Archive for March, 2012
Note: I have been posting my book reviews on my other blog, Roots Leaves & Threads but I thought I’d put Pagan-related ones here.
Sacred Cauldron is an excellent primer on Celtic Reconstructionist religion. (Regardless of whether the CR community thinks) Tadhg MacCrossan calls his tradition “Druidactos” focusing on Gaulish culture. There isn’t much information on Gaulish polytheism, however so most of the book is based on Irish and Welsh mythology, history and folklore.
I can tell it is very well researched, using many reputable sources I am familiar with such as “Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland & Wales” by the Rees brothers and “Gods of the Celts” by Miranda Green.
On the down side- There were some assertions in the “Gods and Their Tales” chapter that I found questionable- so be a little careful with that. I thought his ritual set up (nemeton or grove) was overly complex- I think it is based on Vedic (Indian) ritual. He includes several useful appendices terms for ritual gear and other words in various languages including Proto-Indo-European. In general he is very big on comparing IE mythologies, but I think he tends to emphasize similarities over differences a little too much. We certainly can get many good ideas from other IE (and some non-IE) cultures, but we need to stay true to the Celtic spirit. Overall though, this is a well put together and very useful book for Celtic Pagans. I wish it would go back in print!
Though I have to say the marketing on the back is annoying “Secrets of the Druids Revealed!” That’s typical Llewellyn, probably not the author’s choice.
Every March I hear Pagans proclaim that we shouldn’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day because he converted Ireland to Christianity and suppressed the old religion. First off, St. Patrick wasn’t entirely responsible for the conversion of the Irish people. Both Scottish and English missionaries had come there before him, but he was very influential in spreading the religion.
Secondly, the conversion of Ireland and Britain was fairly peaceful. So it wasn’t this “Evil Patriarchal Christians vs. Good Goddess-Worshipping Pagans” scenario you find in Mists of Avalon and other fantasy novels. They’re just that: fantasy novels! The Irish people were quite receptive to the Gospel- here is an article about the conversion of Britain, and the reasons an Anglo-Saxon king found it appealing- it was probably similar in Ireland.
Well, enough history. So, should we, as Pagans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? We aren’t a monolithic group, it’s a personal choice. I think those who do and don’t celebrate should respect each others choices.
In the United States, and other countries in the Irish Diaspora (Canada, Australia etc.) St. Paddy’s Day is a cultural holiday rather than a religion, a celebration of Irish heritage and culture. It’s more of a religious holiday in Ireland, but the American version has been spreading there as well. I was raised with pride in my heritage and so we always had fun wearing green, listening to music and such. So why change that?
If anyone reading this is in or near St. Paul- I invite you to the Irish Music & Dance Association’s celebration at the Landmark Center. It’s a great time, with music, dancing, workshops on topics of interest and vendors
Enjoy yourselves, but please drink responsibly and choose a Designated Driver just in case. Metro Transit also has free rides after 6pm on March 17th.