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The Pagan Book of Living and Dying: Practical Rituals, Prayers, Blessings, and Meditations on Crossing Over Paperback – October 8, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0062515162 ISBN-10: 0062515160 Edition: 1st

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The Pagan Book of Living and Dying: Practical Rituals, Prayers, Blessings, and Meditations on Crossing Over + The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess: 20th Anniversary Edition + The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (October 8, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062515160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062515162
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Pagan Book of Living and Dying is the pagan omnibus on death, much more than just a history of various cultural rituals and beliefs regarding death. This collection of essays, prayers, and songs is a living document that draws on the resources of today's entire pagan community and fills the void left by ancient sacramental rites lost over the centuries. Designed in such a way as to benefit both the leaders of the pagan community as well as the individual reader, The Pagan Book of Living and Dying encourages preparation under the obvious, but often neglected, understanding that death is seldom expected nor convenient but happens to everyone.

The Pagan Book of Living and Dying discusses all aspects of death, from pagan thealogy (from thea meaning goddess, rather than theo meaning god) to the dying process itself, and it even covers sensitive subjects like helping children cope with death. Congenial essays such as Sharon Jackson's "Crash Course in Being Present with the Dying" and insightful perspectives like Diana Paxson's "Preliminary Thoughts Toward Midwifing Your Own Passage" offer a written spiritual resource for assisting and comforting the dying, and advice on facing one's own passage. The Pagan Book of Living and Dying is simultaneously a practical guide, a comforting liturgy, and a new heritage that shows how to appreciate life through a closer relationship with death. --Brian Patterson

Review

"The Pagan Book of Living and Dying is far more than another how-to ritual book. I found the reflections to be very moving. Rituals are easily accessible and well grounded in the core Pagan understanding of the cycle of Birth/Death/Rebirth. The book is very clear that the materials are only samples and beginning--not prescribed formulas. . .I recommend it for Pagans and others who might be facing dying or grieving." -- SageWoman

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Just reading it can change your life forever.
Ainabarad
The Pagan Book of Living and Dying approaches the subject of death from a sensitive and understanding point of view.
Forever Destiny
I gifted a copy of this book to the Pastoral Care department of the children's hospital where I work.
Tyla Dragonfly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Rae Schwarz on November 19, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sadly, I bought this book upon receiving the news that a friend's teenage daughter had been diagnosed with an incurable fatal illness. As one who came to Paganism by my own choice, I had no reference yet for how Pagans dealt with end of life passage.

It turns out it was that very reason that Starhawk and other members of Reclaiming wrote this book. Very few modern Pagans are raised in their chosen spirituality and often find they have no traditions or practices to guide them when dealing with the loss of a loved one.

This book is not a strict step-by-step ritual guide, but a sharing of experience that includes blessings, prayers and ritual details. The collected writings share how various people have dealt with the situations around long illness as well as sudden losses. There are accounts and suggestions for rituals not only to say farewell or bury the dead, but for how those still alive can honor those who have died and address their own grieving and healing.

I found the stories shared in this book to be incredibly personal and yet at the same time practical. I feel I will have a foundation of knowledge from which to draw when I have to deal with this issues and changes in my own family and circle of friends.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By "tess73" on May 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Using essays, poetry, songs and rituals, Starhawk shares with us this wonderful collection that deals sensitively with the issues surrounding death.
Touching on issues ranging from SIDS to AIDS, this book contains beautiful and comforting words for both Pagans and non-Pagans. The use of prayer and meditation is strongly recommended in the book, which may put off the non-religious person. However, being as the book is aimed largely at the Pagan population, it may be a moot point. I found the commentary compassionate without being patronizing, a task that is difficult within itself. "Living and Dying" is certainly a book we've needed for a long time. So rarely is death treated with such respect and objectivity. Death is a reality, a part of life that we need to embrace, and not fear. And while I'm nowhere near the state of embracement, I can, with the help of this book, at least reconcile the fact that "inevetable" should not mean "hopeless".
I recommend this book, for many reasons - the dialogue, the topic coverage, the compassion - and I'd include it as "essential reading" for any Pagan.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A. K. Beltaine on February 23, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I can't say enough good about this book. Thank the goddess there is a book from a Pagan perspective. That celebrates the diversity of pagan belief and addresses loss and death. From how to help children deal with the loss of a loved one (bird or teacher or...) to how to conduct a home-made cremation to mourning rituals and healing songs to advice for being with a loved one who is dying. My only complaint is that it isn't long enough. Deep enough. Hopefully it is only the first volume of future books...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ainabarad on February 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
If a loved one's passing has brought you great sorrow or if you simply wish for a better understanding of death, this is truly for you. This book is honestly one of a kind; it takes Pagan beliefs and presents them in a whole new light. The reader is guided through the process of caring for someone who is dying, grieving for a loved one who has passed on, planning for a funeral, preparing for death, understanding death, and so much more. Words cannot express how unique and uplifting this book is. Just reading it can change your life forever. It is filled with rituals, prayers, songs, chants, poems, and meditations and visualizations. I believe is the only book of its kind and if every Pagan's library had only one book in it, this is the book it should have.

Perhaps one of the greatest things about this book is you do not have to be Pagan to appreciate and understand the contents of it. You could be an athiest and it would still help you and bring you comfort. This is by far the best non-fiction book I have ever read. If you are looking for a book to help you cope with death or learn more about it, buy this one. Even, and especially, if you are only going to buy one on the subject.

It will help you greatly. It has helped me and any many other countless people greatly. I was extremely close to my mother, for years I cared for her and I love her more than life itself so when I was 22 years old and she passed away suddenly after a battle with cancer everyone thought she had recovered from, my whole world seemed to crumble to peices and I honestly wondered if I could even go on living, if life would ever again be the same, if I'd ever smile again. Then a very dear friend of mine handed me her copy of this book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Monarch on April 21, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I cannot say enough good things about this book!!! The layout of the book is very approachable. The personal stories, rituals, prayers, songs, chants, poems, and meditations are invaluable!

I especially enjoyed the story "Bo's Cremation" by Patricia Michael. The details given of his life and death are so personal and helpful. The instructions (and examples of trial/error) in obtaining a loved one's body, keeping it on dry ice, and setting up your own viewing and cremation ceremony was amazing.

I was also thoroughly drawn to the story "Aric Arthur Graf Dies (or Rickie Goes to Become an Ancestor)" by Donald L. Engstrom. This story was very intimate and striking. The idea of the author going into trance and being able to astrally project himself with his loved one on another plane about to cross over was mesmerizing.

The items about using the Tarot with death related activities was helpful. The last section of the book gives fabulous concrete things you can do do make sure all your "things" are in order for your own death. This should be read and acted upon by all, because you just never know when you may have to go (like one section of the book says--always keep your bags packed).

Being fairly new to the Wiccan religion still, I feel like I have a more concrete understanding in the Pagan beliefs of death and dying. I feel more enlightened about the subject in general as well. I found the section on suicide to help answer a lot of questions I had about that. The book doesn't just make it a cut-and-dried topic either, it talks about the intricies of suicide based on depression, long term health illness, and other topics.

It's been said in other reviews, but I must reiterate--This book belongs in EVERY Pagan home. The sooner the better.
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