Resources


Thought I’d put together a little something with some of my favorite resources and information. Most of what is contained in here is simply eclectic neo-pagan info (though it is geared particularly towards those seeking Trad Wicca), and I’ve added in some Heathenry as well. For the moment it’s not in any particular order and I’ll be adding more from time to time, but for now feel free to ask questions, discuss, debate, share, etc…


BOOK LISTS

These are a few of the books that I personally think are worth checking out if one is interested in Wicca (particularly if one is Seeking a Coven for training/initiation)…

WICCA

GOD AND GODDESS

(despite my issues with the books as noted here, they are still good for getting a general idea about the various roles that a God or Goddess may take on, and for getting to know more about a particular God or Goddess that one might be interested in)

SABBATS

HISTORICAL REFERENCE

~~*~~

HEATHENRY

(both can be found online at the Sacred Texts website)


RECOMMENDED SITES

  • Chronos XP – I haven’t used this personally, but it has been recommended for those who like to track planetary hours/days for any given time or location.
  • Ritual Planning Worksheet – Need help planning the perfect ritual? Here is a very detailed worksheet that can help you create your own rituals. Definitely worth checking it out!
  • Wicca 101 – This is a link to a free online Wicca 101 course. Circle of Fire by David Rankine and Sorita d’Este is one of my favorite books, and this “course” based on the book.
  • If you are really interested in Wicca I suggest joining the Amber and Jet and Beginning Wicca yahoo groups and reading through their archives. Both have a huge wealth of information for those that are Seekers, and both have Elders who frequent the lists who may be able to help Seekers find covens.
  • TradWicca.org – interesting articles and information on Wicca – not sure what happened but seems to be down, leaving the link with hope that it will come back one day. 😦
  • Hagstone – great blog on Witchcraft and Paganism in general
  • The Informed Pagan – another excellent blog for people who are new to Paganism and might have questions about where to go, or how to start.

~~*~~

How to Find Your Way in a Library
(A Witches Guide to Dewey)


Unless you are fortunate enough to have access to a good Pagan store (see Witchvox listings for details of your nearest!), buying Craft books from a general bookstore can be a sub-optimal experience. Yes they will probably have some books on Witchcraft/Wicca, but the choice, quality, and depth of those available may be limited. Also, you are likely to find that they will expect you to pay for the privilege before you take them home and read them.

Fortunately there is an alternative – your local Library.

It is perhaps an indicator of the growth of Neo-Paganism that today most (even small to medium size) libraries will have some books on the subject and some of these can be of surprisingly good quality. Admittedly, there is still a need to ‘separate the wheat from the chaff’ – but if you look, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find. Most importantly, it’s usually free!

Unfortunately, the Dewey Decimal Classification, (which is used by most general libraries to arrange the books on the shelves by subject) can make finding this material less than straightforward. Books that you might consider to be on the same or a related subject can often be found far apart – sometimes in quite separate sections of the library: and this is not because they’ve been misplaced, but because this is how the vagaries of the classification system have ordered them.

To get some examples of what can happen, let’s have a look at http://www.worldcat.org. Here it is possible to find libraries, which hold a particular title across the globe, and by following links to their individual catalogues, see details of how they have been classified. Searching on Worldcat for libraries which hold editions of ‘Witchcraft Today’ by G.B. Gardner very quickly shows that nearly all of the libraries that use the Dewey Decimal Classification give this volume a classmark of 133.4 – which places it with other works on Witchcraft, and close to works concerning other aspects of the occult: But not all. A very small number of libraries have given recently acquired copies of this work the classmarks 290 or 299.

Repeating this process with Buckland’s ‘Wicca for One’ gives somewhat different results. A large number (approximately 40%) of libraries use classmark 133.4 for this title but the majority (60%), including the Library of Congress, use a different classmark – 299.94. To summarize, some libraries will place Buckland’s book close to Gardner on the shelves – others will place them in completely different sections: What is happening here?

Well, Dewey is called a Decimal system because it is divided and subdivided in tens (and is theoretically infinitely subdivisible), so the codes between 000 and 999 are divided into 10 main classes, 100 divisions and 1, 000 sections: 000-099 is for General Works, 100-199 is for Philosophy and Psychology, 200-299 for Religions, 300-399 for the Social Sciences; and so on. Inevitably the system reflects the prejudices and mores of its creator Melvil Dewey and of late 19th century America where it was formulated.

In the first (1876) version of the classification Witchcraft is tellingly given the classmark 133 for “Delusions, witchcraft, magic”. This section was subdivided in later editions, and Witchcraft was given progressively more specific classmarks of 133.4 and 133.43. Although these classmarks dealt mainly with historical works on the Witchcraft persecutions, when ‘Witchcraft Today’ came out it was naturally placed in the same classmark – and as specifically Wiccan titles appeared they were classified in the same way. This continued until the 22nd Revision of Dewey was released in 2004 and a new classmark was provided – 299.94, for “Religions based on modern revivals of witchcraft”, of which Wicca was cited as a specific example. However, this new classmark was not prominently highlighted in the Changes Notes for the new revision, and has been slow to be adopted by libraries.

As recently as May 2006, Janet Tapper was still arguing the case for Wicca to be considered as a religion by libraries rather than as part of the occult. Things are beginning to improve, but remain patchy – which is why the Buckland title referred to above has such inconsistent results. In some library systems the same book can be seen to have different classmarks in different branches! Central libraries – such as the Library of Congress – are hugely influential in determining how books are classified as many libraries will simply follow their lead and use the same classmark. Reasons why this doesn’t lead to total uniformity are that some librarians will continue to use a certain classmark either out of habit; because they believe it will help their readers by placing them with other related books; or to maintain consistency of classification if they are using an older version of Dewey.

Unfortunately, even the Library of Congress seems to be inconsistent, with Buckland’s “Wicca for One” (2004) getting the ‘new’ classmark of 299.94; and some more recent works, like Thea Sabin’s “Wicca for Beginners: Fundamentals of Philosophy and Practice” (2006) still being given the ‘old’ classmark of 133.43. What this means in practice is that to get the most out of what your library has to offer you need to know your way around the shelves and look under several different classmarks. Nor is useful material confined just to the classmarks specifically for Witchcraft/Wicca.

With all the specifically Wiccan/Witchcraft texts available nowadays, and the innumerable sources on the web, it is some times easy to forget how much can be learned from books on folklore, comparative religion and mythology. George Knowles has notably recounted how Laurie Cabot first came to Witchcraft, through study directed by a Witch who was one of the librarians at the Boston Public Library long before “Witchcraft Today” or other modern Witchcraft texts were available.

With this in mind, here is a list of classmarks where useful and relevant books can be found using the Dewey Classification (Examples of some texts which have actually been assigned these classmarks by the British Library are included in the notes):

133.4

            • Demonology and Witchcraft

133.43

            • Magic and Witchcraft
            • Perhaps the most widely used, and over used, classmark.

133.44

            • Spells, Curses, Charms

This is subdivided as follows:

            • .442 – Love spells and charms
            • .443 – Good luck spells and charms
            • .446  – Therapeutic spells and charms

203.3

            • Public Worship and Other Practices: Witchcraft

Not widely used. (As far as the British Library goes – not ever used, and that is saying something!)

292

            • Greek and Roman Religions

The pagan religions of classical Rome and Greece. Also some general works on modern Paganism
i.e. The Busy Pagan: Living the Wheel of the Year in the Modern World/Graham Miller; illustrations by Anita Luckett.

293

            • Celtic and Germanic Religions

A very untidy section of the classification. Norse and Celtic Mythology/Religion are quite different things: Yet they are frequently found sharing the same classmarks right across this section.
i.e. Freyja – the Great Goddess of the North and The Celtic Year.

299

            • Other Religions

General catchall for books on Neopaganism that the classifying librarian can’t think where to put!
Examples are: Offering to Isis: knowing the goddess through her sacred symbols, M. Isidora Forrest and Old peoples, new songs: a collection of songs and chants for the modern ’pagan’ community compiled and introduced by Aeron Medbh-Mara.

299.31

            • Ancient Egyptian Religion
            • Gods and Goddesses of Egypt

i.e. Egyptian paganism for beginners: bring the gods and goddesses into daily life

299.94

            • Religions based on modern revivals of Witchcraft: Including Wicca

Although this classmark is technically for Witchcraft as a Religion, there is some evidence that librarians are doing the same as they did with 133.43 (only in reverse), and lumping Magic[k]al practice and religious practice together.
i.e. Circle, Coven and Grove: a Year of Magickal Practice / Deborah Blake.

345.420288

            • Criminal Law: Witchcraft
            • The law relating to Witchcraft

i.e. Witchcraft and the Act of 1604 / edited by John Newton and Jo Bath.

398.2

            • Myths and Legends

This classmark is primarily for Mythology as a cultural rather than a religious phenomenon: But of course there is much material that touches both aspects. This section is extensively subdivided, according to culture and location.

For instance:

398.2089916 – Celtic Mythology

398.3 – Folklore

As with Mythology above, there is much of interest hidden in this section.
i.e. Moon Customs and Superstitions / T.F. Thiselton-Dyer and Sabine Baring-Gould.

This table is far from comprehensive, and any comments would be welcomed for future revisions. What it does show clearly that there is much confusion and inconsistency amongst librarians about the best place to put works in the area of neopaganism: and that it can be very worthwhile to broaden a search for material beyond the obvious classmarks.

Good Hunting!

Copyright: Copyright J.P. Brettle 2008. Reproduction permitted if source and author acknowledged.

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