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Monday, September 17, 2012

book review - the CR FAQ

   Today's book review will focus on the single most recommended book for Celtic recons, the CR FAQ. This really is one of those "must read" books for anyone interested in Celtic recon, and is the product of the collaborative efforts of some of the founding members of this approach to Celtic religion. It was published in 2007 in print and appears free online at
     One of the best things about this book is its flexibility. It can be read straight through or used as a reference with a very thorough table of contents and in depth index making looking up anything simple. The format itself is a typical question and answer FAQ style allowing for the reader to identify a printed question that is similar to what he or she is curious about and then read the answer. However, as I stated earlier, the book also lends itself well to cover-to-cover reading.
    The book begins by defining CR, Celtic, and reconstruction, giving someone new to the concepts a basis to understand the concepts. The next section looks at basic questions like whether Celtic ancestry is necessary, whether there is a particular "holy" text, solitary versus group practice, clergy and lay people, etc., This is followed by a section of intermediate questions, including a look at the place of UPG, and then sections on misconceptions, theology, ritual, ethics, druids and druidry, the difference between CR and other religions, how to get into CR, as well as a reading list and pronunciation guide. All of the topics touched on are common questions about CR and make reading the FAQ a good idea for beginners. Even after years of practice and community participation I still re-read it regularly just to re-connect with certain ideas within it.
   Generally I like the book and I like that it is willing to tackle difficult issues like cultural appropriation. If it has one drawback it is the nature of the book itself - it is a FAQ and not a definitive guide to practicing CR, but then again, there is no definitive guide (nor could there be with the diverse nature of CR itself). Also each answer is fairly short and concise; there are no in depth essays on CR beliefs or practices. A person looking for a detailed explanation of how to practice will be disappointed, but for anyone who is curious about what CR is, or  looking for a place to start creating an individual practice, or even someone new to the online or real world CR community that is just looking for an understanding of how it all works, this is the best place to start.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Miscellaneous Reflections

 This week has been one of those weeks, the kind that is simultaneously excellent and horrible, the kind that almost forces me into deep reflections on life that are both painful and freeing. Looking back over the last week I am left with some good insights but no surety about how to implement or integrate any of them.
Hawthorn in the rain

  I have been saying for awhile now that I need to pull back, do less, and remember how to relax; instead I scheduled this past week to the limit. The universe, with its epic sense of humor added in a comic series of car problems and computer issues to spice things up. In pushing myself to the extreme of commitments it really drove home to me that I have got to make some changes in my life. It's been so long since I relaxed and just had fun that I really can't even remember what those things are like, beyond a few minutes here and there. I value the concept of fun, yet I am a horrible example of embracing it. This past week of utter scheduling madness drove home to me that something has to give and I need to get the fun back. I realized that I have made doing things for everyone else a priority and I let every day go by telling myself that tomorrow I will do the things I want to do...except, that "tomorrow" rarely seems to arrive.
   This reflection is no doubt influenced by the news that someone I knew had died, losing a sudden fight with cancer. I had not even known he was sick, so the news that he was gone was truly shocking. He was the sort of person that made you smile and enjoyed making other people happy. The world is a poorer place without him in it.
  Thinking about his death did emphasize my own way of spending all my time on others and none on myself. I am horrible at making myself a priority and I am just as bad at relaxing and enjoying my time. It also made me realize that I should be more grateful for the good things I have in my life, when it is so easy to let the negative overwhelm everything else. To this end I have begun starting every day by acknowledging one specific thing in my life that I am thankful for. I spend at least a few minutes really thinking about what that means to me and for me and how I can make sure that I am honoring it in my life. This morning's focus was gratitude for a women's spirituality group I co-run with a friend and the insights that are gained by having a peer group to meet with and talk to. I am truly grateful to have the people in that group in my life and to have the group itself as a resource and support.
   That group met last night and discussed energy, energy work, how we manifest positive or negative in our own lives, and good and bad experiences we have had. In the course of talking about one of the worst experiences I have had I gained a profound insight into what drives me to want to know how to handle any situation or answer any question. When I was 16 I accidently got a friend possessed by an angry ghost during a very ill-advised late night attempt at a seance (my idea); at the time I had no idea how to fix it and was very, very lucky that it ended well when it could have gone very badly. People in my life now tend to see my knowledge and willingness to find answers to their questions as a positive, but I realize after last night that it is driven largely by fear of letting other people down or of failing them. I am still unsure how exactly this knowledge will play out in my life, but I think that it does contribute to the pressure I put on myself. I need to learn to relax, and perhaps part of that is also letting other people be responsible for themselves instead of playing out an 18 year old guilt driven by this feeling - this burden - of trying to make up for a long past mistake.
  In other good news my oldest daughter turned 9 and I had an absolute blast on the New Normal podcast. I saw several friends I have not seen in far too long. And I have, maybe, started to really understand where my priorities need to be in life and what actually matters.
    I encourage everyone to do some reflecting on your own lives and how your time is spent - what you find might surprise you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Faeries - on the New Normal

I'm very excited to say that tonight I will be on the blog radio show the New Normal tonight discussing Faeries. I met Tchipikkan at the first Changing Times, Changing Worlds conference in 2010; she was one of the organizers and teachers, and I was teaching several classes, including one on Faeries and the Celtic Otherworld. Last year she and I were both at CWPN's  Harvest Gathering and she sat in on my Faeries class there. When she contacted me about speaking on the show Faeries seemed like a great choice of topic and I can't wait to discuss it with her and to hear from anyone who calls in.

Here is the announcement from the show:
"I do believe in Fairies!"
Join me, Tchipakkan, and my guest Morgan Daimler as we talk about the Fair Folk, Good Neighbors, the Fae, Sidhe, pixies, brownies, or by many other names. We'll be talking about their history, stories about them, as well as our interactions with them. ("Where are my keys?!") You can listen on your computer at and call into the show at 619-639-4606 with questions, or to share your own experiences with the fae. The show with Morgan will be live: Wednesday, Sept. 12, between 8 and 9 est. (or find podcasts of the New Normal on blogtalkradio/liveparanormal)