The most recommended books on paganism

Who picked these books? Meet our 28 experts.

28 authors created a book list connected to paganism, and here are their favorite paganism books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of paganism book?


A Severe Mercy

By Sheldon Vanauken,

Book cover of A Severe Mercy

Shandi Stevenson Author Of Worldchangers

From the list on Christian biographies to meet lifelong friends.

Who am I?

I have always been a voracious reader and was blessed with parents who filled my home with books, who read to me, and who exposed me to both true and fictional stories that expanded my heart and nourished my imagination. I grew up on Christian biographies, along with devouring history and novels. I was shaped, nourished, and strengthened by the stories of real men and women who lived lives that mattered, and who understood that God never puts His children in times, in places, or in circumstances where He cannot enable them to shine brightly, and where they cannot speak truth and compassion into the darkness.

Shandi's book list on Christian biographies to meet lifelong friends

Why did Shandi love this book?

The sheer, transcendent beauty of the language in this book would have made me love it even had I not found the story engaging, and the powerful, personal truth of the story it tells would have made me love it even if the prose had been awkward and lackluster.

The marriage of the language with the deeply personal story of a young American couple finding their way through love, marriage, and friendship to the love of Christ, and then facing the ultimate test of their young faith, will mark you forever. I will warn you that I finished the book in floods of tears!

By Sheldon Vanauken,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Severe Mercy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A heart-rending love story described by its author as “the spiritual autobiography of a love rather than of the lovers” about the author’s marriage and search for faith.


Vanauken chronicles the birth of a powerful pagan love borne out of the relationship he shares with his wife, Davy, and describes the growth of their relationship and the dreams that they share.

A beloved, profoundly moving account of the author's marriage, the couple's search for faith and friendship with C. S. Lewis, and a spiritual strength that sustained Vanauken after his wife's untimely death. Replete with 18 letters from C.S. Lewis,…

A World Full of Gods

By John Michael Greer,

Book cover of A World Full of Gods: An Inquiry into Polytheism

J.D. Foslan Author Of Loki's Saga: A Novel of the Norse Gods

From the list on Norse mythology and polytheism.

Who am I?

J.D. Foslan is the author of Loki’s Saga: A Novel of the Norse Gods and has been a practicing Polytheist and mystic for over a decade. The author’s other interests include the Frisian language spoken by roughly a half-million people in the Netherlands.

J.D.'s book list on Norse mythology and polytheism

Why did J.D. love this book?

We live in a society that allows for only two possibilities: that there exists either one God or no God at all. What C.S. Lewis did for Christianity, this book does for modern Polytheism. It’s an intelligent and thoughtful read that opens up the mind and heart to new spiritual possibilities.

By John Michael Greer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A World Full of Gods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this book John Michael Greer turns his attention to the intellectual underpinnings and superstructures of the Pagan and magical movements. Pagan religions have tended to be more concerned with practice that with theory and in a system that has no dogma - no legislated doctrine - that is as it should be. Yet as out movement grows and matures, it is inevitable that we will begin to think in a more abstract way about our models and systems. John Michael Greer has provided a primer on the kinds of ideas and themes that must be included in any discussion…

Daughter of the Reef

By Clare Coleman,

Book cover of Daughter of the Reef

Dan E. Feltham Author Of Under the Southern Cross

From the list on stories of the sea.

Who am I?

I learned to swim at age two; the oceans became my lifetime playpen, and sailboats my adult toys. I began to sail at age 14 and put away my soggy deck shoes at the age of 70. Now at age 88, I write about those adventures—stories of wartime Vietnam, aerial exploration in North Africa, the Persian Gulf, ports of Mexico, and racing or cruising sailboats to Hawaii, Fiji, Tahiti, New Zealand, Bermuda, Mexico, Panama, the Caribbean and stops along the way. Life-long friends, romance, islands, and every kind of ocean weather fill my memories. Climb aboard my pages at my website and sail through a portion of my life.

Dan's book list on stories of the sea

Why did Dan love this book?

I read this story while doing research for my own books about how life on islands like Tahiti used to be hundreds of years ago, prior to any contact with the Western World. The sea was master and anyone lucky enough to be cast ashore after a hurricane was blessed by the Gods—even a princess from a different coral island. Clare Coleman did years of research to write a series of three fascinating books that take you to the days before South Pacific discovery—of voyaging outrigger canoes, native taboos, pagan rituals, exotic dancing, and romance. The book is as good as any description of what Jacques Rousseau referred to as the culture of the ‘Noble Savage’.

This first of Coleman’s Ancient Tahiti series, continues with Sister of the Sun and Child of the Dawn, is perfect reading for anyone that loves island history, native lore, and adventure.

By Clare Coleman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Daughter of the Reef as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A chief’s daughter is storm-tossed onto the strange land of Tahiti in a novel that “shows that the ancient South Pacific can be a dangerous paradise” (Publishers Weekly).

In the first volume of the Ancient Tahiti series, Tepua, the daughter of a chief sails from her coral atoll home toward her planned, and ritually mandated, marriage. But she never reaches her destination because a violent storm damages her vessel and leaves her stranded on the shores of Tahiti, a land previously unknown to her. She is made unwelcome because of her foreignness and is victimized because of her weakness and…

Book cover of Pagan Celtic Britain

Sharon Paice MacLeod Author Of Celtic Cosmology and the Otherworld: Mythic Origins, Sovereignty and Liminality

From the list on authentic Celtic mythology, religion, and cosmology.

Who am I?

My passion for Celtic cultures, languages, and traditions comes from my family, where singing and storytelling were common. I worked as a singer and musician, and trained in Celtic Studies through Harvard University. That was an amazing experience, and research in Scotland and Ireland expanded my knowledge tremendously. I taught Celtic literature, mythology, and folklore at numerous colleges, and am Expert Contributor in Iron Age Pagan Celtic Religion for the Database of Religious History at the University of British Columbia, and invited Old Irish translator for the upcoming Global Medieval Sourcebook at Stanford University. I wake up every day excited to share the historical realities of these amazing cultures and beliefs!

Sharon's book list on authentic Celtic mythology, religion, and cosmology

Why did Sharon love this book?

This classic and unsurpassed study of iconography and literature pertaining to deities and various types of symbolism found in Celtic myth, I think has often been overlooked by students... as well as by enthusiasts, who inexplicably prefer trying to discern the veracities of topics related to Celtic paganism through online chat rooms, where many posts (including heated arguments and mind-boggling claims and posturing) rarely seem to culminate in any kind of helpful or accurate conclusions. And readers and seekers deserve better!

I would highly recommend that people step away from the phone, and pick up this book! So many of the questions that never seem to get answered on social media are both answered and clarified in this excellent work (which I use myself!). The chapters talk about a variety of gods and goddesses, and mythic themes (with examples from Britain, Ireland, Gaul, and the Continent) including horned gods, the…

By Anne Ross,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Pagan Celtic Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Although some aspects of pre-Roman and pre-Christian beliefs remain shrouded in mystery, the author of this comprehensive, profusely illustrated volume contends that neither the Roman invasion of Britain nor the coming of Christianity eliminated pagan religious practice. Dr Anne Ross, who speaks Gaelic and Welsh, writes from wide experience of living in Celtic speaking communities where she has traced vernacular tradition. She employs archaeological and anthropological evidence, as well as folklore, to provide broad insight into the early Celtic world. She begins by examining Celtic places of worship, the shrines and sanctuaries in which sacred objects were housed and from…

The Time of the Ghost

By Diana Wynne Jones,

Book cover of The Time of the Ghost

James Stoorie Author Of AfterWitch

From the list on supernaturally troubled teenagers.

Who am I?

As long as I can remember I have found the world a terrifying yet magical place. My first memories are of reading ghost stories, the best mirrors for my emotional experiences. As a teenager supernatural tales continued to inspire me and still do. Sometimes a starkly realistic approach can prove too dull or intrusive; far better to process or confront issues by presenting them as fantastical. When I return to these books, or discover similar stories, I listen hard to what they are trying to tell me. I won’t learn overnight for, as the villain in The Doll Maker states: “the life so short, the craft so long to learn.”

James' book list on supernaturally troubled teenagers

Why did James love this book?

“Perhaps if I ask myself questions, my memory will come back?” The story opens with a now grown-up girl returning to her childhood home, only to realise on route that she is a ghost. But why did she die so young? Her mission must be to go back in time and warn her younger self of impending danger, however when she reaches her destination she can’t remember which of four sisters she is, as they all seem annoying. And what exactly is the disaster she is trying to avert? Could it be related to the pagan rituals the sisters are conducting to Monigan, the creepy doll they keep in the garden shed? What do you think? A thoughtful timeslip tale about trying to make sense of your childhood self.

By Diana Wynne Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Time of the Ghost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Can a ghost from the future save a life in the past? A chilling tale of dark forces and revenge...

The ghost turns up one summer day, alone in a world she once knew, among people who were once her family. She knows she is one of four sisters, but which one? She can be sure of only one thing - that there's been an accident.
As she struggles to find her identity, she becomes aware of a malevolent force stirring around her. Something terrible is about to happen. One of the sisters will die - unless the ghost can…

The Last Rainbow

By Parke Godwin,

Book cover of The Last Rainbow

Jim Willis Author Of The Wizard in the Wood: A Tale of Magic, Mystery, and Meaning

From the list on magic, mystery, and meaning in 21st century lives.

Who am I?

I am an author, theologian, musician, historian, and college professor who has written more than twenty books about ancient and alternative history, religion in modern culture, and long-distance, meditative bicycling. My study of the past convinced me that modern life has, for far too many of us, grown one-dimensional. It lacks the magic and mystery that imbued the ancients with the deep and rich mythology which we inherited from them, but then allowed to grow dormant within our sheltered lives. Remembering their vision and experience is a key to restoring our own sense of self-worth and essence. Maybe we all need to meet a “Wizard in the Wood!”

Jim's book list on magic, mystery, and meaning in 21st century lives

Why did Jim love this book?

This is a novel about Saint Patrick and the end of an age of magic in Great Britain. What made St. Patrick so effective, spreading his faith where others failed? Might it be that he was first tutored by the mysterious “people of the hollow hills,” north of Hadrian’s Wall? When Patrick went to Ireland, was his brand of Christianity infused with a pagan spirituality based on the wisdom gleaned from Mother Earth herself? Did he combine two systems of religion into a faith that was universal in scope and effectiveness? Did that spirituality manage to make its way to America, long before the voyages of Columbus? And is that the Christianity we so need to recapture today?   

By Parke Godwin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Rainbow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Journeying to a pagan world of old magic in order to spread his religious beliefs, Padree, a passionate young priest, encounters the extraordinary Dorelei, the leader of the mystical Faerie folk, who teaches him about the earth and spirituality. Reprint.

The Wicker Man

By Robin Hardy, Anthony Shaffer,

Book cover of The Wicker Man

Stephanie Ellis Author Of The Five Turns of the Wheel

From the list on the dark delights of folk horror.

Who am I?

I grew up in an isolated rural pub in England. My love of folk horror was born of a strong nostalgia for that time and it has fed into both my writing and my reading. I understood isolation, small communities, the effect of strangers, as well as the sense of ‘otherness’ in the atmosphere of the countryside – the calm before the storm, the liminal twilight. It also meant that I could tell when a writer had captured the ‘essence’ of folk horror. When the author weaves a story between the landscape and man, blends traditions and mythology they take me to that place I know.

Stephanie's book list on the dark delights of folk horror

Why did Stephanie love this book?

I love the film The Wicker Man (released in 1973) and was delighted to discover this novelisation from its director and screenwriter.

Full of pagan religion and ritual sacrifice on remote Summerisle, it is wonderfully creepy. Nor is it a flat retelling of the film but an expansion of the character of poor Sergeant Howie. Set up by Lord Summerisle to be the May sacrifice, he is tormented and abused as he searches for a missing child and on film is shown as priggish and cold.

Yet in the book, he is brave, vulnerable, doggedly trying to do the right thing in the face of adversity. He also performs a touchingly heroic act at the end of the book even as he suffered - I admit to shedding a tear. 

By Robin Hardy, Anthony Shaffer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wicker Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1978, five years after the release of the classic horror film from which it is adapted, The Wicker Man by director Robin Hardy and screenwriter Anthony Shaffer, is a gripping horror classic.

A novelization of the haunting Anthony Shaffer script, which drew from David Pinner's Ritual, it is the tale of Highlands policeman, Police Sergeant Neil Howie, on the trail of a missing girl being lured to the remote Scottish island of Summerisle. As May Day approaches, strange, magical, shamanistic and erotic events erupt around him. He is convinced that the girl has been abducted for human…

Lithuania Ascending

By S. C. Rowell,

Book cover of Lithuania Ascending: A Pagan Empire Within East-Central Europe, 1295-1345

William L. Urban Author Of Teutonic Knights: A Military History

From the list on medieval Baltic history.

Who am I?

I became enthusiastic about the history of the Baltics when my dissertation advisor persuaded me to use my language training in German and Russian to test the American Frontier Theory in the Baltic region. None of the various theories were applicable, but I earned a Ph.D. anyway. Later I taught in Italy, Yugoslavia, Estonia, and the Czech Republic. I've written a number of books and won a Fulbright Hays grant, the Dr. Arthur Puksow Foundation prize, the Vitols Prize, and others. I retired in 2017 after fifty-one years of university and college teaching, but I would still be teaching if my hearing had not deteriorated to the point that I could not make out what shy students were saying. 

William's book list on medieval Baltic history

Why did William love this book?

This is a look at the evolving Lithuanian state at a key moment in its efforts to fight off western crusaders, expand to the east against Russians and south against Mongols, and accommodate its society and religious practices to its allies and subject peoples.

This was the era when the modern states of Belarus and Ukraine were forming under Lithuanian rule or protection. The cities of those regions, as well as the princes, were all Orthodox Christians, but they preferred being governed by tolerant pagans who lived among them than being heavily taxed by Muslim nomads who despised them.

In the decades to follow, Lithuanians would be deeply influenced by Polish culture and religious thought, so the conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1387 came as no surprise.

By S. C. Rowell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lithuania Ascending as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From 1250 to 1795 Lithuania covered a vast area of eastern and central Europe. Until 1387 the country was pagan. How this huge state came to expand, defend itself against western European crusaders and play a conspicuous part in European life are the main subjects of this book. Chapters are devoted to the types of sources used, to the religion of the ancient Balts (and the discovery of a pagan temple in Vilnius in the late 1980s), and to Lithuanian relations and wars with Poland and the Germans. Under Grand Duke Gediminas, Lithuania came to control more of Russia than…

A Lesson in Thorns

By Sierra Simone,

Book cover of A Lesson in Thorns

Felicia Davin Author Of Thornfruit

From the list on fantasy with polyamory.

Who am I?

I write fantasy romance, or romantic fantasy, and one of my favorite things this little genre niche can do is use its otherworldly setting to re-examine our preconceived notions of romantic relationships. Polyamory exists in the real world, of course, so surely it should also exist in worlds with hauntings, spells, magic-powered giant mecha, and gods who intervene in mortal fates. Here are some books I have loved that make polyamory a fundamental part of their fantasy worldbuilding.

Felicia's book list on fantasy with polyamory

Why did Felicia love this book?

This novel is the start of a mesmerizing series about being in love with two of your very dear childhood friends, or possibly five of your childhood friends, and feeling inexplicably compelled to return to the eerie ancient manor home where the six of you first spent the summer together. Rare books, dreams, pagan rituals, and a whole lot of sex—what’s not to love? This book really captures the dark, wintery, haunted, strangely out-of-time atmosphere of the house, and it’s extremely (t)horny, putting all of Sierra Simone’s incredible skill on display. This is the kind of complex, emotional writing I aspire to.

By Sierra Simone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Lesson in Thorns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Twelve years ago my mother disappeared into the fog-shrouded moors of Thornchapel.

I left her memory there, along with the others. Of my childhood friends, playing in the woods. Of the crumbling, magical world we found, and of the promises we made beneath the wild roses. I moved on, building a life as a librarian in America, far away from the remote manor where my mother was last seen alive.

And then the letter arrives.

A single word, in her handwriting, calling me back to England. Followed by a job offer I could never refuse, from a person I never…

In Her Own Words

By Brian P. Sowers,

Book cover of In Her Own Words: The Life and Poetry of Aelia Eudocia

Faith L. Justice Author Of Twilight Empress: A Novel of Imperial Rome

From the list on awesome women you’ve never heard of.

Who am I?

I’ve loved history since my grandfather told me tales about my ancestors and their exploits. I haunted libraries, reading up on whatever current era I had a passion for: Roman, medieval England, American Civil War, etc. but I was always disappointed that little or no space was given to women’s stories. They had to have existed or all those famous men wouldn’t have been born. It took some digging and a feminist revolution, but finally remarkable women’s lives began to surface in academia and I now turn their stories into popular fiction. I hope these recommendations help readers learn about awesome women who didn’t make it into the history books. Enjoy!

Faith's book list on awesome women you’ve never heard of

Why did Faith love this book?

I metaphorically danced on the rooftop when I discovered this book. Do you know how likely it is that writing from the wild fifth century comes down to us? Much less writing by a woman? It had to survive barbarian incursions, fires, floods, and ravenous insects as well as “curators” of collections who decide which books get kept and which get used as fuel for the hypocaust.

This one features Empress Aelia Eudocia. Born Athenais, she was a pagan poetess who married the Most Christian Emperor Theodosius II and is the titular Rebel Empress in the third of my Theodosian Women series. Sowers not only provides us with Eudocia’s words translated from Greek, but fills in the history and politics of her life. A real find!

By Brian P. Sowers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Her Own Words as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Her Own Words: The Life and Poetry of Aelia Eudocia is the first full-length study to examine Eudocia's writings as a unified whole and to situate them within their wider fifth-century literary, social, and religious contexts. Responsible for over 3,000 lines of extant poetry, Eudocia is one of the best-preserved ancient female poets. Because she wrote in a literary mode frequently suppressed by proto-orthodox (male) leaders, much of her poetry does not survive, and what does survive remains understudied and underappreciated. This book represents a detailed investigation into Eudocia's works: her epigraphic poem in honor of the therapeutic bath…