Shades of Ritual, a follow up anthology to the Shades of Faith collection released in 2011, plunges deeper into the experiences of people of color in Paganism. The original collection talked about day-to-day racism, assumptions, and confrontations when interacting with white fellow Pagans. (Oh, are you into the Orisha? Why aren’t you on the path of your own ancestors?) This takes those experiences further, with a mix of new and old voices.

The one theme that dominates this anthology is “ancestry.” Almost every contributor has some struggle with and appreciation for lineage. Not only is the history and trauma of slavery alive and well to some of writers, so is the work of healing that damage. They do this even while dealing with fellow Pagans that inflict more damage.

To call this book “confrontational” is an unfair assessment, though some will react as though it is. It speaks truth, personal truths, personal histories, and it holds up a mirror to some about how others truly experience their behavior. While men and women of color are treated as “other” by much of the white Pagan populace, they are not. Most of these people, especially those in the United States, share European ancestry – usually as the product white-on-minority violence.

Those that write for this anthology are doing the work of healing. Several essays offer prescriptive rituals for dealing with daily pain, for addressing ancestral wounds, and for including the ancestors in their daily lives. In some ways the read is daunting and difficult, and that is what makes this anthology just as necessary as its predecessor.

This is highly recommended reading, for everyone.

~review by Diana Rajchel

Editor: Crystal Blanton
Megalithica Books/Immanion Press, 2014
pp. 186, $19.99

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