A Recommended Reading List for Dedicants

The Pagan revival has been troubled from the beginning by shoddy scholarship and indulgence in esoteric fantasy. When wishful thinking and poor science take the place of true knowledge, all of Paganism is harmed. Ár nDraíocht Féin was founded on the principle of respect for the actual old ways of Europe. We believe that by starting with the foundational remains of Iron Age Paganism we can build a modern system that will serve modern needs and be true to ancestral spirit.

We recommend you choose one or two titles at a time and begin working your way through them. This is by no means exhaustive, but is the initial list of books that ADF Dedicants must choose from, and thus consists mainly of books for a student beginning to study Paganism the first time. There is little direct mythology for each culture, because we hope to have our Dedicants understand the culture that the myths come out of before delving directly into the myths.

We've also worked hard to make sure that every book on this list is in print. Unfortunately, all the best books seem to go out of print, and sometimes libraries don't carry them. We hope this list will not only aid study, but will also be highly accessible, and we have broken the list into the following categories: Indo-European Studies; Hearth Cultures: Celtic Culture, Greek/Hellenic Culture, Norse Culture, Proto-Indo-European Culture, Roman Culture, Slavic Culture, Vedic Culture, Baltic/Hittite/Avestan (Indo-Iranian)/Tocharian and Other I-E Cultures; Pagan Revival; Nature Awareness; Additional Notes; and Other Listings.

Preceptor Note: If you have an additional book you are interested in using for the purpose of the DP, please make sure it is not on our list of Other Reading Resources, which are not approved for the purpose of the Dedicant's Program but are highly recommended resources regardless.

Also check out our Other Approved and Unapproved reading resources for the purpose of the Dedicant's Program. The difference in this list is it will show not only recommended reading, but also books that are not recommended for the Dedicant's Program or in general.

Note: ADF will receive a referral bonus if you order from Amazon through a link on this page - thanks!

Indo-European Studies & Overview

Order from Amazon In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology, and Myth
J.P. Mallory
A summary of known scholarship on the peoples from whom the Celts, Germans, Greco-Roman, and Baltic cultures descended. This book is fairly dense and reads on an advanced level. It could also be classed as Proto-Indo-European. (We have a short review of this book.)
Reading Level: Late Undergraduate to post-Graduate
Order from Amazon Comparative Mythology
Jaan Puhvel
A good discussion of Indo-European myth. It covers the entire spectrum of Indo-European myth.
Reading Level: Post-Graduate
Order from Amazon A History of Pagan Europe
Nigel Pennick and Prudence Jones
A simpler review of the history of Pagan peoples and their beliefs.
Reading Level: Early Undergraduate
Order from Amazon The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Will Not Give Women a Future
Cynthia Eller
This book takes a hard look at what evidence there is or is not for the Gimbutas assertion of a matriarchal goddess-worshipping, pan-European Neolithic society.
Reading Level: Late High School to Early College

Hearth Cultures

Anglo-Saxon Culture

Order from Amazon Lost Gods of England (out of print)
Brian Branston
An examination of early Anglo-Saxon worship, including a comparison of Old Norse and Old English myth.
Reading Level: TBD
Order from Amazon Travels Through Middle Earth
Alaric Albertsson
An introduction to the Anglo-Saxon gods and goddesses, cosmology and the spirit realm, with an emphasis on contemporary worship.
Reading Level: TBD
Order from Amazon The Real Middle Earth
Brian Bates
Bates reveals the Anglo-Saxon perspective and beliefs that inspired Tolkien's writing. This book focuses less on the Anglo-Saxon deities and more on the worldly spirits known to the early English.
Reading Level: TBD

Celtic Culture

There is no definitive collection of Celtic myth, but there are many good sources on who the Celts were, including a few mythical cycles:

Order from Amazon The Celtic Heroic Age: Literary Sources for Ancient Celtic Europe and Early Ireland and Wales
John T. Koch (Editor)
This book includes a large number of sources on the Celts, all included in a single place. Many of the translations are updated, and it includes many obscure texts.
Reading Level: Late High School to Early College
Order from Amazon Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales
Alwyn and Brinley Rees
The very best study of pattern and meaning in Celtic myth, with special reference to Vedic lore.
Reading Level: Late Undergraduate to post-Graduate
Order from Amazon Pagan Celtic Britain
Anne Ross
An exhaustive survey of known archaeology and lore about Celtic remains in England, Scotland and Wales.
Reading Level: Late Undergraduate to post-Graduate
Order from Amazon The Mabinogi, and Other Medieval Welsh Tales
Patrick K. Ford
The most academically accepted translation, it also includes the Battle of the Trees, a pronunciation guide, and an index of names.
Reading Level: Undergraduate
Order from Amazon The Tain: Translated from the Irish Epic Tain Bo Cuailnge
Thomas Kinsella, Trans.
One of the main Irish Myths, the Ulster Cycle is key to understanding Irish mythology. This translation is considered standard among academics.
Reading Level: Middle School
Order from Amazon A Brief History of the Druids
Peter Beresford Ellis
The best modern survey of what we know and don't know about the Celtic Druids.
(previously/also marketed as "The Druids")
Reading Level: Post-Graduate
Order from Amazon The Druids
Stuart Piggott
Previously the best survey. Somewhat unfriendly to the culture it describes, but full of good data about the archeology and facts about the Druids.
Reading Level: Post-Graduate

Greek/Hellenic Culture

Hellenic Pagan lore is contained in a number of books, available in inexpensive student editions:

Order from Amazon Greek Religion
Walter Burkett
An overall survey of Cult and practice in Greek Paganism, and is a basic text book of beliefs.
Reading Level: Late Undergraduate to post-Graduate
Order from Amazon Religion in the Ancient Greek City
Louise Bruit Zaidman, Pauline Schmitt Pantel; Paul Cartledge (Trans.)
Another good overall summary of Greek religious practice.
Reading Level: Post-Graduate
Order from Amazon Theogony and Works and Days
Hesiod, with M. L. West, ed.
Descriptions of both myths and religious practices. The introduction to Norman O. Brown's translation is considered to be one of the best, though his translation is somewhat dated.
Reading Level: Late Undergraduate to post-Graduate
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
The Iliad and The Odyssey or The Homeric Hymns
Homer
These tales embody much important lore about Hellenic Paganism. The Hymns make the powers and nature of each of the deities clear.
Reading Level: High School

Norse Culture

Order from Amazon The Poetic Edda
Lee M. Hollander, Edda Saemundar, eds.
The Eddas, in addition to the Sagas, make up many of our primary sources for the Norse traditions. Hollander's translation is currently regarded as the best in academic circles, but it is more difficult to read than some others.
Reading Level: College
Order from Amazon Edda
Snorri Sturluson, Anthony Faulkes, eds.
This is also known as "The Prose Edda", because it is related but different from the Poetic Edda above. While the Prose Edda was discovered before the Poetic Edda, scholars have come to date the former as historically later than the latter. However, both Eddas are useful, interesting, and widely cited in Norse scholarship. The Everyman edition (linked here) is the complete Prose Edda - some editions leave out valuable material.
Reading Level: Mostly late High School; Introduction: Post-Graduate
Order from Amazon Gods and Myths of Northern Europe
H.R. Ellis-Davidson
Davidson is one of the best writers on northern European Paganism. All her books are worth reading.
Reading Level: College
Order from Amazon.com The Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer
Jesse L. Byock
Akin to the Nibelungenlied, this book more accurately reflects the Pagan ideals in the literature, rather than the courtly nature of the Ring Saga, and is preferred for DP work. The introduction here is almost as valuable as the Saga itself.
Reading Level: Middle School to early High School
Order from Amazon Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe:
Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions

H.R. Ellis-Davidson
A good shore compilation of what is really known and what can be surmised of the religions of the ancient Celts and Germans.
Reading Level: College

Proto-Indo-European Culture

Order from Amazon Deep Ancestors: Practicing the Religion of the Proto-Indo-Europeans
Ceisiwr Serith
From ADF Publishing, this book provides a solid introduction to Proto-Indo-European work and lays an excellent framework for work in "common Indo-European" formats. Included here are rituals for the turning wheel of the year, from planting to harvest to equinox rites. Additionally, there are rites for ancestors, lists of reconstructed deity names (and the functions those names imply), and domestic rituals for the family at their hearth.
Reading Level: Late High School

Roman Culture

Order from Amazon Romans and Their Gods in the Age of Augustus
R.M. Ogilvie
Ogilvie's brief text on this subject has been the definitive text on Roman religion for decades. He demonstrates his thorough understanding of how the Romans worshipped, as well as how they thought about their religion during the Age of Augustus.
Reading Level: Late Undergraduate to post-Graduate
Order from Amazon Fasti
Ovid
A poetic description of the festivals of the Roman year which unfortunately breaks off at the end of June. This classic work is available from many publishers. Try searching at Amazon.com to find the price range or book style that you prefer.
Reading Level: Middle School
Order from Amazon The Gods of Ancient Rome: Religion in Everyday Life from Archaic to Imperial Times. 
Robert Turcan; Antonia Nevell, trans.
A good source for Roman religion. It seems that his books are being translated slowly, so keep an eye out for them.
Reading Level: Late High School to early Undergraudate
Order from Amazon An Introduction to Roman Religion
John Scheid; Janet Lloyd, trans.
This book comes highly recommended as an intro to the religion of this culture.
Reading Level: Late Undergraduate to post-Graduate
Search at BookFinder.com Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome
Lesley Adkins, Roy A. Adkins
Focuses mainly on culture, but there is also some information on Roman religion.
Reading Level: High School

Slavic Culture

Order from Amazon The Bath House at Midnight: Magic in Russia (Magic in History)
W.F. Ryan
A collection of scholarly literature on the history of magic and divination in Russia. Information was gathered by the author for over 30 years.
Reading Level: Post-Graduate
Order from Amazon The Early Slavs: Culture & Society in Early Medieval Eastern Europe
P.M. Barford
And easy to read and nicely objective introduction to early Slavic culture.
Reading Level: Post-Graduate
Order from Amazon Russian Myths
Elizabeth Warner
An overiew of the customs and themes underlying Russian beliefs.
Reading Level: Late Undergraduate

Vedic Culture

Order from Amazon Religion and Philosophy of the Veda and Upanishads (2 Volumes)
A.B. Keith
This is the must have book for anyone interested in Vedism. While Keith does not focus on much of the material that should be dealt with for a practitioner of Vedism, he does introduce those new to Vedism with strong facts and a wonderful starting point.
Reading Level: Post-Graduate
Order from Amazon Religion of the Veda
Hermann Oldenberg; Shridhar B. Shrotri (Trans.)
Oldenberg does often get confused on some Vedic concepts, as pointed out by out noted scholars such as Keith and Macdonell, but this is a must read for further understanding the ancient Vedics.
Reading Level: Post-Graduate
Order from Amazon The Origins and Development of Classical Hinduism
A. L. Basham
This book focuses primarily on Classical Hinduism but it does cover the Vedic period and it's disintegration into Hinduism. This is a wonderful introduction which allows the individual to see the differences between the Indo-European Vedism and the non Indo-European Hinduism.
Reading Level: College
Order from Amazon Vedic Mythology
Arthur Anthony Macdonell
This book is a must have for anyone serious about Vedism. It describes a large group of the Gods, complete with references from the Vedas and just where to find these references yourself.
Reading Level: Late Undergraduate to post-Graduate

Baltic/Avestan (Indo-Iranian)/Hittite/Tocharian and Other I-E Cultures

These cultures have no books at present. If you are an ADF member with a book you want to use for one of these cultures for the Dedicant Path documentation, please contact the ADF Dedicant Preceptor.

Modern Paganism & the Pagan Revival

Order from Amazon Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today
Margot Adler
The classic survey of American Neopaganism, including plenty on ADF, our origins and growth.
Reading Level: College
Order from Amazon The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft
Ronald Hutton
A detailed book, discussing the origins of Wicca, the source of most of Neo-Paganism. It serves as a counter-balance to much of the information and theories that are likely to be encountered when reviewing Neo-Paganism in general. It is recommended that, due to its focus on Wicca, Dedicants supplement this reading with more sources.
Reading Level: Late Undergraduate to Post-Graduate
Order from Amazon Being a Pagan: Druids, Wiccans, and Witches Today
Ellen Evert Hopman, Lawrence Bond
This book is a set of interviews from modern Neo-Pagans. Some ADF members are interviewed for this book, as well.
(Also marketed as: People of the Earth: The New Pagans Speak Out)
Reading Level: Late Undergraduate to Post-Graduate
Order from Amazon The Idiot's Guide to Paganism
Carl McColman
A book that covers the basic forms of modern Paganism.
Reading Level: Late High School to Early Undergraduate
Order from Amazon Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca And Paganism in America
Chas S. Clifton
A book covering the basics of the Neo-Pagan movement today, starting with Wicca and exploring the varieties of Paganism from there.
Reading Level: Late Undergraduate to post-Graduate

Nature Awareness

Note: These books do not fulfil a requirement for the ADF Dedicant Path, but are provided to help Dedicants work through the Nature Awareness section of the DP.

Order from Amazon Landscape and Memory
Simon Schama
An extraordinary survey of European attitudes to and conceptualizations of nature over the course of the last 500 years or so, and how our ideas of nature have shaped how we interact with it. Spans Europe from Poland to the Atlantic and from England to the Mediterranean, as well as (the European experience of) America and Australia. Reasonably scholarly but still quite readable.
Order from Amazon Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You
Clare Walker Leslie; Charles E. Roth
A very popular book with homeschoolers and teachers.

(Please note that if you wish to purchase any of these titles online, we have worked in association with Amazon.com Books to make them available for easy ordering.)

Additional Notes

We recommend that the beginning student avoid any nonfiction by Robert Graves, D.J. Conway, Lewis Spense, H.P. Blavatsky, Edward Williams (aka Iolo Morganwg), or any works by others based on their writings, or those of Merlin Stone, Barbara Walker, or other revisionist ideologues. Some of the assertions made in these sources can't be supported by current scholarship on the Druids; the use of common sense and a critical eye are highly recommended in dealing with these books (and all the other books listed on this page as well). This is not to say that they don't have their own possible worth or that people shouldn't know about these books, but that an understanding of these writers should come after understanding Druidry/Neopaganism in general. One has to get a firm grounding, four walls and a roof before she can decide on what kinds of curtains to look at.

When in doubt, consult your nearest tree...

 

Other Recommended Reading Lists

Individual ADF Guilds will likely also have more extensive reading lists for topics relating to Guild activities (e.g., liturgy, healing, etc.). Guilds are open to ADF members only, so if you are not a member but are interested in specific Guild recommended reading, please consider joining ADF. Also, some ADF Groves have developed their own recommended reading lists so you may want to see if there is an ADF grove near you or visit various grove web sites.

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