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!!!!

Irish Paganism

Full Title: Irish Paganism – Reconstructing Irish Polytheism (Part of the Pagan Portals series)

Author: Morgan Daimler

Publisher: Moon Books

Published: 2015

ISBN: 978-1-78535-145-7

Pages: 89 including Appendix A – Pronunciation Guide, Appendix B – Recommended reading for Irish Polytheists, Appendix C- Myth titles in both languages, bibliography and endnotes.

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Synopsis: Irish Reconstructionist Polytheism is an often misunderstood path, but it is one with great richness and depth for those who follow it. This short introductory book touches on the basic beliefs and practices of Irish Polytheism as well as other important topics for people interested in practicing the religion using a Reconstructionist methodology or who would just like to know more about it. Explore the cosmology of the ancient Irish and learn how the old mythology and living culture show us the Gods and spirits of Ireland and how to connect to them. Ritual structure is explored, as well as daily practices and holidays, to create a path that brings the old beliefs forward into the modern world.

Review:

As can be seen from the page count, this is a very short book, typical for a Pagan Portals book. Even so, it packs in quite a bit. There are so very few books out there written on Celtic Reconstructionism and Daimler’s book on Irish Reconstructionism is a welcome addition. This book is a well-researched look at the basics and should serve as a great introductory text for people interested in walking this path and don’t know where to start.

The book is made up of 7 chapters and discusses the methodology behind reconstructionism, the basic beliefs of the Irish, rituals, the holy days, and mysticism. Chapter six deals with controversial topics like race, cultural appropriation and sexuality. In the final chapter, the author wraps up the book with a conclusion.

I really enjoyed reading this book, twice. It has just the right amount of information as to not leave people wanting or confused but also just the right amount of push to get you on your own exploration of this path. Highly recommended for people who have read the Celtic FAQ, have decided that Ireland will be their hearth culture and are ready to get the specific basics for that hearth culture.

A Guide to Irish Mythology

Author: Daragh Smyth

Publisher: Irish Academic Press

Published: First published in 1988, this edition 1996

ISBN: 9780716526124

Pages: 200 including source material list and index

Synopsis: This guide, structured alphabetically with a helpful cross-reference system, allows the reader to delve into the ornate world of Irish mythology and its four cycles of tales: the Mythological Cycle, the Ulster Cycle, the Fenian or Ossianic Cycle, and the Historical Cycle or Cycle of Kings. The characters associated with each of these cycles are vividly brought to life — heroes such as Cuchulainn, Oisin, Cormac Mac Airt, Conchobar Mac Nessa, Finn and the Fianna.

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Review: I really wanted to like this book, but in the end I could not get past a few things. The author starts the book with a Preface in which he quotes Robert Graves…that was strike one. In the Introduction he talks about “scholars” saying this or that and my reaction was always WHICH scholars. Then there is all the incorrect information or out of date information in many of the entires. The truth is I knew this book was old so I was expecting some out of date information but what I found was even worse than I thought. And finally, SOLAR DEITIES EVERYWHERE!

Here is what I did like about it, the author wanted this book to be a cross-reference system for the person reading the Irish myths, in that he has succeeded. I can look up a name and get their story, honestly though; there are many books out there which do a better job and are more up-to-date than this one.

I’m filing this one under lessons learned…moving on.

The Myths of the Gods: Structures in Irish Mythology

Author: Alan Ward
Publisher: CreateSpace
Published: March 21st 2011
ISBN-13: 9781460984604

Synopsis: An application of Georges Dumézil’s tripartite diagnostic for Indo-European to the primary sources of Irish mythology (medieval manuscripts but also folklore collected in the 20th century). Comparison is made not only with the structures and remains of other traditions but also with structures in the wider field of Indo-European linguistics. Where this study differs from others in the same field is the “pincer attack” used – the author is a native speaker of Irish and so checked out all the texts in the original but is also a linguist with considerable experience of other Indo-European languages, including Vedic Sanskrit. If the reader finds that, despite its undoubted shortcomings, this analysis helps to situate the myths of the Irish gods in their wider, Indoeuropean, context, then it will have served its purpose.

Review: I decided to write this review as I read the book because I had so much to say and I was worried that I’d forget it all. So here it goes.

Chapter One The Irish Pantheon: The first thing that struck me as odd was the fact that the author has these neat little boxes that he put the Irish Gods in. Boxes like Shaman God, Sky God, Wind God, etc., and that is not something that anyone who knows the Irish Gods can say about Them, that They fit into neat little boxes. The other thing that struck me as odd was that he equated Gods with each other just because in different manuscripts they seem to be put into the same role or put into a trilogy with other Gods, forgetting that the myths are not perfect, written by Christian Monks, and are in some cases fragmented. To my mind he is also not taking into account that different Gods were worshipped by different tribes and just because they may have similar functions that does not mean they are equal. Some of his classifications actually boggle the mind…

Chapter Two Structure of the Irish Pantheon: In this chapter the author takes George Dumézil’s three function theory and applies it to the Irish Pantheon or rather his representation of it (Shaman God, Sky God and so on). I think that George Dumézil’s theory is a good one when applied generally to the Indo-European Pantheon but for the Irish Pantheon…I’m not so sure it works. To add to that he uses the associations of the four elements, which isn’t particularly Irish or Celtic for that matter.

Chapter Three The Celtic Pantheon: In this chapter he seems to think that just because some Deities are similar in name across the Celtic World then they must be the same Deity (Lugh and Lleu for example), I’m not sure how he came across this thought and by this point I’m starting not to care really. We know that the ancient pagan were HARD POLYTHEISTS and that means that each God or Goddess was a distinct Deity in His or Her own right…Add to that the fact that because we don’t know much about the Gaulish Gods he seems to think that using “interpretation Romana” helps with that, and to a certain degree it does, but not to the extent that he seems to have used it.

Chapter Four The Indoeuropean Pantheon: In this chapter the author uses the word Indoeuropean (yes unhyphenated) to mean the Indo-European daughter cultures rather than the reconstructed Indo-European Pantheon. The chapter is short and again uses the Shaman God, Sky God, etc., analogy to discuss in VERY brief terms the Vedic pantheon among a few others like the Norse, Roman and Greek pantheons (with the Roman and Greek he points out that they don’t fit in very well with the structure he has set up).

This ends Part One The Pantheon. You are probably wondering if there was anything I liked about this part, the truth is, yes there is something that I did like about this part. With every mention of a God or Goddess the author tells us from which manuscript he gets the name or story about the Deities he is using. This gives me a good build up of places to look if I am looking for a certain God or Goddess that I have not studied yet…

Chapter Five to Nine: I have to say I’m pretty impressed with the way the author interprets the myths to fit in with his pantheon structure. If you accept the structure, the myths he chose and the way he interprets them make perfect sense. I do see a few chinks in the armor, for example, when he talks about Nuadu and Ogma being alter egos even though they are together in one of the myths and he says this is the only time that happens as if that makes perfect sense.

Part Two The Myths was actually a delight to read. Putting some of the interpretations aside again the draw is that the author mentions exactly where he got his myths from and from what manuscripts. In some cases his interpretations are really good minus the attempt to box in the Gods. If you were ever confused by some of the myths this would be a great part to read, just to get a “clean” chopped up into little pieces that make sense version of these myths. This is part of the reason I’m giving this book a good grade. Read it only after you’ve studied the Gods enough to know when he is making sense and when he is not and read it only after you have read enough myths to know where the chinks in his armor occur.