Barbara Jane Davy’s Introduction to Pagan Studies is about the study of Paganism as a world religion. As part of the Pagan Studies Series, this book is among a few taking the lead in building Pagan Studies into a legitimate academic field.
Davy examines Paganism in terms of common categories in the study of religion. Over eleven chapters she explores beliefs, social organisation, religious practices and rituals, the role of myth, the relationship with history, major literary origins, important figures, denominations, ethics, politics, current issues, and a discussion on the subject of Pagan Studies itself. There are also notes, photos, a glossary, and a bibliography. Davy covers a lot of ground in less than 250 pages.
Although I’m not a scholar, I’m a passionate student of Craft history and contemporary Paganism as a field of study. There wasn’t much in this book that I didn’t already know. Reviewing the bibliography, I recognised the sources Davy refers to: Adler, Bonewits, Buckland, Budapest, Christ, Harvey, Crowley, Cunningham, Hutton, and so forth. But Davy’s brings a lot of information together in a concise, intelligent, and balanced way. I particularly enjoyed the final chapters on current issues facing Pagans and the development of Pagan studies as a field.
Introduction to Pagan Studies not a book about how to be Pagan, how to worship, perform rituals, or cast spells. This is a book about Paganism that could serve as a textbook in a high school or college class. Davy’s style is engaging and thoughtful and her book is accessible for readers of all backgrounds and religions.