Most helpful positive review
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
The Pagan Man - in a positive light
on December 31, 2005
It is a truism that our society sends men a confusing array of contradictory messages about what they are supposed be, how they are supposed to behave, and what is expected of them. (And to be fair, women certainly suffer from the same phenomenon, as any checkout counter magazine rack sadly confirms). Within the Pagan community, men still feel the same tensions despite the ostensibly more open and accepting culture of Paganism. Bonewits argues that in fact some men may feel added pressures (and in the worst case some forms of discrimination) as much of modern Paganism emphasizes the feminine and that this doctrine, in hands of some, is used to justify pushing men to the margins of religious life in much the same way as some practitioners of the Abrahamic faiths marginalize women.
If this issue of alleged oppression of men in modern Paganism were the main focus of the book, it wouldn't be worth reading. Also, if it were a long tract of complaints about women, it wouldn't be worth the time. Luckily, while Bonewits does argue for the importance of men even in Goddess oriented religion, he also uses this book to present positive examples of the roles men fulfill in Pagan culture (as well as the names of some of the flesh-and-blood men who are fulfilling these roles) as artists, priests, warriors, fathers, brothers (to each other and the women in their community) and lovers. In addition to these positive examples, the book presents summary biographies of many influential men in modern Paganism without shrinking from indicating that many of these men also had their flaws. There are also several rituals for men (concerning issues more generally associated with men) that many practitioners would find of use. The book also features an excellent summary of the various streams of contemporary Pagan practice and the multifarious sources and influences upon Paganism today. This section is well worth reading for anyone interested in contemporary Paganism (and doesn't want to read all of "Drawing Down the Moon").
Lastly, I would like to assure the women of the Pagan community that this book isn't about attacking or denigrating you nor is it a book that defines men in antithesis to women. Rather, "The Pagan Man" is an attempt to give men a positive message that the masculine (but not the macho) is a part of creation that deserves to be honored. If you are man who feels confused about what it means to be "a good man" (and frankly you don't need to be Pagan for this book to be relevant) and are searching for role models, be they human or mythical, this book won't answer all your questions, but it will give you a great start on your journey and references to many resources to help you along the way.