- January 15, 2020 at 9:12 pm #7922
This forum is a bit quiet, so I thought it might be a nice idea to post q thread some books I’ve read or have been reading recently in relation to what we’re all here for! 🙂
The Druids: Celtic Priests of Nature (1999)
Personal view: An interesting read. The late Markale did come in for some criticism in his time about his work and I must admit that I did find some of his ideas in this book very “far out”, but he does offer some interesting alternative views to be considered.
How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics (2001)
Personal view: I wouldn’t call this “light reading”, it gets very technical at times, but for a language geek like me and someone interested in the origins, or what I call “deep meanings” of words, it makes fascinating reading. The sections on (Old) Irish and Welsh bardic language were very interesting.
Celtic Myth and Religion: A Study of Traditional Belief, with Newly Translated Prayers, Poems and Songs (2011)
Sharon Paice Macleod
Personal view: I think the strong point of this book is the amount of attention given to folk song and music, the part which I enjoyed the most.
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976) Edition (2000)
Personal view: This is that kind of book that you can’t put down, but even after you’ve read it, you feel that you have to read it all over again! I thoroughly enjoyed it. The main thesis has courted controversy in the academic world, but what doesn’t? Again, the ideas about language and the development of mythological language were fascinating.
Les émotions cachées des plantes (2020)
Didier Van Cauwelaert
Personal view: There doesn’t seem to be an English translation (yet), but for anyone who can get by in French or Italian, the book is available in those languages. If you can get hold of a copy, I’d recommend it. It certainly does make you think of the world of plants and nature as a whole in a different way.
Anyway, those are some personal recommendations and comments.
Over to you!
/|\February 4, 2020 at 12:11 pm #8449
Thank you Dowrgi. This is a fascinating list. I possess many books but tend to be a slow reader. Here are some that I have found particularly useful.
Ogham Sketch Book by Karen Cater Hedingham Fair 2011
Lavishily illustrated in full colour. Fascinating to look at. Connects with the trees and the Ogham, which is really an Ovate study but I like jumping ahead. The trees are tied in to the wheel of the year. Each tree gets its own chapter.There are many correspondences given. There are stories and folklore. Sometimes this connects with Norse Mythology, such as the Ash which connects with Odin, Yggdrasil and Odin’s acquistion of the runes. Celtic lore and Welsh lore are covered too. There are charms, medicine and recipes. There are songs and poems. You are given lots of advice on things to do. There are close descriptions of trees and plants. You get drawings so you will recognise everything that you see. The glossaries are very good. Beautiful and essential reading.
The Bardic Handbook by Kevan Marnwaring Gothic Image Publications 2006
There is a tremendous amount of information here, more than I can describe. It is somewhat based around Bath. There are many illustrations throughout which makes the book feel extremely lively. It is really designed to be a complete course in itself. There are lessons and self evaluation tests. You are supposed to work through the lessons and progress in stages. Bardism is described in great detail, the book goes through every level, every grade. Soem of the pictures are extremely meaningful, loaded with symbolism. You will learn a lot about paganism and Celtic beliefs and culture. Music, storytelling, poetry and history are covered at length. The elements are all covered. As you progress, you work naturally through the wheel of the year and the seasons. This book is astonishing, it will teach you so much. Are there any books which go into the Ovate and Druid grades in this way, if only there were or are I would certainly want to know a lot more about those. For anyone serious about bardism this book is essential. There is so much knowledge in here, there are things which I did not see in the booklets even, which was surprising as you know how deep they are. This books covers knowledge which you will not find anywhere else. Essential reading.
The Path of Druidry by Penny Billington Llewellyn 2017
Penny Billington is the editor of Touchstone magazine. This book is like a condensed course on Druidry. It attempts to provide definition for what Druidry is. There are meditation exercise in each chapter. The Mabinogion is used a lot, with a story in each chapter.Firsthand practical experience and engaging with nature in person are emphasised. The elements are covered, this was one section which I found to be a little short as it really needs more on it, for example Kevan Manwaring makes this aspect central to his book which I feel it really should be. The wheel of the year is covered, animals are introduced as teachers and totems. The Celts are covered in another very brief chapter, this is my main problem with this book it is a great overview and very insightful but sometimes seems like an introduction rather than going all the way. Stones and stars and the zodiac are covered. Penny then goes into each of the three grades. For me this was a very exciting revelation, I really wanted a road map to see how Druidry might progress and I really wanted some idea of what the Ovate and Druid grades entail, Penny goes into this and this was something which I felt very grateful for. You will get a better view of what Druidry is like as a path when you see how it all flows. The real world is covered in the final chapter. Overall, this is a very good book. It brings everything together, but as I said earlier it can feel a little terse, a little brief, and it could go on for much longer.
The Writers and Artists Yearbook 2020
If you are serious about art or writing this book may well change your life. Obviously you need to have talent in the first place, and effort, and dedication, but if you do then this book will tell you how to get seen by other people. This book is about making awen manifest in the physical realm of the real world.
Pagan Portals Moon Books
Very short and very condensed, this have proven to be very revealing reading. Particular favourites include all of their books about Druidry in general, as well as some of the books about specific deities; the Dagda is a particular favourite of mine. More topical would be the book on Brigid. I really liked the book on the Morrigan. One day I must get around to reading about the Cailleach. I would like to see some other books, such as Celtic gods and goddesses (I think there is something on the Irish ones?), Celtic mythology, and specific books on some gods and goddesses which I don’t think have been written yet. On the subject of Odin or Woden and Thor, which are mentioned in the course, Morgan Daimler (their most prolific author) has written about them, the book on odin is recommended and the forthcoming book on Thor, which should be out in March which is not long now, taught me a few things even in the Amazon preview. They have books on Rhiannon and Mannan Mac Lirr among other deities, but some really ought to be covered one day in the future.February 4, 2020 at 12:31 pm #8453
Nice work David. Thanks for taking the time to write all of this out.
/|\April 23, 2020 at 2:26 pm #10283
I thought it might be about time to add a couple of tomes to the bookshelf.
The Celtic Heroic Age: Literary Sources for Ancient Celtic Europe & Early Ireland & Wales
John T. Koch & John Carey, Celtic Studies Publications (4 Edition: 2013)
Personal view: a great resource book with a vast range of materials from across the Celtic-speaking areas. It contains interesting notes/explanations and has a lot of materials that might be hard to find outside very academic collections. I’d thoroughly recommend it.
Sioned Davies, Oxford World’s Classics (2008)
Personal view: the translation is very readable and not couched in archaic language, so it feels modern without losing its medieval “flavour” or compromising its character. The detailed notes and explanations are of great help to non-Welsh speakers and provide much greater insight into the tales and their mythos.April 25, 2020 at 7:14 pm #10378
I am glad you suggested this Dowrgi, I actually own the Oxford World Classics edition of the Mabinogion it is sitting on my desk right next to me right now. I have read this, it was quite interesting. I was surprised that the tale of Cerridwen and Taliesin was not in it, but that is in The Poem Of Taliesin and not in here. I enjoyed reading the minor Arthurian tales, they are different from the stories that most of us know. I noticed an occasional mention of God in some of the stories, sometimes a character will swear in his name I am guessing that this is some kind of Christian influence which has crept in during translation. Arthur as I recall does not play a really major part here though.April 26, 2020 at 8:07 am #10383
You’ve raised some interesting questions.
A great deal of what we recognise as Arthurian derives from later medieval invention in the French-speaking and Anglo-Norman literary worlds, that is to say they don’t really appear in the early British/Welsh material even though they draw on that older lore. You could say that this Arthurian tradition starts with Geoffrey of Monmouth – a person who was described by William of Newburgh as an “impostor with a love of lying”! Poor old Geoffrey!
As for the Christian influence creeping in … I suppose we have to acknowledge that these tales were written down in medieval, Christian Wales and storytellers, as always, would have used the language and mannerisms of the times so that their audiences might relate to them. Although these stories draw on older folklore, mythology and legend, in many senses they are also very much about the world in which they were written, i.e. the Christian medieval courts of the Welsh kingdoms. In addition, material that has been handed down from generation to generation can also be eclectic – conserving very archaic material, later additions and contemporary issues all being reworked and retold to suit their audiences. If you think about it, modern cinema does this all the time. I suppose this now leads us to the question as to what a myth really is and what purpose it serves – reading beneath the surface.
/|\May 1, 2020 at 9:27 am #10475
Peter Berresford Ellis is a very strong writer, I would recommend his work. Ronald Hutton of course, that goes without saying. John and Caitlin Matthews have also written some very good books.May 1, 2020 at 9:43 am #10477
I’ve read some of Peter Berresford Ellis’s works on modern Celtic issues. He’s a strong writer and very honest about his position too, which is a good thing.
You should try finding some of the late Jean Markale’s works. Markale was French writer of Breton ancestry whose works are available in English and worth a read. However, I do feel obliged to state that Markale’s books are/were not without controversy and fierce criticism, nonetheless, if you approach them with an open mind and don’t ever take his word for it, but think about his ideas, i.e. the food-for-thought approach, I think they can be very rewarding and insightful. Some of his ideas do seem a bit far out at times, but I think it’s good that they’re there to be considered.
/|\May 10, 2020 at 2:16 pm #10572
David Poole provided a list of books and articles written by Greywolf and Bobcat, in conjunction with some others, which might be a useful reference to have here. If anyone spots any mistakes, please point them out.
Druidry: A Practical and Inspirational Guide, Philip Shallcrass, Piatkus, (2000).
Druidry: Rekindling the Sacred Fire, Philip Shallcrass (with Emma Restall Orr and others), BDO, (1996); revised editions 1999, 2002.
A Catalogue of Occult Books, Philip Shallcrass, MRG, Hastings, (1978).
A Druid Directory: A Guide to Druidry and Druid Orders, Philip Shallcrass, BDO (1995); with revised editions 1997, 2001 (with Emma Restall Orr).
The Passing of the Year: A Collection of Songs and Poems, Spells and Invocations, Philip Shallcrass, BDO, (1997); reprinted 1999, 2001.
The Story of Taliesin, Philip Shallcrass, BDO, (1997).
Principles of Druidry, Emma Restall Orr, Thorsons, (1998).
Living Druidry, Emma Restall Orr, Piatkus, (2004).
Spirits of the Sacred Grove (Thorsons, 1998) (reprinted (2001) as Druid Priestess).
The Remembering Soul: A Collection of Songs and Poems, Spells and Invocations, BDO (2001).
Paganism Today, edited by Graham Harvey & Charlotte Hardman, Thorsons, (1995) reprinted as Pagan Pathways, Thorsons, (2000).
The Druid Renaissance, edited by Philip Carr-Gomm, Thorsons, 1996, reprinted as The Rebirth of Druidry, Element, (2003).
Talking Stick Magickal Journal, Issue I Vol.II, Talking Stick Publications, (1996).
The Encyclopaedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism, edited by Shelley Rabinovitch and James Lewis, Citadel Press, New York, (2002).
The Druids’ Voice: The Magazine of Contemporary Druidry, BDO, (1992-date)
Tooth & Claw: Journal of the British Druid Order, BDO, (1995-date).May 11, 2020 at 3:50 pm #10590
One or two of these publications may be difficult to get hold of, especially the older books. Likewise with The Druid’s Voice. I have only ever seen one of these and that was back in the 90s! Tooth and Claw similarly, apart from Issue No. 18 which is still available from the Order’s store. Please check it out.May 18, 2020 at 4:30 am #10686Anonymous
The main thesis has courted controversy in the academic world, but what doesn’t?
There is more to being a druid than the academic world, Maybe you should start with the early stuff of myth
and read that first.
but for a language geek like me and someone interested in the origins
Yeah, it kind of sounds like you are a language geek, be sure you don’t bite the head off too many chickens.
Do you even know what the akashic planes are? Not everything can be found in academic books. Here is a definition you
can find in a book language geek
Learn to pronounce
noun: geek; plural noun: geeks
an unfashionable or socially inept person.
and obsessive enthusiast.
a performer at a carnival or circus whose show consists of bizarre or grotesque acts.
and I must admit that I did find some of his ideas in this book very “far out
I am sure Jean knows some stuff about being a druid, and Jean was not far out.May 18, 2020 at 9:49 am #10698
Well, an old definition of a “geek” is a fool, so a Hermetic way of looking at would be that we all go through our journey or path in life as the innocent fool.
As for akashic records, I believe the term was coined by that interesting character Madame Blavatsky in the late 19th/early 20th century. Very interesting stuff, but I’m not sure how it gels with traditional Celtic beliefs and Medieval Irish, Welsh mythology.
/|\May 31, 2020 at 5:40 pm #10891
Pagan Portals The Morrigan: Meeting the Great Queens by Morgan Daimler, Moon Books 12th December 2014 ISBN
Following a recommendation from Dowrgi, here is a highly recommended book with plenty of lore in it. This was one of the first maybe the first book that I have ever bought which focuses on a specific deity, in this case a well known Irish goddess who I have heard referred to as the Crow of War. She is actually a threefold or triple goddess. Her three main names are Morrigu, the goddess of battle; Macha, the goddess of sovereignty; and Badb, the goddess of prophecy. From the second of those names, you might guess that there could be a connection with Rigantona or possibly with Rhiannon. The name Morrigan is taken to mean nightmare queen or phantom queen. Looking at the second part of her name, Rigan, we get queen or noble lady, but the interpretations of her name lead to darker and murkier interpretations that go beyond the role of being a leader. Bear in mind that the ancient Irish might well have had a different interpretation of what war meant than we would do today. Cattle raids were extremely significant at that time. The Morrigan is significant within the context of the Tuatha De Danann. She is often known to take the shape of a crow or a raven but can also take on several other forms. Ravens and crows both belong to the same family, corvids. Ravens are connected to both battle and prophecy and are a powerful omen, sometimes for good sometimes for ill; likewise with crows. Wolves were important to both the Celts and the Neolithic people. They are connected to warriors, outlaws and shapeshifting. Some Celtic tribes believed that they were descended from wolves. They were also associated with night time and the underworld. Eels are a native species in Ireland whereas snakes are not. Possibly the two different species have become somewhat confused within the context of Irish mythology. The Morrigan offered success in battle to both the Dagda and Cu Chulain. While the Dagda readily agreed to sleep with the Morrigan Cu Chulain turned her down; there then followed a very long and complicated series of encounters. Macha is connected to crows, cattle, pastures and fields. Badb has a number of connections with the crow. She can appear as a withered hag or a seductive young woman. The appearance as a crow is a significant and repeating theme, as is the importance of cows. This seems to signal a distinction between two very different roles, that of a provider with that of a warrior. Reading the descriptions of the Morrigan, I also learned much about Irish mythology, such as the Book of Invasions, and about the Tuatha De and various deities within that pantheon or group. I think that that has helped me to understand this particular strand of lore far better than I had done before, without the need to read through all of the stories or attempt to track down different books I was provided with what I needed to know all in one place. I think that this book was really the start of my serious investigation into the Tuatha De; I have since become aware of a number of other deities from this source. Whatever inspired Morgan Daimler to write this book, she is going back for more – there will be a sequel, Raven Goddess, in which she will go into the subject in even greater depth, this is due around 1st October 2020 all being well.June 1, 2020 at 10:16 am #10915
The Ruins of Earth edited by Thomas M Disch Arrow 7th April 1975 ISBN 978-0099094401
‘Man is at last waking up to the terrible damage he is inflicting on his environment. The various routes to disaster have already been charted. But the damage still goes on. This collection of stories by leading science-fiction writers – each committed to a human vision of society – attempts to take the ecological inquiry one stage further. To indicate why we are destroying our world – and what the possible consequences for us all may be.’
Partly inspired by GreyFalcon’s current short story about Duncan the Druid. I remember picking up an old secondhand copy of this quite at random back in the 70s, when secondhand bookshops selling cheap science fiction paperbacks were much more common. I particularly remember one story about a family eating petrol because their food had run out. Another story that I remember really well is by Harry Harrison and would later go on to form part of his novel Make Room, Make Room which became the brilliant film Soylent Green, a true dystopian nightmare. Apparently there are even more horrific stories including a world covered in smog and another where people band together to hunt and kill other people’s dogs, which sounds even worse although I don’t recall that one. The theme of the collection is environmental disaster, which makes it even more relevant today. They were written before the middle of the 70s and well before global warming, fracking or the Amazon rainforests became major issues. There are a variety of authors, some of the more recognisable include Philip K. Dick, Thomas M. Disch, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Gene Wolfe, R.A. Lafferty, George Alec Effinger, J.G. Ballard and Fritz Leiber. The cover presents a fantastic and unforgettable image of the Earth cracking apart like a broken egg shell. I was really into New Wave science fiction at the time, and liked to read Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds collections and books, as well as J.G. Ballard, his work still remains some of my favourite sci fi. This is after I sued to read John Wyndham during childhood. Thomas M Disch was a prolific writer in himself; his short story for New Worlds, The Squirrel Cage, is brilliant, as is his collection Under Compulsion. I have not really read many of hos novels, although I do remember Camp Concentration and Echo Round His Bones.June 1, 2020 at 11:30 am #10917
Nice work David and an impressive selection of authors.
A book that I’d recommend, dealing with issues of our relationship with nature and the environment, would be the English translation of Les Fourmis (1991), Empire of the Ants, by Bernard Werber. It is the first in a trilogy of science fiction books focusing on ants. The others are Le Jour des fourmis (1992), The Day of the Ants, and La Révolution des fourmis (1996), The Revolution of the Ants. If you can get a hold of these, there well worth reading.
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