- June 11, 2020 at 8:50 am #11072
On Greywolf’s recommendation (in the main forum), two more books that may be interesting and useful:
The Other Side of Virtue: Where our virtues really come from, what they really mean, and where they might be taking us, Brendan Myers, O Books (2008)
The Earth, The Gods and the Soul: A History of Pagan Philosophy from the Iron Age to the 21st Century, Brendan Myers, Moon Books (2013)June 12, 2020 at 3:44 pm #11098
I have just finished reading two new books, Manannan Mac Lir, Celtic God of Wave and Wonder and Irish Paganism, both by Morgan Daimler. They can be found at Moon Books the first is ISBN 978 1 78535 810 4 2018 while the second is ISBN 978 1 78535 145 7 2015 The book on Irish Paganism is extremely strong as a read into modern forms and variations on paganism. Reconstructionism is tackled as a major topic. Arguably this is what most if not all of us are doing. This approach can be applied to any pagan path, but certainly to Irish paganism. This approach involves a lot of study of its related history. There are certain issues arising here. The pagan Irish apparently wrote nothing about themselves but were written about by Christian sources, meaning that the filters of a completely different faith have been applied. There is variation in the reliability of sources, and then language itself is a barrier as translations may provide a different interpretation than the original texts. Does this mean that anyone studying Irish paganism has to learn Gaelic, it seems as if Daimler is recommending this although I don’t think that she expects it. The subject of unverified personal gnosis then turns up. Are we allowed to apply our own experiences and interpretations to a path, or does this distort a path? Obviously allowing personal interpretation is ripe for misunderstanding or even deliberate abuse, so this is something which really needs to be thought about carefully. Daimler describes Irish Reconstructionist Polytheism as polytheist and animist. There follows a long section introducing the Tuatha De, which is something which readers may find to be very helpful. Worship of the fairies and the land spirits is very important within Irish reconstructionism. Daimler discusses immortality of the soul and cosmology. Apparently there is no creation myth within Irish mythology. Ritual comes next, Daimler goes into some traditional forms of offering and emphasises that one should know what one is doing and why one is doing it in order to maintain fidelity to the Irish way of doing things. She goes through the eight festival days in an interesting way which I have never seen before which was really helpful in providing background and context; I understood the traditional festivals much more clearly after reading this, and maybe you will too. Rosc is raised as a traditional form of magic, this is a rhetorical composition or chany which may be accompanied by certain actions such as the crane posture, standing on one leg with one arm behind you back while keeping one eye closed, known as the corrguineacht and is compared to the form held by the Fomorians. Rosc are spoken in the present tense and depend upon the speaker’s personal power rather than appeals to higher forces. Amergin’s Invocation of Ireland and Mogh Ruith’s Magic Stone are examples of this, and rosc is compared with the Song of Amergin which also uses the principle of personal power. Cursing by contrast can be used to force people to change shape, something which we also see in Welsh mythology. Daimler recommends double checking in order to verify personal experiences as a response to the problem of personal gnosis. The closing chapters go into race, cultural appropriation and sexuality. Daimler recommends that we understand the background to what we are trying to do and take care that our practices have justification and are done in the right way, but does not say that Irish paganism is limited to people of an Irish background, the subject of cultural borrowing is also raised. Cu Chulain is described as having a homosexual relationship in the first instance. I was surprised earlier on to find that Cu Chulain is venerated during March and is considered to be a god, which some may consider to be euhemerisation. For purposes of further study there is a list of books for Irish polytheists and mythical texts in both English and Irish to help with the language barrier. The book on Manannan goes into this deity in revealing depth. Apparently Manawydan is the Welsh equivalent. Manannan was not considered to be one of the Tuatha De but was connected with them. Manannan’s appearance is described in detail and so is his family and his connection to the Isle of Man. Daimler goes carefully through Manannan’s appearances within a variety of classical texts, I left this read knowing more about those texts than I had before and with some interesting suggestions for further reading. Manannan and Manawydan’s stories appear to be somewhat different. Manannan possesses a number of magical items with different powers. He fulfils a number of different roles covering the sea, obviously, but also magic, the sidhe, trickster, psychopomp, weather, creation, warrior and advisor. Manannan appears later on in texts from the nineteenth century and in modern cultural pop references. Apparently he does not appear much in modern Wicca or in Witchcraft but does appear within modern Druidry, possibly due to his connection to magic and enchantment. The Feth Fiadha is sometimes called the Ceo Draiochta, or Druidic mist, making for a clear connection there. Some Neodruids see Manannan as the keeper of the gates between our world and the Otherworld.June 12, 2020 at 4:07 pm #11099
Wow, that is a thorough review. Thanks David.
I’ve often grappled with the issues of an (overly) reconstructionist approach because, that way, you end up in an artificially “recreated” bubble set in the Iron Age. On the other hand, if everything is just a free-for-all, pick and mix, eclectic bag of whatever you like, it’s not a clear path – you can’t follow two, three or four paths at the same time, can you? As for appropriation, a very sensitive subject, I think the issues are not with people learning from, sharing or following any path, but rather those who do not come from that culture or heritage “tinkering” around with it and then trying to pass it off as somehow authentic in such a way that it actually obscures the original cultural ideas. Do you know how many times I’ve had to explain Hallowe’en to people? 😀 Given that the Celtic languages are not exactly in the rudest of health either, the power dynamics also come into play. So, getting back to the point, I don’t think anyone would say that Gaelic spirituality is only for Gaelic-speaking Irish people, far from it, but I think the issues are more about the respect for those communities and their heritage – by trying to learn the language, just for an example, you’re helping the language survive.
At the moment, I’m reading The Voice within the Wind – of Becoming and the Druid Way, Greywind, Grey House in the Woods (2001). When I’ve finished and had time to reflect, I think I’ll add it here too. Some of the issues we’re talking about are also mentioned in this work.June 21, 2020 at 6:47 pm #11213
Dannorix has recommended a book which may be extremely useful for us. It also has a lot of information about the Gaulish language in relation to other Celtic languages, another bonus.
The World of the Gauls: Foundation(s) of a Celtic Philosophy, Antón Bousquet, independently published (2018)June 25, 2020 at 11:29 pm #11260
The New View Over Atlantis by John Michell Thames & Hudson 2013 ISBN 978-0-500-27312-8
I have just finished reading this extraordinary book and even managed to do it within the space of a single day, and have just watched a documentary on Glastonbury as well. John Michell makes some fascinating arguments. He says that the countryside is covered with tracks or lines which convey energy or orgone, he uses another term for it as well. This is amply illustrated worth a great many photographs and diagrams. Dragons are brought up, being connected with these energy lines. Numbers are an important subject, as is the significance of number within the construction of certain sites. Stonehenge is covered in some depth, so is Glastonbury to a lesser extent. Basically what I think is being implied is that England is like Atlantis, which Michell describes as having been destroyed due to its overuse of crystals as an energy source. There is an element of Christianity contained within this book as Michell covers the subject of faith as being like a mustard seed, which is explained with a quote from the Bible. The Quran is also quoted, which I found unusual. Ley lines are a very important part of the book, so are the Egyptian pyramids in terms of the subject of pyramid measures. This is then translated into an English context when measures of Stonehenge and Glastonbury are then made. Orgone energy apparently can manifest itself in the form of dragons, hence the naming of ley lines as dragon lines.October 14, 2020 at 12:40 pm #12348
Greywind, The Voice Within the Wind (Of Becoming and the Druid Way), Grey House in the Woods; UK, (2001)
This is an interesting book and I’d say unusual in the field – you won’t find any rituals, rites, lengthy discussions of mythology and whatnot, but you’ll find a long philosophical tract written by Greywind about what is named throughout the book as the Druid metaphysic. Greywind discusses, amongst other things, how Druidism fits into the great scheme of things as a religion depending on how we define that and also, more importantly, on the role of a druid in today’s world (universe). In the end, we are invited to make the leap.
I’d recommend reading this book slowly, each page is saturated with ideas and notions that may at times require rereading in order to absorb them fully. Some might criticise this book in that it may seem at times as if the author is labouring the point a little too much, however, it all comes together in the end, so it is worth persevering.
I think this book is a work that should be read by anyone who’s serious about following a druidic path. It’s not a step-by-step guide to anything, but it’s a book that makes you re-evaluate and think about things from a Druid’s perspective.
I’ve come across some interesting titles by the publisher, Grey House in the Woods, but the publishing house’s website no longer seems active and I wonder if they are still operating. Nevertheless, this work can easily be found through most online retailers and I wouldn’t call it pricey either. So, if you’re interested in a more philosophical and contemporary take on what Druidism is about, then you could do a lot worse than have a look at The Voice Within the Wind.October 15, 2020 at 10:07 am #12351
Thank you for that insightful review Dowrgi. I have got this book but have not got around to reading it just yet. One book which I read recently which was very good for those on the Bardic journey is Christopher Scott Thompson on Amergin and Bardic mysticism, especially in its descriptions of the three cauldrons, imbas and some other issues okay I will do a review for here look out for it soon and I will let you know what I thought about Greywind.October 15, 2020 at 4:04 pm #12352
Just finished reading it. That was a very unusual book. I could hardly detect anything in it which I would describe as Druidry in the normal sense. The author was very assertive, constantly describing what he thought Druids ought to be like, but said very little about it as a path. It does say a lot in terms of religion and what we should and should not be doing; on the other hand, I did not think that it contained much practical advice. It was more like a prescription for action. It reminded me a little of Bobcat’s Living With Honour, only more abstract. It is like a very long essay which you are required to think about.October 15, 2020 at 6:27 pm #12353
I must say, you’re a fast reader! 😀 I read through this book very slowly.
I know what you mean, I’d definitely recommend this book as an accompaniment. It’s not a book, in my opinion, for a person looking for explanations of rituals, ceremonies or folklore, nor is it some kind of step-by-step guide.
On balance, at the very beginning of the book, the author does write: “This is not a book about the Druid Way in the conventional sense. There are no ceremonies or rituals or workings herein. There are no initiations or exercises. Nor are there any revelations of arcana – there are no such secrets and there never have been.” (The Voice within the Wind, p.9-10). So that’s a pretty frank and upfront declaration right from the outset.
It is like a very long essay which you are required to think about.
Indeed, and I think that may have been the purpose of this work. Personally speaking, it’s the kind of book I put back on the shelf and then come back to over time. I definitely think a bit of rereading is required with this one.November 22, 2020 at 10:22 am #12621
I’ve come across a nice little work: The Earths Cycle of Celebration, by Glennie Kindred, 1st Edition 1991, 5th Edition 2013 (Rev. 2002).
Although not strictly a Druid work or such, it taps into the traditions of Britain and Ireland with handy information and suggestions for celebrating the cycles of the year. What I like about this book is that it’s not verbose, it’s beautiful illustrated, by hand it would seem, and charmingly eclectic in that it relates different strands and themes within the Wheel of Year. On the inner front cover there’s quite an empowering foreword, signed by Glennie Kindred, which ends with “… we are free to embrace a holistic understand of all things being interconnecting vital parts of a whole and free to be open to the experience of universal love as a uniting force which can change our world.” At the back of the book, other titles by the author are listed and The Sacred Tree and The Tree Ogham are two titles that naturally caught my eye. So based on my enjoyment of this interesting little gem, I’m likely to explore more works by this author.
Glennie Kindred has a website and the distributor of this work is given as Green Magic Publishing.
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