"Now what?" If that's the question you're trying to answer in your faith these days John Beckett may have exactly what the doctor ordered. Written specifically with the practitioner-in-transition in mind, Paganism In Depth assumes you're past your "101" phase but aren't sure what your next steps ought to be. He begins by looking at what paganism is at it's most fundamental level; in other words, what common things can we say about a neopagan regardless of tradition or practice. From there he pushes the boat out, asking big questions and at least guiding the reader towards their own big answers.

The meat of the book discusses how you can examine your faith and your practice from four different angles: devotion, magic, divination and ecstasy. Prior to this, however, Beckett takes the time to help you explore if you are actually in a place that's ripe for self-examination. Have you reached a new peak, or have you plateaued? Presuming your feel the desire to go on, you will be walked through a process of first learning more about yourself, understanding the raw material you have on hand so to speak, and then act with purpose towards using that raw material to build stronger, deeper connections in your faith. I particularly appreciate that Beckett manages to write with such clear practicality about a variety of esoteric topics. To the best of his ability he describes things such as prayer, probably with more minutiae than many readers will need, but by doing so he ensures that nobody is left behind and every reader can find what rung of the ladder they are on, so to speak, before climbing up at their own pace.

A section at the beginning of the book is particularly appreciated by this reader - Mr. Beckett sets the context for his writing by describing his own practice in great detail. He describes it as "[a]ncestral, devotional, ecstatic, oracular, magical, public, pagan polytheism," which by his own admission is quite a mouthful. By explaining what he means be each of these terms, he is defining for the reader what assumptions he may be making in his writing, and preemptively tries to defuse accidental miscommunications that might arise if he uses some terminology or turn of phrase differently than you might in your own practice. I think any practitioner will be doing themselves a favor by reading at least that far into this very interesting book, to see if they can do business with Beckett's outlook on spirituality.

~review by Patricia Mullen

Author: John Beckett
Llewellyn Worldwide, 2019
pp. 225, $18.99

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