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review 2017-12-16 11:00
Fairies
Fairies:: A Guide to the Celtic Fair Folk - Morgan Daimler

by Morgan Daimler

 

Non-fiction

 

This book is about the folklore and fairy tradition of Ireland. It may well be the most down-to-earth book on the subject on the market to date. Rather than the airy-fairy Victorian ideas of pretty little girl fairies that popular culture has spread, this is about the original tales and beliefs that are still prevalent in a mostly Christian Ireland.

 

The book is well researched. Tales from many places in the British Isles and Europe are cited and the folk beliefs are given context. Actual belief in fairies isn't required to enjoy the relation of the stories, though the author is mostly directing the information at a Pagan readership where some degree of belief is relevant.

 

There is a lot of repetition. Perhaps it was needed for context but I've seen the same information about fairy behavior in three different chapters and that gives the impression of padding. My only other complaint is that in an early chapter there was a promise to explain the difference between fairies and nature spirits, but only a passing reference to the latter later on. I pretty much understand the difference but would have liked to see it put into words to clarify.

 

Overall a good reference for anyone new to the subject, although the classic reference books are cited so often that I wonder if someone with more than a passing interest should just reading those works. Mostly well written, though it meanders in the last couple of chapters.

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review 2016-09-20 14:09
Blacksmith Gods by Pete Jennings
Pagan Portals - Blacksmith Gods: Myths, Magicians & Folklore - Pete Jennings

This is a survey of blacksmith gods that can be found in many myths, folk-tales and legends that can be found in many countries and cultures. The book is rather short, but well-written and enjoyable with a list of references for further research.

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review 2016-05-08 08:34
The Magical Year
The Magical Year - Danu Forest

by Danu Forest

 

I'm always a little sceptical when a magical author gives themselves a lot of titles, but apparently this one is a member of OBOD, the respected British Order of Druids.

 

As books of the Pagan festivals go, this one is very informative and well written. It gives an overview of the eight annual holidays that are common to both Wicca and modern Druidism, followed by chapters on each of the festivals individually.

 

There's nothing new here, but familiar folklore is presented well and the rituals offered are straightforward and simple. Not too much airy-fairy new age posturing. There are rituals, spells, recipes and crafts to go with each festival.

 

It explains where some holiday traditions come from, like decorating eggs at Easter (Eostre) and symbols and such that experienced Pagans will already know, but it would be a good choice for new Pagans who have yet to learn the significance of these holidays.

 

Best of all it's from a British perspective, so closer to the original cultural references without getting watered down by popularist adaptations, although there are some concessions to choosing your own words or which way you prefer to believe that tries to cater to everyone on a commercial level.

 

Still a good choice for a beginner.

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review 2016-01-13 13:52
101 Pagans (no dalmatians)
Paganism 101: An Introduction to Paganism by 101 Pagans - Trevor Greenfield

One of the difficult things about a book featuring the thoughts of 101 Pagans, is finding some Pagans who are not in it to review it! It doesn't seem so very long ago that finding 101 people who would admit to being a Pagan was an unlikely prospect, and this community book goes a long way to expressing how far out of the broom closet we now are.

 

Facing North said "One of the things I like most about this book is that it welcomed all paths and put them on an equal footing. I’ll say right now that as I read through this book, there were things I didn’t agree with. If you are a practicing Pagan and you read this book, you are going to have the same thing happen. I look at that as a good thing." Full review here -  http://facingnorth.net/Reference/paganism-101.html

 

Participating in community projects like this is a great way for new writers to develop their skills and confidence. In this blog post - http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2014/01/paganism-101-introduction-to-paganism.html - Lucya Starza talks about her involvement. This year sees the release of her first book as a solo author - Candle Magic.

 

It's been a very popular book, not least because having 101 voices in it, there's no room for dogma or narrow vision. Each section has a topic covered by a well established Pagan writer, and then other writers offer their own experiences and perspectives, so everything from ethics and nature to ancestors and the afterlife is explored with multiple voices. I was asked to contribute a piece on prayer and meditation - having written 'Druidry and meditation' and being then in process with 'When a Pagan Prays'  - so I'm an entirely subjective commentator on this book.

 

The experience of being a participant in a community project was so powerful for me, that when Trevor Greenfield (editor of this title and publisher of Moon Books) asked me if I'd like to take on the Pagan Planet project, I jumped at the chance.

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review 2015-11-23 13:56
Novice Again
Identity and the Quartered Circle: Studies in Applied Wicca - Dorothy Louise Abrams

First posted May the 8th 2013 

 

I’m very much a lifelong learning person. Learning new things, new ideas and new skills is a source of joy to me and I can’t imagine ever wanting to stop. Unshockingly, given the whole Druid thing, I find it a cyclical process. I discover something, I study, explore, practice, I get better at it. I start to feel that I can do the thing passably well. Then I see something else that makes me realise how little I know, and I find myself feeling that I am starting at the beginning again. Occasionally this is frustrating and depression, but most often it’s an exciting experience.

 

I’ve gone back and relearned how to breathe, repeatedly. Learning to breathe underpins all kinds of voice work, meditation, physical activities. Each time I learn, I go somewhere new, I make a kind of progress around my spirals. I go through it with music too, pausing to break down my techniques as I try to tighten up on some aspect of how I play. Working with voice and bouzouki, I had to go back and learn how to breathe again.

 

Circles within circles. I never did get the hang of breathing, singing and drumming all at the same time, though.

 

When I started out learning Druidry, I studied correspondences, ideas about circles and elements and pretty much anything anyone pointed me at. I worked very hard to learn. Then somewhere along the way I grasped that Druidry is not wholly an intellectual thing you can get out of books, and that I needed to change my doing. I was outside a lot, but I had to do a relearn to bring Druid ideas to my time amongst trees, and then further relearning as I started to question and challenge the book learning. Particularly, having studied the wheel of the year, I then totally questioned the whole thing and wanted to move away from year narratives. Now I’m feeling a desire to look at that again, to go back to the fundamental cycling of moons and seasons, and think about my own year shapes.

 

I’m currently reading Dorothy Abrams’ Identity and the Quartered Circle. This is a book about fundamentals, and its making me go over my own practice and beliefs again, thinking about what I do, and how, and why. It’s a witchcraft book, and I’ve never seen myself as that kind of magical practitioner, but there are things that could stand a rethink. It may be time to go back to the beginning again and re-walk the spiral paths of Druidry.

 

I also find myself a novice in being a person. I don’t know who I am. That’s actually exciting, because it allows so much room for change and growth. I’m recognising things that have been put on me from outside, and shaking them off, but I don’t know who I am without them. Who would I be if I did not start from the assumption that I’m undeserving and useless? How would I behave? What would I be able to do that is currently unavailable? How would I feel? A fledgling in old skin, trying to work out if these are wings, or flippers or what, and flapping, and wondering if I belong in air, or water, of where… metaphorically speaking.

 

With anything, at any time, it is possible to rededicate, go back to the beginning and try to relearn. Obviously the things we have already learned go with us, either helping us to learn more deeply, or in the form of things we must first unlearn. We can always make the conscious decision to be a novice again, to reject what we thought we knew, or to reinvent it. There’s a letting go of self importance around choosing to be a novice. Sometimes I find it hard to admit that I do not know, or that what I have learned is wrong. Attitudes to myself and my body, I am having to relearn. Attitudes to how to interact peaceably, what to tolerate, what to resist – a work in progress. Admitting you don’t

know is a tremendously liberating experience. It opens the door to learning.

 

Every morning is an opportunity to go out there and become something new. Again.

Source: druidlife.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/novice-again
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