Reflections on “To Walk a Pagan Path: Practical Spirituality for Every Day,” Alaric Albertsson

PaganPathThere are so many books on Paganism out there that it can be quite difficult for a beginner like me to choose which ones to read. But this one caught my attention a while back, and I’m so glad I bought it. This is one of my favourite books on Paganism that I’ve read so far, for a number of reasons:

1. This is a book about general Paganism, rather than Wicca, which is not always easy to find. In fact, Wicca is downplayed considerably here. The author follows an Anglo-Saxon path, which is fairly unusual in itself and makes for both an interesting a refreshing take on Paganism. What’s more, he talks about plenty of other forms of Paganism and most of what he writes about here could be applied to any Pagan path (including Wicca).

2. Relating to the point above, this book is far more about connecting to the deities and living a lifestyle that is compatible with the beliefs of Paganism than it is about magic and spells  – something that appealed to me greatly because magic is not a large part of my own practice. There is an emphasis on living a lifestyle that is eco-friendly; in fact, if you took out all the spiritual references, you would still have yourself quite a nice little handbook on green living.

3. The writing style is engaging, gentle and very easy. As with a lot of Pagan books out there that are written from a personal perspective, there is an undercurrent of humour that makes it warm and readable.

4. Many of the rituals and crafts suggested are pretty simple, and there’s so many ideas in here that, whether it be candle making or cooking or bee-keeping, there’s something here for everyone. In fact, this book did inspire me to go out and try a lot of the things suggested, such as growing a small herb garden and making more of an effort to get crafty and re-use household waste where possible.

5. Ultimately, this is a very down-to-earth book and I think all the suggestions in it would benefit most people out there, Pagan or not. But even so, spirituality permeates every practical tip suggested by  Albertsson – there’s even a ritual in there for presenting a pet as a “familiar” to one’s deity – making sure the gods are still given the biggest focus.

There’s only a few points I thought might bother a few readers:

1. This is a book about practical living, and as such Albertsson goes into quite a lot of depth on some of the topics. For example, on his section of keeping dogs, he details where best to acquire a dog, how to raise it as a puppy, what breeds to consider, what to feed it etc. etc. This is great if you are actually considering getting a dog, but probably not so helpful if the idea isn’t in your mind at all. I felt that perhaps it might have been better for Albertsson to cover more topics (suggestions for Pagans in the workplace, for example?) but in less depth, with a greater emphasis on the spiritual aspects – he could have suggested some good books or organisations to turn to for anyone who wanted more detailed information on the topic. There are plenty of sources on all these topics that cover the practical basics, after all. Nevertheless, I have to admit I found the topic on bee-keeping, even though I have no intention of keeping bees, really fascinating!

2. I get the feeling Albertsson isn’t keen on eclecticism – he makes lots of reference to clear-cut Pagan “types” (Anglo-Saxon, Roman, Kemetic etc.) and makes it clear that he doesn’t think one should try to connect with many deities, but stick to just a few. I’m not really sure if this is an accurate reflection on most Pagans – the majority of Pagans I’ve met tend towards eclecticism and worshipping lots of deities.

But overall, this is a fantastic book and a good place for beginners to start (I’d imagine there’s quite a bit in there for veterans too) – especially for those who are not so interested in magic or want to investigate paths other than Wicca.

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