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Carmina Gadelica: Hymns and Incantations
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Carmina Gadelica: Hymns and Incantations

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  191 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Carmina Gadelica is the most complete anthology of Celtic oral tradition ever assembled. During his travels, Alexander Carmichael spent hours with peasants in their huts in front of peat fires listening as they "intoned in a low, recitative manner" these poems and prayers. This unique collection of living spirituality drawn from the depths of Celtic Christianity, represent ...more
Paperback, 688 pages
Published September 15th 1992 by Floris Books (first published 1992)
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John Daily Both. Spirituality changed throughout the Celtic nations as the result of the introduction of Christianity, in the form of Catholicism. Thus, Paganism…moreBoth. Spirituality changed throughout the Celtic nations as the result of the introduction of Christianity, in the form of Catholicism. Thus, Paganism and Christianity are both well represented here. If you're concerned about the Pagan content, none of it is truly offensive, and the Christian-centered content is strong enough that I use it regularly when putting together a monthly Celtic Vespers service. As these are ancient writings, you can easily search for the Carmina Gaedelica online and read some them for yourself before purchasing.(less)

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4.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  191 ratings  ·  11 reviews

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Ruth Ann
Oct 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book represents a small portion of the material that Carmichael collected. I marked this book as "read", but I must admit that I haven't read it cover-to-cover. I read sections of the book aloud to slow down my reading for meditative purposes and to try to more fully appreciate the oral origin of the verse.

Two contemporary books that I consider companion material are Power of Raven, Wisdom of Serpent by Noragh Jones and Every Earthly Blessing: Rediscovering the Celtic Tradition by Esther D
John Larson
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent and amazingly comprehensive overview of Celtic lore. I would consider this a must-have in the library of anyone wanting to see Celtic spirituality "in action," in the day-to-day concerns of people. The traditions are multi-faceted and fascinating.
Nancy Sayre
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This isn't a book you read as much as one you live with. I take prayers from it and add them to my daily meditations, they are that beautiful. I love the Celts, and their sense of spirit and the Trinity weaving through everyday life. Also, how can you not love a prayer for "smooring the fire." I am working with an author to publish his book on Celtic saints, and Carmina Gadelica was an indispensable resource . In fact, we found our title, 'A Staff to the Pilgrim' in a line of one of the prayers. ...more
Patrick Oden
Apr 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those intrerested in Celtic spirituality
Shelves: spirituality
The most complete collection of Celtic prayers, blessings and poetry you'll ever find. A tax man wandered through the highlands and islands of Scotland in the late 19th century and collected these from the people he met. Many if not most of these are put into print for the first time in history, though they likely reflect phrasing going back centuries. Smaller collections of Celtic prayers generally cull their selections from this bigger book, once a multi-volume, multi-lingual set now collected ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone with an interest in Gaelic literature
Shelves: owned
This book contains a wealth of Gaelic verse and prose (translated into English)collected by Alexander Carmichael over the second half of the 19th century. It contains a blend of pagan and Christian imagery steeped in the Gealic oral tradition.

Here is a link to the review I've just posted on

We owe a great debt to Mr Carmichael. Without his efforts it is possible that much of this largely oral traditional material would have been lost forever.
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A quintessential gathering of the myths, superstitions, folklore, prayers, hymns and magic of the Scots Gaelic people. Without Alexander Carmichael's research and travels much of this lore would have been long since lost and forgotten He did a great service in perserving their culture and managed to convey it in a very unbiased manner.
Chas Bayfield
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this back in 1989 and really enjoyed it. Some of the customs Carmichael writes about were dying even back in 1900. The poetry is beautiful and elemental although the explanations can be a little quaint. This book brings home the barbaric destruction of the post Celtic Christian church.
Avonlea Rose
Lovely selection of poetry, prayers, invocations, blessings and charms.

[Note: My review is not specific to this edition. I have read this online via Sacred Texts, which may be accessed here-]
Erin Thomas
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is nearly impossible to read from beginning to end. A collection of prayers, chants, and hymns written down from the oral Scottish Gaelic, I have found this volume to be of fare more value to eat, chew & digest piece-meal, meditate upon slowly, and enjoy each verse for its own sake.
Lilly Rose
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love this book. It's full of beautiful prayers and poems.
Alexandra Chauran
An amazing read that steeps you in the lore of Scotland. It feels like a perfect snapshot of history. I've read it several times.
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Alexander Archibald Carmichael (Gaelic: Alasdair Gilleasbaig MacGilleMhìcheil) was a Scottish exciseman, folklorist, antiquarian, and author. Between 1860 and his death Carmichael collected a vast amount of folklore, local traditions, natural history observations, antiquarian data, and material objects from people throughout the Scottish Highlands, particularly in the southern Outer Hebrides where ...more