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Druid Magic Handbook: Ritual Magic Rooted in the Living Earth Paperback – 1 Feb 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Weiser Books (1 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578633974
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578633975
  • Product Dimensions: 22.7 x 15.5 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 264,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"The Druid Magic Handbook" is the first manual of magical practice in Druidry, one of the fastest growing branches of the Pagan movement. The book breaks new ground, teaching Druids how to practice ritual magic for practical and spiritual goals within their own tradition. What sets "The Druid Magic Handbook" apart is that it does not require the reader to use a particular pantheon or set of symbols. Although it presents one drawn from Welsh Druid tradition, it also shows the reader how to adapt rites and other practices to fit the deities and symbols most meaningful to them. This cutting edge system of ritual magic can be used by Druids, Pagans, Christians, and Thelemites alike!

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 8 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
This is an impressive, coherent account of activist, intentional Druid spiritual practice (e.g. magic). It is a cut above many titles in this market. The central feature seems to be that the author is very smart and is deeply rooted in many aspects of the western esoteric tradition.

It is written elegantly and simply, and the direct style sometimes conceals how much he is conveying. The sections on magical intention are brief but impressive and worth re-reading. He throws away huge, comprehensive summaries of esoteric practice in easy sentences - "every complete magical ritual combines symbolism, gesture, voice and imagination to form an intention." There is an impressive 'wheel of life' which is a systematic combination of ogham and the wheel of the year to create an equivalent of the cabalistic 'tree of life'. If it had been created by a lesser mind, such as a druid who didn't really understand the cabala, you might have less faith. But something quite special is happening here.

Quite a lot of the book is idiosyncratic. This is inevitable, as there is no consensus, for example, on the real meanings of the ogham fews. However, the author clearly has a deep and systematic mind, and is expecting his reader to improvise and respond to their experience.

He covers philosophy, concepts, meditation, divination, ritual, and magical working. Whilst some of his approach might not exactly synch with a person's druid practice (e.g. the obod or bdo courses) it doesn't seem to matter. In a way, he supplies exactly the number of details you need for a complete grimoire - he gives just enough, and if you feel you need more detail or specification, you probably need to just get on with improvising and learning from your own practice. I think that a person could work productively from this book for years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By N.J. on 12 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Modern Druidry does spirituality very well, but it hasn't always focused on magic. In that, it has been left behind by its fellow Pagan traditions. To compensate for some of this missing magic, John Michael Greer goes back to the beginning of Pagan revival Druidry, looking at the work that Ross Nichols and others did on magic using Celtic symbols, and puts together a comprehensive magical system that draws on ceremonial approaches but is still qualitatively Druid magic. An excellent read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Oculus on 16 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A truly exceptional work created by John Michael Greer, the current Grand Arch-Druid of the AODA, a traditional Druid order rooted in the Druid Revival of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, offering an opportunity for modern people to experience the teachings and practices of Druidry in today's world. This book offers in my humble opinion an exceptional magical curriculum that any serious Bard, Ovate or Druid would benefit from incorporating into their personal magical path. I would also recommend John Michael Greer's excellent (Celtic Golden Dawn) as the perfect companion.
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By Tynan on 12 Feb. 2015
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utterly brilliant learnt a lot
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 24 reviews
32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Reenchanting the World 11 Mar. 2008
By Lance M. Foster - Published on
Format: Paperback
On my trip to Iowa, one of the cool things that happened is that I got JMG's "The Druid Magic Handbook"...for free!

While in Ames, a friend of mine and I were talking about art and art patronage. I am a struggling artist myself. Seeing as I am always hand-to-mouth, my friend mentioned wouldn't it be cool if you had a patron? They asked where I wanted to go. I said the local bookstore. We went there, and sure enough, "The Druid Magic Handbook" was on the shelves as I had hoped it would be. So I set it aside in a stack of books I wanted to look through. Then before we left the store, my friend said they would like to help me as a sort of patron, and offered to buy a book of my choice. So...duh, I selected JMG's book :-)

So I read it on my flight back to Montana. And there are some really really good things in there, such as:

-The idea of disenchantment and RE-enchantment of the natural world as a part of the Druid path...something that I had come to Druidry hoping that others sought! Back in the 80s I had done an art exhibit called "Earth Songs." And Ishi, played by Graham Greene, in the movie "Last of His Tribe" heard the song of the earth, asked Professor Kroeber (Jon Voight) if he could hear the earth singing, and Voight pretended he could (I think I can) and Ishi said, "What she say?" And was so upset when he learned the Professor could not hear it after all and was pretending. And then Ishi began to sing the song he heard the Earth singing. We Indians sang our prayers...songs are vital to this effort of working with the natural world. Hearing their songs, and singing back:

chanting (song) / en-chanting (put the song into) / dis-en-chanting (removing a song which was put into) / re-en-chanting (replacing a removed song)

- The idea of the Tree of Life relating to mapping space, while the Wheel of Life is a map of time...and one can use BOTH..brilliant!

- The comparison not only of the five hermetic elements and the druid elements...but the comparison of the five elements with the states of matter affirmed by science (fire=energy, water=fluid, earth=solid, air=gaseous, spirit=time/space continuum)..brilliant stuff!

- I also really like that JMG cautioned people from rushing out and messing with sacred places, that the neglected, ruined, and harmed placed are the places that need "re-enchantment"-- don't mess with places that retain their song! Leave the Medicine Wheel in peace, leave Mount Shasta in peace. See what you can do in that vacant lot, your backyard, that neglected patch of woods. Plus it is a longterm effort to do this work, from the acorn a mighty oak will grow, even though we may only live long enough to see a sprout

There was some GREAT new ways of thinking about magic in there, ways that JMG described it that made immediate intuitive sense as never before. And the way he described the three Druid elements of calas, nwyfre, and gwyar, well, I finally "got it"!

The contents include:
-The Foundations of Druid Magic
1. The Ways of the Life Force
2. The Alphabet of Magic
3. The Essentials of Practice
-The Practice of Druid Magic
4. The Gates of the Elements
5. The Grove of the Druids
6. The Art of Enchantment
7. The Secret of the Grail
-The Way of Druid Magic
8. The Reenchantment of the World

Great integration of the essentials and wonderful explanations and clear writing, for which John Michael Greer is justifiably famous! A must buy for those on the Druidic path and those interested in reenchanting the earth
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Worth the money! 24 Feb. 2008
By Lover of Magic - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Druid Magic Handbook is the first of Greer's books that I've read. Even though there is much techincal information, he writes in a way that is easy to follow and understand. The book gives enough information for a neophyte to get started in ritual magic and meditation but also leaves room for creative imagination. I also appreciated his intention of using magic to reharmonize the earth which is much needed in our time. It was obvious from the the first pages that Greer has a firm grasp of the magical process and I look forward to reading some of his other books.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Here, now... Druidry as a living practice.. 19 July 2009
By Morri Sidhe - Published on
Format: Paperback
John Michael Greer is the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids (ADOA), which was founded in 1912. Greer is also a Tarot Grandmaster, an active member of five fraternal and two magical lodges and he has extensive experience in geomancy and sacred geometry. The Druid Magic Handbook is a synthesis of all these interests and Greer has been both highly criticized and highly praised for this work. In short, you will either love or hate this book. I am one of the ones who loved it!

Unlike many books on Druid magick, Greer does not attempt to recreate what ancient druids might have done (Paleo-Druidry). He is focused solely on the 18th century Druid revival (Meso-Druidry) and its roots in medieval ceremonial magickal practice, as well as modern Druidry (Neo-Druidry) and its connection to earth spirituality and Celtic values. This creates a very interesting, and practical, series of rituals that build upon each other to create a highly effective ritual magick system for modern practitioners. Unlike the ceremonialism of groups like The Golden Dawn, Greer's system demands that the practitioner connect with symbols that have personal meaning to the user. This does require more effort than a standardized approach, but it embraces the core Celtic value of freedom of conscience and the acknowledgement of differing perspectives of deity that existed in the various Celtic tribal groups.

I very much appreciated Greer's opening chapter that provides the reader with a simple construct that reintegrates spirit for the reader as a part of Self rather than an external element. This chapter also discusses Magic and Nature, Magic and Intentionality, and Magic and Ethics which are invaluable. His final chapter on The Reenchantment of the World is focused on how to heal the land and will appeal to anyone interested in eco-magick.

This book is not for anyone who is interested in Celtic Reconstructionism, but it will be of great interest to any NeoPagan who is interested in developing the discipline and skills to expand their magickal practice in a new direction.
58 of 78 people found the following review helpful
A Who's Hu? And other questions about the audience for this book... 27 Mar. 2008
By Grail - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you get into Ceremonial Magick, especially Chaos Magick, you quickly learn that a mythos doesn't have to be 'real' to have power or legitimacy. You'll find magical systems based off H.P. Lovecraft's work, and superhero comics, or tv shows.

So I'm not questioning the legitimacy of this work, but, well, yow. I did find it pretty damn misleading.
For those who know the history of modern Druidry, they'll catch the references Greer is making, and realise the focus of the book, but for those new to it, it'll go right over them.
This book is based off the ideas about Druidry of 18th Victorian Christians, who wanted to make up a vaguely 'Celtic' flavoured Freemasonry - kind of like a Victorian D&D, much of the text of which was built off the 'ancient' forgeries of author, and fairly decent poet Iolo Morganwyg.
That's not so bad though, right? Every tradition has to start somewhere! We're all modern!

But I don't think I've explained well enough - in *every* place in the book where the 18th Century Victorian Freemason-Druids did something one way, and where we now *know* that the Celts actually did it differently, the author has chosen to go with... how the Victorians did it.

I don't think many people are going to realise that when you just say it *started* in the 18th century, or that it's a 'revival'. There's no revival, there's the 18th century druid way, or the highway.

Example: on page 99, the first 'Druid' deities mentioned are Hu the Mighty, and Hesus. Wait, who??
Ah, right, 18th Century inventions (go wikipedia it).
It's finally stated in plain terms at the Appendix, and there I quote:
"While many books currently available discuss the old Irish pantheon, most accounts of the deities revered by Welsh and English Druids in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are long out of print."
because... "It probably needs to be said that no solid evidence ties most of these divinities or their worship back to the ancient Celtic Druids".
That's right, it's not a revival of *Celtic* Druidry, it's a revival of 18th Century Druidry. Ohhhhh!

Why not just state that at the beginning of the book? I guess they figure if you've made it to the end of the book you're committed now.

I really like diversity in belief and magical practice, but what bothers me is, given how *little* we know of what the Celts actually did - wouldn't it, somehow, be *easier* to accurately portray of fact check against that tiny pool of knowledge? And doesn't that actually leave us with a huge amount of flexibility in how we turn that into a workable system?
It disturbs me that books like this are not just presenting their own magical tradition, they're trying to overwrite in the public perception the little we *do* actually know of Celtic practice and mythology - it smacks of cultural imperialism.

Calling it 'Revival Druidry' doesn't really cut it for someone coming in new, because ALL modern Druidry is a 'revival' in some form, but some modern forms *do* try and incorporate what we know of Celtic culture & myth (the 'modern' forms which, as described by the book, have 'rejected' their 18th century Druid heritage. Uh, as opposed to what? Rejecting their actual Celtic Druid 'Heritage'?).
Why not come up with different name, and not intentionally mislead people? Victorian Druidry? Telluric Druidry? Freemason-style? I don't know, all bad names - but you get the idea.

So just to be clear, anything labelled a Druid tradition, or an AODA tradition - 18th century druidry. A few things listed as 'Celtic' - might actually be actually Celtic.

He talks a lot about 'ancient traditions' and 'new magic', but the traditions aren't that old, and the magic? Isn't that new, it's just plain old Ceremonial Magick with a very thin overlay of 18th Century Druidry.
That's where it loses another star. Why not just get an actual book on Ceremonial Magick, or the Golden Dawn etc? A synthesis would be the creation of something new, this was more a weak 'hodgepodge'.

I can't really cover all the other points I had problems with - early on in the book, he starts talking about connecting to the earth energies as being 'Telluric Energy', and the sky being 'solar', and said that medieval mages were binding 'Telluric' entities to their will. Wait, you're talking about the medieval magicians calling down/up Angels and Demons?
Ouch. Frankly, I think the comparison is unflattering all around. The earth is not equivalent to Hell just because Christians or other dualists might connect 'down' with 'bad', and just as pagans have never been too impressed when Christians/dualists telling them their gods are really 'demons', it's just as hypocritical to tell people from other religious or magical traditions that their sacred/profane spirits are REALLY Solar and Earth elementals.

Then there's the 'Secret of the Grail', revealed on pg 22.
Yup, really.
See, if as a symbol of 'Lunar' energy you use a new moon on it's side, and then as a symbol of 'Solar' energy you use a circle, and then of the 'Telluric' energy you use an upright triangle (a bit arbitrary these symbols), and you put them all together, you get...
A rather wonky looking shape.
But no, the author declares this, the secret of:
The Grail!
Personally, I think you'd get a nicer shape if you put a half melon on top of a carrot on top of an orange. Or not.

And then. Argh, there's the whole thing with the Upright and Inverted Pentagrams, cutely named the 'Oak' and 'Heather' pentagrams, based on a rather arbitrary arrangement of ogham in a squarish shape, and then how if you take the 8 seasonal festivals in a circle then put the two pentagrams over them... Uh, you probably can't visualise that given that's not how pentagrams are shaped, and how there aren't 10 points, but trust me, there's another diagram, and this *clearly* means that for the summer festivals you should use upright pentagrams for invoking, and for the winter festivals you should use inverted pentagrams for invoking (and for those darned overlapping equinoxes you should use either). Why come up with such an artificial justification? Why not just go with, oh, we'll use the upright pentagrams for the summer/growing seasons, or inverted for the winter? It's not like there were '8' festivals prior to the 1950s anyway, so the diagram and detailed explanation, seems, yet again, like a way of fluffing the book up with psuedo-intellectual jargon - with no actual *content*.

And it's not like I'd remove a star for the Ogham associations, because no one ever lists what they *actually* are (Ruis? Red, not Rowan), although he then gets into the (pretty much entirely invented) Ogham Calendar, and then actually does mention that Robert Graves didn't exactly have a sterling scholarly reputation but feels that that 'misses the point', but after skimming over that mention, hasn't bothered to mention that all the stuff he's just presented is the *reason* he doesn't have a scholarly reputation.
It just isn't accurate - and I'm using accurate in the sense that I do expect when people pick this book up, to think that it's about Celtic Druidry.
He could have made the argument for using Graves stuff *anyway* on a poetic or cultural basis, instead, it's just presenting incorrect information, and deriding any objections he knows there must be, as 'missing the point'.

Oh, there's so much more, but in summary, it's all a bit tenuous for me, and to my eye, not a particularly elegant magical framework. :(

You know what really go me? I just wouldn't *believe* that the author didn't know what he was writing - he seems far too well read!
He has a magical tradition that works for him, and has it's own tradition - why the subterfuge?
I can only charitably hope that maybe there was originally explanations of who this book was for at the beginning, but that the publisher felt there was more of a market for people interested in Celtic Druidry rather than 18th Century Christian 'Druid-flavoured' Freemasonry, and didn't mind obscuring the point.

And ooooh, just because I can see people thinking I've got a bias towards the 'modern' Druid traditions, I'm actually a member of OBOD.

The book just seemed... misleading.
If he was as proud of his tradition as he usually seems to be (and hey, by now, all the Robert Graves derived stuff and 18th century stuff *does* have what's known as an egregore / basically a built up magical charge, from using something in a tradtion), why not actually present it as that? Why belabour and obscure the point?

It had schizophrenically little distinction between the old, the new, and the unsubstantiated personal gnosis.
23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
A bit disappointed. 18 Aug. 2008
By thanson02 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let me start by saying that I like John Michael Greer's work. I usually stay away from the ceremonial magic stuff (not my thing) but I love A World Full of Gods: An Inquiry into Polytheism. It was well written and insightful. When I checked this book out on Amazon, There was enough stuff in the example to warrant checking out the book. What I didn't realize was the book draws much of it's work from the ceremonial magical traditions of the Druid revival, and that was not what I was looking for. So if your into the works of the Druid revival or a member of the OBOD, AODA, DGOFC, or other Druid groups connected with these, have at it. If your looking for something rooted in ancient magical practices, there are other sources.
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