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A Year of Pagan Prayer; A Sourcebook of Poems, Hymns, and Invocations from Four Thousand Years of Pagan History
by Barbara Nolan
One of the most common recommendations by coven leaders, Pagan elders and book authors for anyone wishing to deepen their spiritual and magical experience is to develop a meaningful personal devotional practice. Even if you already have Gods and Goddesses you worship regularly, this can be challenging. The most obvious devotional actions are prayer and offerings—which are best done with prayer. But that leaves you with the question of how to pray, which is not always as straightforward as it appears. For anyone who has stood awkwardly before an awe-inspiring image or manifestation of Deity and found themselves wishing to offer praise, wishing to ask for blessings, but unable to find suitable words, Barbara Nolan has given you a gift in A Year of Pagan Prayer. The book is composed of authentic historical and literary prayers from ancient Pagan cultures, translated into English. Organized around the calendar year, it can easily function as a grab-and-go prayerbook for a Wiccan, Pagan or general polytheist interested in all the cultures represented within its pages, or as an exceptionally rich source of beautiful hymns and prayers for reconstructionists.
She focuses on the cultures which most directly influenced the modern Neo-Pagan movement in Europe and the US, avoiding appropriating anything from Africa, East Asia, North or South America or any of the living polytheistic or indigenous religions. Because of its historical orientation, the subject matter is driven by the availability of source material. As a result, the majority of prayers included are either Greek or Roman. Nolan does also include Celtic, Norse and Middle Eastern deities, holidays and prayers, just not as many of them because there are simply fewer historical examples. Many of the Greek translations appear to be her own, and while they are not literal, they are lovely, true in spirit to the originals and making excellent prayers in English. She modernized several other translator’s words as well, smoothing what could have been archaic and awkward phrasing into beautiful poetry fit to offer to the Gods.