manual for deepening your understanding and devotion to deities, if that's what you'd like to do. Beckett never tells you should do something: he never says you must deepen your connection to your deities. He simply suggests how you could do it and tells you the pros and cons of doing it.

It's an honest book, and I thoroughly enjoyed the honesty of it. Lots of new words (at least for me, as my native language isn't English), but that wasn't an issue as I enjoy learning.

The book allowed me to be in the safety of my faith, which I've very much craved. But at the same time, it did challenge my views of my faith, which I have very much craved, too.
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Beckett has written an all-encompassing book on paganism. It is a lite touch to everything one would like to know about paganism allowing for the further deep study if that is warranted from the reader. His belief in magic and nature is abundantly clear as he outlines a path back to one's soul. This book speaks to you as you read it. I highly recommend it.
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This book takes you to another level for those who seek a more in depth view of Paganism. Some are happy with the level they have and this is ok, if it makes you happy or feel that you are where you want to be. Some who practice want to take it to a deeper level. The author helps to go farther and deeper in understanding. He leads you into a detailed practical knowledge and how to work thru challenges that will be placed in front of you If a deity asks something different of you , will you be ready? This book is also, for those who want to learn more such as someone new to this way and for Non Pagans as well. I enjoyed reading this book. It's not so heavy that you will get bogged down and give up halfway between. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading more by this author. I received this book from Llewellyn for a honest review.
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This was a good pagan information book. It contains basic level information but it also expands further into the practice than many books that claim to be "all about pagansim"
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This book was wonderful! The author is so full of knowledge on the subject of Paganism. A must for any good Pagan's bookshelf!
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It is more of his journey through paganism, studying, and religious experiences. You do get information placed in there as well. He does get some references and different topics talked about. But overall, how it is presented it is not a book for me - could be for others.
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Sorry for my possible English mistakes.
This book is valuable source for persons who wants to know "what's next on my path". When you're playing an instrument you're beginner first and only after few years you can become an adept in playing, challenges which you considered before almost impossible are now attainable. Same message is here. Focus in this is book is on supernatural, all the way to the end. One will learn how to deepen his/hers connection with creative forces of the universe. For me highlights of the book were chapters about prayer and magic, plus there are some excellent advices scattered throughout the wholle book. This book will help one to better understand life of an adept and his/hers workings.
And although for my taste this text is sometimes too much wordy nevertheless it is great tool for meditation and insights into advanced Paganism.
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