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A History of Pagan Europe

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  621 ratings  ·  35 reviews

A History of Pagan Europe is the first comprehensive study of its kind, and establishes Paganism as a persistent force in European history with a profound influence on modern thinking. This timely second edition bring the books completely up-to-date and includes analysis of recent work in the area. From the serpent goddesses of ancient Crete to modern nature-worship and th

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Hardcover, 262 pages
Published 1999 by Barnes & Noble (first published 1995)
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3.76  · 
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 ·  621 ratings  ·  35 reviews


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Rhyd Wildermuth
The question of paganism in europe doesn't present itself immediately as a matter of scandal, though the relative absence of histories on the subject does at least hint at the controversy of the topic. Usually relegated to Folkloric studies (with their classifications and archetypes) the issue of paganism is miserably under-treated.

Contention exists over the very definition of pagan--the general "western-academic" consensus is that it is a useless or over-used word, stolen by new-age neopagans
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else fine
I'm always a little leery of historians with an obvious axe to grind, and the authors of this book - better known for a series of New Age and Wiccan publications - definitely qualify. I think they overcompensated for their bias by being as dry and academic as humanly possible, thus rendering their legitimately interesting subject matter into a painful and tedious slog. If you can get past these two rather large hurdles, you will find a wealth of rewarding historical detail here, and a surprising ...more
Eric Tanafon
I've re-read this book several times, though its shortcomings are more apparent to me now. The writers were over-ambitious, and a bit biased toward Wicca and Celtic culture. But on the other hand, where else would you find a recipe to reverse the effects of baptism? (Hint: it involves alder bark.)

What A History of Pagan Europe does well is to convey that in Europe, as elsewhere, civilization was invented by Pagans; that Christianity's takeover was often violent, involving forced conversions of
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J.M. Hushour
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty great book considering it was written by "modern pagans", whatever that is supposed to be. It's Routledge and has a nice bibliography so I figured I'd give it a chance even though neither author seems to have any academic credentials to put in the cover blurb. Whatever. I know better than to put any stock in academia. I also, however, know better than to put any stock in crystal-rubbing Stonehenge rimmers.
That said, the book is surprisingly informative. All things, of course, have roots
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Jack
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Buffs
This was a difficult read, but it was also extremely informative. I've had to read it three times to glean the information that I wanted from it, which is why it's taken me so long to post this review.

As the casual observer can tell, I am fascinated with those portions of history that are either sugar-coated, glossed over or ignored in mainstream education - unless you choose to become a history major.

This book, along with Ramon Jiminez's "Caesar & The Celts" fills in a few gaps in a Doctor
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Adrian Colesberry
Apr 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting review book. Paganism pre-Constantine was just called religion of course and this examination of what we know is very useful to anyone interested in a non-sentimental view of those beliefs. It takes serious scholarship to come up with answers simply because most of what we know comes from hostile sources, Christian texts assaulting the "pagans."
Sverre
A book of history can be reviewed from at least two main perspectives: 1. Does it present factual information without author bias, and 2. Does the text have a readable, comprehensible and logical format (i.e. is it accessible). As for the first, I think the authors have put in a lot of effort to provide the reader with well-known as well as obscure facts sifted from five thousand years of historical and archaeological research. It is unfortunate that also much of its contents relies on hearsay, ...more
Hugo Filipe
The social and historical contexts represent a bigger part of this book, than the actual paganism bit. In fact, the gods and rituals are described in a manner that tries to address them as religion, there is definitely missing some romantism on this book.

It looks more like an index of cults and adoration than an actual book, which is a shame. Nevertheless, books on this subject are somewhat rare, so it's still a worthwile read.
Jaime
Sep 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a New Age book but a chronicle of Pagan peoples and influence in Western history.
Alan Tate
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is truly loaded with information and is great to get an overview of european history, not just beliefs and practices. The chapters are about different regions but they all overlap each other. There is an overview of both beliefs and history of the peoples in each chapter. It reads like a collection of wikipedia articles and constantly lists places and groups of people I had to look up. And I mean constantly, but to fit this much information into 220 pages, there are things that have to ...more
Larry Cahoon
This is a difficult topic over a long period of time and a vast geography and therefore hard to cover well.

The authors seem to start out with a time based description by covering Greek and Roman cultures but then it becomes obvious that they have chosen to cover the topic by geography. With that choice they end up frequently jumping backwards and forward in time. This approach makes it difficult to get the feel of how history progresses. This becomes critical when the issue of how the christian
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Andy
Sep 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adf
This was a generally informative book and I did learn a good deal of information. However, the organization and writing style hindered the actual transmission of that information. It seems that the authors really wanted to write two books. One would have been a discussion of various Indo-European religions, their similarities, and how they evolved. The other book would have been focused on the historical migration of various Indo-European pagan groups, their interconnections, and their conflicts ...more
Grace Grant
Here are my issues with the book: 1. From the get go it comparisons to obscure things to explain and area/people/or belief...so then you have to look up this other thing to figure out what it was trying to explain in the first place. 2. The book focuses more on the Romans and their influence of the world, then the pagan cultures themselves. 3. The language is that stodgy "I'm going to use as many obscure words as possible to make myself sound smart as will fit in a sentence 3 line sentence witho ...more
KC
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
best when tracing the history of modern (neo)Paganism, the chapters on older Pagan history honestly read like the "Setting" material from an RPG handbook in their sweeping generalizations and broad-ass brushstrokes. we get it! you're Pagan and angry (join the club)! that's your right! but it's not scholarship. go straight to Beard or Burkert for helpful studies of Roman or Greek religion, and crack open any Vampire: The Dark Ages sourcebook for overviews of Celtic, Nordic, or Slavic Paganism tha ...more
Roger Lewis
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great Overview. This perspective for a chronology of Political and Religous Power structures is very valuable. Syncretism and Political Domination are the sticks and carrots of political economy.
Supplemented with this Philosophical Tome. And I think something of a Red Pill experience would likely overcome most readers fresh out of High School State Education.
https://www.amazon.com/Sociology-Phil...
Jorg
Uneven, mostly due to its short size and an attempt to cram as much as possible in it, but useful and interesting, considering that this is the only recent account of the subject, AFAIK. I had some quibbles with their interpretation (and transliteration) of the names and attributes of Slavic/Russian deities and supernatural creatures, but the chapter on Baltic peoples and mythologies alone was worth the price of admission.
Betti Moser
Could have done with better editing...
Steve Cran
Jun 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nigel Pennick and Prudence Jones have done exhaustive research and reading to bring the readership this volume. A survey of Pagan religion ideas starting off first with the Greeks and the Cretan then going into Roman Paganism and then giving full survey of Celtic and Norse Paganism, finally ending up with Baltic and Slavic Paganism.

The idea of the Goddess and her consort come to life in the discussion of Minoan Crete. THE Minoans were an agrarian people who were very peaceful and lived in unwall
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Shannon
Oct 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paganism
Quick-and-dirty review: This book offers a quick skim over the major linguistic groups relevant to modern paganism and serves as a decent jumping-off point for certain lines of inquiry, but leaves a lot to be explained in other sections. There's far too much information to cover in any one of these cultures, so there's no way the author would be able to do them all justice in one book without it being a monstrous tome. The book's only goal is to show that pagan practices and beliefs never truly ...more
Paul Cornelius
Encyclopedic and sometimes turgid, A History of Pagan Europe nonetheless details some all but forgotten details of pre-Christian life throughout Europe. It also does a good job of describing the battles between Christianity and Paganism for control of the continent. The book simply lacks the sweep, however, of something like The Golden Bough, through which readers interested in the historical transformation of societies would much more profit.
Michael
Aug 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I enjoyed this book so much. I learned how much influence paganism has had on our culture. I was impressed with the history of this book from Rome, Russia, England, etc. Many ancient pagan customs have entered into my life at various times without my knowledge. An example or two would be tossing a coin in a fountain, bringing in evergreen at Christmas to picking up my bride and carrying her over the threshold on our wedding night.
Naomi
I read this for the 'Indo-European' section of the ADF Dedicant Path course, and I really wish I'd picked another book. This is an OK book, but it's poorly referenced, and it regularly pronounces that fictions (based on neopagan urban myths) are true. I'm surprised it's on the ADF syllabus - it's not a scholarly work, at all. When I've written my full review I'll link to it here.
Amber
Interesting facts, but a poorly written book. Very scattered and inconsistent - focus on certain aspects of each branch overwhelms other parts (for example one section may skip deities but focus pages on the death rituals). Its lack of cohesion made this very difficult to read and appreciate.
Fredrick Danysh
Paganism dates back more than 3,000 years in Europe. The author examines its history and practices covering all the regions from Britain to Germany on to Greece and the Romans.
jack
read this a while ago. good!
Sannie Hald
Skimmed it.. Read some chapters..
Roberta
Incredibly written, packed with knowledge minus personal hubris... really liked this book...
Moon Stumpp
Apr 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read it...enjoyed it...I'm cleaning up my shelves.
Sarah
A complex and comprehensive look at European paganism, however it is a bit dry in parts.
Jennifer Heise
This is a mostly-solid if somewhat biased introduction to the trends of pre-christian europe as far as they are known. A good starter for those interested in history as opposed to neopagan mythology.
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