An Exploration of Dark Paganism

The Book
Out of the Shadows

Discussion Board
Recommended Links
Recommended Books

Join the John J. Coughlin
News mailing list for updates
on the author and future books!


Recommended Books

Finding decent books on the topics of darkness and dark spirituality can be a frustrating task. Below are books I have personally found of interest in my reading. I do not necessarily always agree with the authors but I have indeed learned from them, which is really what matters.

You will also find that most books on the subject of dark spirituality are Satanic in origin. This is because Satanism is really the most common organized dark path where one can find people in a position to write a book on the topic. Concepts of "Dark Paganism" on the other hand, although it has existed mostly among solitary eclectic pagans, has only recently begun to gain in popularity enough to encourage people to write about it. Topics on the general imagery of darkness are even harder to come by and are often relegated to psychology and mythology. (This list is not in any specific order.)

Out of the Shadows: An Exploration of Dark Paganism and Magick, by John J. Coughlin
Of course I have to list MY book here.. it is the reason for this website! Seriously though, this book is the first exploration of darkness from a pagan point of view that I know of. I have seen others but they tend to try to stick to the less controversial aspects in fear of lack of sales. I decided to screw the sales factor for the sake of the subject. The book also includes a fresh approach to magick.

Uncle Setnakt's Essential Guide to the Left Hand Path, by Don Webb
This is truly one of my favorite books on the Left Hand Path. I intentionally did not read this until after I submitted my own book for publication so that I would be able to compare my thoughts with those contained in this book. As expected, many underlying concepts can be recognized, but I think Don Webb did an excellent job at demonstrating the nature of a Left Hand Path specifically, as opposed to Dark Paganism and other spiritualities. Keep in mind that this book was written from the viewpoint of modern Satanism, particularly that of the Temple of Set. As is common in Satanic texts, there is an heir of elitism which can often elude to the idea that other paths, while potentially fruitful, will eventually need to be shed to advance to the final stages of one's spiritual evolution. This may be true for those who find Satanism the ideal path, but should not discourage those who seek other paths.

Satanic Bible, by Anton Szandor LaVey
I remember in my youth purchasing this book more out of rebellion than for knowledge. Although I considered myself a novice Wiccan, much of what LaVey spoke of made sense. This book became an important stepping stone in my personal spiritual development by filling in the gaps that Wicca seemed to leave for me and began the journey towards what I would term dark spirituality. (I am sure others used this term, but often I would find my personal revelations matched the revelations of others, which I always found comforting.) Despite LaVey's antics in the media, and regardless of whether or not some of his work was plagiary, his books are still worth reading and very enlightening.

Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex, and Politics, by Starhawk
I generally recommend any of Starhawk's books since they are quite profound and very different from other books on Pagan spirituality. This book should specifically be of interest to darksiders. It explores the idea of the power from within mentality vs the power over mentality. This is very much akin to my own work in exploring spirituality by understanding its division of internal and external forms.

Dark Moon Mysteries, by Timothy Roderick
At first glance I thought this book would be very similar to mine since the author has a background in both a Wicca and psychology - as expected we both cover topics such as the shadow and magic. If you found my book too deep or heavy (or stuffy?) but still want to explore the imagery of darkness from a Wiccan standpont, then Dark Moon Mysteries would be a good place to start. Regardless, the author makes some very good points and insight into the craft.

Wiccan Warrior: Walking a Spiritual Path in a Sometimes Hostile World , by Kerr Cuhulain
I really enjoyed reading this book. The warrior path is another form of spirituality that falls under my definition of a dark path. It does not use imagery associated with darkness, but instead uses the archetype of the warrior. Any Wiccan wishing to reclaim Wicca for themselves and escape the trappings of the New Age or silly "craft politics" should read this book. Don't let the title scare you, this book is a must for all Wiccans seeking depth in their spirituality.

Embarking on the Way: A Guide to Western Taoism, by Solala Towler
Taoism??? Unless you read my book you are probably wondering how I can consider Taoism a "dark path." Most people insist that Taoism is balanced and I do not challenge that. Yes, Taoism is balanced, just as any other (healthy) path is balanced within itself. Taoism is very much a dark path when preconceived notions are put aside and the nature of the philosophy is examined. "Know the Yang, but hold to the Yin," is a very old and important saying in Taoism. This should serve as a reminder that "balance" does not necessarily mean "equal". This book is particularly of interest in that it presents the philosophy of Taoism from a Westerner's point of view and can be of great value to the novice and experienced alike.

C.G. Jung Lexicon: A Primer of Terms and Concepts, by Daryl Sharp
This is a handly reference when reading works of Jung and will make sense of many of his terms and concepts. What is nice is that this is strictly Jung so the definitions are based on Jung's work and not the elaboration of those who followed.

Vampires, Burial and Death: Folklore and Reality, by Paul Barber
Perhaps I should start by warning that this book is not for the weak of stomach! However, it is an extremely facinating book which follows the history of the folklore of the vampire from how it orinated to how it has evolved. It goes into detail on the putrification process of the human corpse which in itself was quite enlightening - albeit macabre.

(more to come...)