This new volume from Red Wheel/Weiser fits nicely in the hand, in a large pocket, or in one’s priestly little black bag, if one has such a thing. People who are Pagan clergy of any type, or training to be such, or who are deeply interested in crafting rituals and prayers for private practice, will find this book extremely useful.
Note that this is a new book, available March 1st, not the similarly named A Book of Pagan Prayer from 2002.
Readers will either recognize the name Ceisiwr Serith instantly, or need a fairly protracted introduction (for which one should really see his web site). He has been developing rituals and devotions to a wide range of Deities for a very long time now. His primary focus is on the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) Gods, which fits well into the ADF Druidry which is his main public practice. Ceiswr is a Pagan polymath, which shows in this book.
Its organization is unusual, in a way that should prove practical: after two initial chapters on the structure of prayer and ritual, each succeeding chapter has a topic, such as Beginnings, Callings, Consecrations and Blessings, Times of the Day/Month/Year/Life, Endings, Society and the Land, as a sample.
The prayers and evocations are written to a variety of Deities, including “The and Thea” (The God and The Goddess); Deities named only by function; and seventy-three specific ones, which include some of the author’s beloved PIE Deities and a range of familiar ones from Aengus Óg to Zeus.
The way this book is actually going to be used, it should come with a package of color-coded bookmarks and colored highlighters. No one person is going to use all of it, but one could thread one’s way through it in different ways for a thousand occasions. I am really fond of the parts for weddings and times of the day at the moment, but other sections will commend themselves as I inexorably wear this book out.
The beginning chapters have a solid introduction to what makes poetry and ritual speech special. While reading through the compositions in the book, I gained a lot of respect for Serith as a wordsmith and a Bard.
That calls for a small sample:
I awake with the Sun’s light
And dance forth with Dawn.
The book ends with an Appendix of suggested offerings, and an Appendix listing the named Deities, as well as a list of works cited.
In the edition I have, the page heading for Appendix B, unlike the Appendix title, calls them Dieties, whether they have anything to do with food choices or not. Also, I like the rich red of the cover portrayed on the Weiser web page better than the shade closer to orange of the finished book. That is my entire list of complaints about this book.
A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book is a milestone on the way to maturity of contemporary Paganism.
A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book
4 3/4 x 6 1/4
March 1, 2011
Review copyright 2011 Freeman Presson, all rights reserved.
Complimentary review copy from Red Wheel/Weiser gratefully acknowledged.