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When a Pagan Prays: Exploring Prayer in Druidry and Beyond by [Brown, Nimue]
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When a Pagan Prays: Exploring Prayer in Druidry and Beyond Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Length: 208 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

About the Author

Druid, author, bard and dreamer. Nimue Brown is OBOD trained, a founding member of Bards of The Lost Forest, Druid Network member and previously a volunteer for The Pagan Federation. She lives in Gloucestershire, UK.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2816 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Moon Books (25 July 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #372,801 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition
Highly recommended When a Pagan Prays by Nimue Brown is an ambitious book, and a courageous one. On my reading it blends two voices. The first offers a cool appraisal of prayer by a Pagan Druid strongly influenced by existentialist philosophy. It tells us that value and meaning are not written in the stars: we have to provide them for ourselves, and it’s our responsibility as self-aware humans to do so. The second voice describes a personal journey, essentially a recovery story centred on re-connection with the “numinous”. This leads to a re-frame of scepticism about prayer and a hard-won willingness to say: “I like prayer. I’m not angry with it any more. I’ll keep doing it, keep asking and searching, doubting and wondering”.

I will start with the second voice, for me the predominant voice of the book, though it takes a while to be heard. This is at least in part because of the author’s decision not to make retrospective changes to early chapters in which this “somewhat agnostic Druid took an academic interest in prayer” and had not yet found that this “wasn’t going to work”. The shift came when she began an experimental practice and stayed with it long enough for it to bear fruit. She was helped by Thich Nhat Hanh’s view of how prayer affects us: “when love and compassion are present in us, and we send those outwards, then that is truly prayer”. This allowed a move away from an originally limited framing of prayer as petitionary prayer to named Deity/Deities) into something more spacious and allowing. As a Druid, she was also partly influenced by the idea of kami – the spirits or phenomena revered in Japanese Shinto.
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Format: Paperback
It is said that there are no atheists on the battlefield, or more generally to whom do you turn in your darkest hour? In ‘When a Pagan Prays’, Nimue Brown encourages us to look closely at what we, as individuals, mean by prayer and offers up a valuable insight of how she views the subject as a modern Druid. If we’re honest, most pagans are hampered by the lack of an established creed to guide us when ‘communing with, a god or some spiritual power’ and so we need some sort of guidance in understanding what prayer entails. Generally speaking, most prayer is either a petition or supplication simply because we want something (from the release of pain to winning the lottery), often less frequently a vote of thanks as in counting our blessings. Within the established religions, prayer is generally performed by rote and as the author points out: “Prayer practices are numerous and diverse, from the deeply private, to the public ritual, from the ancient prayer poem to the sudden improvisation. A little reading around about different faiths left me clear that there are many ways of doing it, and that individual preferences and needs are probably the best guide in picking ways of working. After all, if you feel silly, uncomfortable or fraudulent then the odds of having a meaningful spiritual experience are slim.”
The charm (if that is the right word) of this book is that Nimue Brown can encourage us to look away from our own attitudes to prayer and study those from other cultures – not in order to highjack those ideas or techniques but to draw inspiration from them. She uses the comparison with Shinto (a faith I grew up in and have often compared with traditional British Old Craft)in that it combines the purity of technique with a highly abstract focus on deity.
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Format: Paperback
Prayer – formulating into coherent words or actions in the manner of prayer can make such a huge difference to our otherwise scattered thoughts, whether we speak them aloud to deity, spirits, ancestors or whatever we feel we would like to connect with that might be listening. This solidifying of thoughts, queries, petitions or thanksgiving is what makes prayer so beneficial. No longer ethereal or mysterious floaty thoughts, as humans who use language and gestures we define ourselves through prayer, if we so choose. The subject of the ethics of prayer brings to the fore that which humanity so often fails at – looking outside ourselves at the bigger picture. When graced by human consciousness, we should all be looking to live with compassion with all beings. Sadly the ethics of prayer can be abused by the simple fallibility of humanity.

Brown forthrightly explores prayer for the benefit of all, as well as, perhaps paradoxically focusing on our inner qualities of the self. Her re-working of the Gorsedd prayer is meaningful, and her instructions to create your own out of your own associations is very good advice, for prayer is such a personal experience. She has taken us on a journey that is filled with honesty and enquiry, and to which we are privileged to have shared, in my opinion. Written plainly, it has an eloquence in its simple approach to the subject, like the simple eloquence of an apple blossom, or the curve of a lover’s cheek. This book is a welcome addition to Brown’s series on Druidry already on my bookshelf, and I look forward to more of her inspired work in the future.
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