This is going to be a short post because I’m simply announcing that I have started to read A History of Pagan Europe by Nigel Pennick and Prudence Jones for the DP. The reading list for the Dedicant Path does not seem to have been updated since I first attempted the program in 2010 with the exception of some Anglo-Saxon hearth books. I have my own thoughts about the book selection for the DP, but I also understand there are revamps happening behind the scenes.
A History of Pagan Europe is one of the options for the Indo-European Studies requirement; the other two books are a title on a chosen hearth culture and a book about modern Paganism. Pennick and Jones’ work is from 1995, and though I have only read the introduction so far I am skeptical about the authors’ approach to their material. They speak of modern Paganism in terms of nature reverence, Goddess worship, and the New Age, identifying all Pagans as people who see The God and The Goddess as the ultimate fonts of deity. This is disappointing because I expect this misconception to flavor the rest of their text, particularly when the authors draw the link from ancient Pagan traditions to modern ones.
Something I’ve pulled from my MLIS is citation searching; Google Scholar lets you look at many (all?) the scholarly works that have cited A History of Pagan Europe (or any other text) since its publication. I’d like to see what recent scholars have made of Pennick and Jones’ themes. How did this book influence Pagan studies? How does it mesh with studies of pre-Christian Europe (archaeology, anthropology, history, etc)? Why was this book chosen for the DP list, by whom, and with what criteria?
And then on a personal note: while the ideas in this reading list may be important to the identity of ADF, what impact does it have on my personal practice, as someone who is culturally American, who does not particularly care what “the ancients” did when it comes to deciding religious validity of my own path?