Author: Morgan Daimler
Publisher: Moon Books
Where the Hawthorn Grows is a reflection on being an Irish reconstructionist Druid in America. It looks at who the Druids were and different aspects of Celtic folk belief from a reconstructionist viewpoint as well as discussing daily practice and practical modern applications.
Table of Contents [With my thoughts]:
Chapter One: Beliefs and Practices [A very short, informative discussion of what a Druid is to the author, who the Ancient Druids were, what is reconstructionism, ethics, and ritual structure, and these are just a few of the topics discussed in this chapter. I'm glad the author talked about prayer, practice AND belief. These are topics that are near and dear to me.]
Chapter Two: Gods and Spirits [This chapter was a pleasure to read. The author's views on deity were pretty much my own but I already knew that, what I enjoyed reading the most was her choice of deities to talk about (certainly not the ordinary ones that people automatically go to) and she is not afraid to say that there is not much information on this or that deity. I also want to say "FINALLY someone who understands" when the author was talking about fairies.]
Chapter Three: Holy Days and Celebrations [The name of the chapter says it all, but what it doesn't say was the personal glimpses that the author slips into the chapter after some pretty good facts on the holidays and celebrations.]
Chapter Four: Honouring Life Passages [This was a very short chapter but it is one that I found an interest in. It's an interweave of the mundane and the religious]
Chapter Five: Celtic Magic [A chapter that I approached cautiously but was VERY glad I read by the end]
Chapter Six: Community [This chapter is a must read for anyone thinking of studying with someone or joining a group or organisation.]
Chapter Seven: Miscellaneous Thoughts [This chapter has the topics that don't really fit anywhere else in the book. Things like mistletoe and druids, the ogham tract, crystals and stones in Celtic tradition and so on]
I think up front I should mention that I am friends with the author as such I don’t know how objective I was of her material but I certainly tried. The first thing that caught my eye in the Introduction of the book was that the author tells us up front and centre that this is HER view of and HER personal experiences with Irish-based reconstructionist Druidism, and that her experiences are shaped by that fact that she is not in Ireland but rather in America.
I also want to commend her for being brave enough to talk about her practice (or some of it anyway) because inevitably there will be someone out there in the pagan community who will take issue with it. I felt that from the beginning she talked about things that are hard to talk about and covered them really well factually and from her own personal view.
I loved the fact that the book had prayers in Irish and in English, and in what context they were used.
The chapter on Celtic magic was something that worried me until I read it. I’m glad I did as it is a mix of personal experience, available facts on the subject and NOT fluffy which tends to be the case when talking about Celtic magic.
The last chapter, which I didn’t mention above was the author’s conclusion. It has her thoughts on what it means to her to be a druid, really short but says a lot about how important this path is to the author. She has a beautifully divided reading list that gives the best books that the author has read on different subjects.
I think for the most part I agree with everything that the author said in this book. I don’t follow two hearths but I like the way she has divided and mixed certain aspects of her practices to work for her in a way that doesn’t make the reconstructionist in my cringe. I don’t call myself a druid because I have certain ideas on that but I can certainly see her point of view which was explained very well in the first chapter. A lot of what she said about her practice resonates with me and to some extent is something that I personally do..it is not every day that I read a book that represents 97% of my faith in a way that I like and agree with.
I’m not sure how biased or objective I was in this review. But I promise that I did try…it was just a damn good book.