I am done keeping books I know aren’t reliable just to refer to them if someone brings them up. There’s no sense in it.
Here are four books I’ve had in my collection that are going out the door, and why.
First: Practical Celtic Magic by Murry Hope: Murry Hope was an outstanding woman, a lovely writer who made a lifetime of significant contributions to our Neo-Pagan heritage. She left us in October of 2012. As a Neo-Pagan generalist she also wrote Practical Greek Magic, Practical Egyptian Magic and Practical Atlantean Magic. This should give you an idea of why I cannot recommend it to the serious Celtic seeker.
I have had it since 1990, but have been instinctively disinclined to use it. Tonight I sat down to address specifically why I am letting it go.
Right at the beginning of the book, the acknowledgements include the discredited Robert Graves. In her first section the historical information is mostly accurate, but out of date. Further in, contentious assertions are tossed out speciously and not supported e.g. “…the Celts [have] been described as viewing history as what ought to have happened, rather than what did…”
She references obscure academic arguments in passing, in a style reminiscent of a college term paper, connecting the Nordic Eddas to the Celtic tradition via Hinduism. The chapter on “Tree Magic” pullls Greek Dryads into the mess without signaling the complete departure from Celtic ideology. As beloved and respected as Murry Hope is and ought to be for Neo-Paganism, there is not nearly enough care, attention to detail, practical experience or concern for authenticity is in this book for the serious student of the Celtic path.
Second: The Druid’s Herbal by Ellen Evert Hopman, to know why I’m letting it go, refer to my book review.
Third: Druid Power by Amber Wolfe This is a New Age work of great imagination with little regard for actual authentic history. The author is delighted to use existing words in new and colorful ways, describing herself as Ban Drui a term with established ancient and contemporary meanings both of which are nearly ignored while heaped in with creative interpretations including White Oak Woman and Faerie Doctor. While more grounded in actual Celtic history than the Outlander series this is still not at all recommended for the serious Celtic seeker.
Finally: Celtic Women’s Spirituality by Edain McCoy The reason: Witta is a fraud. There is not now, nor has there ever been an Irish Wicca tradition known as witta. It was completely made up by Edain McCoy. Most New Age fallacies are harmless or even helpful. I object to this one strenuously because it is a lie. Making things up is fine, we’ve been doing it for thousands of years. Lying is not the same thing.
I have reached a stage in my practice where I no longer care what other people who present themselves as following the Celtic Path think or read. I want to have reliable references on my shelves, easy to reach and use. And I don’t want guests or students to think because they see something on my shelf that it is a reliable source.
Yet I want to share my personal observations on the books I am letting go of, so that others who are looking to follow a similar path will know what I have thought and also to remind myself of why I am letting go of some of the books that I selected for myself or received as thoughtful gifts.