Sunday, March 05, 2006

Which Authors Do You Trust?

What (Pagan, religious, magical, etc.) authors do you trust, and why? Are there certain authors that you trust for some things, but not for others? Why?

The question occured to me as I'm trying to make up a personal mini-compendium of herb magic for myself, and am reading Scott Cunningham, cat yronwode, and a bunch of folklore texts, and doing lots of cross-referencing. I like Cunningham, overall, primarily because he gives me the sense of having done his homework, even if he doesn't seem to have understood all of it. He tends to report folk material fairly accurately, and to have good suggestions for implementing folk beliefs into something resembling a coherent everyday practice. But his *interpretations*, on the other hand -- oy. He has a few bees in his bonnet, and whenever he starts going on about what some bit of folklore "really" means, watch out: "hoodoo doctors may SAY they use graveyard dirt, but they REALLY mean mullein (because graveyard dirt is evil and We Do Not Do Evil!!"). That's why I think his books where he's primarily just collating information, like the Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, are his strongest -- they tend to be thorough and well-researched, and mostly free of his bad history etc. Cat Yronwode, on the other hand, is a top-notch scholar -- I trust her to accurately collect information, and to interpret that information in an intelligent manner backed up by good research -- so when I read her work on hoodoo, I'm confident that I can take her word for it.

What about everyone else?

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