Category Archives: Books

The Everything Celtic Wisdom Book

The Everything Celtic Wisdom Book Jennifer Emick (2009)

The Everything Celtic Wisdom Book: Find Inspiration Through Ancient Traditions, Rituals, and Spirituality

People of many denominations find spiritual meaning and inspiration in the wisdom of the Celtic tribes. The Celtic path of wisdom incorporates Druidism, early Christianity, and ancient Celtic myth and lore. This guide includes discussion of the following topics: The Divine Male and Female; Shamanism; Druidism; Celtic Christianity; Fairies and other creatures of nature; Celtic folklore; and more. This thoughtful look at Celtic spirituality includes Irish, Scottish, and Welsh traditions – both familiar and mysterious. With this invaluable guide, readers will walk the path to the Celtic Otherworld through traditional poetry, ritual, and prayer – on a never-ending journey of the soul.

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I found The Everything Celtic Wisdom Book to be a quick and enjoyable read, suited to someone new to the world of Celtic culture or who wants a light-hearted summary of Celtic history and mythology.  The author covers topics such as the Celtic myth cycles, the druids, Celtic religion, art and symbology, faeries, the Wheel of the Year, and Celts in the modern age.

One of the major problems I found with the book, however, was how the author took great liberties with her theories and made connections and inferences without much backup.  I would have appreciated footnotes or examples of why she was drawing connections in some instances.

If you’re looking for factual reference and an academic review of the Celtic people, I’d recommend looking elsewhere.  However if you’re looking for an enjoyable introductory read about Celtic history, culture, religion and mythology, this is a good book to have on your shelf.

© The Celtic Journey (2013)

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The Mabinogion

The Mabinogion is a collection of Welsh stories, mostly mythology and folklore, including the earliest Arthurian myths.

the-mabinogion

The stories were originally found in two manuscripts, the White Book of Rhydderch (1300-1325) and the Red Book of Hergest (1375-1425), however some of the stories are thought to have been written as early as the 11th century.  Lady Charlotte Guest was the first to translate these stories to English in the mid-19th century.  Curiously, the name ‘The Mabinogion’ is thought to have arisen from a translation error of ‘Mabinogi’, meaning ‘tale of a hero’s boyhood’.

The Mabinogion is divided into three categories:

Four Branches of the Mabinogi (“Pedair Cainc y Mabinogi”)

  • Pwyll Pendefig Dyfed (Pwyll, Prince/Lord of Dyfed)
  • Branwen ferch Llŷr (Branwen, daughter of Llŷr)
  • Manawydan fab Llŷr (Manawydan, son of Llŷr)
  • Math fab Mathonwy (Math, son of Mathonwy)

Independent Tales from Welsh tradition and legend

  • Breuddwyd Macsen Wledig (The Dream of Macsen  Wledig)
  • Lludd a Llefelys  (Lludd and Llefelys)
  • Culhwch ac Olwen (Culhwch and Olwen)
  • Breuddwyd Rhonabwy ( The Dream of Rhonabwy)
  • Hanes Taliesin (The Tale of Taliesin)

Welsh Romances

  • Owain, neu Iarlles y Ffynnon (Owain, the Lady of the Fountain)
  • Peredur fab Efrog (Peredur, son of Efrawg)
  • Geraint ac Enid (Geraint and Enid)

The first four stories, the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, all containing a central character, Pryderi.  In the first story, Pwyll, Pryderi grows into a man.  In the second Pryderi is scarcely mentioned, however Branwen marries the King of Ireland.  In the third, Pryderi return home with Manawydan, brother of Branwen.  The fourth involves Math and Gwydion, who come into conflict with Pryderi.

In the Independent Tales, The Dream of Macsen Wledig involves an emperor marrying a maiden he saw in a dream.  Lludd and Llefelys tells the story of Britain suffering from three strange plagues.  The next two, Culhwch and Olwen  and The Dream of Rhonabwy, involve King Arthur and his companions.  A fifth story sometimes included is the Tale of Taliesin, however this story was not found in the earlier manuscripts and is thought to have been included at a later stage.

The Mabinogion - Peredur Son of Efrawg

The Welsh Romances, Owain, Peredur, and Geraint and Enid, are similar to the French Arthurian romances written by Chrétien de Troyes in the 12th century.

The Mabinogion Alan Lee

The entire collection is set in a magical Welsh landscape with giants, magical creatures, beautiful women, and brave heroes.  They deal with the theme of fall and redemption, loyalty, marriage, love, fidelity, the wronged wife, and incest.

Given that the fantasy fiction genre was practically unknown before its publication, The Mabinogion has had a huge cultural influence.  It introduced literary figures such as King Arthur and Merlin, and has provided a basis for European and world literature that has been published since.

Wiki – Maginogion
Timeless Myths
BBC History

© The Celtic Journey (2013)

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Goddess Alive

Goddess Alive: Inviting Celtic & Norse Goddesses Into Your Life  Michelle Skye (2007)

The changing of the seasons, phases of the moon, even our personal experiences-all are reflections of the Divine Feminine. Create a stronger connection to the sacred world and your own divinity by welcoming these thirteen powerful Celtic and Nordic goddesses into your life. (Amazon)

The Winter Solstice: Cerridwyn, Welsh Goddess of Rebirth and Renewal
Imbolc: Brigid, Irish Goddess of Fire
The Spring Equinox: Eostre, Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring
Beltane: Freyja, Norse Goddess of Love and War
The Summer Solstice: Áine, Irish Goddess of Faeries and Fertility
Lammas/Lughnasadh: Danu, Irish Mother Goddess of Wisdom
The Autumn Equinox: Modron, Welsh Mother Goddess of Mystery
Samhain: Hella, Norse Goddess of the Underworld

Waxing Moon: Branwen, Welsh Goddess of Sovereignty
Full Moon: Maeve, Irish Goddess of Personal Power
Waning Moon: The Valkyries, Norse Goddesses of Battle Magic and Soul Journey
Dark Moon: Morrighan, Irish Goddess of Magic and Death
New Moon: Rhiannon, Welsh Great Queen and Horse Goddess

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The Singing Stone

The Singing Stone O.R. Melling (1988)

 

Following anonymous clues and increasingly strong dream-visions, modern-day Kay travels to Ireland and enters the Bronze-Age. She and a De Danann foundling, Aherne, are charged with finding the lost treasures of the De Danaans. Ultimately, their quest will redeem the ancestors and reconcile warring invaders and settlers moral concerns that mirror modern ones.

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This was the book that started it all for me, peaking my interest in magic, adventure, and all things Celtic.  Imagine my surprise when I grew up and realized that much of what the author wrote about was from existing Celtic folklore and mythology, rather then a figment of her imagination (well, ok maybe a bit of figmental imagination thrown in).  The Tuatha de Danann, the Fomorians, the Fir Bolg, Amergin, Eriu, and the four magical treasures; Dagda‘s Cauldron, the Spear of Lugh, the Sword of Nuada, and the Stone of Destiny…  all from Celtic folklore.  Even though I first read this book many, many years ago, I think its a great young adult book for children and adults alike.  Definately my favourite from O.R. Melling.

© The Celtic Journey (2013)

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