by Lora O’Brien
New Page Books, 2005, $14.99 US
Review by Daven
I got this book because I had received the promotional materials from the publisher and this one looked to be interesting. So I asked for it and got it the day I was to leave for an event planned over Samhain weekend. So I stuck it in my bag, vowing to review it as I got the opportunity.
Well, it’s been long and hard, but I finally finished the book. Not because it’s bad, not because it’s highbrow, but because of the ideas explored in this book are weighty.
As a Celt (Scottish descent) and as a Druid who is trying to follow an Irish path, I appreciate that this book starts out with the idea that one cannot study Irish magick and Irish Witchcraft without studying Ireland itself. So much of the “Celtic” magickal groups out there think that if they say a few words in Gaelic and chant the Gods’ names that they are Celtic and this makes me very sad for the future of Pagan religion.
But this book starts with the advice that to understand the magick of Ireland, one should travel to Ireland. Failing that, one must understand Ireland through study and through the myths and culture. Only then can a student start understanding the Gods, the fey, the magick, and the sacred places of Ireland. THEN, and only then, can one start understand the spells and rituals that are made up of those elements that have been studied till now.
It’s a refreshing change from the “one book and I’m a witch” set.
I also appreciate that this book doesn’t try to be one thing to everyone. There are no spells, no rituals, no “Irish Witchcraft 101” in here to bulk it up and take up room. There is a short section on the holidays from the perspective of someone living with those holidays in the places where they are still celebrated. There is a discussion on the Fey Folk and their connection to the Land and people. There is a discussion of the people of Ireland. There is a section talking about the Celtic deities, not in a shopping list of qualities, but in the sense of their personality and Their wants and desires.
I know I’m supposed to find something wrong with this book to criticize at this point, to tell you what I though was wrong with it. Honestly, aside from personal quibbles of problems *I* would have with the material, I can’t find anything to criticize. So here you go; I didn’t like all the rules she lays out for what I should do.
It doesn’t matter that she’s right, and that they are absolutely necessary for me to follow to get the most out of my studies of Ireland and the magick of Ireland (and I know it). Part of me was being a spoiled petulant little child and digging my heels in.
So, that’s that. Short review. It’s earned the 5 stars out of 5 rating. I advise anyone who is interested in Celtic or Irish Witchcraft to go out and buy this book. Pass up the ice cream and the late’, get this book. Read it, absorb it, study it, go back months later and read it again. Understand that this system is VASTLY different from any that you have encountered before, accept that and read the book again. Pack your bags to go to Ireland and do the tourist circuit. I hope to move there one day. But get this book.