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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Paganism Paperback – April 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

CARL McCOLMAN is a freelance writer and spiritual teacher based in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the author of several books including The Well-Read Witch and The Aspiring Mystic. A practitioner of nature spirituality for more than a decade, he is the co-founder and former leader of a druid grove and currently is the co-leader of an interfaith pagan meditation circle.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Alpha; 1st edition (April 18, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 002864266X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0028642666
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #546,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Carl McColman writes about the spiritual life. He explored many paths before taking refuge in the Catholic Church, which he joined in 2005. His newer books all reflect his love for contemplative, monastic and mystical Christianity. His older books covered a variety of topics including Celtic, Nature and Goddess spirituality.

Carl's work is characterized by an optimistic, expansive understanding of spirituality, rooted in Christianity while embracing the wisdom of the world's contemplative traditions. In his own words, "I am passionate about helping people to embody creative, joyful lives of love and service, formed by prayer, silence, and the wisdom of the saints and mystics."

Carl McColman learned the practice of contemplative prayer at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is a professed Lay Cistercian -- a layperson under the guidance of Trappist monks. He regularly speaks, teaches and conducts retreats on contemplative Christian practice, and blogs at

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Todd Hawley on July 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
A lot of the Idiot's Guides that I have read are really misnamed, because they contain a lot of valuable information about the subject and presented in terms that anyone can understand. I loved this book because it explains virtually every aspect of Paganism. The explanations and descriptions of various Pagan practices, ideals, Sabbats, rituals are kept brief as befits an introductory book. And yet, even after having a handful of other intoductory Pagan books, I found myself learning facts here that I hadn't known about before. The author sticks to the "Pagan philosophy" of "Harm no one" in describing Paganism.
Among topics discussed? Besides the various Pagan Sabbats and pagan ideals, there are chapters devoted to Shamans, Druids, Wicca, the "Spirit World" and the Pagan elements of fire, air, water, and earth. There are four chapters that discuss Pagan rituals and I found the author's claim that we already do rituals in our lives (high school and college graduation, marriage and funerals, for example) very true. I never would have thought about that. There's also several chapters devoted to "Pagan magic," which help to demystify it. The book's last few chapters offer advice on "living the Pagan lifestyle," and there's an extensive list of recommended reading at the book's end. One could spend months reading through the list of books alone if one wanted to.
The more I read about Paganism, the more I realize other religions over the centuries have liberally borrowed its customs and holidays. For anyone wishing to join this path or those already on it seeking to learn more, this book is a wonderful introduction.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Chrijeff VINE VOICE on August 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
If you think you may be a pagan at heart, and want to find out how you can decide for sure, seek no further: this book will provide you with a sound, comprehensive, yet undemanding introduction to the entire concept. McColman, a long-time practising pagan, clearly explains what pagans believe and why, how their beliefs carry over into their everyday lives, what kinds of rituals are typical of them, how to deal with the non-pagans in your life, and where you can find out more. Again and again he reiterates the basic tenet that paganism has no single dogma: you're free to practise it in whatever way feels right for you. Among the most useful of his recommendations: follow the tradition to which you feel most closely drawn. (In my case, probably Native American.) After reading this book, I feel more convinced than ever of my basic pagan-ness, and begin to have some idea of how to get my feet more solidly planted on pagan ground. It's true that McColman seems to concentrate most heavily on the Wiccan and Celtic traditions, but since they're apparently the most popular and visible segments of the pagan community, that's probably inevitable. Once again, it's important to remember that you don't have to join them, or any group at all. Paganism, McColman tells us, is for folks who like to think for themselves rather than blindly accepting what the established religions have to say. If you think of yourself in those terms, it's worth your time to look through this book; you may recognize yourself.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
I wish I knew of this book sooner. I've studied wide angles of the occult such as wicca, celtic shamanism, crystal energies, astral projection, tarot, astrology, scrying, dowsing, basically manny diffrent subjects all within the occult. I used to consider myself a student of the occult sciences until after awhile I realized and even came to the conclusion that I am pagan.
This book has successfully brought a large number of my studies together and even some more in depth with info on relating to the divine among other things. I would highly suggest that anyone remotely interested in any earth based religion/group [i.e. wicca, shamanism, druids, etc.] should COMPELETLY read this book straight through without skipping anything as I did. This should really be a mandatory reading for anyone who is new to the occult sciences and paganism thinks about embarking on this wonderful path. Don't let the title [Complete Idiots Guide] get you down. From my perspective, 'most' of the idiots guides I've bought and have looked at, cover more than just your average book on a single subject. Just look at the table of contents, the short version and the long version that lasts for a number of pages. This book not only goes over what the author feels are the 3 main types of paganism , wicca, druidism, and shamanism, it also goes over the god and goddess, the other worlds, elemental spirits, and divination. This list is not all the the book covers. Read it through completely and you won't regret it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
At last...a book on Paganism that is accurate, well-researched, and honest.
This book should be the first stop for anyone seeking information on Paganism and Witchcraft. It provides a comprehensive overview on the myriad of Paths out there. The bibiography and suggested reading section alone is worth the price of the book. His recommendations are scholarly, well-respected works.
What I liked most is the lack of treacle, sweetness and light, fluffy bunny-Playgan wannabe misinformation that is so prevelant in most New Agey books. The author lays out so much comprehensive information that it would have saved me 6 years of intensive study had I read this first.
And Carl is the first I've seen to include a section on Christo-Paganism. Yay!...
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