The Second Circle – Venecia Rauls

The Second Circle: Tools for the Advancing Pagan: Tools for the Advancing Pagan
Venecia Rauls
Citadel, 2004
240 pages

This is one of several books on Paganism 201 that have come out recently. It’s definitely recommended!

The comparison of the pagan path to the progression of apprentice – journeyman – master is aptly utilized. I’m also very impressed by the book chapter, wherein Rauls shows the reader the many different avenues that can be travelled outside of the metaphysical section. That’s where paganism 201 can really be found!

I’m also fond of all the Jungian imagery she brings in. She talks particularly about his concept of synchronicity, and how it relates to magical practice. Definitely another good lead for the intermediate seeker.

And I do have to give her two thumbs up for explaining the differences between pets and familiars. Her discussions on magic, particularly how deities aren’t always necessary, and the ethics of magic, are also highly recomended reading!

I do have a few complaints. On p. 24, she says that all alchemical texts were really just referring to sex–in actuality, sex is just one way alchemy can be interpreted; the original alchemists were speaking both of the literal physical components as well as personal enlightenment. Also, I think her chapter on omens and synchronicity shpuld have warned that people very easily can create self-fulfilling prophecies, *looking* for ways to prove what they *think* (subconsciously) will happen and ignoring other signs (ie, anything long and cylindrical being called a cigar).

In her section on visiting magical spaces created by others, either ancient or modern, she neglected to tell people not to mess with others’ ritual areas–ie, if you see a sand painting by a modern Native, don’t add things to it just because you think you should! And, on p. 134, she says that animal sacrifice is illegal. It is, in fact, legal, according to the 1993 US Supreme Court ruling 508 US 520, the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye vs. City of Hialeah. Also, she harps on the “evils” of illegal drugs (and some legal, such as salvia), but then advocates the use of legal drugs for magic–including alcohol. A drug is a drug, and all drugs can cause a useful state of consciousness, depending on dosage. The reason so many people overdose or have bad trips is because of misinformation, which perpetuates the bad stereotypes.

Finally, I really didn’t like the final chapter. She talks about “roles” within paganism, such as healer, warrior, bard, oracle, etc. I think this gives the idea that you *have* to specialize in something–I tend to agree with Robert Heinlen: “Specialization is for insects”. We are all healers, warrior, scribes, and oracles–and whatever else we need to be.

However, overall, I would recommend this book to someone looking to branch out. I’ve been a pagan and a magician for a decade, and I really could have used this book about 7 years ago. This is an incredibly realistic look at what options are available to the intermediate pagan, without a ton of fluff and filler. It even got me thinking some about where I am now–and that says to me that it’s a worthwhile read for anyone, just to get you thinking about your path and where you are on it. I’d especially pick it up if I was feeling stuck or discouraged–there are some really good ideas in here!

Four pawprints out of five.

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1 Comment

  1. Mimi said,

    July 11, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    I love all of your reviews, and my Amazon.com cart is filled with books that are just waiting for payday so I can purchase them, and almost all of them were found through you…so thanks for that!

    But I’m specifically leaving a comment on this review because of the following:

    “I think this gives the idea that you *have* to specialize in something–I tend to agree with Robert Heinlen: “Specialization is for insects”. We are all healers, warrior, scribes, and oracles–and whatever else we need to be.”

    Honestly, in the eleven years that I’ve been Wiccan, no one has ever said that to me. Granted, I haven’t really discussed my fears about not having ONE specialization with others (because it’s a big source of insecurity for me), so I haven’t prompted many chances to hear it. Still, that meant a lot to me, even outside of the book reviews, so I wanted to leave you a little thanks for making a big difference in my life right now. 😀


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