I have long been curious about Walpurgisnacht, the eve of May Day (Maitag in German) but there is little information available about it. It is much li...moreI have long been curious about Walpurgisnacht, the eve of May Day (Maitag in German) but there is little information available about it. It is much like Halloween if it was celebrated in spring. I was impressed, this book was surprisingly well researched for a New Age press book. The first portion gives us the history and origins of Walpurgisnacht, discusses witches in German folklore and holiday customs. The second part of the book has recipes, crafts and activities for the occasion. Many of them are simple & easy, including the materials needed, so it is quite family-friendly, as well as fun for adults who enjoy whimsy. All in all, Night of the Witches was fun & interesting, striking a good balance between background information & ideas for celebrating. (less)
This is the handbook for the beginning year-long training program for Ancient Order of Druids in America. I have read many books on Druidism and Celti...moreThis is the handbook for the beginning year-long training program for Ancient Order of Druids in America. I have read many books on Druidism and Celtic spirituality, so some of it was familiar but there was also some new things to learn from it.
John Michael Greer is part of Revival Druidry- an older tradition that is based more on philosophy and personal inspiration and less on history as contrasted with later Neo-Pagan Druid traditions. After introducing the Druid movement and its history, Greer explains 3 triads- groups of related concepts. The training consists of the Earth Path- connecting with nature and adopting a more eco-friendly lifestyle; the Sun Path- celebration of the solstices, equinoxes and four Celtic fire festivals, and the Moon Path- meditation.
The ceremonies in the Sun Path were shorter and simpler than I prefer. But I found both the information in the Earth and Moon Path sections to be quite useful. He described forms of meditation I'd not heard of before- like discursive, where you focus on a particular theme and see where that leads your thoughts.
This book would be of interest not only to those following Druidism (and Revival in particular) but any form of nature-based spirituality.(less)
The Druid Renaissance, retitled Rebirth of Druidry in this new edition is an anthology featuring essays from a variety of types of Druidry: Pagan, Chr...moreThe Druid Renaissance, retitled Rebirth of Druidry in this new edition is an anthology featuring essays from a variety of types of Druidry: Pagan, Christian, revival/philosophical, and neo-shamanic. The history of modern Druidism in both Europe and the U.S. is explained. Though I was familiar with U.S. druidism, and to some degree British, it was very interesting to learn about the emergence of Druid groups in continental Europe (France in particular) Another section was about ceremonies- both for holidays and life passages. I have read extensively on history and customs surrounding the solstices, equinoxes and 4 Celtic fire festivals, but these essays still had new things to teach me. One unique essay compared the 8 holidays with the symbols of the I Ching. Erynn Laurie and Mara Freeman discussed the connection of druid to nature and poetry, and nature imagery in mythology. They argued that druidism can help us overcome our modern alienation from nature. Those were among my favorite essays. Another essay (can't remember author) compares the history of Druidry and Witchcraft. One key point she demonstrates is that while Witches position themselves as being secretive, and alternative or oppositional to the dominant culture, including Christianity, Druids tend to be public and identify more with the establishment. They reconcile more with Christianity, at least in its Celtic-influenced varieties.
Some of the writers espoused beliefs & theories that I don't buy into such as ley lines and the idea that Jesus & Joseph of Arimathea journeyed to Britain. But I enjoy reading about different viewpoints, even those I disagree with.
All in all, Rebirth of Druidry serves as a good survey of different forms and aspects of Druidism, informative and insightful both for the curious seeker/beginner or the experienced Druid/Celtic Pagan. (less)
Sacred Cauldron is an excellent primer on Celtic Reconstructionist religion. (Regardless of whether the CR community thinks) Tadhg MacCrossan calls hi...moreSacred Cauldron is an excellent primer on Celtic Reconstructionist religion. (Regardless of whether the CR community thinks) Tadhg MacCrossan calls his tradition "Druidactos" focusing on Gaulish culture. There isn't much information on Gaulish polytheism, however so most of the book is based on Irish and Welsh mythology, history and folklore. I can tell it is very well researched, using many reputable sources I am familiar with such as "Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland & Wales" by the Rees brothers and "Gods of the Celts" by Miranda Green. On the down side- There were some assertions in the "Gods and Their Tales" chapter that I found questionable- so be a little careful with that. I thought his ritual set up (nemeton or grove) was overly complex- I think it is based on Vedic (Indian) ritual. He includes several useful appendices terms for ritual gear and other words in various languages including Proto-Indo-European. In general he is very big on comparing IE mythologies, but I think he tends to emphasize similarities over differences a little too much. We certainly can get many good ideas from other IE (and some non-IE) cultures, but we need to stay true to the Celtic spirit. Overall though, this is a well put together and very useful book for Celtic Pagans. I wish it would go back in print!
Though I have to say the marketing on the back is annoying "Secrets of the Druids Revealed!" That's typical Llewellyn, probably not the author's choice.(less)
After reading the Circle Within, I figured this one would be a good companion- while Circle is more focused on one's own spiritual practices, this one...moreAfter reading the Circle Within, I figured this one would be a good companion- while Circle is more focused on one's own spiritual practices, this one is also for starting a whole tradition, as for a coven, and thus would be good to read along with Amber K's Covencraft.
I thought this was an interesting and suspenseful read, but at the same time the writing quality seemed to be only so-so. The author is British and it...moreI thought this was an interesting and suspenseful read, but at the same time the writing quality seemed to be only so-so. The author is British and it is set in modern Britain. The premise is that Sylvie, a young girl who doesn't fit in, has become very ill. Her doctors believe that she has become ill due to her environment, and simply given up on life. One of the doctors, Hazel says if only you could go to Stonewylde, the isolated country community where she comes from. Sylvie and her mother investigate this and are welcomed into the community. It is a society that has preserved Pagan religion and old farming traditions and seems like a quaint utopia. But after a while Sylvie realizes that Stonewylde isn't so perfect- she wonders about the motivations of the Magus who rules it, and gets in trouble for breaking the class divisions by hanging out with a friend.
The problems I saw with it were, the characters were relatively flat, the set up seemed contrived that someone just conveniently mentioned Stonewylde, and they are let in so easily. That a community like that would go undisturbed and unknown for so long is not believable. It was somewhat reminiscent of the Wicker Man film, though not quite as dark.
For those who are still interested, (and are outside of Britain) since it's a small British press, you may need to either buy it at a New Age/Metaphysical/Pagan shop, or online.(less)
Been wanting this for a while- twas a Samhain present to myself. Turned out to be longer than I thought, and looks like Ian has a lot of great materia...moreBeen wanting this for a while- twas a Samhain present to myself. Turned out to be longer than I thought, and looks like Ian has a lot of great material here!(less)
The title refers to heroic virtue, rather than the conventional idea of Christian virtue. Myers' premise is that virtue originates from storytelling a...moreThe title refers to heroic virtue, rather than the conventional idea of Christian virtue. Myers' premise is that virtue originates from storytelling and hospitality. I thought this was an odd explanation. He traces the evolution of virtue from the heroic era of Homer and the Eddas, to classical Greece & Rome, Renaissance humanism, and its expression today in Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. He points out that even as what virtues were emphasized changed, common themes tie them all together. (less)
So far- Reif has done a lot of great research on Demeter, Persephone and the Eleusinian mysteries and put together some lovely rituals, prayers and ot...moreSo far- Reif has done a lot of great research on Demeter, Persephone and the Eleusinian mysteries and put together some lovely rituals, prayers and other resources. However, I do not buy her argument that rape (abduction) was not a part of the original myth of Persephone. It's possible maybe it wasn't but it is in the oldest surviving form we have- the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. She bases her argument on the Orphic literature which makes no sense considering they were a much later sect. I think her feminist revisionism is distorting her view & presentation of ancient history and religion. Mythology is not always politically correct- sorry that's the way it is!
(And I say this as a feminist myself- I just believe in being honest about history.)(less)