Review: Pagan Spirituality: A Guide to Personal Transformation

Well, duh. If I want to talk about an idea I found in a book, I can’t assume anyone reading this blog has read that book. And when I do talk about that idea, spending a chunk of time explaining what the book was about in the first place will just be a distraction. So here’s my review of Pagan Spirituality: A Guide to Personal Transformation, so that there’ll be a smidgen of context when I want to get deeper into the book.

Pagan Spirituality
Pagan Spirituality: A Guide to Personal Transformation by Joyce & River Higginbotham

In one sense, Pagan Spirituality is a typical advanced Paganism book: rituals, guided meditations, journaling exercises, etc., all designed to help you progress spiritually. In another sense, this is nothing like most Paganism books, advanced or otherwise. The Higginbothams pull from the works of Ken Wilbur, Jim Marion, and Don Beck and Christopher Cowan to create a Pagan model of spiritual growth and development. Beginning with an archaic, infantile state and moving through progressively more complicated developmental stages (roughly equivalent to preschool, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, etc.), the authors describe how people at different stages approach Paganism, ethics, and magical practice. The exercises are included to help readers see ways that this model describes their own experiences. Scattered throughout the book are suggestions for those who teach Paganism on how to work with students at these different stages, along with warning signs of how people at each stage may have trouble working in a class setting. I found the whole concept fascinating: so few authors bring this depth of thought to Pagan practice.

There were a few drawbacks. I thought the labyrinth meditations were repetitive to the point of annoyance to read, although that’s deliberate on the authors’ part, and I understand why they chose that approach. And without reading the original writers they draw from, I’m not sure if the Higginbothams are representing their ideas accurately, or in context. (For example, a quick scan of the Wikipedia article on Spiral Dynamics (Beck and Cowan’s theory) mentioned several criticisms that didn’t make it into Pagan Spirituality.) But overall, I recommend this as a thought-provoking change of pace from most Paganism books.

My rating: 9 out of 10 stars

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