Book Review

I've been meaning to post a review of this book for some while, as it is one of the recommended reading texts on the Classical Polytheism module of the Religious Studies degree that I run. Brendan Myers' "The Earth, the Gods and the Soul" is an excellent resource in the study of both early pagan thought and its more modern expressions. The author summarises the key beliefs of a wide range of philosophers who either were pagan (such as Pythagoras) or whose writings have had a strong influence upon the development of pagan philosophies (such as Rousseau and Graves).
Myers' precis of the central beliefs is both accurate and succinct, and he ties the assorted ideas together to build an overarching set of arguments around the necessity for institutional structure to help in the building (or rather rebuilding) of a cohesive philosophy of the world, weaving together such strands as animism and Neo-Platonism.
The author also addresses such issues as the enchantment of the world, a concept explored in some depth by other authors such as Morris Berman. One of the reasons this book is recommended to my students is that Myers covers such a wide array of thinkers in easy, accessible language and shows how the schools of thought interacted with one another to show the development of insights about the world. The writer's passion and intelligence shine through and make this one of the better pagan books on the market, not least because it deals with central issues that define the core of paganism rather than simply rehashing trite information about sabbats, spells, and circle casting.
If there's an area for recommendation (or possibly a follow-up book) it is the potential to include modern thinkers within Kemeticism, Heathenry, Religio Romana, and other culturally embedded forms of modern polytheism.
Thoroughly recommended to anyone interested in pagan thought, whether from an academic point of view or out of deepening personal convictions.

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