In Search of the Irish Dreamtime

Full Title: In Search of Irish Dreamtime – Archaeology and Early Irish Literature

Author: J.P. Mallory

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Published: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-500-05184-9 (Hardback)

Pages: 320 including some colored pictures, notes, bibliography and index.

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Synopsis: Following his account of Irish origins drawing on archaeology, genetics, and linguistics, J. P. Mallory returns to the subject to investigate what he calls the Irish Dreamtime: the native Irish retelling of their own origins, as related by medieval manuscripts. He explores the historical backbone of this version of the earliest history of Ireland, which places apparently mythological events on a concrete timeline of invasions, colonization, and royal reigns that extends even further back in time than the history of classical Greece. The juxtaposition of traditional Dreamtime tales and scientific facts expands on what we already know about the way of life in Iron Age Ireland.
By comparing the world depicted in the earliest Irish literary tradition with the archaeological evidence available on the ground, Mallory explores Ireland’s rich mythological tradition and tests its claims to represent reality.

Review:

This is the second book from J.P. Mallory which shows a different, lighter yet scholarly writing style; the first was his book on Irish origins.

The book is just what it says in the synopsis an investigation of the native Irish retelling of their own origins. In it he uses two techniques: the first is excavation of literature and the second is archaeology. By comparing the two the author was able to tell us a little about when these tales might have been written.

The author by the end of this book is clearly in the “this was written by Irishmen but it does not depict the Irish Iron Age and has some foreign influences” camp, though I don’t think he is a staunch anti-nativist like Kim McCone.

The author explained his “excavation of literature” technique in the book (chapter 4) which I think is the real treasure of this text. He also made a point of discussing which tales he will be “excavating” and then put them in a timeline using the Annals of the Four Masters as a guide (Chapters 1 and 2).

Whether you agree with his analysis of the tales or not, he clearly has a lot of respect for them and it shows in the way he writes about them and how he shows his evidence. I loved reading this book and following his train of thought on why he concludes what he does.

One final note, Mallory in the Introduction of his book defends his use of the word “Dreamtime” which is clearly an aboriginal word and says that he is sorry to be using it but that it is the best word he could find to describe what he is writing about. I think the fact that he acknowledges where the word comes from and discusses why he is using it was a good way to put the CR in me, who cringed, at ease…just a tiny smidge. I still would have been more comfortable with him using something from the Irish tradition.

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Gods and Goddesses of Ireland

Full Title: Gods and Goddesses of Ireland – A Guide to Irish Deities (Pagan Portal Series)

Author: Morgan Daimler

Publisher: Moon Books

Published: 2016

ISBN: 978-1-78279-315-1

Pages: 84 including Bibliography

Synopsis: A concise guide to the Gods and Goddesses of pagan Ireland, their history, mythology, and symbols. Rooted in the past but still active in the world today, the Gods and Goddesses of Ireland have always been powerful forces that can bless or challenge, but often the most difficult thing is to simply find information about them. This short introductory text looks at a variety of different Irish deities, common and more obscure, from their ancient roots to the modern practices associated with honoring them in, an encyclopedia-style book with entries in easy-to-use sections.

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Review: Morgan Daimler has written another great book for Pagan Portals, this time about the Irish Gods and Goddesses.

The book has an Introduction, four chapters and a Conclusion. In the Introduction the author talks about who the Irish Gods are, and in chapters 1, 2, and 3 she gives a summary about them. Chapter 4 is very short but also very necessary as it helps the reader learn about how to honor the Irish Gods. In the Conclusion she tells us why she wrote this book.

Now let me talk about what I liked about this book. Morgan divided the chapters into one on the Gods, one on the Goddesses and one on the Gods that are not part of the Tuatha Dé Danaan exactly but are still Irish Gods. I love that she included Gods and Goddesses that are not the usual suspects, along side the usual suspects. I love that she differentiated between the Gods and Goddesses that are part of the TDD and the ones that are not and might actually be older. I also love that she includes a list of books that she recommends people read along side her book, and she acknowledges that her book is a jumping point from which you can start your own research into the Gods of Ireland.

So what did I hate about this book? Nothing but my usual gripe about the Pagan Portal books I WANT MORE!!!!

The Celtic Evil Eye and Related Mythological Motifs in Medieval Ireland

Author: Jacqueline Borsje with a contribution from Fergus Kelly (Studies in the History and Anthropology of Religion #2)

Publisher: Peeters

Published: 2012

ISBN: 978-90-429-2641-7

Pages: 387 including 3 Appendices, bibliography and index.

Synopsis: If looks could kill… They can, according to medieval Irish texts – our richest literary inheritance in a Celtic language. The belief in evel, angry or envious eyes casting harmful glances that destroy their target is widespread. This is the first comprehensive study of ‘the evil eye’ in medieval Ireland. We follow the trail from Balor the fearsome one-eyed giant and other evil-eyed kings to saints casting the evil eye, and many others. This study surveys a fascinating body of Irish literature and also examines the evidence for belief in the evil eye in the daily life of medieval Ireland, where people tried to protect themselves against this purported harm by legislation, rituals, verbal precautions and remedies. Related mythological imagery is tracked down and a lost tale about a doomed king who follows a sinister-eyed woman into the Otherworld is reconstructed on the basis of surviving fragments. The edition and translation of a medieval Irish legal text by Fergus Kelly and two sagas in English translation conclude the volume.

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Review: The aim of this book is to explain the medieval Irish beliefs on the notion of the evil eye. It is made up of six very enjoyable essays. The first essay is an explanation of what the evil eye is, its types, examples of each type from Irish literature and comparisons from other cultures when applicable, and how to ward it off. Essays three to five look at related mythological imagery. They analyze the meaning and function of the evil eye. They discuss the term túathcháech and its symbolism and they draw conclusions from all the motifs discussed. The final essay weaves all the previous essays together to give you the author’s final thoughts on the subject.

Although I enjoyed all the essays my favorite would have to be the first. It sets up the book perfectly giving the reader the background needed to read the rest of the book. The examples given were perfect to back up her divisions of the evil eye and they make understanding it easy.

Celtic Cornwall

Full title: Celtic Cornwall: Nation. Tradition. Invention

Author: Alan M. Kent

Photographer: Jan Beare

Publisher: Halsgrove

Published: 23 July 2012

ISBN: 978-0857040787

Pages: 288 with an index of place names and a bibliography

Synopsis: Exploring the sites associated with the Celts, both in ancient and more modern times, this volume provides a fascinating insight into the landscape, life and traditions that have made Cornwall and its people ‘different’.

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Review: The book is organized like a Gazetteer, and it discusses the areas of Penwith, West Cornwall and Scilly. There is an index in the back with place names so that you can look up a certain area and the entries have color coded dotes that tell you what interest the entry falls under. The interests include: Arthurian references, literature, sacred wells, monuments, Celtic crosses just to name a few.

I was looking for things in this book that point towards an ancient Celtic calendar or at least hints to feasts…it didn’t really have any. What it did have was an amazing array of places that will give you a taste of how complicated Cornwall is and how beautiful. I think this book is a great place to look if you want a historical tour of Cornwall or are planning the best places to see while you are there. The pictures are beautiful and very intriguing. The information that accompanies the entries is very informative and interesting. Great reference to places I want to one day visit.

The Silver Bough Vol 1

Full Title: The Silver Bough Volume 1 Scottish Folklore and Folk Belief. (1 of 4)

Author: F. Marian McNeill

Publisher: Canongate Classics

Published: 1956 by William MacLellan, first published by Canongate Classics in 1989

ISBN: 0 86241 231 5

Pages: 242, with the notes starting on page 169

Synopsis: A marvellous and indispensible treasury of Scottish folklore and folk belief from the world of Celtic magic, gods and fairies, to the prophesies of the Brahan seer, second sight, witchcraft, earth magic, selkies, changelings and a host of traditional spells and cures. The Silver Bough involved many years of research into both living and recorded folklore, and remains a classic of literature.

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Review: I’m not going to review this book on whether or not it can be trusted factually. It can’t. This was first published in 1956 and since then, a lot of new discoveries were made and a lot of information in this volume of The Silver Bough has either been completely debunked or shown to be missing or incomplete. However, for its time it was cutting edge.

What I will do is tell you what this volume discusses. The Silver Bough volume 1 sets up the rest of the volumes of this series. It gives you the background to the festivals and where they may have come from, it discusses the druids, witches, the Gods, magic, fairies, and Christianity.

Now let me tell you what I got out of this book. I got a general sense of what in 1956 was known about the Celts, and I got the set up of a general outline of what the next three volumes of The Silver Bough will be talking about. The text also has some quotes from classical writers about the Celts, and the Druids.

I would not recommend it as a book to start out your studies with but as one that you can read after you have some history about the Celts- especially the Scottish people- and the Druids.

Help a doggie live.

My friends and followers. I don’t usually do this but this is something close to my heart. My amazing friend Saigh Kym Lambert owner of Shadow of the Hooded Crow website needs our help. She has a beautiful dog, Gleann, who needs life saving surgery and she needs to raise money to get that done. She has some amazing perks that she is offering for donations, as well as a shop you can by stuff from and an auction going on for those who love Linda Hamilton, The Terminator years. So let me tell you a little about these perks.

Beautiful black dog called Gleann1. The fund raiser:

Gleann’s Surgery Fundraiser  

Perk 01:  Saigh says, “This is a voucher for a reduction in the cost of workshops, in person (which may not happen at all if no venue can be found) or online. Due to the focus on trying to save Gleann, the planning for these workshops has been put on hold, so they may not happen until LATE 2017 now…and to be perfectly frank, far longer if we do lose him after all this, it will take me more time to recover. 

The reduction will be for $5 LESS than the donation, due to the fees. It is also retroactive, so if you have donate $10 or more and are interested you can take this. 

If you choose this option, I will send you an email acknowledging this and you need to keep it safe. At the time of registration you can send a copy of the email with your registration (or if it is a real life venue and you register in person you can use a print version). I will also keep a list of email addresses and I will send a mailing out.”

Perk 02: A Celtic Knot Embroidered bag if you donate 100 dollars. Only 1 available.

Felt bag by Gaiam, messenger type, long strap, wood toggle closure, zipper pocket under flap.

If outside of the US, please know if there are any shipping restrictions. They will ship anywhere they can but they will ask you for the shipping costs.

Perk 03: Pictish Horse Pendant if you donate 100 dollars or more. Only 1 available.

Appears to be by Rainnea when they were making such things. Pewter. No chain/cord, mesh bag.

If outside of the US, please know if there are any shipping restrictions. The will ship anywhere they can and add on the shipping costs.

Perk 04: Wolf head pendant/charm if you donate 100 dollars or more. Only 1 available.

Silver or silver plated, yes it’s tarnished, sorry, comes with velvet like pouch but no cord or chain. Wolf “bites” the chain. Black stone. 

If outside of the US, please know if there are any shipping restrictions. The will ship anywhere they can and add on the shipping costs.

Perk 04: Lady With A Mead Cup if you donate 500 dollars. Only 1 available.

Four Court Press, 2007 hardcover edition. Like new, barely touched. Which is all she’ll say about her feelings for this book. Well, okay, she also feels her dog should be richly awarded for keeping this book in such condition because it would have flown across the room many times if she hadn’t been worried about scaring him. So to release another copy back into the world she expects a good donation. More than she is asking would be appreciated. Remember you’re helping us save a dog and getting a book in return, not buying a book! 

If outside of the US, please know if there are any shipping restrictions. The will ship anywhere they can and add on the shipping costs.

2. The Auction at The Terminator Fans website

If you are a fan of Linda Hamilton, the Terminator years then please go and bid on the items available.

Item 01: A signed autograph of Linda Hamilton

Item 02: 3 McFarlane Sarah Connor Varient Figures BOXED!

3. The shops: 

Nurturing Strength 

Dún Sgáthan

Sarah Conner Charm School

If you buy anything from these shops you will be helping the funding for the operation.

PLEASE, PLEASE help if you can or bid on the items. And please, please share this wide and far.

Welsh Folk Customs

Author: Trefor M. Owen

Publisher: Gomer Press

Published: First edition 1959, this edition 1994

ISBN: 0863833470

Pages: 197 including a selected bibliography and index, and 16 black and white plates.


Review:

I bought this book for my research and it was such a delight to read. The text talks about the customs of the Welsh people, both calendrical and social. 

It has five chapters about the Christmas season, Candlemas and the moveable feasts, May and Midsummer, the harvest and winter eve, and finally birth, marriage and death.

I learned a lot from this book but what I loved most about it was how the author presented the material. You know what was considered a “new” custom and what might have been a remanent of ancient times. Highly recommended.