A Guide to Pagan Camping by Lori Dake

A Guide to Pagan Camping: Festival Tips, Tricks and Trappings
Lori Dake
Rotco Media, 2011
208 pages

My first question about this book is: why didn’t anyone write it before? I mean, really: outdoor festivals have been a part of neopagan culture for decades, and everyone gets their initial trial by (camp)fire, especially if this is their first time sleeping in a tent. But there are also a number of considerations that are unique to the festival environment (and not limited to just pagan festivals) that you won’t find in just any old book on camping.

There’s really only room for one book on this rather niche topic, and thankfully for we the readers, Lori Dake is right on target with this one. She covers pretty much everything you need to know for your first few festival outings, from what to wear and what your basic kit should be for camping, to good etiquette that doesn’t shy away from things like skyclad attendance, or festival hookups. Of course, even if you aren’t a newbie to festivals, there may be useful info if you decide to expand the nature of your participation beyond “festival attendee”. As a longtime vendor at events, I can say that she did a thorough job with the vending section, especially in as small a space as she had for it (instead of writing an entire book, which is entirely possible). And there are good tips for performing, giving workshops, and other participation that newbies may not necessarily feel ready for. Also, festival folk of any vintage may find the generous selection of camp-friendly recipes and related info helpful.

It’s a well-written book overall, and I found very little in the way of typos. I wasn’t crazy about the layout; the sans serif font chosen would have been better for something like a term paper, and the spaces between paragraphs don’t look as professional as simply indenting new paragraphs. The cover art and layout scream “small press”, which (as you may know from my background) isn’t in and of itself a bad thing, but it also could have been more polished.

Still, this is a case of not judging the book by its cover. This is a definite gem, and I highly recommend it for festival folk across the board, whether pagan or not. Well done!

Five campfire-smoky pawprints out of five.

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Drawing the Three of Coins – Terri Paajanen

Drawing the Three of Coins: How to Open and Run a Pagan Store
Terri Paajanen
Spilled Candy Books, 2005
150 pages

This is an awesome small-press book from Spilled Candy. It’s the kind of book I try to write myself–a good, in-depth, no-frills exploration of something that hasn’t really been covered before. Additionally, the author very obviously has a good deal of experience with the topic she’s writing about, which just makes it even better.

Paajanen has written just about the closest thing to a perfect book on being a pagan shopowner. I know so many pagan folk whose dream it is to open a shop some day–brick and mortar, if you please! Unfortunately, while I’ve seen some wonderfully successful businesses, I’ve also seen failed attempts that either had too little capital behind them, or too little business sense, or some other fatal error. I think that Drawing the Three of Coins could go a long way in lessening the potential failures. Mind you, it’s not a complete book on owning a book store in general; the beauty of the book is that is specifically focuses on things that are primarily of interest to someone wanting to own a pagan (or occult) shop. You’ll need to supplement with other business-related books, but this is a must-have.

Paajanen covers a lot of ground nonetheless. There’s strong emphasis on the need for a good location, as well as how you lay out and design the interior of your shop once you have it in place (very, very important, let me tell you!). She also discusses actually getting ahold of inventory, what to get, and how much. Even seemingly minor details like hiring on tarot readers or putting up a website are given a good deal of attention. And if you want to organize events, the book has answers for that as well.

The author doesn’t pull any punches about the reality of small business ownership. If you think it’ll be a breeze–think again. After reading this text, you’ll have a much better idea of just how much work it really is.

On the other hand, if you are bound and determined to open a pagan shop–or, for that matter, just sort of hemming and hawing over the possibility, maybe someday…..read this book. As far as I know, it’s the only one of its kind–but it’d be tough to top.

Five pawprints out of five.

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