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.
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.
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.
The Celtic Myth Podshow, run by Gary and Ruth, is a very popular production. They describe themselves as follows - "The Celtic Myth Podshow will tell you ancient tales and legends of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and the Isle of Man bringing you the bravery of heroes and heroines, the magnificent pantheon of gods and goddesses and the magic and wonder of druids, faeries and folklore."
The link will take you to the indepth review they've done of Morgan Daimler's Irish Paganism.