Jack's Reviews > The 21 Lessons of Merlyn: A Study in Druid Magic and Lore

The 21 Lessons of Merlyn by Douglas Monroe
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Nov 26, 2011

it was ok

It is a typical Llewellyn book: Not well-researched, edited or put together. Lots of recycled material (most of which is found in Buckland’s Complete Guide to Witchcraft) presented in quasi-fictional form of a conversation between the first-person author and Merlyn of the Arthurian legends. But wait, did I say most of the stuff came from Buckland’s book? Wouldn’t that make this a Wiccan book and not a Druidic resource? I would say yes.

Whereas this might be used as a reference of ideas for rituals and for pronunciation of Welsh, Scots Gaelic and Irish Gaelic words (though he even got many of THOSE wrong when I compared them with native speakers via the internet), but is of little use to eclectic pagans and those leaning toward Druidry otherwise. Not a recommended book to be given to anyone new to the path, but will probably be read by the new-age, airy-fairy druidic wannabe or your local World of Warcraft addict.

On the back cover of the book, Douglas Monroe makes the following “promises”:
You will…
- learn practical founding principles of authentic Druidism
- receive clear and detailed instruction in Druid Rituals only mentioned elsewhere in Celtic lore
- experience authentic Druidism based upon history rather than fantasy
- open doors to entirely new realms of perceptual experiences and insight
- if you dare, actually manipulate the very foundations of physical reality

When you stop laughing, I will cover the first through third items: The first two are patently and obviously false just by flipping through the book as each chapter of the book begins with a fictional conversation between Merlyn and his protégé’s as conceived by the author – which answers the third item.

Nowhere on the ADF or OBOD site will you find this book recommended. In fact, they will laugh at you if you tell them this book was the first one you read. Worse, there is a harsh critique of the book by Lisa Spangenberg, a noted Druid, researcher and blogger about Celtic and Medieval history. She provided a “guest review” by Ceisiwr Serith (“A Book Of Pagan Prayer”) to review the book. You can find that review here: http://digitalmedievalist.com/reviews/. There was another review by ADF founding member, Isaac Bonewits that basically calls this book “hogwash.” You can find THAT review here: http://www.neopagan.net/21-Lessons.html

At best, it may be an entertaining way to read Buckland’s book, but it has very little to do with actual Druidism. I didn’t find it on the ADF or OBOD “recommended reading” lists and, given what Bonewits had to say, you probably never will.
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