Paganism for Beginners by Althaea Sebastiani is the best book I’ve found that not only clearly explains the basics of modern paganism but does it in a way that is refreshingly bold. Althaea doesn’t shy from making loud statements about her faith and practice nor does she waiver when it comes to admitting that there are areas in which she is not well versed. For this, her book is now in my most-recommended collection for new pagans and witches. Before I get into my Paganism for Beginners Review, however, I should state that I see Althaea as a friend and I received my copy in exchange for a review.
This review contains Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase via the link provided, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This money helps me keep Tea & Pumpkins going and providing more content for you. Thank you.
My Favorite Parts
Now that I’ve admitted my bias and shared my affiliate codes, we can jump into my deeper thoughts on the book.
Its so Pretty
First of all, this book is so eye catching! Not only is the cover a bright green with lots of symbols and good font, the inside is decorated too! The cover also feels super soft…I know these are huge reasons to buy a book but I do think its a great reason to get the paperback vs the ebook if you’re into the sensory side of things.
Althaea is a polytheist and badass witch, these are the things that brought her and I together a while back. We might not be on the same spiritual path, but they wind about similarly. Her book is a great glimpse into the path we both walk including the small things that aren’t so small to us – like the capitalization of the word Gods, which she fought with the editors for. Ours Gods are just as important as the monotheist’s and just as deserving of reverence. Capitalizing a word might not be as huge as a blood offering, but in a world where Polytheists are treated like children believing in fairy tales, it means a lot to see that reverence in print.
I have to admit, I was very excited to see the inclusion of Heathenry in Paganism for Beginners. In the past, I rarely saw Heathenry mentioned in the 101 books and witchcraft encyclopedias. It just wasn’t popular enough for a reference I suppose. Seeing it not only mentioned but our Gods noted, our symbols shared with concise explanations made my heart happy.
Pagan Ethics Laid Out
One of the best sections of the whole book is that chapter on Pagan Beliefs adn its subsection on Ethical Paganism. While Pagans aren’t known for getting along well as a whole group and rarely agree on an “rules” for their path, I think this section gives a respectful outline for what most of us believe in and follow.
The emphasis in the chapter on taking responsibility for your own actions is wonderful to see. I’d love to see more witches and Pagans bring this up in convo so that it is clear that it is expected (sadly…I’m assuming its monotheist baggage or modern methodology but…its not expected in some groups and all is laid at the feet of the “Universe” to provide and take blame like Karma is everyone’s boogeyman scapegoat and not people themselves).
The ethics themselves are basic and clear:
I think most paths will find these topics under consideration. How we view them and walk them might differ culturally, but they are very human topics of discussion.
What I Didn’t Care For
This is a tiny section of my Paganism for Beginners Review. There’s not much I would have done differently since this is a basics/101 book. I do hope that Althaea will write a follow up book either on Intermediate Paganism or on witchcraft specifically from her perspective.
This book has been called an accessible and quick read. I have to admit that is my only issue with it – its over too fast and leaves one wanting. That might be a good thing – a goal to keep people pursuing the path rather than spoonfed the steps.
I would have loved something a bit more in the Rites of Passage and in the Pagan Rituals section. Perhaps a look at how the author practices, a bit of anecdote if not a full ritual outline.
That said, I do understand why it wasn’t included (to lend freedom to the reader to find their own rituals and magick) even if I might think the book would be better for it.
While the book was pretty inclusive of many Pagan paths, the Gods section stuck to European and Mediterranean deities with no mention of Gods or spirits from African or Asian paths.
Ancestor work could also take a bigger place in the book. We all have ancestors no matter our path. Ancestor veneration can and should take up a large part of our system.
Overall: I Love It
Even with the handful of issues I had with the book, I still enjoyed it a great deal. It is now one of my first picks when people ask me where to start as a Pagan or how to better understand the path of a Pagan loved one. Its a great first step! 5 Stars!
I hope you enjoyed the Paganism for Beginners Review. Now go Grab Your Copy!
Check out the author – Althaea not only writes fantastic books (including By Rust of Nail & Prick of Thorn: The Theory & Practice of Effective Home Warding), she also creates courses for aspiring witches and those with experience looking for the next level up. Be sure to also support her on Patreon – members are part of her Discord channel which is a fantastic way to meet like minds and learn new things daily.