Holy crap Silver Ravenwolf's books are bad
Okay, for those laughing right now, shut up. I’d heard rumours to the effect but had never actually read them. I downloaded them as ebooks and ohhhh myyyy goddddds, no wonder newbie Wiccans get a bad reputation. If that kind of crap is among the most widely accessible 101 books, one can hardly blame them for coming up with some real gems. How could they do otherwise when it’s likely to be one of the first sources they read?
Less than a hundred pages in, highlights include:
- Talking about the Crusaders going to Persia and running into a nasty horned God there who they decided would make a great Satan, bringing him back to Europe and telling them he was Satan and a fallen angel. Just, what? Firstly, Crusaders = post conversion, and in fact that was the point. Secondly, weren’t they hanging around Jerusalem to, you know, fight off the Muslims, as part of the perpetual fight over that tiny strip of land? Also, what Persian horned God? Not only was there not one (unless you go back to say, Babylonian conquest over two thousand years earlier) but by that point I believe Persian was Muslim, so seriously, what horned God?
- Saying witches don’t believe in Satan. Well shit, anyone give you that memo, fellow demonolaters? Also, which Satan exactly? Are we talking Lucifer? The demons referred to in that role? Iblis? Angra Mainyu? Or the big red guy of pop culture Christianity?
- Saying that mixing pantheons is advanced work made me facepalm. Just, it’s not that I object to say, working with one pantheon at a time to learn about those Gods very well, but the phrasing is weird, and it looked more like she was talking about mishmashing them inappopriately anyway. I mean, nothing wrong with working with different pantheons, but ye gods the piecemeal shoving them together and ignoring individual likes on the parts of the deities involved, including of ritual structure, and the fact some of them don’t get on? Yeah, that can’t possibly go bad, sure. -_-
- Also, the line, ‘rubbing their hands excitedly together’ is kind of tragic, as I doubt the Crusaders were Disney villains in how they planned to convert the populace.
- Her list of the deities as a, 'pick one of these!’ made my brain bleed. Two, frequently inaccurate, lines about each deity? Referring to Inanna solely as a mother Goddess when she’s, among other things, a badass Queen of Heaven war Goddess? Referring to Hecate as a Crone moon Goddess when statues from the ancients portray her like this? Being inaccurate with basically every other deity listed too? Listing them together, A to Z in a, 'pick one that sounds good’? And so on? Urggggghhhh.
- Wow, even the sources she cited at the end of that particular chapter consisted largely of non-peer reviewed and likely non-edited generic new age and/or fluffy pagan crap, there were no actual mythology books - scholarly or otherwise.
Bitching aside, the sad thing is, when I first stated looking at Wicca, when I was about 11, I remember seeing on suggested reading lists back before there were really many good resources on the net like there are now. I never wound up reading her because I couldn’t actually find her books in any bookstores, which further highlights the lack of news available. But if I had read her? I imagine I probably would have thought it amazing and she was amazing, and because I was young, wouldn’t have known to fact check. And considering this was 1999ish, there weren’t really many places to fact check anyway.
I guess what I’m saying is that it’s pretty great there’s so many resource blogs around, including specifically niche ones dealing with specific aspects of polytheism, demonolatry and the occult that weren’t around then. And while occasionally noobs can kind of grate a bit with asking what seem like really basic questions, it’s actually awesome that they can, instead of having to take at face value poorly researched crap. I’d rather get Pagan 101 questions than deal with people who stay willfully ignorant because holy crap, this is Tumblr, it’s exploding with resources if you go looking for them!
I really wish there were better Pagan 101 books though, or even Pagan books in general because there is a serious shortage of good quality ones that are widely distributed even now. Granted this may not be the case in overseas (I live in Australia), but there’s seriously just the one large Pagan/New Age specific bookshop in my city with over a million population. The store is quite big… but filled mostly with New Age crap about self-proclaim psychic messiahs, crystal vibrations, mystical healing aliens, etc. There is all of one bookcase filled with Pagan books, most of which aren’t particularly great. Most of the Pagans I run into offline are way more ignorant than those online, as most of the non-geeks don’t have any idea about the internet resources that are out there. And with no good reading materials… well, the cycle of fail just goes on.
(Also, because I’m a masochist I’m going to keep reading Silver Ravenwolf. It’s terrible reading but I want to know what sort of misinformation she’s spreading about her own damn religion. Wish me luck, gentle Tumblrites, I may end up with a brain hemorrhage.)