Paleopagan Europe the Soil

The Destiny of a King, The Plight of a Sorcerer, The Stakes of the Warrior, Archaic Roman Religion, Mitra-Varuna, and others by Georges Dumézil. All worth reading if you want to know what pre-Christian European Paganism was really like.

Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, by Mircea Eliade. This is the classic text on the topic, the one that made the term "shaman" well known before Carlos Castaneda, Michael Harner, and Lynne Andrews blurred it into uselessness. Why put it here? Because many modern Wiccans incorrectly believe that early witches were shamans. I also highly recommend his three volume series, A History of Religious Ideas.

The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Will Not Give Women a Future, by Cynthia Eller. The Goddess doesn't need us to tell lies for Her. Eller analyses all the bits of the Universal Golden Matriarchal Age mythology and shows where they came from and why we can't believe them. She doesn't seem to be aware, however, that even the die-hards have been backpeddling recently.

Proto-Indo-European Trees, by Paul Freid-rich. Primarily a linguistic monograph, this is the only book to cover in detail the various species of trees known to have had names in the PIE language. He includes a great deal of religious and symbolic detail without always realizing that he is doing so. The chapters on willows, elms, and oaks are most relevant for the history of witchcraft. Out of print but well worth hunting for.

The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles, Their Nature and Legacy, by Ronald Hutton. This is a brilliant review of the history, prehistory and pseudo-history of British Paleopaganism.

New from Ronald Hutton! Shamans: Siberian Spirituality and the Western Imagination. This will be a good book to read after Eliade's Shamanism.

A History of Pagan Europe, by Prudence Jones and Nigel Pennick. Not as scholarly as Hutton, yet certainly far better than the average work published on this topic. At least they don't include the common nonsense about universal matriarchies, unbroken lines of survival back to the Stone Age, etc. Their Baltic and Scandinavian materials may be a little shaky.

The New Comparative Mythology, An Anthropological Assessment of the Theories of Georges Dumézil, by C. Scott Littleton. This is the best critical introduction to Dumézil's work, with an extensive bibliography of relevant books and articles by Dumézil and others. While others (including myself) have enlarged upon his theories, his views of common Indo-European cultural patterns (including religious beliefs, social classes, institutions and practices) were essentially sound and deserve careful study.

The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines and O Mother Sun: A New View of the Cosmic Feminine, by Patricia Monaghan. The first is a new edition of a classic work that is infinitely superior to many with similar titles. The second does an excellent job of showing that Sun Goddesses were just as common as Moon Goddesses to our Paleo-pagan ancestors. For many years, Mona-ghan was nearly alone as a feminist scholar who really is as committed to scholarship as she is to her feminism.

Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales, by Alwyn & Brinley Rees. A

classic Dumezilian analysis of Celtic mythology and religion, based primarily on Irish and secondarily on Welsh materials. Gives an excellent overview of basic patterns of belief, showing how they reflected the social structures of the Celts — and vice versa! — and will explain much of the cosmology underlying real Celtic mythology and ritual (see Druidism: A Concise Guide for details).

Pagan Celtic Britain, by Anne Ross. This is a real classic! She covers the archeology and prehistory of Celtic Britain — "warts and all" — including a lot of stuff romantics would prefer be forgotten, yet with respect for the people involved.

If you're wondering why most of this category is focused on Britain, it's because that's where modern Neopagan Wtchcraft came from as well as where it claimed its roots were.

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