Review: The Way of the Oracle by Diana L. Paxson
The Way of the Oracle, Recovering the Practices of the Past to Find Answers for Today
Author: Diana L. Paxson
Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
Pages: 274 pp
Diana Paxson is still one of my go to authors when it comes to runes. Taking up the Runes was informative and in my opinion one of the better books on the subject. Although I wish that Taking Up the Runes had been published without some of the rituals, the book does provide a good introduction to runes.
To be honest, however, I have never been a fan of Paxson’s works on oracular seidr. When I read Trance-Portation, I thought to myself, what is this? It seemed more like a manual for preparing for psychic work rather than anything to do with seidhr itself.
Although Trance-Portation came out first, in many ways The Way of the Oracle should be purchased and read before Trance-Portation as it will provide a foundation for later work. Paxson provides a great deal of explanation of the path, as well as enough evidence to show the importance of oracles and their place in society. The Way of the Oracle introduces the reader to oracular seidr and explains in depth what it is, covering it’s historical correspondences, its rituals, the types of questions people ask, and a complete guide to setting up an oracular session.
I think if you read this as a heathen, you are going to be disappointed. The book relies heavily on Celtic and Greek references and when it does use more heathen references they seem to be taken out of context or conveniently interpreted.
Despite this and the overly Wiccan tone of the book, Paxson does at least provide a full view of the oracular path making it very clear to readers that this is a unique path and not necessarily seidr. I wish that some author out there would actually go into seidhr more and provide more insight into it. I was hoping that The Way of the Oracle would do that, but felt it was more about oracular work. There are things in there that will not jive with many reconstructionists as Paxson relies too much on her own personal UPG. This was not a big deal, necessarily, but the book is obviously not written for scholars; it is written for those interested in learning about her methods.
In that regard, the book does well and for that reason alone I would give it a 4.5/5.5
Reprint from Eternal Haunted Summer, Spring Equinox 2013
Available within SA at R228.95 in ePub format or R243.00 in hardcopy from Kalahari.net