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The Druid's Primer Kindle Edition
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There are very few books of this nature available which deal specifically with Irish paganism but this well researched and beautifully written book offers a wealth of information on this subject. I would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone even vaguely interested in druidry, our ancestors, or our native gods.
And I have to say that is pretty much spot on, this is indeed a comprehensive guide to druidry.
The chapters covered are:
History of druidry
What is a druid?
Gods & Goddesses
Myth & Legend
Inspiration - this chapter also includes some lovely visualisation exercises
Animism and animal worship
Cycles of the sun, moon and earth - this chapter covers the sabbats too
Tools of the trade
Medicine & healing
Justice & wisdom
Having been on a similar path myself for many years now a lot of the information wasn't new, but it was all interesting. I especially enjoyed the chapter on Immrama.
Lovely to see all the cycles of the sun, moon and earth covered, rather than just the moon.
It reads well and is laid out in an easy to follow format, lots of interesting historic facts added to Luke's own understanding of druidry.
Comprehensive it certainly is and a must read for anyone interested in the path of druidry and even for those already on that path I would think as well. For someone on the druidic journey it will end up being very well thumbed and one of those books that is always referred back to for reference.
(Moon Books, 2011) ST£15.99
(Paperback. Also available on kindle)
I recently found myself recommending this book to several people, and in the process I realized I never got around to reviewing it here. Better late than never I suppose.
I have to admit that I started out with quite a pissy attitude towards this book, as I have built a perception of an almost universal ‘druidry’ that is based on Welsh mythology and the literary forgeries of Iolo Morganwg. And before anyone comments, yes, I know I’m jaded and cynical. I expected more of the same ‘druidry’ as I had previously encountered, but found something quite different from my expectations.
This book is set in the context of the Irish druidic tradition, and although there are references to modern Welsh druidry, for example the description of the three circles of manifestation (Abred, Gwynfyd and Ceugant) as a comparative to Irish druidic cosmology and the three realms, the book stays central to its Irish bias.
For the most part the sources are Irish or classical, drawing from historical sources, or acknowledging when practices belong to a modern syncretic tradition. The preliminary history of druidry and the definition of the druid show an intelligent struggle to grasp the core content. A real attempt is made to differentiate Irish druidry, identifying differences between Irish, and Gaulish and Welsh druidry. Eastwood also acknowledges the fact that many contemporary druid orders have grown out of the Romantic Movement and the works of Morganwg. There is nothing wrong with this in itself, as these teachings form a core of belief and practice in modern druid orders, and have a modern affinity with the Druidic worldview. Still, there have been some very ill informed books, such as 21 Lessons of Merlyn, that do not place this historical context on such material, and which paint a poor picture of the intellectual rigour of contemporary druidry. This is not the case with Eastwood.
The Chapter on Gods and Goddesses deals with Irish deities, but also has several Welsh and Gaulish deities. As anyone who has dug into Irish mythology can tell you, it is inevitable that comparisons will be made between Fionn and Taliesin, Llew and Lugh, and a lot can be gained by seeing where both similarities and divergences lie.
In looking at the directions/ quarter correspondences he offers various models without offering a definitive opinion. Like for many of us, there are questions of syncretic and ever evolving traditions, and each individual must find a system of meaning that works. To have various possibilities presented and debated allows a process of developing meaning for work. Eastwood soon develops into the three realms (land, sea and sky) and evokes the image of the world tree. One can see the image of the three realms as roughly corresponding to the three Greek elements of earth, water and air. Many druidic and CR practitioners have worked to reconcile the role of fire as a Greek element with Irish cosmology, particularly as fire plays an important role in the life of the tribe and the celebration of the festivals. A suggestion is made that the fire is central through the cauldrons of poesy, a system many consider analogous with the vedic chakra system. I would have liked to see more on the provinces and the functions (Cath, blath, fis, seis, mide) and although touched upon, given that this is an Irish centred book, I would have liked more.
The theme of the three realms and the cauldrons is expanded in the chapter on cosmology. This chapter also delves into the relationship of the druids with time and cycles.
The chapter on inspiration takes a more practical bent with exercises to experience the imbas or awen (Welsh term) and the chapter on Imramma or wonder journeys gives a very tangible sense of the role of the Faidh or ovate.
The chapter on the cycles of the sun, moon and earth is really the gem of this book for me, with many very practical indications and folkloric resources for developing symbol filled ritual. It gives no real words or instructions, but leaves enough information for further research and personal expression. Before reading this book I always referred people seeking such resources to Alexi Kondratiev’s Celtic Rituals (also published as The Apple Branch). Eastwood has obviously drawn heavily from Kondratiev, yet also goes a step beyond, and is much more specific to Ireland. I will now be sending people looking for festival indications that are well based in the Irish culture to this book.
Beyond this point the book moves from belief to practice, with chapters on the tools of the druid, divination, medicine and healing, and justice.
There is also an interesting chapter on the ogham which has obviously been worked on over a period of time. Eastwood works mainly from the perspective of the tree ogham, which is the most common perspective in contemporary druidry. Even though working from the branch of ogham on which most published information is available, the text reflects a personal struggle to come to a personally meaningful system.
Overall, this book is significantly different from other sources on druidry in that it is uniquely Irish (the first Irish druidry book I know of), well sourced and substantiated, and a resource of starting points for developing personal practice. This is a book I recommend to people interested in something beyond ‘Celtic’ authors who make broad generalisations about ‘the Kelts’[sic]; to people who want perspectives on druidry not obviously rooted in Welsh romanticism; and lastly to Pagans in Ireland, or who identify their practice and worldview as Irish Pagan. This book is for you…
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