Top 5 Best Pagan Books

top five Pagan booksTop Five Pagan Books

These are in no particular order, one, because they are all very good, and two, because they deal with such vastly different subjects it would be unfair to rank them.

(Also, the first link in each, the actual name of the book is a link direct to that book on Amazon where you can buy it. It is an affiliate link which means I earn a tiny commission from Amazon should you buy anything through that link.)

  1. Pagan Planet: Being, Believing & Belonging in the 21Century edited by Nimue Brown. Full review here. I’ve chosen this one, because it features so many varied  viewpoints on what it is to be Pagan, that there isn’t a person on the planet who won’t learn something new or be offered a new way of looking at the world when they read this book. This book has articles not just from writers, but from other prominent Pagans, activists and clergy and both. This is a must read for anyone who feels like they’ve lost their way – there are so many ways out there, you can find one to suit you or create your own.
  2.  A Druid’s Tale by Cat Treadwell. Full review here. Cat shares what it’s like to be a Druid as she sees it, and it’s a wonderful tale, full of inspiration and lessons. Useful not only for people on a druidic path, but for anyone considering a clergy or professional religious role in a great many religions, I think.
  3. A Deed Without a Name: Unearthing the Legacy of Traditional Witchcraft by Lee Morgan. Full review here. Winning the award for longest title on my bookshelf, this book has really opened my eyes to folklore and folk magic, and allowed me to investigate historical material more thoroughly. This is a book I go back to, time and time again, for things even beyond witchcraft – I’m doing some research for some folklore articles I’m writing, and yet again this book turns out to be useful.
  4. Pagan Dreaming: The magic of altered consciousness by Nimue Brown. Full review here. It’s several months on from my first reading of this book , and I still can’t believe just how much it’s helped me. Following it has not only given me greater clarity and an actual relationship with my dreams, but has also given me my health back. Being able to to properly analyse not only my dreams but also my sleep has allowed a doctor to finally find out why I am tired, and now I have my life back. This is the only book I’ve ever read which emphasized and explained that to work with dreams you need to work with sleep, and how important sleeping actually is. I would recommend no other book on the subject.
  5.   The Book of English Magic by Richard Heygate. This book is not really designed for practioners, or for academics, which is why I love. It is a tour of English magic from as far back as we can reach, to the Chaos Magic of the 1980s, and contains just about every flavour of English magic I can think of. There are also interviews with all kinds of magic users, from witches to magicians to Wiccans, as well as simple tutorials to try out all kinds of magic. My copy is almost falling apart from overuse and it’s full of notes and scribblings too.

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Sleep Paralysis – My Experiences with Sleep Paralysis

sleep paralysis

Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is an experience that most of us have had at least once, though some people have it more often. It’s one of the most terrifying experiences you’ll have in your life, but, except in rare cases, it’s completely harmless. If you have other sleep problems as well as sleep paralysis, I would recommend you see your GP as you may have some form of narcolepsy, but otherwise you’re safe.

What is Sleep Paralysis?

Does this picture ring a bell?

sleep paralysis

It’s called ‘The Nightmare’ and it’s by Henry Fuseli. Usually said to be a picture of an incubus, demon or average nightmare, it actually describes the symptoms of sleep paralysis really well. St Patrick also used to suffer from it, but attributed it, like most historical cases of sleep paralysis, to demons.

Sleep paralysis happens when the mind wakes up before the body does. You will be paralyzed for a few minutes, usually feel something crushing your chest and if you’re unlucky enough to have opened your eyes, vivid and excruciating hallucinations.

Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis

Other symptoms include breathlessness and symptoms not unlike that of an out-of-body experience, falling out or up of your body, your limbs being lifted up or forced downwards. Hallucinations are, as always, tailored to the particular sufferer, but almost always include one or more of the following:

  • thinking you are being attacked by some sort of spirit/god/demon/etc – this happens less if you’re atheist, of course, I’ve also been convinced I was being strangled by a burglar before. I would imagine that’s the form they would take for a committed atheist, but your mileage may vary.
  • being utterly convinced you are going to die. Like, seriously, this is the worst.
  • something physical on your chest
  • being watched and tormented by something or someone, or sense that something is coming to get you and will get you before you can move.

In my case, they are almost always preceded by a series of lucid nightmares. Yep, lucid nightmares. I am acutely aware of what is happening to me, I can control my own actions, and I am aware that I am dreaming. No matter what I’ve done, I struggle to wake myself up, and I usually wake up to an episode of sleep paralysis. Next time it happens I’m gonna try calming down, because usually as soon I work out that I’m lucid, I panic, because I know what happens. I think I’ve tried this before to no avail, but here goes nothing.

What Not To Do During An Episode

  • panic. You will be able to move again, you can breathe even though it doesn’t feel like it. The knowledge that you’ve just gained about this being a normal and natural bodily function will make them less scary, I promise.
  • open your eyes. Do not open your eyes first thing, even though they will be the first thing you can move. In fact, I recommend you don’t open your eyes until you can physically get out of bed and put the light on.
  • go back to sleep. You must get out of bed, use the toilet or get a drink if you need to, and then do something to occupy your mind for at least half an hour. Or until you are no longer sleepy. I don’t know why, but after the paralysis ends you are mega sleepy, and if you go back to sleep you WILL have another episode. Get up.

How to Cope During an Episode

As well as the tips above, use these:

  • Concentrate on wiggling your toes and fingers FIRST. Not your eyes. As soon as you can move your fingers and feet you should feel the other symptoms recede.
  • Get out of bed and walk around.
  • Speak, as soon as you can. Doesn’t have to be loud, but I’m always frightened most by not being able to talk or scream during an episode.
  • If you’re struggling to move, try and kick your bedsheets off, but don’t panic if you get tangled. Work on sitting up and pulling off the bedsheets with your hands.

Preventing an Attack

  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
  • Somehow sleeping on your back causes attacks. Not sure why, just does.
  • Avoid lucid dreaming workings. What triggers attacks differs from person to person – there’s only one meditation/dreaming exercise that doesn’t set off attacks for me personally, and if at anytime I try and change a dream beyond the ‘ooh look I’m having a dream about my favourite TV show, wouldn’t it be cool if character A did this’, that will cause an episode.
  • There is a specific technique to cause lucid dreaming that I believe is called the WILD or WILDS technique that has been known to cause sleep paralysis in those that don’t normally get it, so steer clear of that.
  • In fact, any out of body techniques that you are meant to do when you are asleep, on the edge of sleep or lying on your bed when you might fall asleep whether you intend to or not, are best avoided.
  • Go to sleep at the same time each night if you can. Anything that can disturb sleep and not wake you up properly can cause sleep paralysis. Something as simple as having music instead of a beeping alarm can cause it for me – the music doesn’t startle me awake like the beeping, I just notice there being something ‘wrong’ in my sleeping environment and wake up wrong.

I hope this helps, if you have any questions, let me know and I will try and answer them.

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