Paganism for Beginners by Althaea Sebastiani || Book Review


Embark on the path to Paganism with this essential modern guide

Embrace a spiritual journey to commune with nature, rediscover wonder in the world, and reconnect with yourself. Paganism for Beginners is your guide to exploring the diverse magick of modern Paganism. The up-to-date handbook introduces you to a breadth of Pagan traditions and core beliefs—welcoming you to this inclusive movement with a myriad of ways to deepen your personal spirituality.

Delve into a comprehensive overview of common Pagan practices and discover which speak most profoundly to you. Follow along with the Pagan calendar, meet a pantheon of deities, and learn the ethics and tenets of Pagan spirituality: open-mindedness, self-reliance, freedom of choice, and more. Gain essential knowledge of Pagan symbols, rituals, and tools with this guide.” Book Blurb – Amazon

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Pros

Formatting and Information Layout

So, first I want to talk about the design of the book. The book is a lovely green color throughout with a wonderful contrasting blue. This color scheme is carried throughout the book, from the cover to the page edges, to the colors on the inside for headings and text. This serves to be eye-catching without being too loud and in-your-face. If I was walking through a bookstore or library and saw this on the shelf, it would make me want to pick it up and take a closer look.

The order in which the information is presented is also very intuitive. The chapters go in an order that makes a lot of sense if you are just beginning to research paganism. The information starts at understanding paganism and moves through different deities, beliefs, and pagan traditions.

Ease of Reading

Besides the intuitive layout of information, this book was also very easy to read. There weren’t a lot of complex words or paragraphs and, when a new word was used, an explanation or definition followed. I also really appreciated that there is a glossary, an index, and a reference page at the back of the book. This makes a lot of sense and is something that I see as lacking in many books geared toward beginners. If they don’t know what a specific word is, they can look it up in the glossary!

Not Wiccan-Centric

I also really liked the fact that this book is not Wicca-centric whatsoever. The book is titled Paganism for Beginners and that’s exactly what it is. Althaea does a great job of detailing several different pagan paths and they make sure to let the reader know that, while all of these traditions or religious sections of paganism are all paganism, not every tradition is going to be the same and not every tradition is going to have the same practices, beliefs, or even be included in the book because there’s just so much. 

The MOST Inclusive Book

I have never seen a more inclusive book on paganism for beginners. This book makes known that the many traditions within paganism are usually very accepting of those who are trans, nonbinary, or any part of the LGBTQIA+ community. It also does a wonderful job of making neurodivergent people feel included as well, because paganism is welcoming to everyone, regardless of your path in life (unless you’re a racist, transphobe, homophobe, or other “phobe” that deems others as unworthy – you don’t belong in paganism). Cultural appropriation was another topic that was briefly discussed and for good reason. I believe that the more beginners who are exposed to the idea of cultural appropriation and cultural sensitivity the better. We can only rid the world of ignorance through education.

Spiritual Approach to Magick

And then – the entire chapter on magick. I feel like that is something that is missing from a lot of beginner books – the spiritual aspect of magick and answers to questions like, how does magick work? And when do we use magick? And what is magick? What are spells? And I really appreciated this chapter. I mean, there are two little sections that I want to give you some information here in Althaea’s chapter on magick. The first one is from the section called Performing Magick. It gives the reader a good idea, sort of like a good foundation, for what magick is to really build upon within their own practice. Althaea says that “Magick is the use of spiritual forces to create change, and these deliciously vague parameters mean that all sorts of activities can be and are magickal.” And that is something that I freakin’ love, okay?

Everyday life as a modern witch is my tagline and, you know, magick is just a part of my life. It’s a part of who I am and the daily things that I do. And it’s refreshing to see that idea in a book as well. And then Althaea does talk about spells because there has always been this correlation between spells and prayer. They said that “It is important to note that spells are not the same as prayers, though it was once common to compare the two. The difference comes down to basic mechanics. With a spell, the burden of success rests entirely on you.” And then they go on to say that, with a prayer, it’s essentially you putting faith in someone else to take the action. And that’s a really important distinction, I think, that needs to be made in more beginner paganism books, especially when witchcraft and magick are discussed.

The Cons

Lack of In-Text Citations

This is going to be something that always bothers me, regardless of the book or author. I don’t know if it’s something that publishers just stray away from or what, but I like to be able to see where information comes from. This is apparent when there are phrases in the book that are presented in quotations that don’t include a citation – or at least a reference for where the phrase came from. In-text citations are good starting points for jumping off the deep end and down the rabbit hole of information.

Lack of Pictures or Illustrations

This con of mine mainly comes from the section of the book where Althaea describes different symbols that are found in many different pagan traditions. While the names and descriptions are listed, there aren’t any images. I feel like, from the perspective of a beginner, this would have been something important to include in this section.

Final Words

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone just beginning their pagan path – or even a spirituality or animist-based belief system. The information presented is surface-level, yes, but it is also deep enough to be a wonderful starting point for anyone no matter where they are on their path.

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