Just because someone publishes it first, does not mean that they are the best.
It especially doesn't mean that they are right.
Let's take Dion Fortune for example: Just because she was one of the first to publish such things does not mean she was the best at it. I give her a lot of credit. I never worked with her personally, so I don't know how adept she was. By all accounts she was a gifted mage. That does not make her a gifted writer. I do think that Psychic Self Defense is annoying as written and not the best book on the subject. As a friend said: 'She published what needed to be out there at the time" and yes, times change as well as writing styles and acceptable topics of publication. I can only judge the book by today's standards and compare it to what is out there now. Today's esoteric writers might be all the better for Ms. Fortune's publications, and a great deal of thanks is due to her, but she is not the best writer on the subject and I think we can come up with several books which are better for today's student.
So what makes a book "good?" To me, it doesn't have to be "new" information, but it can't just be a rehashing of what's already out there. I don't want a book where someone had read a bunch and just summed up all of the resources for me- I'm not that lazy! I will go to the direct source myself! I want something that puts forth a new perspective on the information out there. Of course historical research is always helpful as is a modern adaptation of ancient practices, but so much out there is a rehash that I'm loathe to pick up new books at all.
I changed my mind, I'm not going to leave others out of it: I have a problem with the book Evolutionary Witchcraft because when I read it, all I could think was "This is Spiral Dance with some new poetry." It was just repackaged information and added nothing new to the body of work that was already out there. I'm glad it's helped so many people, but if I had to pick? I'll take Spiral Dance any day. Yes, that's just personal preference. Note my Dion Fortune example where I point out that things can be improved upon. I'm sure some people think it's a better rendition of Spiral Dance, but honestly, I don't think half the folks who picked it up ever heard of Spiral Dance. "Zomg I can't be expected to read something old that's not ancient! o0o0o0o!" I got tired of folks thinking ill of me for not liking this rehash. I don't think there is anything evolutionary about redoing a book I read almost 25 years ago.
What I really hate seeing in our community, as with the mundane community, is this obsession with the next big thing. Ten years ago, it was rare to hear mention made of Hekate and it was always as a "Dark" Goddess, one who was petitioned by Medea, and associated with cemeteries and curses - someone Witches would distance themselves from for fear of being called "evil." Today? Certain authors have somehow made Her palatable to the shiny-happy white-lighters. There are certain books and organizations around this Goddess which have popped up and, while I'm not one to claim to understand the intentions of the Gods, I hate seeing this powerful Titan of Magic stripped of Her power until there's nothing left but the happy shiny Mama Goddess. Seriously, how can you focus on ONE aspect of a Goddess to the complete neglect of the others? Argh! But because it became the flavor of the moment, hundreds of fluffer-nutters just glomped on to this idea. It (obviously) puts a bee in my bonnet because flavors of the month get left behind almost as quickly. Think Hecate will let you leave Her behind unless She's done with you? Can't wait to see the fallout. Grab the popcorn.
My opinions are large and my squirrly wrath can be intimidating (so I've been told) but what people don't often get is that my opinions can change and everything is open to debate. I welcome the bandying about of ideas and opinions, especially those which are in contrast to my own. If you have an opinion on what's written here, or in any of my other posts, please feel free to comment. We don't grow unless we are challenged. However, if you post something, be prepared to back it up with logic, anecdote and proper research or you will be eaten by the dragons which guard this blog :-D