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Friday, June 1, 2012

recommended reading

  Well I finished writing my newest book and am back to blogging. There are several pagan recommended reading lists floating around including one at Patheos and another at Huffington Post so I thought I'd offer my own suggestions here, but I'm limiting it to 10 each to keep myself from going totally overboard:

Heathen Recommended Reading List
1) Essential Asatru by Diana Paxson - a good introduction to the basics of belief and practice, particularly useful for those coming from a neopagan background
2) The Prose Edda - I suggest reading multiple translations to get the best understanding of the material
3) The Poetic Edda - multiple translations are your friend
4) Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland - Modern language retellings of the Eddic myths
5) The Road to Hel by H.R. Ellis Davidson - an essential look at beliefs about the dead and afterlife
6) The Well and the Tree by Bauschatz - discusses cosmology from a heathen persepctive
7) Our Troth, volumes 1 and 2 - a very thorough look at everything from belief to practice, and a wonderful reference to have on hand
8) Elves, Wights, and Trolls by K. Gundarsson - a look at the heathen belief in Otherworldly spirits, often not emphasized in american Heathenry but very important to understsnd
9) Living Asatru by Greg Shelter - short but useful look at living modern asatru
10) We Are Our Deeds  by Eric Wodening - a very in depth look at modern heathen ethics

Irish Reconstruction Reading List
1) the CR FAQs - the best basic start to understanding recon from a Celtic viewpoint
2) the Sacred Isle by O'hOgain - discusses Irish religion from pre-christian times through conversion.
3) Festival of Lughnasa by Maire McNeill - an in-depth look at the historic and modern celebration of Lughnasa, including a good deal of folklore and mythology
4) The Lebor Gabala Erenn - the story of the invasions of Ireland by the Gods and spirits and eventually humans.
5) Cath Maige Tuired - the story of the battle of the Tuatha de Danann with the Fomorians.
6) the Year in Ireland by K. Danaher - an overview of holidays and folk practices throughout the year.
7) The Silver Bough (all four volumes) by F. MacNeil - Scottish but extremely useful for understanding folk practices and beliefs
8) Fairy and Folktales of the Irish Peasantry by Yeats - a look at folklore and belief
9) Lady with a Mead Cup by Enright - useful look at ritual structure and society in both Celtic and Norse cultures
10) Celtic Gods and Heroes by Sjoestedt - discusses both the gods and tidbits of folklore and mythology

What books would you recommend?


  1. Celtic Heritage - Alwyn and Brinley Rees
    Cattle Lords & Clansmen - Nerys Patterson (between these two books, a great deal of insight into the mental and physical life of the Irish can be found)

    Mythic Ireland - Michael Dames (not always entirely accurate - that is to say, it contains material that others would derisively call "UPG", and I call "visionary" - but full of so much inspiration that it can be forgiven its excesses)

    Twilight of the Celtic Gods - David Clarke and Andy Roberts (somewhat controversial, but contains interviews with people who have the strongest claims to surviving pagan or semi-pagan traditions in the British Isles, and the first description of which I am aware in a popular work of the Tigh nam Bodach shrine)

    Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies
    The Return of the Dead
    Phantom Armies of the Night - all by Claude Lecouteux (an extended discussion of the northern European understanding of the soul and afterlife; useful in both a general Celtic and Germano-Scandinavian context)

    Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom - Erynn Rowan Laurie (one of a very few explicitly CR-focused books out there, though also useful for those who wish to approach the ogham from any other perspective; I will give a warning that I am biased, however, as I am a friend of the author and am referenced in the book itself)

    The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries - W.Y. Evans Wentz (remarkable essay; beware of the final chapters, though, where the author shoehorns fairy lore into the then-fashionable Procrustean bed of Theosophy)

    Robert Kirk: Walker Between the Worlds - R.J. Stewart
    The Secret Commonwealth and the Fairy Belief Complex - Brian Walsh (two excellent essays discussing the greatest surviving work of fairy lore; the former is written by an occultist, and shows that influence, but is very approachable and practical, and worth the effort as a result; the latter is the master's thesis of the author, and includes some very interesting and useful discussion; both include the complete text, but the former work has been "modernized" in spelling and grammar, which can be seen as a benefit or a detriment)

    Carmina Gadelica - Alexander Carmichael (a collection of prayers and songs from the Highlands and Islands, along with folklore related to them; Carmichael apparently edited the matter slightly, but it remains one of the best collections of Scots Gaelic poetry and lore outside of The Silver Bough; many of the prayers are very Christian, but a couple of people have provided versions that are more appropriate to a pagan/polytheist context - including you, Morgan!)

    I'll, uh, stop there.

  2. Excellent! I'll have to add Mythic Ireland and the Lecouteux books to my "need-to-buy" list.