Old Gods, New Druids by Robin Herne
The main reason I decided to buy this book is that I had already read the author’s Polytheist Druidry Lessons on The Druid Network which can be found at the following link: (http://druidnetwork.org/learning/courses/online/polytheist). This book is an expansion of these lessons. You will find when you read the table of contents of the book that they follow the exact same lesson plan on the link above.
The author in his introduction explains to us how this group of twenty lessons came about (by the way this is only level one of the study program he hopes to put together, there are 6 more levels to go each boasting 20 lessons), and that far from being the beginning and end of all Druidry this is just what his own group is using as study material. He makes it very clear that this is his vision for his group developed for and by them. If you would like to use them that is up to you if you don’t that is fine too. From the very beginning you are put at ease as to the goals of the author and why he wrote the book and his easy going and fun way of delivering the information makes it that much easier to read through it. He also told us that each lesson/chapter ends with some questions and a practical exercise to help you or the group you are working with to get the most of each lesson/chapter.
I have to say I am very impressed with chapter one or lesson one if you like. It is a snap shot of the early Insular Celts and a very factual one, which presents ALL the theories on the subject. It is short enough to let the student/reader do his or her own research on the subject but long enough to give them an understanding of the subject matter and a starting point.
Lesson two is another delightful and factual lesson on Druids both ancient and modern. Robin quotes classical writers on the ancient Druids giving us all the theories put forward by them and what sort of bias they had for or towards them. He also gives a short history of revivalist Druidry and what modern druids are like. He also talks about the problem that I think is major in the Pagan Community and that is real, researched and factual knowledge.
Lesson three is about the Gods and Goddesses. It is a look at how people perceive deity and some common theories about them. He also names a few deities and gives us a little bit of information about them. Interestingly, he didn’t choose the most famous of the deities in his list.
Robin then covers ancestors, and the different kinds of land spirits in lessons four and five and except for a few instances where I disagree with his thoughts they make for good informative reading.
Next he talks about the structure of the Gaelic society, ethics and ideals, the festivals and rites, the afterlife, herb lore and sacred trees, the Ogam alphabet, storytelling and sacred space.
For the most part this book is a very well researched one. I enjoyed it very much and though it is not strictly Celtic Re-constructionist many elements of it come close. It is still a book intended for people who want to be druids; though it presents a great place for someone who wants to learn about the Celtic path to start.