- Paperback: 180 pages
- Publisher: Moon Books; Reprint edition (September 7, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1780997965
- ISBN-13: 978-1780997964
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.4 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,513,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors Paperback – September 7, 2013
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About the Author
|Mabh Savage lives in Yorkshire, England, and was raised by Wiccan parents who had a passion for Celtic history, both mythological and actual. She is now involved with several pagan groups and is exploring her heritage as a way to get closer to the world around her, and understand her ancestors more.|
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For those people who have experienced the fire-side chat mode, that time after a ritual or lesson when you are sitting around a bonfire (or in the case of lodge members--during the after-ritual dinner) talking to your teacher and fellow students and seekers, the style of this book will be familiar. It is a rather informal book, one that my professors in college and university would have imploded upon reading. It is a step above gossip, generally on the level of the stories that one tells when one's coven (study group or lodge) has became a familial unit of sorts.
This style may be strange to those who have been practicing and studying by themselves, or who have gotten involved in the "strict lodge" setting where students are forced to hang out only with others of their particular grade and degree of knowledge. Hint: the fire-side chat mode is the start of the oral traditions that one hears about.
This book is not heavy on knowledge or techniques. It is a retelling of personal stories. And it will be a comfort for those who have experienced similar events, and educational for those with open minds who have not. I think that the book is worthwhile reading, despite the lack of spoon-fed lore and techniques; but I imagine that there will be readers who take issue with the book because of the lack of information and detail in it (one cannot say that I did not try to warn them off).
Is the information that is given accurate? This is a hard question to answer, at least for me; I am not an expert in Celtic paganism. But I do have a benchmark to attempt to hazard a guess, and that is how the author treats the Celtic Tree Calendar. For those who do not know, the Celtic Tree Calendar was created almost completely out of thin air by Robert Graves during the "paganism has survived underground, and my wild theories is what the ancient pagans actually thought" mode of the pagan revival (the Golden Dawn of the 1880s and the Wiccan books of Gerald Gardner are other examples of that particular stage of the pagan revival). Basically, there is no evidence to indicate that the Ancient Celts used such a fixed calendar, not alone the one that Robert Graves expounded upon.
There are three modes of dealing with the Celtic Calendar: 1) insisting on the truth of it...mainly because one loves the idea that paganism survived underground clear up to the start of the pagan revival; 2) completely abandoning it...because only actual Celtic practices should be used; and 3) splitting the difference...acknowledging the fact that Graves made the Celtic Tree Calendar up, yet using the result because it serves a purpose.
Mabh Savage belongs to the splitting the difference camp. She acknowledges the fictional nature of the Celtic Tree Calendar, and then proceeds to gather some actual tree and plant lore from the Ancient Celts to illustrate that Graves was not pulling it completely out of thin air and that there might be a grain of usefulness in the Celtic Tree Calendar. As someone who belongs to a group that does much the same with the Celtic Tree Calendar, I like that approach (the group that I belong to uses the Celtic Tree Calendar because it needed a Celtic knowledge system that could be represented in diagram form...it is a lodge thing).
Overall, given the fact that book is meant to be, essentially a set of fire-side style stories about how modern Celts are interacting with the deities and practices of the Ancient Celts, I give it five out of five stars. (It would suffer a loss of at least one star if one decided to judge it based on lore or techniques--something that the book is not really about.)
[Disclosure: This review is based on a pre-publication version provided by the publisher.]
Steeped in Celtic lore and mythology from an early age, Ms. Savage understands that not every person will connect with every deity, but that the Celtic tradition as a whole has deep meaning for many modern Pagans. To this end she introduces us to the Irish gods and goddesses, not just as they appear in the ancient tales, but as they have shown themselves in her life and the lives of those close to her.
In addition to discussing the deities, Ms. Savage takes the reader through the wheel of the year from the viewpoint of modern Celtic spirituality, offering glimpses into the meaning of each major point on the circle and inviting us to explore them more deeply ourselves. She also shares wonderful stories from her fellow Celtic Pagans, showing us that magic is very much alive in the world and that it touches those who are open to it.
I was especially moved by the chapter about the ancestors. My personal spiritual practice revolves around my ancestors, which is unusual in today's Pagan community, as far as I have been able to tell. Ms. Savage's conversations about the ancestors, on whose shoulders we stand, offer helpful advice and information about how to approach this aspect of spirituality and incorporate it into modern Pagan practice.
The book includes a helpful set of appendices in the form of a tiny little encyclopedia of Celtic lore, from sacred trees to symbolic animals to the major figures of Celtic mythology.
Ms. Savage experiences the Celtic deities as living beings, as current and relevant as you or I, and she shares this experience in vibrant, approachable prose. This is real, current, living spirituality, a connection from the deep past to the most recent moment.
I am in the strange place of being of Celtic ancestry, born and lived most my life in England and then moved to Ireland, land of my ancestors. Although I have a passing acquaintance with the myths and legends of the land that is now my home Mabh Savage brings these to life as she weaves their stories in with her own life and experiences along with those of her parents and friends. We hear about the children of Danu the Morrigan, the Daga, Brigid, Lugh and Cu Chullain before being taken on a journey through the Turning of the Wheel, the Craft of the Fae and much much more. The book also contains some ideas about how to connect with your own ancestors and an appendix containing some useful background information including a glossary of Celtic terms plus exercises in Magic with a Celtic Twist.
Ms Savage has a delightful easy to read style, her approach to her paganism, witchcraft and the Celtic background that is the driving force behind the book, is all dealt with a light touch and it is this as much as the tales she weaves that carries the reader along. She shares with the reader her struggle to make sense of being drawn to her own Celtic ancestry and the importance of it in a modern world. In particular I really appreciated her take on 'magic' as it is very conducive to encouraging anyone reading A Modern Celt to see the magic that they create in their own lives, day in day out.
I would recommend this book to pagans, non pagans, explorers of life and especially to anyone with even a passing interest in the Tuatha De Dannon and Irish Celtic Mythology for it will surely awaken their desire to learn more and maybe even to investigate their own ancestry.