Review: The Druid’s Primer

The Druid's Primer

by Luke Eastwood

   Review by Morgan Daimler

There are many books on the market that aim to introduce the seeker to the basics of Druidism, but The Druid’s Primer by Luke Eastwood is perhaps the single best introduction book I have read. It's greatest strength is that it manages to present a great deal of modern Druidic material fairly and with clear references to the sources. The author has done a great deal of research into the historic material, which is also presented well and in an easily accessible manner.

The book begins with a chapter that summarizes the historic material. This was very well done, with the material being covered thoroughly and concisely. This section touches on everything from the early Celtic period and what we have from secondary sources such as Pliny and Caesar up to the modern era revival. Although not gone into as deeply as in other books the single chapter effectively summarizes the highlights and is more than enough to get a beginner started or serve as a basic refresher for a more experienced person.

The next chapter tackles possibly the most complex subject in modern Druidism, defining what a Druid is. The book does an excellent job of presenting the different current theories fairly, including the possible etymologies of the word "druid" itself. The different historical sources are once again drawn upon including Irish mythology and the later Barddas, which the text acknowledges as a well known forgery but also influential on the revivalist period. The author also discusses his own view of what a Druid does and who a Druid is, creating a fascinating and complex picture of the modern Druid.

From here the next seven chapters discuss: Gods & Goddesses, Myth & Legend, Elemental Forces, Cosmology, Inspiration, Imramma, and Animism & Animal Worship. Each chapter is a blend of well-researched history and modern application that manages to offer a balanced view of modern Druidism without favoring any one particular path or focus. In most cases multiple views are offered for the reader to consider with sources given so that the reader may further pursue anything of interest.

This is followed by a section, Cycles of the Sun, Moon and Earth, that looks at the historic and modern way that Druids would honor the passing of time and holy days. The author discusses a system of lunar rituals based on Alexei Kondratiev's book [amazon_link id="0806525029" target="_blank" ]The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual[/amazon_link] that could be used by modern Druids seeking to connect to the moon. This is followed by a discussion of the solar year and it's holidays, including all of the eight holidays of the modern pagan wheel of the year.

Next is a section on tools, which looks at the tools historically attributed to the Druids. It begins by discussing clothing, rather in depth, including the colors likely worn and the Irish texts referring to dress and color. Sickles, wands, staffs, the Druid egg, cauldron/chalice, magical branch, musical instruments, the crane bag, and sword are discussed. The four treasures of the Tuatha de Danann are also mentioned in a modern context as tools that Druids today may choose to use, although they have no historic basis in that context.

The final four chapters look at divination, the Ogham, medicine & healing, and justice & wisdom. Each of these was important in some way to the historic Druids and so each chapter looks at how the subject relates to historic Druidism and how these can relate to modern practice.

Overall this book is more than worth the money and certainly the best book to begin with if one is interested in learning about the path of Druidism. It is full of the history of Druidism and also shows the wide array of modern possibilities that are open to new seekers. For more experienced Druids this book will serve as a great refresher or reference.

[amazon_image id="1846947642" link="true" target="_blank" size="medium" ]The Druid's Primer[/amazon_image]

[amazon_link id="1846947642" target="_blank" ]The Druid's Primer[/amazon_link]
Paperback: 318 pages
Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1 inches
Publisher: John Hunt Publishing; Reprint edition (February 16, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1846947642
ISBN-13: 978-1846947643
List: $26.95 - Amazon: $19.67 -
Kindle $7.99

[amazon_enhanced asin="1846947642" /]

Greetings All! (Samhain 2010)

By Grey Boar

Photo of GreyBoar

Vice President GreyBoar

The old Celtic year has ended and what a year it has been! Undoubtedly it was one of the busiest years I’ve ever experienced.

It was my privilege to meet those of you who were able to attend the “2010 Keltrian Gathering of the Tribes” here in Cumming, Georgia. The entire weekend was a joyous occasion for me and I thank all of you who took time out of your busy lives to attend.
I also want to thank those of you who contributed your time and effort to the success of the excellent workshops and rituals. Then too, I’d like to offer my gratitude to those members of Olde Stone Grove who participated as well as my bandraoi, BeanSidhe for all her hard work in planning and preparing for the event.

Tony and I manned a table for “The Henge” at Atlanta Pagan Pride Day on Saturday, October 9th. We handed out “Keltrian’ info flyers and membership forms to all people interested… and there were plenty! The official count was just under 900 attendees that day. As a side note, there was also a drive to collect food for the needy in Atlanta through the Atlanta Community Food Bank. The Bank was blessed with over a half ton of food collected from attendees and vendors.

At this time, I’d also like to give my appreciation to Tony for assisting me with the “Introduction to Keltrian Druidism” workshop.

Recently “Druidry” was recognized as an “official” religion In the United Kingdom, although some there are still unsure whether this is a good thing or not. It remains to be seen how this will affect the different groups there.

Yet with all the wonderful events that have occurred this year there has been sadness as well.  Alexei Kondratiev and Isaac Bonewits passed this year; both who were invaluable contributors to modern Druidism. The Atlanta Pagan community is certain to miss Lady Sintana founder and Wiccan High Priestess of the House of Ravenwood who crossed through the veil in September.  She was one of the first to fight for our rights to follow the Old Religion, in whatever form, here in the United States.

As we gather for ritual to honor our Ancestors this Samhain, let us all take time to remember all those whom have passed into “The Other World” this year and raise our drinking horns to their honor as well.

Still, the Celtic New Year is upon us. It would be wonderful to see more members enrolled in the Henge’s correspondence course. Then too, we would need more people involved in mentoring those students. Though we’re certainly not evangelistic, it would be beneficial to our Henge to have more members with the capabilities of “furthering” our tradition. Hopefully this would lead to more Groves. So why don’t you toss those ogham sticks and see what the Gods would have you do this year!

Happy Celtic New Year and a blessed Samhain to all!

Samhain Greetings (2010)

By Tony Taylor

Tony Taylor

Tony Taylor

The 2010 Gathering of the Keltrian Tribe was a great success.  Kudos go to BeanSidhe, GreyBoar  and the members of Olde Stone Grove for hosting the event.  Workshops were conducted at a Holiday Inn Express, but the rituals and a potluck were held at their home, which includes one of the nicest personal ritual spaces I’ve ever visited.

Of course, I am eagerly anticipating applications from members who are interested in hosting next year. Look for notice elsewhere in this issue to submit your proposal to the Henge Office by Yule. This year we were in the southeast, last year in the northeast, and the year before that in western New York. It is a great chance to meet the Board, Council of Elders, and other members and initiates.

Congratulations to GreyBoar who was welcomed to the Ring of the Oak on Friday, August 13th, 2010. Also, congratulations to Aauriane Veleda, who was welcomed into the Ring of the Birch on Saturday, August 14th. May the mysteries revealed to them help them grow in their relationships with the Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Gods and Goddesses of our tribe.

I am pleased to receive the good news that the Druid Network received notification that their application to be registered as a charity furthering the religion of Druidry was accepted on 21 September 2010.  A great accomplishment; they spent over five years working to receive their acceptance.  I celebrate their success and wish them continued recognition and further successes in all their endeavors.

On the other hand, the news regarding two national druid figures was sad. Alexei Kondratiev passed away last May after a heart attack. I never met him in person and really wish I had.  I first learned of Alexei’s work back in the 1980’s when he authored a tarot deck.  If my memory serves me right, it was “The New York Tarot” and consisted of photo images of New York.  In the late 80’s, I enjoyed his comic books Vidorix the Druid, and read all of the issues I could find.  They were intelligent comics based in Celtic myth. He has long been on our recommended reading list with The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual and Celtic Rituals: An Authentic Guide to Ancient Celtic Spirituality. So much so, that one Keltrian Grove adopted the name Apple Branch Grove.  Alexei became a member of the Henge in the mid-90’s, wrote Lesson Two for the Keltria Correspondence Course, and participated in the Keltria List. Although he didn’t post often, when he did it was spot-on and clearly from a true Celtic scholar. I will definitely drink to Alexi this Samhain night and for many Samhains to come.  May his continued journeys be filled peace, love, and wisdom.

Isaac Bonewits also passed this year on August 12th. I will really miss him as.  We first contacted Isaac in the early 1980’s (’81 or ’82) to help convince him to start a new Druid organization.  We, along with several others, convinced him there was a great deal of interest in a national Druid organization; he eventually founded Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship in 1983.  Grove of the Twin Oaks, my first Druid Grove, became one of the first ADF Groves, after the Mother Grove in 1983 or 84.  Isaac blessed my initiation and my elevation to second at Pagan Spirit Gatherings in the mid-1980’s. Isaac became a member of the Henge in the mid-90’s and remained both a member and a friend for many years.  In 2009, by unanimous decision, Isaac was awarded the first, and only, Druid Academy Nomination Award Committee (DANAC) Lifetime Achievement Award for his thirty-three years of publications, organizing activity, presentations, wit, humor, research and dedication to Druidism.  His Druidic life was an inspiration to me; he is sorely missed and will be honored this Samhain with many toasts.  May he travel well and be blessed by all the Ancestors, Nature Spirits and Gods and Goddesses whom he encounters.