When the Books No Longer Help

Information about paganism abounds on the internet and in books.  Walk into a Borders and look for the metaphysical section–ten years ago, that section was nowhere near as huge.  Some of that information is useful–but after a while, you start to realize that you’ve read this before, or that some of what your reading doesn’t really make good sense.  Or perhaps you’ve become disillusioned with some of the books that propose to give you spells to make yourself more beautiful, more popular, smarter, etc.

This is the point when books are no longer a great help in developing your pagan path.  This is the point when mostly they are an annoyance at best, a hindrance at worst.  Where do you go from here?

Some of those books you’ve bought will be useful to keep around.  The encyclopedic ones, for example, with lists and charts of herbs, or stones, or other such things.  It’s the other ones that say to be a Wiccan/witch/whatever you have to do this, followed by that, and then cast this at such and such time, etc etc.

But the point when the books cease to be a real help is the point when jumping off and developing your own ideas about your pagan path is a good idea.  I’m not saying jump into casting whatever spell you choose, or to work without a code of ethics, or anything like that.  Rather this is the developmental stage, the formulaic time in which you have to decide how much of that information you’ve picked up in books you should keep, and how much you should toss to the wind.

So many sources now say so many different things about what is or is not paganism, or what defines a pagan/Wiccan/witch/etc.  When the time comes that the books are less interesting because they all say the same things–that’s the point I’m talking about.  That’s when you decide if you work with magic, or not.  If you work with gods, goddesses, or both, or if you want to work with a specific pantheon or tradition or be eclectic.  When the books cannot give you a path to follow, you either stick to the old, tired path or you blaze forward and find a way to develop your own.

It’s not exactly easy, I know.  I went through the same thing.  Most pagans do–if they don’t they tend to stay perpetually in the fluffy bunny stage and follow everything they read.  Experiment and try things, but do so in a smart way; if you believe in the Threefold Rule or the Rede, follow those and incorporate them into your practices.  Don’t just try spells willy-nilly, but decide on your need or desire and try to find a way to act on it in a way that fits into whatever your code of ethics is.  It will take time, and some trial and error, but with perseverance you’ll develop your own way of doing things instead of following the recipes a book gives you.  At some point, you have to decide: stay a fluffy bunny, or really make this path your own.

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One response to “When the Books No Longer Help

  1. One I tend to find is that the good and advanced books are of an older age, and while initially a bit more difficult to find, certainly available. Usually a good sign is the complexity and transparency of the writing – usually more advanced texts will require a certain degree of “deciphering”.

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