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Monday, December 19, 2011

The Lebor Feasa Runda Should Go Through a Woodchipper: a book review

   Too often we simply avoid bad books without ever knowing why they are bad and to be avoided, but relying on friend's opinions or word of mouth reviews. I have read other reviews of this book, Akins' Lebor Feasa Runda, which took a highly scholastic approach and were very valuable, but I think that by arguing semantics of language and nuances of source material many readers may get lost in the details. So here I offer my simplified book review, an Idiot's Guide to Why This Book is Awful, if you will.
    To begin with Akin's appeals to people's curiosity and desire for genuine material to lure an audience in and draw interest for his book by claiming it is a translation of a previously unknown ancient book of Druidic teaching, which he has exclusively gained access to but cannot produce for others to view. In reality his book is nothing but a badly written version of commonly known Irish mythology followed by his own personal ideas and a generous amount of uncredited plagiarized material from known traditional sources.
    The psuedo-archaic writing style is painful to read, rather reminiscent of the King James Bible, and I can see no point to it beyond making the work look somehow either older or more prestigious. There is no reason for a text he claims to have translated himself to be written in this way except for effect.  Beyond that there is a lot of non-Celtic material mixed in which clashes with extant Celtic sources, and the clear threads of Celtic material are not credited. He invents a system of aligning the days of the week with different planets and gods which is exactly like any Ceremonial Magic compendium with Sunday ruled by the sun and Monday by the moon, etc.,. He also uses the Greco-Roman ideas about four elements, instead of a more authentic Celtic view, to give a few samples of the foreign ideas in the book that are passed off as Irish.
   Particularly troublesome to me is the use of charms and prayers from the first two volumes of the Carmina Gadelica slightly re-written to be pagan without any acknowledgement of the true source of the material which could not possibly be a "secret" manuscript that would predate the Gadelica by almost three thousand years. It is beyond belief that nearly three millenia later the charms and prayers would have translated the same from Scottish to English as they allegedly did from Irish to German to English in this book. Akin's alleged personal translation from German is word for word identical to Carmichael's from 1900. To give a sample of this on page 148 of the Lebor Feasa Runda "The wicked who would do me harm / May his throat be diseased / Globularly, spirally, circularly / Fluxy, pellety, horny-grim" now compare that to the opening lines of charm 193 from volume 2 of the Carmina Gadelica printed in 1900, page 155, "The wicked who would do me harm / May he take the throat disease / Globularly, spirally, circularly / Fluxy, pellety, horny-grim.". This clear, obvious, plagierism cannot be defended, and this is only a small sample of the many such occurances throughout this book. I might not care about the poor writing or random nature of the work if Akins had simply published this as his own personal inspiration with credit to his sources, but I think plaigerism is simply wrong and cannot be justified away with appeals to spiritual inspiration. A core Druidic principle is Truth.
   I also find it disturbing that in his recipe for "oil of enlightenment" he repeats a medieval witches flying ointement that includes toxic ingredients like Hemlock, Aconite and Belladonna. Were anyone to follow his recipe for this oil and use it they could easily poison themselves, yet at no point does Akins mention that any of these plants are poisonous or require special handling.
    In short the book is clearly a mish-mash of plagierized sources Frankenstiened together. A beginner who reads this first will find information that is both wrong, misleading, and in at least the one case potentially dangerous.
 Other reviews:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildhunt/tag/the-lebor-feasa-runda
http://cr-r.livejournal.com/318578.html

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