Tag: celtic

Ogam, by Erynn Rowan Laurie

By Mike Gleason | August 8, 2009 | Leave a comment

Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom, by Erynn Rowan Laurie
Megalithica Books, 9781905713028, 310 pp.

I must admit that I requested this book for review because I have only a passing acquaintance with the subject matter. I have reviewed dozens of books on Wicca/Witchcraft, Paganism, magick, Tarot, etc., all of which I am reasonably well-read on (as well as having personal experience to call upon). Every once in a while I like to find a subject I can approach as a novice reader, so I can see if the hypothetical average reader can make sense of what is being written.

The author makes a statement which should, in my opinion, be branded in the hearts and minds of every “eclectic” Pagan: “That said, these things [local spirits and personal ancestors] must be done with the utmost respect for the local people and traditions, and not stolen, twisted, and used without instruction or permission.” Far too many eclectics seem to feel that if it comes from a Pagan culture it is usable by any Pagan, anywhere, even without an understanding of the parent culture. Ms. Laurie recognizes that such behaviour is inappropriate, and for that, I applaud her. Continue reading


Divine Comedy of Neophyte Corax and Goddess Morrigan, by Payam Nabarz

By Mike Gleason | January 11, 2009 | Leave a comment

Divine Comedy of Neophyte Corax and Goddess Morrigan, by Payam Nabarz Divine Comedy of Neophyte Corax and Goddess Morrigan, by Payam Nabarz
Web of Wyrd, 9780955685804, 64 pp., 2008

This is a strange little play, or series of plays, with a unique view of the Wheel of the Year. In a truly ecumenical spirit the protagonist is a Mithraic neophyte, the Goddess is Celtic, and the supporting cast is drawn from the animal world and the worlds of mythology in all its varied aspects.

I have attended a number of mystery plays (in the religious sense) over the years. I have read others. This comedic offering, by a Persian-born member of the OBOD and the Pagan Federation is, without doubt, the most entertaining. It does not skimp on symbolism, nor on knowledge revealed. Continue reading


Tales of the Celtic Bards, by Claire Hamilton

By Mike Gleason | December 21, 2008 | Leave a comment

Tales of the Celtic Bards, by Claire Hamilton
O Books, 9781903816548, 320 pp., 2003

Over the years there have been many tellings and retellings of the myths of the Celtic people, and this boom is another retelling. As the author (an MA in The Bardic Tradition in Ireland from Bristol University) notes “If this story is new to you then you must hear it. But even if you know it well, listen again, for there is always new wisdom to be found in it.” She is an accomplished harpist, and has produced a CD to accompany this book.

The initial tales are told by a bard, Bruach, to Continue reading


Review: The Mysteries of Druidry, by Brendan Cathbad Myers

By Psyche | May 12, 2007 | Leave a comment

Mysteries of Druidry, by Brendan Cathbad Myers, Ph. D.
New Page Books, 1564148785, 236 pp. (incl. bibliography and index), 2006

I first met Brendan at a Pagan pub moot in Toronto a few years ago. In conversation his love and commitment to Druidry became immediately evident. I was among the attendants at the Toronto launch of The Mysteries of Druidry, where he read from the preface, and sold and signed books. I was pleased and honoured to receive a copy of this book for review, and looking forward to engaging in the rest of the material. His unique voice carries throughout the text, and at times it was as if I heard his voice speaking passages as I read.

Right from the preface it becomes clear that The Mysteries of Druidry was written from a place of love and deep respect for the Celtic tradition, the land and its spiritual ancestors. The first chapter follows a question and answer format, giving an overview of popular themes in Celtic history, culture and spirituality, following this is a summary of Druidic mysteries, magic and practice. Another chapter is dedicated to clann, or grove building, leadership and fostering community.

Myers defines Druidry as “a spirituality of dwelling in and with the land, sea and sky”, noting that the “needs of humanity are not ignored, for it is a spirituality of tribe and family, of personal empowerment, and of social justice”, important themes which are impressed upon the reader throughout the text.

In addition to reconstructing the past, Myers also offers a fascinating history of modern Druidry, its sources, texts and people. He notes that “[e]very form of modern Druidry and Celtic Mysticism seems to be driven by a quest for spiritual identity, which is one form of the impulse to “know yourself”. Some people find that by identifying themselves as Celtics, as envisaged by historical discovery or even imaginative fantasy, then will “know themselves”…People need roots and traditions, which only a connection to family, society and history can provide”, and so, as he insightfully remarks: “to [his] mind, what matters most is the pursuit of a worthwhile life” – a very agreeable conclusion.

Myers capably demonstrates his ability to frame Celtic spirituality in a modern context, providing exercises and rites which are practical for today’s world. He weaves retellings of classic tales from ancient Celtic and post-Celtic literature with more modern inspirations from W. B. Yeats, J. R. R. Tolkein and Joseph Campbell.

Some may have difficulty with statements such as “…the only people among us today who would qualify [as Druids] are those who have at least a Bachelor’s degree, if not a Master’s as well, from a recognized university”. However, when the Druid class is placed in context as being a scholarly class in Celtic society (among other things) requiring an extensive training program, it does make sense. As noted earlier in the text, “[a] Druid is a “professional” because Druidry requires the application of skill and knowledge in the service of certain social responsibilities”, and a convincing argument is made.

Additionally, Myers’ stance on self-initiations confronts another uncomfortable truth, namely, that “[s]elf-initiation does not make you automatically a member of a certain community”; however, he does allow that “it can make you ready to join one”. Again, I’m inclined to agree. Too often one comes across claims of self-initiation into a mystery tradition; however, without recognition in the community, the validity of this initiation does not carry much weight, though it can provide a foundation upon which to connect and establish oneself.

I do have a few criticisms: the book is repetitive in places with a few quotes reused several times, and there are a few typographical errors and spelling inconsistencies in certain Celtic words, but these do not detract from the text overmuch.

Myers admirably marries Celtic history and lore with contemporary Druidic and neo-Pagan practice and belief, making The Mysteries of Druidry a good introduction to the path.


Review: Magic of the Celtic Gods and Goddesses, by Carl McColman

By Mike Gleason | February 9, 2005 | Leave a comment

Magic Of The Celtic Gods And Goddesses: A Guide To Their Spiritual Power, Healing Energies, And Mystical Joy, by Carl McColman
New Page Books, 1564147835, 203 pp. (incl. appendices, notes, bibliography and index), 2003

I’ve read several other books by Carl McColman previously, and have always found them to be extremely readable and informative. This book does nothing to change that opinion. Carl and his co-author take the time to state quite clearly what they are, and are not, trying to do in this book.

This book isn’t filled with rituals (there isn’t much really known about Celtic rituals); nor is it filled with correspondences and/or attributes (there are lots of other sources available for that); and it does not pretend to be a scholarly work. It is filled with stories of some of the Celtic deities (over 400 have been catalogued by the scholars and less than 10% of them are represented in this book. It is written with the intent of giving the reader a “feel” fore the deities and their relationship to the world we inhabit. Continue reading


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