Unfortunately, there is no such thing as an unproblematic pagan author. Even the ones who seem like they’re doing things mostly right have their flaws.
Here are the ones to avoid, fullstop:
- Silver Ravenwolf – Conflates Wicca and witchcraft, claims only Wiccans are true witches, erases non-Wiccan witches and pagans, constant Christian-bashing, misinformation, false history, cultural appropriation, contradicts herself, hateful rhetoric, racism, history of attacking critics.
- D.J. Conway – HUGE problems with incorrect information about deities, questionable interpretations of historical events, also conflates Wicca and witchcraft.
- Raymond Buckland – Appropriates closed cultures, uses the g-slur to exoticize certain rituals and techniques, propagates false history (documentary on “The Burning Times” is utter rubbish).
- Edain McCoy – Yet more misinformation about deities and history (POTATO GODDESS!?), mostly where it applies to certain Celtic-associated personages and events. Tries to make EVERYTHING Irish, especially when it’s not.
- Catherine Yronwode – Racist, perpetual bully, claims LGBTQ+ teens should kill themselves and along with her husband has provided pamphlets and counseling to encourage this, known for attacking people online, threatens critics and pirates with death magic. Oh and she claims New Orleans voodoo is “fake” to bolster her own credibility.
- Christian Day – The problem here isn’t so much with his writing as with his personality. The man is a rape apologist and has harassed women on social media on numerous occasions after they’ve called him out for problematic statements, and has threatened other Salem practitioners over personal and business disputes.
Here’s what to look out for with the decent ones:
- Judika Illes – Supports Silver Ravenwolf, conflates voodoo and hoodoo, some cultural appropriation.
- Scott Cunningham – Outdated information (not his fault, he died in the early 1990s), incorrect correspondences, proponent of “The Burning Times” myth, incorrect history, conflates Wicca and witchcraft.
- Tess Whitehurst – Frequently quotes her own beliefs as fact without supporting evidence, conflation of deities and practices.
- Ellen Dugan – Vehemently against Christian witches, proponent of “The Burning Times” myth, sometimes conflates Wicca and witchcraft.
- S. Connelly – Conflates voodoo and hoodoo, cultural appropriation from both.
- Dorothy Morrison – Some cultural appropriation, conflates hoodoo and witchcraft.
- Anna Riva – Outdated information (1970s), some appropriation, conflation of voodoo and witchcraft, mild misuse of Christian terminology and rhetoric.
Keep in mind, this list is far from exhaustive, and there are plenty of authors that I have read and not seen problems with, but that may be because I’m not looking at it from the right angle.
For instance, everyone seems to have a problem with Kate West, but I’ve found her books to be helpful and informative and aside from the obvious Wiccan fingerprinting (which you’ll find in most modern pagan literature). And I’m sure someone is going to tell me in the notes of this post exactly what it is I’m missing.
The important thing with any witchy or pagan book is to read critically and use your brains. If something doesn’t make sense or doesn’t seem to jive with what you know about history or religion, look it up in a non-witchy book. Read up on history and religion from academical sources. Read up on botany and herbology. Build a practical knowledge base so that when you run across problematic statements, you know which way the wind is blowing…and more importantly, whether it smells like bullshit.
If I might add The Frosts to the problem list? Have discouraged homosexuals from becoming Wiccans, claim every source that Gardner founded Wicca is a lie (’ancient religion’), and unapologetically have rites that encourage incest and pedophilia.
You may indeed, thank you.
And how could I forget Kenny Klein! His work is unabashedly disgusting and encourages the sexualization of young girls. No wonder he was arrested for child pornography. That’s one to avoid altogether, my lovelies.
Try not to, anyway.