Review: The Way of the Horned God

The Way of the Horned God by Dancing Rabbit is one of those rare neopagan books dedicated to young men and their study of the Craft and the God and Goddess.
 
About the Author:
Dancing Rabbit was born in the small mill town of Crossett, Arkansas in 1952. He holds a masters degree in education and his taught in private and public schools for 23 years. He began learning about Paganism at the Southwest Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute in 1993 and is the co-founder of Rhythm of Life CUUPS. He is a member of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston where he has taught both Our Whole Life and Coming of Age. He has written several articles on experiential education but Way of the Horned God is his first book. He lives in Houston, Texas with his wife Cindy and his three basenjis; Bell, Ra and Shango.
 
Behind the Book:
In modern witchcraft circles the dichotomy between the Goddess and the God can be somewhat obscured. While the Craft will in the main always be Goddess-centered there is no reason to assume that the God is, at worst, simply for show and at best, subservient to the Goddess. Such simplistic views tend to play-out in the daily lives a lot of neopagan witches where there can seem to be a women-only mindset and men should be grateful for their position in the Craft. To those that have worked in the Craft (either solitary or in a group) they know such assumptions are simply not true. So if the Craft can recognise the role of men in connecting with the Goddess why not the God? From this point I’ve only encountered Dancing Rabbit’s work as an author which to be honest has been long awaited.
 
About the Book:
The Way of the Horned God is a recommendable read for any young man coming to the Craft. Presented as a guide to young men the book is quite successful in presenting a suitable template for those precious few steps into the Craft and paganism. The Craft provides a strong and empowered feminist voice for all practitioners for all sexualities and genders yet Dancing Rabbit’s book provides a relatively coherent voice for young men and older men looking to help their spiritual relationship to the Divine without having to compromise on their own experiences.
 
The Way of the Horned God follows along the classic and well known duotheistic paradigm of the Triple Goddess and the Horned God which helps to frame or structure the person’s path. Dancing Rabbit balances out the synthetic mythologies of modern paganism with well researched material and presents it in such a manner as to not overwhelm the reader. As well as looking at myths and the importance of mythology the book also offers helpful methods of identifying and exploring the concept of personal ethics and pagan ethics for young adults and men interested in exploring what Paganism has to offer.
 
Many modern-day seekers, myself included, often come looking for the perfect sacred space or ritual circle because a lot of the existing literature tends to be written for older generations and people in the bosom of a working group or coven, as many readers will attest to this ideal is far from always achievable even for the most experienced of witches or pagans. So with this in mind Dancing Rabbit explores what ideas or concepts lie behind “Sacred Space”. Learning to work with nature and in nature is a simple exercise that Dancing Rabbit uses to great effect as it remains a constant throughout the work of magic and paganism. For those who are students and juggling mundane studies and magical learning this is often a stickler as getting outside can be awkward but fear not as Dancing Rabbit uses every ounce of his 23 years in education as he offers friendly and non-threatening tips for dedicating space inside the bedroom. Little reinforcement on this point: many longstanding covens and groves and family traditions have an emphasis on cleaning for new students not just because the group needs a dog’s body but because cleaning is as much a facet of cleansing as grabbing a sage brush wafting around the smoke with a feather or ragwort and asperging!
 
Part of being within the modern Craft movement and being pagan is the veneration of the Earth as well as respect for the feminine yet sometimes this can come at a cost to those who are male or male-identitfied as femininity is far more than the sex one is born as but also the gender of one’s culture. Such issues have been within the Global Pagan Community for a long time now but with Dancing Rabbit’s book he takes a gander at such expressions of paganism as clothing and jewelry as well as selecting a magickal name. The latter two are as Dancing Rabbit notes (33) often dominated by the marketability towards women and young teenage girls, so what are men and young boys to do? He offers some suggestions around this but alas until the industry behind this element of modern paganism develops there’s little to be done but in terms of forging a sincere connection to the mythologies and pagan path selecting jewelry and clothing can have more thought and focus behind it.
 
What many readers may be wondering about is the nitty-gritty of pagan practice and magic. Dancing Rabbit obliges us by including some simple but effect rituals for Full Moon Esbats as well as templates for Sabbats as well. Mixed with other tips for shamanic-style camping trips where possible can help hugely.
 
Rating:
On the “Abhainn-Rating” scale this book, being so refreshing and open to all styles of readership and personal development would certainly rank high. I would certainly recommend it to any young seeker looking at a practical and friendly approach to Paganism.
 
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