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review 2015-11-03 17:04
Meditation for Pagans
Pagan Portals - Meditation - Rachel Patterson
Druidry and Meditation - Nimue Brown
Contemplative Druidry: People Practice and Potential - Dr. James Nichol,Philip Carr-Gomm

When I first came to meditating as a practice, there weren't many books on meditation aimed at Pagan readers. The number has increased since then, and I've been implicated in two of the books (linked to this post). I was delighted when Rachel Patterson announced that she'd written an introduction to meditation - her easy, accessible style is a great counterpoint to what can be seen as a difficult area of spiritual practice.

 

I felt honoured to be asked if I'd endorse this book. Here is what I've said: "This is a very readable, user-friendly book, giving a taster of a broad range of meditation practices. Pragmatic, highly usable, and with plenty of inspiration and jumping off points, this is a great place to start if you want to explore meditation as a Pagan."

 

One of the other people to comment on this book ahead of publication is James Nichol, who put together the Contemplative Druidry book I've tagged. Contemplative Druidry was a community project, featuring many voices, one of which was mine. James made the following observation having read Pagan Portals - Meditation.

 

"Rachel Patterson has written an exuberant and free-spirited introduction to a subject often treated with undue deference and solemnity. She gives her readers permission to sample the smorgasbord of the world's traditions, providing a stimulus to craft their own practice and/or connect with relevant communities and teachers."

 

The book is available from December 2015 and i can very much recommend it for anyone who is either new to meditation, or struggling with it.

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review 2015-10-26 16:24
This is not a ‘how to’ book. It is my strongest advice to anyone wishing to know more or to follow the path of the Druid to find themselves a well respected teacher or training course. This can take time and patience. But it will also save time and potential confusion.

Before we know anything at all, we are free. When we have begun to discover, we each carry away with us for some time the burden of thinking we know everything. True magic is about empowerment. Empowerment is about personal creativity, not
control. Competition is the game of the ego. A good teacher will never appear superior. It isn’t a race for enlightenment; it is a journey towards balance and perfect peace. There is no Holy Grail which holds all the answers. There is only our own freedom of spirit.
Spirits of the Sacred Grove - Emma Restall Orr

A quote from the beginning of Spirits of the Sacred Grove. It absolutely is not a how-to book, and anyone picking this up to learn Druidry will have their work cut out to say the very least. Even so, it is a book that has inspired a great many people to find their own way and their own path as Druids. Emma Restall Orr offers a poetic sense of what it means to be a Druid, a tantalizing glimpse of something hard to name, and even harder to pin down or possess. There are a great many contemporary Druid authors whose journey and inspiration began with Emma Restall Orr's work, and a great many Druids who are still questing after something that they first sensed while reading this particular book. It holds an important place in the evolution of modern Druidry.

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review 2015-10-15 10:46
The curious consequences of meditation
Druidry and Meditation - Nimue Brown
Contemplative Druidry: People Practice and Potential - Dr. James Nichol,Philip Carr-Gomm

I wrote Druidry and Meditation over the winter about five years ago. It was my first foray into book length non-fiction. I'd been writing magazine articles and blog posts for years at this point, but it's still a big jump from there to a whole book. that I had already written a lot of novels no doubt helped, because I had a sense of the structuring issues and the stamina required.

 

I've been meditating since my teens. I've run ritual groups where meditation was used in sacred space. I've run meditation groups. when i started running things, I found there wasn't much information out there to support Pagan meditation. There is plenty of new Age material, there's lots of Eastern inspired content, but for someone rooted in this land and in western magic, folklore and spirituality, none of that really worked for me.

 

I learned to meditate from other Pagans, not as part of some other culture or practice.

 

This is the book I wanted when I started, as best as I could manage to create it. this is a book about being a western pagan and meditating in ways that are part of that, rather than part of traditions that are about transcending this life, or escaping from it.

 

This is the book that brought me to Moon Books, where I've since had a few other titles published. Through Moon Books I've met some fantastic people, I've learned a great deal, ad I've had a lot of opportunities to work in interesting ways. I do some of the marketing stuff there - which I love because it means part of my day job is to go out into the world and enthuse about books. It's very happy work indeed.

 

One of the consequences of writing this book is that it brought me into contact with James Nichol, a fellow OBOD Druid who had set up a space on facebook to discuss contemplative Druidry. From this came involvement in a local group, and at time of writing I've just stepped up again to facilitate meditation for people. I was a contributor to the Contemplative Druidry Book, and my life has been greatly enriched by involvement in this project and the people it's brought me into contact with.

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review 2014-07-03 11:19
The Book of Celtic Magic: Transformative Teachings from the Cauldron of Awen - Kristoffer Hughes

To start with this book has some beautiful cover art. I don't usually comment on bookcovers in reviews, but this one is both organic and magical and definitely made me want to pick up the book to see what it was about.

For anyone looking for a comprehensive explanation of the Druidic religion as it is practiced today, this is it. Hughes very clearly explains the definition of what is Celtic, something that isn't as simple as a specific tribe or nationality. He goes on to mention that the tradition represented in this book is based on Welsh roots rather than the Irish Celtic tradition which has been covered in many other books.

He succinctly describes a mytho-centric belief system wherein a pantheon of gods and goddesses and their mysteries are an inherent part of ritual and practice, as well as the role that singing and verse play in this form of magic. Hughes also gives sources, some of them not commonly known, for the historical basis of the tradition that is described. The Tale of Taliesin features highly.

I was pleased that he explains the particularly Druidic term 'Awen', the divine spirit of inspiration. This was something that people unfamiliar with the Pagan traditions and especially with modern Druidism may have needed clarification on.

 

Hughes also does a good job of explaining 'magic' in terms of natural forces. The philosophy expounds that all things are connected and everything we say or do affects the world around us. There are explanatory historic references of folk magic in Wales that tie history and modern tradition together.

Hughes does assume that the reader practices certain conventions, like keeping a journal, but he also reminds us of the accepted ethics in religions that practice magic and warns of natural consequences.

I'm not sure if I could agree with his statement that a magician must live a life of servitude, but the spirit of the idea of doing good is sound. Parts of the book did seem moralistic, but the explanation about living a magical life and direct consequences for magical actions is well placed.


The whole book is rich with symbolism and contains many meditation exercises to fully embrace the information imparted. I found some of the given rituals repetitive for my taste, but who am I try argue with the traditions of others?

 

Hughes explains that the Celtic tradition includes ritual other than the well-known Gardnerian formula and the Celtic connection to land, sea and sky as the elements, also explaining where fire fits in to this alternate view.

He emphasises planning and assessing reasons for performing ritual and offers ritual formulas with many variations to suit individual taste. There is a large section about magical allies or guides as well as Celtic gods and goddesses. Here he seems to qualify the information with a concession to those who choose not to believe in these deities. Do they exist or not? I appreciate that he's leaving room for disagreement, but I'm reading about his system and beliefs so why hedge?

I especially liked the material on the genius loci, or place spirits, which correlates with information I've read on these elsewhere.

Hughes asks us to use our imaginations and follow guided journeys through visualization. He draws on his personal experience and encourages the reader towards self evaluation as to why they want to do magic.

He shows us the meanings behind Ogham script and the significance of the wand and cauldron in Celtic ritual, and also teaches us a mixture of folklore and herbal medicine and where animals fit into this magical philosophy, often appearing as teachers.

Near the end of the book, he shows us a form of divination specific to this system that I haven't seen before.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to study modern Druidry or who just wants to round out their knowledge of Pagan paths with something different than the plethora of books on Gardnerian tradition. I found it interesting and informative.

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