Pagan Librarian

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Finding Pagan Material: Public vs. University Libraries

Posted by Pagan Librarian on November 30, 2012

When looking for Pagan-related material, public and university libraries are go-to places. Keep in mind however, these two types of libraries collect for different purposes. Before you go searching through the stacks, to avoid frustration or disappointment, it’s important to know what it is you’re looking for.

Public Libraries

Public libraries are identified by having the words “public,” “district,” “community,” “area,” “memorial” or some other such communal word in the name of the library. They are typically named after their city or locale, or important local/historical figures.

A public library is all about the public –and for the most part (for better and worse), this translates to the majority. Public libraries are typically physically smaller facilities than universities (which, larger building size aside, can include anywhere from one to multiple library locations on campus). With significantly more limited storage space and funding, public libraries are all about getting the most bang for their buck, so their collection is going to be centered around what will get the most use. (Take note: the size of a collection of specialized material will be proportional to the size of a particular group in a given community. The smaller group of people of a particular interest, the smaller the quantity of material available for that particular interest)

What will get the most use with the public? Popular stuff. Popular, practical, ready-to-use stuff… meaning public libraries would be the go-to place for more familiar, “Blatant Pagan,” practical “Practicioner” titles. By “Blatant Pagan” I mean your catch-all, how-to books for spells, rituals, sabbats, tarot, runes, etc, and/or are usually penned by instantly recognizable, of household-fame authors (think Silver Ravenwolf, Ray Buckland, Starhawk, and Scott Cunningham).

A public library’s nonfiction collection is typically organized by the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system. (I say “typically” because there is a growing shift in changing this organization… some libraries are switching over to a more organic “book store” style of “topic browsing”) If your library’s using DDC, check out the “Nonfiction Whereabouts” section on the Reader’s Advisory page. This will help guide where you browse.

It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to periodically check out a library’s “book sale” collection. Just about every public library has a used books collection available for sale as a way to help fund the library and its special projects. Sometimes this collection is available for sale all-year long, sometimes a library will make an event out of it. But these collections are comprised of books in good condition that have either been removed from the library’s circulating collection due to age or lack of use, or books that people have donated to the library that didn’t make the cut to be included on the shelves. Prices are nominal – from anywhere from 5¢ to $1.50 you can purchase books.

University Libraries

University, or “Academic” libraries are identified as being facilities located on a large college or university campus. I must specify however, that not all college libraries are created equal. Smaller 2-year community colleges or trade schools (associate degrees, certifications) will not have the same broad offerings as their larger, more traditional 4-year counterparts that offer bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees. 2-year college library collections are significantly smaller and are often more career- and trade skills-centric.

A university library will rarely offer the popular-practical, but they will often have more material promising to be “of Pagan Interest.” The mission of university collections is to support the university’s ENTIRE body of curriculum. This means not only are they carrying the primary or “required” reading material for every course offering of the last X-number of years, they also collect additional “supportive” material to serve as supplementary reading and as resources for all the students and faculty conducting an even broader range of specialized research.

If you’re looking to delve more into the history, heritage, authenticity, and “why’s” of what you believe or what you’re doing, the university library is your key. Granted, you may have to do a little more homework to prepare for your search (or else don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a librarian… 😉 ), but you can find some valuable gems in philosophy, anthropology, history, folk studies, religious studies, etc. to name a few general areas. Again, I’ll refer you to the Readers Advisory page to guide your search in the stacks as university libraries organize their material with a much more detailed/complicated Library of Congress Classification system (LCC).

You’re more likely to find more scholarly authors like Ronald Hutton, Margot Adler, Chas Clifton, and Helen Berger. You’ll also find plenty of non-pagan authors whose books either directly or indirectly touch on Pagan culture, history, or thought.

It’s unlikely universities will have magick- or spell books hidden in their stacks, but you will find material that examines a wide variety of mythologies, studies cultural movements, traces the roots and history of civilizations across time and geographic location, offer discussion and criticism of various belief systems and religious structures, and reveal (or speculate) the history of symbols and secret societies.

Final Notes

There are a few other differences that  are neither here nor there, but may be worth pointing out for the sake of observation. I’m not making noted because I’m saying one type of material is superior to another –popular and academic materials have both their equal share of merit and downfall.

Authority – Information within more popular materials is more often based on personal experience than research heavy. How-to’s are often collected or passed down through tradition. “This is a spell I wrote/ritual I created.” “This is the way it’s been done,” or “this is how you do it,” or “this color is for X purpose. Because it is.” They cut to the chase and just say “this is.” Boom.

Academic material will be more analytical, critical, and cold-hard-facts research based. They have spent the time rooting around history and works to find out “This is why people did it this way.” “this is why this is important and how it came to be so,” or “people interpretted this color as X because it reminded them of Y.”

Now here’s my disclaimer: what I’m NOT saying is that authors like Starhawk or Silver Ravenwolf should be discounted and don’t know what they’re talking about – they DO, and I have absolutely NO DOUBT that they know a great deal more than I do about certain things, and they absolutely have WAY MORE personal experience practicing the craft than I do. What I AM saying is I would rely more on Hutton to provide a more thorough history of European traditions than I would Ravenwolf. Hutton and Ravenwolf do different things, and they each do their different things well.

(It’s after 1am at this point, so most likely I’m just off on a meaningless tangent. Apologies. Bear with me.)

Identity – Authors who are more academic- or research-based (as found in university libraries) are more likely to use their real names, or at least have pen names that don’t involve colors, animals, or crystals, as is often found with popular authors.

I find that interesting. Academics who pour so much time into their research want/deserve their due credit and acknowledgement for their contributions. But I have to wonder about the authors of “Blatant Pagan” popular material… Are the nom de plumes employed to maintain a boundary of anonymity for their mundane-professional/personal life? When is it to protect a private life for privacy’s sake V. fear of stigma V. a more “sensational” name selling a product?

Food for thought. But now it’s time for bed. I’ll leave you all to discuss. *waves fingers around at all y’alls*

“I’m all Verklempt! Talk amongst yourselves, here, I’ll give you a topic: hot dogs. They are neither hot, nor are they dogs. Discuss.”

Posted in Finding Pagan Material, nonfiction, Reference, Resources | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!: New Alexandrian Library Project For Esoteric Culture

Posted by Pagan Librarian on November 29, 2012

The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel is fundraising to finish construction of their New Alexandrian Library, an esoteric religious research library and museum.

To learn more, visit: NAL’s Fundraiser as well as Sacred Wheel’s site at

Donations Are Tax Deductible!

Posted in NAL Updates, Pagan Library | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Find on Facebook

Posted by Pagan Librarian on November 27, 2012

You can now find the Pagan Librarian on Facebook at Find and friend me. 

The previously made group page, “Pagan Librarians” will be migrated to this account. I invite readers, authors, and other interested parties to find and friend me. A link to facebook will be added to the site soon.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Announcement: Site Reactivated!

Posted by Pagan Librarian on November 24, 2012

Though never far away in the back of my mind were thoughts and ideas for projects and development, admittedly I had put the site and my role as “Pagan Librarian” on hiatus while I focused more time and energy toward home and career. You may have noticed that the site has just received it’s first post and update since January this year.

It was while I was reorganizing my home office and I came across papers and notebooks related to the site (and having some honest-to-goodness downtime) that I decided to check in after all this time. I logged in to the site, into the email, into the survey and was blown away.

In 11 months with absolutely no update activity to the site, it’s averaged 280 hits per month. Site visits are on the rise and have already over-taken last year’s total of 2,761 hits (with updates) with 3,089 so far with none. I’ve counted over 100 emails from people contributing information to the site, 74 survey respondents, 26 new followers to the blog (I haven’t even checked how many new followers on Twitter), over 20 requests for reviews, and a contract offer for doing a monthly column with an ezine.

This isn’t a a big site, and these aren’t astronomical figures, but they are big to me.

Thank you, all of you, who have contacted me throughout these months. I am so encouraged by your positive feedback, and so happy to discover that the site, which started just as a personal project, has turned out to be so useful!

With that, I’d like to announce that the site is back to active status. I look forward to your continued feedback, contributions, info requests, and discussion! 🙂

Posted in Announcement, Updates | 1 Comment »

Pagan Fiction: The Great Succession Crisis

Posted by Pagan Librarian on November 23, 2012

Great Succession CrisisTitle: The Great Succession Crisis (Book 1 of The Peers of Beinan trilogy)
Author: Laurel A. Rockefeller
ISBN: 9781479144808 (paperback); 9781476243344 (digital);  9781479159949 (large print paperback)
Pub Date: August 2012
Format: Trade Paperback, 186 pgs

Princess Anlei is the rightful heiress to Queen Isabelle’s throne, well educated and politically astute. Only one thing stands in the way: she’s a woman.

Now who she marries will seal the fate of the Gurun dynasty and shape the future of all Beinan for hundreds of yen-ars.

Both the book and Kindle E-Book includes prequel short story “The First King,” and chapter one of book two, “Ghosts of the Past.”

Of especial interest to pagans is the author’s setting on the planet Beinan with its goddess-centric culture lead by its priestly house, Miyoo.

Anlei’s maternal grandmother Wehe is High Priestess of the planet. Anlei herself struggles with her Miyoo heritage and the expectation that she will follow in her grandmother’s footsteps. Five yen-ars from coming of age, Anlei begins The Great Succession Crisis as religious skeptic, even while her psychic abilities from her Miyoo blood manifest.

As a psychic empath who has long struggled with her own abilities, especially with regards to her natural scientific instincts, Anlei reflects what the author, Rockefeller, has long struggled with as a person of both faith and science.

Laurel A. Rockefeller identifies herself as a Celtic-Ecletic Wiccan. The Great Succession Crisis is the first installment of her self published trilogy, Peers of Beinan. To learn more about this new series, visit Laurel has also been added to the Pagan Authors page.

Available in paperbackGreat Succession Crisis
(Volume 1)
Available for KindleThe Great Succession Crisis
(The Peers of Beinan)

Posted in Adult, Announcement, eBook, fiction | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Authors Added

Posted by Pagan Librarian on January 22, 2012

Thank you to my contributors! Did a little bit of updating (long overdue) and the following authors have been added to the Pagan Authors list:

  • Kit Berry
  • Rae Beth
  • PK Brent
  • Paul Burley
  • Laura DeLuca
  • Sally Dubats
  • Sir James George Frazer
  • Jennifer Hunter
  • Caitlin Matthews
  • John Matthews
  • Poppy Palin
  • Jane Sibley
  • Rob Young

Posted in Updates | Leave a Comment »

Author Add: Sirona Knight

Posted by Pagan Librarian on November 21, 2011

Pagan author Sirona Knight has been added to the Pagan Authors page along with several links including her website and several online interviews. A bibliography of her works can be found at the first link which will take you to her entry in Wikipedia.

Posted in Updates | 1 Comment »

NEW: Survey

Posted by Pagan Librarian on November 20, 2011

At long last! If you identify with a pagan belief system and have a library in your community, please take a moment to complete this questionnaire about how you as a Pagan Patron have used your local library.

SURVEY: Pagans Using the Library

A link to this survey has also been added to the website’s left side-bar.

This is a annotated version of the complete questionnaire originating from my graduate research proposal. In the future I will be looking to make the full survey available online which will include questions about the survey takers demographic background and general library use. This annotated version is limited to a quota of 1,000 individuals.

Please spread the word about this survey to other Pagans!

If you have any additional feedback or testimonials after completing the questionnaire, please do not hesitate to contact me at:

pagan.librarian [at]

Posted in News | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Whitmore’s “Trials” takes on Hutton’s “Triumph”

Posted by Pagan Librarian on January 24, 2011

A new book is raising quite a stir of discussion about author/historian credibility, sources used and critiques within Pagan Academic circles. Written by Ben Whitmore, Trials of the Moon: Reopening the Case for Historical Witchcraft is an examination of the esteemed Ronald Hutton’s own Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft.

Regardless of whichever book you read or side with, the exercise of Whitmore’s book is warmly welcomed. Though there’s no question in my mind Hutton has done more than his fair share of research, Whitmore’s book will remind us not to take anything from any author as a discussion or debate end-all. Why? Because research and history are still entities that can be (uniquely) interpreted in any number of ways.

Max Dashu on her blog Veleda ( has reviewed Whitmore’s book. Her review, titled “Reopening the Case for Historical Witchcraft” is well-worth the read, as are both Trials and Triumph.

Posted in Adult, Book Review, nonfiction | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: I’m Spiritual, Dammit!

Posted by Pagan Librarian on December 20, 2010

Title: I’m Spiritual, Dammit!
Author: Jenniffer Weigel
ISBN: 978-1-57174-634-4
Pub Date: 2010
Format: Trade Paperback, 194 pgs
Rating (Out of 5):
Disclaimer: Book was provided for free by Red Wheel/Weiser Books for unpaid review. As the author of this review, I declare I am not agent or employee of Red Wheel/Weiser Books or any other publishing house or wholesale distributor.

I’ll admit: one of the reasons I was interested in this book was because of the title.

Nonfiction by virtue of being a memoir or sharing of memories, Jenniffer Weigel’s I’m Spiritual, Dammit! is a light conversational read. Weigel’s tone sets up her reader to feel as though they are sitting with an good friend over a cup of coffee (or tea) and exchanging stories of “Omigod, am I going crazy?!” and reassuring each other, through reason, that no, you aren’t.

Weigel shares her spiritual experiences from everyday life, as well as the experiences of others that have confided in her, relieved to have found someone who won’t think they’re crazy. Weigel occasionally reflects how groups in society – primarily religious groups – will try to push down, discredit or demonize these occurrences that are often labeled as strange, odd, paranormal, metaphysical, what-have-you.

Reader’s won’t get very far into the book before realizing that all you need to “keep your feet on the ground and your head in the stars” is a reasonable dose of realistic skepticism mixed with a healthy sense of humor. Spiritual experiences should be opportunities to help keep us moving forward, not hold us back.

You also don’t need to be a religious person –church-going or head-in-the-clouds bat-s**t crazy– to have “spiritual” experiences. They can happen to anyone and everyone, regardless of age, race, gender, creed, culture, or career. Most of the times they’re quiet, but they are always unique and made to be meaningful to the intended individuals to get their attention.

I enjoyed reading the anecdotes and admit I’ve had a few “laugh out loud” moments and have even shared a few excerpts with friends of mine (in particular, when her young son was still learning to distinguish consonants and pronunciations in his speech). Each story is presented with a “life lesson” in mind that reminds readers on the spiritual path to not take things personally, don’t take yourself too seriously, be open, and no, you’re not really that crazy.

I’m Spiritual, Dammit! is a comfortable read that is just as enjoyable to pick up and read a chapter or two from here or there as it is to read cover-to-cover. I think this would be a good book for several types of people:

  • Persons who pride themselves on being realistic and get easily spooked or irked by words like paranormal, medium, ghosts, and any talk about feeling connections to those who’ve gone on before us.
  • The secular who are wondering if this life is all there is, but may be a little afraid to ask.
  • People who need a little reassurance after having a non-ignoreable experience and are afraid they may be losing it.
  • Persons like Weigel and I who have had plenty of odd, non-ignoreable spiritual experiences ourselves and as down-to-earth, everyday people, find it nice to sit down with a cup of coffee and story swap with a friend.

Posted in Book Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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