A couple of weeks ago the Education Secretary was in the news because he said children should read at least fifty books a year. That got me thinking about my own reading habit. I regularly used to get through at least two books a week, I would drive Mr Stoatie up the wall, as he always said I was an anti-social reader. I could get so involved in a book I would tune out anything else, and what is more, I would get to the point that I was so immersed in it that I could disappear into a room on an errand, come across the current book and give in to illicit reading until I was caught, shamed, and dragged away. Reading into the wee small hours was another regular and apparently irritating habit I got castigated for.
Recently however it’s all fallen by the by. About twelve years ago I started to write down every book I read and I was averaging 130 a year. In 2010 I only managed to clock up 19! Since we have no TV I can only blame the evil influence of the PC. In an effort to fight back I’m going to try and read every book on my ‘to read list’, hence today’s book review which is:-
Old Gods, New Druids by Robin Herne
According to the jacket, this book “offers a series of twenty humorous and informative lessons that can be used for group or solitary study and is ideal for people interested in Druidry and the Pagan spirituality of ancient Britain and Ireland”
Each lesson is given it’s own chapter with titles such as Druids Ancient and Modern, Values, Morals and Ideals, Sacred Trees etc. Using original sources the author discusses the historical practices and beliefs surrounding each topic before discussing their revalence to the modern pagan. Using a series of questions he encourages the reader to think about their attitudes to and beliefs about the subject and this is followed by some suggestions for practical exercises.
The book is easy to read and the author has a friendly informative voice. The research into ancient ‘Celtic’ spirituality is thorough and accessible and the exercises are a good starting point for further study. The difficulty with these sort of books is, however, that it’s success really is down to the reader. You can teach people about things, you can suggest what to do, and give topics to think about, but make you can’t make them do anything. Druidry is essentially an experiential spirituality, you really need to go suck it and see!
The book is the result of the authors own personal experiences and also that of his group or “Clan’ The course has been made available to prisoners for study and he reckons that it should normally take about 18 months to complete. Since you get it the whole lot, all at once, in a book, I think you would need to be pretty disciplined to start at the beginning and work forwards. I expect a lot of people after an initial read through would then dip in and out and to be honest I think it would stand up pretty well to that sort of study.
There are a couple of pieces of information that I am very grateful to have found out through this book. The first is that in Irish the dandelion is called Bearnan Brighde – imagine that, the plant I have been fixated on for the past year is actually associated with Bride, my primary Goddess! Secondly, Lugh, my primary God, had a dog, a bitch called Failinis who was so bright she could blind an enemy, and who could turn water into mead if she bathed in it. That’s very satisfying as I always have felt he was fond of dogs, and since I’m a doggy person myself I’m glad it wasn’t just wishful thinking!