Pagan Planet is an interesting collection of thoughts written by 46 pagan authors, each reflecting on what paganism means to them, and how they've incorporated their faith into their home lives, public lives, and even into their work lives.

The writing is varied but well done, and covers a wide range of pagan topics such as activism, raising pagan children, and standing firm in the face of religious bigotry. This is not an instructional guide – if you are looking for a book to tell you just how to celebrate the wheel of the year or how to set up your altar, it won't help you. Rather, this book gives you a sense of how paganism functions in the modern day, and of the different voices out there that are the public face of this religion.

Some of the essays had more of an impact on me than others, so I'm going to give a brief view of three of them, and let the authors speak for themselves.

The first essay is probably the one that hit me the hardest. “PaganAid and the Road to Social Justice” was written by the founder of PaganAid, Ian Chandler. He wrote about the events and thoughts that lead to him setting up PaganAid, a faith-based charity.

“I was deeply committed to fighting poverty and promoting human rights, but I also wanted to protect and preserve the environment. These two goals often seemed to be in conflict. Mainstream thinking on poverty reduction was founded on a model of economic growth, increased production and increased consumption. This project demonstrated that another way is possible, recognizing that as poverty and environmental destruction are two sides of the same coin, to solve one, we need to solve both.”

Jo Ashbeth Coffey wrote the essay “Living Ancestors – Honouring the Not Yet Dead”. This should be required reading for everyone. Coffey points out that we have much to learn from our elderly relatives who lived in a different era than ourselves. She gives insightful and practical advice for reconnecting with our still-living ancestors.

“If we consider the ancient ancestors key to ourselves, then the chain leading back to them is surely essential to understanding ourselves and how we relate to them. Therefore our very own granny is a very special connection: she is from a past age, and yet she is still here, here to tell us what it was like; a living opportunity for us to show our respect and reverence for our ancestry in person.”

The last essay I'd like to profile was written by Edwina Hodkinson, and it outlines the creation of a team called “The Wild Sistas”, who ministered to injured and ill members of a group protesting fracking. She and a few friends opened a herbal clinic in a tent. Over the years, this group has become more formalized and has been present to aid in dozens of protests. This section from her hit me particularly hard.

“I believe that Neo-Paganism is not a passive path, we follow the old ones and they ask us to engage with this troubled world and be active. They require sacrifice in exchange for the gifts we ask them to bestow upon us. In our consumerist society we are taught to continually take with no thought of return, and this can often be the same with our spirituality.”

There is something in this book for everyone. It's impossible to read this book and not walk away with some new understanding or insight. When I become an older pagan and mentor to younger ones, this is going to be one of the first books I give out. The different voices that sing in this book come together in a wonderful harmony that gives a clear picture of modern-day paganism.

~review by Patricia Lynn

Editor: Nimue Brown
Moon Books, 2016
pp. 192, $14.95

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