Paganism in Depth
A Polytheistic Approach
by John Beckett
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
About the Author:
Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.
She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):
It’s Written in the Stars
The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two
The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three
The Eternal Cord
A Collection of Esoteric Writings
Aligning the Parts of SELF
Musings on the Magick of the Natural World
Nights of Devotion
Musings for the Year
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