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The Flaming Circle Paperback – July 11, 2008

3.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 452 pages
  • Publisher: Pendraig Publishing; First Edition edition (July 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979616840
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979616846
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,523,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James E. Goodwin on December 31, 2008
Format: Paperback
I normally do not write "bad" reviews on amazon.com, if a book I have read is not a 4 or 5 star book I just keep it to myself. I am making an exception this time because I bought this book based on the other 5 star reviews.

My biggest problem with this book is that it is not exactly what it claims. The term "Celtic Reconstructionism" has come to mean something very specific. That is a religious outlook that is built up on solid evidence in literature, linguistics, and archeology. This book is not that. I have a strong suspicion that Mr. Artisson, in the time honored tradition of paganism, used source materials to support his own ideas and theories and not the other way around. There is nothing wrong with this, of course, but to do so is not Celtic Reconstructionism.

He lost me right at the very beginning when he began speaking about a "great mother" Goddess, associated with the moon, and then about the "Five Realms" which are given colors (which did not even make much sense to me) and once again associated with the moon and directional and animal associations. While the Five directions are known from Irish literature, ironically, Mr. Artisson does not even mention the five provinces.

While I was willing to let this go, I also am not a reconstructionist, unfortunately the rest of the book builds heavily on the theme of the "Five Realms" and their associations. Even names he uses for several of the Deities are derived from these associations.

Coming to the Deities... as a strong polytheist I try not to associate the deities of one culture with another. As tempting as it is to associate Welsh and Irish deities, and as real as their associations are, I find it disrespectful to break down what the ancient cultures may have spent 1000s of years creating.
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Format: Paperback
Artisson's writing style is transparent and overly-simplistic. Normally, this would be a strike against a text, but in the case of "The Flaming Circle," it may be the book's saving grace.

The utter transparency of the writing allows readers to spot Artisson's prejudices, contradictions and self-justifications with amazing ease. Many of his arguments are conflicted and unclear in nature, especially those regarding his personal crusades (e.g. his strict separation of pantheons that were not historically distinct), his rather unfriendly personality (e.g. his justification of manipulation and distrust of others who disagree with him), and his dislike of and fundamental ignorance about Christianity and other (mostly monotheistic) world religions (I was blown away when he argued that Christians, whose whole belief structure centers on the brutal murder of their deity as an act of salvation and rebirth, apparently did not understand the power of darkness and death). At over four hundred pages long, it's hard to believe Artisson could persist in such a lengthy writing project without learning something about his own inconsistencies, but his frequent references to the "limitations of words" belies a basic discomfort with the medium common to many mediocre writers.

Despite its flaws, however, "The Flaming Circle" is incredibly thorough and, for the most part, competently structured. The first half of the book is perhaps the most interesting, detailing Artisson's personal Pagan worldview. Readers with the patience and persistent to wade through repetitive, "fuzzy" language will gain valuable insight into a Pagan perspective on deity, energetic realms and basic ethical values (even those Artisson fails to apply consistently).
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2 Comments 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
I'm not too sure what happened to Robin Artisson with this book, but it is a far cry from Witching Way of the Hollow Hill and Horn of Evenwood. Robin seems to have toned down his writing style in this book and unfortunately it shows through out the whole work. I hate to say it, but this book seems to have more in common with mainstream celtic wicca than anything he has written previously.
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Format: Paperback
I get to review a lot of books, and here finally is one that I don't have to pretend to be nice about. I have read a lot of books on Celtic paganism and paganism in general, but only a handful, maybe not even that many, could be said to have 'changed my life'; this is one of them.
The things that make this book different to other things I've read on the topic are many and various. The first that comes to mind is the fact that it presents the reader with a whole and integral philosophy of life, that holds together and gives an ontological framework for the practice of Celtic Reconstructed Paganism. The philosophical depth of this vision of how Celtic pagan religion can be reexperienced today means that you are not just dealing with the gods and practices as cardboard cut-outs and walk-throughs of half understood ritual actions.
What is also really exciting about this book is that the practices outlined for spiritual development within this cultural stream, allows for the possibility that Celtic Paganism could once again partake of the dignity and purpose of other world religions. And by 'dignity' and 'purpose' I mean things like: how does it answer the individuals deepest questions about life and death? How does it provide for spiritual development? How does it provide people with wholeness, peace, joy?

Its 'sister faith' Asatru's success in these areas makes me long for something of similar depth and strength for Celtic Reconstruction. It seems to me that Mr Artisson's book answers this need. Any living religion needs to draw on a careful and delicate mix of received sources and the inspiration and spiritual insights of it's great thinkers, and 'The Flaming Circle' does just that.
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