Author: Diana L. Paxson
Publisher: Weiser Books
Synopsis: Although many of us first encountered runes in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, this sacred alphabet is by no means a fabrication for books or movies. Similar to Hebrew letters in the sense that each symbol contains a meaning that transcends its original function as a letter, the runes are practical, flexible, and effective symbols with a variety of uses. Today, the best known application of rune lore is divination: chips or stones marked with runes are drawn, cast, or laid out in patterns like tarot cards. In Taking Up the Runes, Paxson delves into the ancient historical meaning of each rune and explains their contemporary uses and meanings. We discover that the real power of runes comes from inside ourselves when we find the wisdom and power within each symbol and internalize them.
Review: I’ve only read a few books on Runes but this one is certainly my favorite of the lot. It satisfied my curiosity for the academic side of Runes, as well as the intuitive side.
I found the book very interesting to read, and the manor of writing very easy to understand and certainly very much interest grabbing. In other words, I wasn’t bored reading it. I loved how she provided the ancient meanings of the Runes and the modern take on it. It certainly gave one the option of going with either or mixing the two depending on where your meditations take you.
I know that a lot of people said the book was a bit Wiccany…Unless they meant the Rites, I didn’t see it. As to the rites and spells, you can always tailor them to fit in with your path, no one said you had to take the them as is…They do give a good idea of what these rites and spells might look like to a person who has never put one together before or is too new to the path to put their own together just yet.
All in all, this is a good place to start if you want to learn about the Runes as it has a little bit of everything, and from what I read was put together from teaching a course. So the book is great for self-study or for use in a group as a text book to teach Runes.
**Recommended to me by my awesome friend Lairbhan who blogs about the Runes and other Witchy/Druidry things on her blog. You might want to give her a look see at : http://lairbhan.blogspot.com
Yesterday I had the misfortune just before going to bed to read a post on a CR group in Facebook. Let me tell you that was no fun for me.
Let me clarify a few things before I start. I do not equate religion with mystical experiences (even though they are certainly a part of it). I do think belief is important in religion BUT WHAT that belief is, is entirely your own thing. UPG can mean mystical experiences that happens during practice BUT when I use it I actually mean practices that take place in say a ritual context that cannot be verified by our basic sources.
Now that all that is out of the way let us get on to the discussion I read. The original poster asked a very important question, why do conversations on CRP forums never go past the CR 101 stage? Very quickly you saw the “us vs. them” mentality come out. This is very personal to me, because if I were to apply the criteria that the person responding presented, then I could never become part of CRP, ever. So let us look at the points raised by this person and their group.
1. You must have a local community that you get feedback from. I agree with that up to a point. If you can find that community then more power to you, however, what do people like me do? I live in Kuwait, I’m never going to find a Pagan community let alone a CRP one, does that mean that I can’t be a CRP even though my practice fits with their basic worldview? What do people who live in remote areas of the US do? Or those who don’t have the money or time to make it to a community one or two hours away? Are they left out? Does an internet community count in those cases?
2. Things like practice cannot be discussed on “public” forums because some random person who is not grounded in reality can make it part of their fantasy, instead it should be kept to a private group of individuals… First of all, the source material that we all work from is the same, and each person or group can interpret it in anyway they see fit. So the idea of some random person taking something said and spinning it into fantasy can happen anyway. Second, who gets to decide who these private individuals are? What makes them more worthy exactly? I understand when a group decides not to share some private rituals, like how they incubate for divination or what they do if they do workings or magic or what have you but surely a basic ritual structure can be shared and discussed in a general sense. For example, I have the basic ritual structure that I use up on my site, I’ve given people an idea where it came from and what inspired it, and I’ve shared a few of my rituals, but what I get out of my rituals is something that I may or may not share, or I could choose to share partially…I came by it the hard way, and I chose to share it in hopes of getting some feedback from people I considered the Elders of my community (when I thought I was actually a part of one, things don’t seem to be clear right now) and for the next generation of CRP to get inspiration from. Apparently I’m doing this all wrong…since I don’t have a local community to share with, I shouldn’t really share.
3. People who identify as Pagans. What does that even mean? Polytheism and by extension CRP is part of the wider Pagan community whether people like it or not. Heck even the name says so, Celtic Recnstructionist Paganism. Yes, in your tradition you can choose Irish Polytheism, Gaelic Polytheism, Welsh Polytheism, Gaulish…You get the idea, but in the end you are a Pagan and a part of Paganism.
4. The CR FAQ as a basic guide. Until it is not. This poor document has been used by people to support their arguments, until it no longer supports their argument, then it is only a guide not to be taken as gosspel. This document, I have been told by three different people whose names are on it as co-authors, was written through compromise, and in the end didn’t resemble the intent of its original writers, BUT it is a great starting point that needs to be tailored to the individual culture that interests you. So parts of it can and probably will evolve as people practice more within their cultural structures, it was never intended to be a bible as someone told me yesterday. The thing is, this is all CRs who first come to the path see, and the only concrete document that speaks about this path in a general way. So if these people don’t find a community to interact with to further that knowledge how are they supposed to move along the path? Either they find a local community or they are out of luck apparently.
People like me who have no local community are supposed to go away, and not think they can be included in the selected few who do have a local community for support and feedback. They really shouldn’t think that they will get anything out of the internet community, as these discussions will never go beyond CR 101 or “this is Wicca we don’t do that” discussions.
In essence we are on our own, we need to do our own work (not that we don’t already) and make our own way in this path. I just hope that when this work is done we don’t decide not to share with others…Harsh? Yeah, I’m kind of a little p***ed right now…
Author: Jon Henderson
ISBN -13: 9780415436427
Synopsis: It may be surprising to learn that this book is the first ever survey of the Atlantic Iron Age: this tradition is cited in archaeology frequently enough to seem firmly established, yet has never been clearly defined.With this book, Jon Henderson provides an important and much-needed exploration of the archaeology of western areas of Britain, Ireland, France and Spain to consider how far Atlantic Iron Age communities were in contact with each other.
By examining the evidence for settlement and maritime trade, as well as aspects of the material culture of each area, Henderson identifies distinct Atlantic social identities through time. He also pinpoints areas of similarity: the possibility of cultural ‘cross-pollination’ caused by maritime links and to what extent these contacts influenced and altered the distinctive character of local communities. A major theme running through the book is the role of the Atlantic seaboard itself and what impact this unique environment had on the ways Atlantic communities perceived themselves and their place in the world.
As a history of these communities unfolds, a general archaeological Atlantic identity breaks down into a range of regional identities which compare interestingly with each other and with traditional models of Celtic identity.
Bringing together the Iron Age settlement evidence for the Atlantic regions in one place for the first time, this excellent and original book is certain to establish itself as the definitive study of the Atlantic Iron Age.
Review: This book is touted as the sequel to Professor Cunliffe’s amazing book Facing the Ocean. In fact one of the people who wrote a blurb for the book is Professor Cunliffe and it is obvious that he thought highly of it. So I was really eager to read this book.
The author in the book examines aspects of settlement, society, and material cult of the Atlantic facing areas and provides insight into the existence, scale, and significance of maritime communication between them. The author’s aim was to show what parts of the socio-cultural similarities are due to this maritime contact and what parts are due to these communities sharing a common background.
The scope of study for this book is the Late Bronze Age (1200 – 600 BCE) to the end of the first millennium BCE with an emphasis on the seventh century BCE to the end of the first millennium BCE. The areas covered are Armorica, south-west England, Wales, Ireland, and Atlantic Scotland. Also a passing reference to south-western France and western Iberia.
I can see how this book would be thought of as a sequel to Facing the Ocean in that the author obviously thinks that the Atlantic communities developed distinctly, though with a little influence from mainland Europe depending on the ebb and flow of contact with it via the sea. It seems pretty clear that he thinks they were aware of what was happening in mainland Europe but developed their own flavor of it (which jives very well with the archeological records in enigmas like Ireland for instance). The author points out in his book that Cunliffe’s study of the Atlantic fringe in his book Facing the Ocean leaves a serious need to look at the evidence for specific periods in detail and to look beyond the superficial integrity of the region in order to identify local and regional Atlantic identities.
I highly recommend this book if you are interested not only in when cultures came into being but how they interacted with each other and how they borrowed (or not) from each other. It also shows how the environment around a culture can shape it. Very interesting but also very slow to read since almost with every word you read something new, or see a fact that you’ve read before but in a different light.
Author: Sweyn Plowright
Publisher: Rune – Net
Synopsis: Historical facts about the runes in plain English. This book looks at what we really know about them and how we know it. There is also a discussion of the popular authors of esoteric runology, and a chapter exposing the myths and misconceptions about runes perpetuated in many popular rune manuals. The Primer will provide you with a basic factual foundation of rune knowledge, and enable you to sort the useful gems from the rubbish in your future investigations.
Review: This book was a delight to read. Its aim is to discuss the runes in a brief and to the point style, to stick to known facts and established conventions taking into consideration the cultural and religious context. It fulfills those aims perfectly. The style of the writer is very simple and very readable. The simplicity is sometimes very deceptive because but the time you finish a chapter you’ve actually gotten quite a bit of information, but it was so simple it slipped into your mind with no effort.
The author gives you a very simple outline of the history of Runes, an explanation about where the names of the Elder Runes came from and how, and the different types of runes known. The book also provides the meanings for each rune and how the author got it, but what I loved the most were the chapters on known books and authors for runes and myth busting. I especially LOVED the myth busting chapter.
An excellent book to have if you are interested in Runes and it complements the book Runes by R.I. Page, because read together you get the maximum benefit with this book explaining simplistically the history in the Rune book.
Series: Reading the Past
Author: R.I. Page
Publisher:University of California Press and the British Museum
Published: 2007 (Fifth edition, Originally published in 1987)
Synopsis: In Orkney, Shetland and the Scottish Islands, in Ireland, the Isle of Man and above all in Scandinavia, travelers still come upon great memorial stones, inscribed with the curious angular alphabet called runes. This is the story of these inscriptions from the earliest Continental carvings of the late second century A.D. through to the Viking age.
Review: This is one of the shortest books I’ve read, and one of the most sarcastic (not in a good way). The author comes across as very condescending towards people who see the Runes as a magical system. Let me say this, while I do agree with the author’s point that since religion is a part of everyday life for the peoples he talks about and so that makes using the Runic alphabet as a vehicle of writing down sacred things, incantations or even use it for divination a normal part of life for them, I don’t agree wit his attitude or tone of voice but that is my bias and certainly not his problem. Having said that though, this is actually a very good and concise introduction to Runes IF you can get over the tone of the writer. The 64 pages of this book took me two days to get through when it would normally take me only half an hour to an hour tops.
Authors: Thomas M. Wilson and Hastings Donnan
Publisher: Berg Publishers
Synopsis:Where and what is Ireland? What are the identities of the people of Ireland? How has European Union policy shaped Irish people’s lives and interests? This book argues that such questions can be answered only by understanding everyday aspects of Irish culture and identity. Such understanding is acheived by paying close attention to what people in Ireland themselves say about the radical changes in their lives in the context of wider global transformation. As notions of sex, religion, and politics are radically reworked in an Ireland being re-imagined in ways inconceivable just a generation ago, anthropologists have been at the forefront of recording the results. The first comprehensive book-length introduction to anthropological research on the island as a whole considers the changing place in a changing Ireland of religion, sex , sport, race, dance, young people, the Travellers, St. Patrick’s Day and much more.
Review: The synopsis does a great job of telling you what this book is all about so I’m not going to say much more on that. What I am going to talk about is how I saw this book and what I took away from it.
The book starts with two interesting questions; who invented Ireland and who invented the anthropology of Ireland? The answer to the first question is the Irish, the English, and the people of the Irish diaspora. The answer to the second question is the developing traditions of American cultural anthropology, the developing traditions of the British social anthropology, developments in Irish Universities and centers of learning in Ireland, and developments in wider and sometimes dissident intellectual, scientific and technological domains. Those two questions answered so early on set the stage for me in a lot of ways. I knew I had to set aside a few of my feelings on the word invented and I knew I had to keep an open mind as to what the authors might be sharing.
The themes that run through out the book are also mentioned right at the beginning and they are: that the book is about the anthropology of Ireland, in contemporary and historical form; how Ireland has been constructed in anthropological writing and professional practice, and finally to contribute to the continuing importance of comparison and the exploration of diversity and difference.
The book was not an easy read but it was certainly a very interesting one. To see what shapes a certain field though out time is interesting but to see it also in a country is just astonishing. Some parts were boring I have to admit, but on the whole it was a good read. If you are interested in anthropology and the anthropology of Ireland then I would definitely recommend this book.
Author: Vicki Cummings
Publisher: Oxbow Books
Synopsis: At the the heart of this study are the early Neolithic chambered tombs of the Irish Sea zone, defined as west Wales, the west coast of northern Britain, coastal south and western Scotland, the western isles and the Isle of Man, and the eastern coast of Ireland. In order to understand these monuments, there must be a broader consideration of their landscape settings. The landscape setting of the chambered tombs is considered in detail, both overall and through a number of specific case studies, incorporating a much wider area than has been previously considered. Cummings investigates the background against which the Neolithic began in the Irish Sea zone and what led to the adoption of Neolithic practices, such as the construction of monuments. Following on from this, she considers what the chambered tombs and landscape can add to our understanding of the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition. This volume aims to incorporate landscape analysis into a broader understanding of the Neolithic sequence in this area and beyond. It will provide an introduction to the Mesolithic and Neolithic of the Irish Sea zone, as well as a summary of previous work on this subject. It also offers a starting point for future research and a better understanding of this area.
Review: I REALLY loved this book. The information on the chambered tombs was very interesting to read but that is not the only reason I loved this book. Most books on archeology are very boring because they present the findings with no real background (unless the book was intended as a textbook or a read for the layman) but this book was really different.
The author has in every chapter an introduction and a conclusion. The introduction tells you exactly what the author intends to write about in the chapter and the conclusion sums up all the important points of the chapter, so if you are looking for something specific you look thought the chapter introduction to see if this is the chapter you want and then look through the conclusion if you just want to read the important points without all the details.
The author’s writing style is very easy on the brain. She explains things in very simple terms and she talks about the subject matter in a very detailed yet not boring way. She talks about landscape archeology, she talks about the economy and the climate of the Neolithic Irish Sea Zone. And from the very beginning she defines exactly what she means when she says Irish sea Zone.
This is a must have book for anyone interested in the Neolithic time frame, the chambered tombs and the interaction between either side of the Irish Sea.
Author: Erynn Rowan Laurie
Publisher: Megalithica Books, Stafford, England
Synopsis: With two decades of experience with the ogam and more than 30 years of working with divination, the author offers insights into the many profound meanings hidden in the ogam letters and their lore. She explains each letter in context and shows how to expand the system in new and innovative ways.
Review: I’m always weary when I look at books about Ogam. For the longest time I’ve put off reading anything on them because of all the “Tree Ogam” books out there. I’m one of these people who prefer history to mix with practice even if this practice is divination, which is by nature subject to the interpretation of the reader/diviner. I found what I was looking for in this book.
Erynn clearly states in the beginning of her book that this is her personal system based on certain reputable sources (yep I checked them out and one of them I’ve reviewed on this site already A Guide to Ogam) and her intuition. So I knew up front what I was getting into.
She does a good job setting up the basics and where her point of view comes from. I get all the history and reasonable reasons to use Ogam as a divination tool, as opposed to just an alphabet. I also like that she gives her reasons as to why she would rather work with the word Ogams and meanings rather than tree, without telling people who do work with trees that they are wrong or right. Her reason makes a lot of sense. Simply put trees can change from one region or country to another but words and meanings can go anywhere.
She goes into how a beginner can start developing their own associations based on what is in the book, and in the sources she uses. She talks about how to use the Ogam for divination and rituals, and how to make your own set of Ogams.
I was very impressed with the book as a whole. It is one that a beginner in Ogam can feel comfortable with especially if they are like me and don’t like interpretations that don’t have a basis in identifiable sources.
Author: Maureen O’Rourke Murphy and James MacKillop
Publisher: Syracuse University Press
Published: 2006 (first edition 1987)
Synopsis: In a volume that has become a standard text in Irish studies and serves as a course-friendly alternative to the Field Day anthology, editors Maureen O’Rourke Murphy and James MacKillop survey thirteen centuries of Irish literature, including Old Irish epic and lyric poetry, Irish folksongs, and drama. For each author the editors provide a biographical sketch, a brief discussion of how his or her selections relate to a larger body of work, and a selected bibliography. In addition, this new volume includes a larger sampling of women writers.
Review: I can’t say more about the contents of this volume than was already said in the synopsis so I’m not going to, instead I’m going to talk about what I thought if the volume.
I think that this is a must read book for anyone interested in Irish literature of any kind. It will give the reader a look at all the important authors and poets of Irish history and some of their works to wet the apetite.
I found myself reading all kinds of poetry and enjoying it all, not to mention the familiar myths and some stories that I’ve never heard of too.
I didn’t want to put it down once I started and it was a joy and pleasure to read (or devour which ever works best).