Friday, November 19, 2010

I am the voice of the past that will always be

"Listen my child," you say to me
"I am the voice of your history"
"Be not afraid, come follow me"
"Answer my call and I'll set you free"

I am the voice in the wind and the pouring rain
I am the voice of your hunger and pain
I am the voice that always is calling you
I am the voice, I will remain

I am the voice in the fields when the summer's gone
The dance of the leaves when the autumn winds blow
Ne'er do I sleep throughout all the cold winter long
I am the force that in springtime will grow

("The Voice" by Eimear Quinn)

Monday, November 1, 2010

These are the dues of Samhain

I'm out of town having a bit of a celebration with a friend in Tennessee, though my own personal Samhain ritual won't be until this weekend when I return home. However, my greetings of the season to you all--even if they are a bit belated.

Oíche Shamhna Shona Dhaoibh! Moladh dhuit, a Dhéithe!

Carna, cuirm, cnoimes, cadla,
it e ada na samna,
tendar ar cnuc co n-grinde,
blathach, brechtan urimme.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I know that it is poetry

"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?"
— Emily Dickinson (Emily Dickinson: Selected Letters)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Book Review: Death Makes a Holiday by David J. Skal

I'm leaving town on Wednesday for Tennessee so it might be a while before I get to post again, so I wanted to get something up today. Enjoy!

Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween by David J. Skal. © 2002 Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781582342306. Hardback. Sociology. 256 pages. Source: library book

Synopsis: Using a mix of personal anecdotes and brilliant social analysis, Skal examines the amazing phenomenon of Halloween, exploring its dark Celtic history and illuminating why it has evolved-in the course of a few short generations-from a quaint, small-scale celebration into the largest seasonal marketing event outside of Christmas.

Review: Death Makes a Holiday really does not start out well. The introduction to the book ('The Candy Man's Tale') tells the depressing story of a man who brought the tainted Halloween candy urban legend that every parents fears to life back in the 1970s. By swapping out the sugar in a “pixy” stick with cyanide, Ronald Clark O’Bryan murdered his own son and would have taken the lives of three more if their parents hadn’t sent them off to bed without candy. What a way to open a book, eh?

After that gloomy tale, I almost decided not to read it at all, but I’m glad I stuck with it because it did improve.

Chapter One ('The Halloween Machine') focuses on the origins of Halloween in Ireland and Scotland (and the evolution of the jack-o-lantern from turnip to pumpkin), and how it grew from a night to in which to pay respects to the deceased, to a night of candy and consumerist mayhem that we have today.

Chapter Two (‘The Witch’s Teat’) centers around the age-old archetype of the witch (though the chapter really seems to figure more heavily on the Salem Witch Trials and the commercialization of such a tragedy of American history more than anything else). This section also contains a good bit about the fight fundamentalist Christians put up every year to warn this nation of the “Satanic” dangers of this “evil” night [*insert big eye roll from reviewer*].

Chapter Three (‘Home Is Where the Hearse Is’) delves into haunted houses, the Halloween staple of America, by talking about some of the residences that go all out with lavish decorations (I tip by hat to you and your Exorcist display, Bruce Burns) and amazing props. Did you know the Playboy mansion spends about $500,000 every Halloween? Well, now you do.

Chapter Four (‘The Devil on Castro Street’) concentrates on culture wars, mainly that of the gay community. I had no idea that in the years following WWII it was illegal to knowingly or unknowingly sell liquor to a homosexual in California, and that the only night a year the local authorities lifted this ban was Halloween. There’s some very interesting stuff in this chapter for those interested in LGBT history and oppression. A good bit seemed to center around Harvey Milk, and it left me even more curious about the film and what it might possibly contain regarding the Halloween fights. Judgment Houses, the Christian equivalent of haunted houses, are also discussed here as well as the fights to remove Halloween from public schools.

Chapter Five (‘Halloween on the Screen’) draws parallels between the seemingly spectral beginnings of film (with the magic-lantern apparitions of Spiritualism which eventually lead to cinema) and the dark and melodramatic themes Halloween evokes. The two are a match made in heaven…or is it hell? A good many of the first films made were macabre in nature (The Phantom of the Opera and Nosferatu for instance) and this chapter traces the steps of Halloween’s growth in cinematic history, from the classic and macabre to the screen screams and gore.

The book ends with an afterword comparing September 11 and October 31, and how on September 11, the worlds of the living and the dead were thrust upon each other (“The world watched, stunned, as its greatest metropolis became its greatest necropolis.” [pp 183]). It begins with how America as a whole has a problem with death, despite our outward joviality in mortality at Halloween: “Divorced from their religious roots, both pagan and Christian, ancient customs of honoring the departed were long ago transmogrified into consumption rituals for the living. Rubberized images of zombies, vampires and other monsters recalled to life have replaced the heartfelt memories of real ancestors.” (pp 183). It goes on to tell how the tragedy of September 11th sent shockwaves through Halloween.

Skal talks about how America holds death at a distance, unlike our neighbors in Latin America who hold it close in celebrations like Días de los Muertos, or the Days of the Dead, which takes place on November 1-2. He also mentions the differences in attitudes of funerals and wakes in America as compared to say our Irish cousins, for whom death is a boisterous occasion. Lots of food for thought contained here for those who struggle with the thought of death and subsequent celebrations of it.

Overall, a brief but excellent sociological look at one of our country’s favorite nights. 

Here’s a quote which I think sums it all up: “Halloween is a holiday that refuses to play by anyone’s rules. Unpredictable and unrepentant, Halloween also remains stubbornly unofficial and underground, and this may be the key to understanding the tumult that regularly erupts in its name.” (pp. 153)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Few Oíche Shamhna Traditions

To get into the season, I've been reading a book by David J. Skal entitled Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween (link), and I'm really enjoying it despite its depressing introduction. But there are some nice little tidbits in chapter one that I'd like to share regarding Gaelic traditions, which I'm sure fellow Gaelic Polytheists might want to incorporate into their celebration(s).

First off, I had no idea that Halloween derives from the Middle England hallowen, which means hallowed or sacred. Yeah, put that in your pipe and smoke it fundies who believe it is an evol holiday full of devilry. And with that random tangent over, on to the fun stuff!
"In Scotland, young people went blindfolded into the garden to pull kale stalks; later , before the crackling fireplace, the plants would be "read" for revealing signs of the future wife or husband—short and stunted, tall and healthy, withered and old, and so on. The amount of earth clinging to the root was believed to indicate the amount of dowry or fortune the player could expect from a mate. The stalks were hung above the door in a row, and each subsequent Halloween visitor was assigned the identity of a vegetable-spouse in turn. Cabbages and leeks were similarly used." (page 29 -- didn't find a source listed)
Also on page 29-30, there's a great recounting of a incident in Leinster (Ireland) of the power spells cast on Halloween have. A lady named Sarah had a dream where she was walking in an unfamiliar part of the Irish countryside and came upon a cottage. Seeking rest and something to eat, she enters the cottage but she lacked the will to sit down. When she became too exhausted to stand any longer, she flees the house, back up the road and once again through the unfamiliar countryside. The next morning she wakes and tells her husband of the dream. He replies, "My dear Sarah, you will not long have me beside you; whoever is to be your second husband played last night some evil trick of which you have been the victim."

Within a few months, Sarah's finds herself a widow and a few years later her uncle introduces her to another man. The man is in shock, he recounts how one Halloween he cast a spell, and sat up all night to see the results. While by the fire a woman—Sarah—walked into the house, stood there a bit and then disappeared as quickly as she came. A very eerie tale indeed (by the way, they ended up married and happy).
"In Ireland, "Ashes were raked smooth on the hearth at bedtime on Hallowe'en, and the next morning examined for footprints. If one was turned from the door, guests or a marriage was propheised; if toward the door, a death." (page 30 -- Ruth Edna Kelley, Book of Halloween, 1919, listed as the source)
"Halloween was also the time when Irish children would return to the place where they had hung up an herb called "livelong" on Midsummer Eve. Those whose herb had retained their color would prosper, those whose plants had withered would die themselves." (page 30-31 -- Ibid. source) 
"Scottish children replenished the population by piling up cabbage stalks before retiring on Halloween, in the belief that a new brother or sister would shortly be provided to them—this, obviously, a variation on the belief that babies were found in cabbage patches." (page 31 -- William S. Walsh, Curiosities of Popular Customs, 1897, listed as the source)
Page 33 mentions some pranks from Ireland and Scotland, but this post is running rather long, so I'll probably do another post later. The above traditions, though, would work very well as part of a family celebration, especially those with children.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Celtic scholar Barry Raftery dies

I can't believe I'm a month late in hearing about this (of course, I don't hang around Yahoogroups as much as I used it):

THE DEATH has taken place of Prof Barry Raftery, emeritus professor of archaeology at UCD.

Prof Raftery, who was recognised as the country’s leading scholar on the archaeology of later prehistoric societies, was appointed to the chair of Celtic archaeology in UCD in 1996.

He was visiting professor of European prehistory in Ludwig-Maximilians Universität Munich in 1969-70, and was visiting professors at Kiel University (1991) and the University of Vienna (1997).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rachel Allen: Bake!

I discovered a new show by accident today while my little sister was watching The Cooking Channel. It's called Rachel Allen: Bake! and stars Irish chef, Rachel Allen (who studied at Ballymaloe Cookery School founded by  Darina Allen [who is, for those who like fun little tidbits, Rachel's mother-in-law]).  I've read a couple of Darina's books and I've found them some of the best places for learning some great Irish recipes so I was really excited to see this show available here in the States.

Rachel's program doesn't always show traditional Irish cooking, but I was lucky to see an episode today featuring traditional soda bread. While recipes on paper are great, nothing beats actually seeing it made. I can follow recipes fairly well, but visuals are always better in my opinion. So, I thought I would mention this in a post in case there is anyone else out there with a fondness for Irish cooking who might be interested in watching it.

To learn more about the show and to see a program schedule, go here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Image of Reconstructionism

Gorm has started a great discussion on the way Reconstructionism is viewed by the wider pagan community and the misconceptions most have about us. If interested, please join in the conversation over at Three Shouts on a Hilltop.

Monday, August 30, 2010

wash me in the waters

Bathe me in the waters of the Lagan, of the Boyne
Of the Liffey of the Slaney, of the Barrow, Nore and Suir
Of the Blackwater, the Bann, the Lee, the Shannon, Foyle and Erne
Bathe me in the waters...
— Susan McKeown, River

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Book Reviews x2

I've been going through my book collection lately as I'm beginning to sadly run out of room. In a box under the bed, I found two books I had only ever briefly flipped through so I decided to give them a closer read today.

Celtic Book of Seasonal Meditations: Celebrate the Traditions of the Ancient Celts by Claire Hamilton (© 2003 Red Wheel | ISBN: 9781590030554 | 263 pages) — Rating: 2/5 stars
Nice to see a book from a neopagan publisher include so much mythology and tradition. However, it's presented through a Neo-Druid lens so you have the three groups (bard, ovate and druid), four elements, eight festivals, it makes mention of the tree calendar, and the Maiden, Mother, Crone trinity is featured prominently. All of which, I could have done without but it isn't as terribly annoying as it normally would be. I guess that's because I knew beforehand that Claire Hamilton is a member of OBOD, so I knew what to expect. 
What did annoy me—as it often does in these book that combine Gaelic and Brythonic traditions into one—is a mixing of terminology. For example, on page 80 where the author is talking about "The Three Divinatory Practices" (all of which are Irish) she uses the word awen (a Welsh word meaning inspiration -- which she also misdefines as "watchers"). In fact, when using any native words not once did she point out the country of origin for that word, leaving the reader to guess. That's bad form to me, but then again, I expect too much. 
Most of the poetry contained within the book was reworkings by the author from Old Irish translations, but proper credit was not given to the original translators from which she gleaned her poem. That did not sit well with me.
Overall, I think this book had the right idea but could still have used some serious guidance.

Celtic Inspirations: Essential Meditations and Texts by Lyn Webster Wilde (© 2006 Duncan Baird Publishers | ISBN: 9781844830992 | 160 pages) — Rating: 3/5 stars
Nothing extraordinary here and I would beg to differ with the book's subtitle of "essential meditations and texts" as not one thing is essential in here either lol. It's way too brief a text for anything to be counted as indispensable. 
However, it would make a great little gift as a coffee table book. The artwork and photographs are gorgeous, and would really be the only reason to own it. I'd only be giving it two stars if not for the beautiful presentation, that made it three.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

"Using" the Gods

And this is what I've been ranting about for ages now. Nice to see a video about it. Thank you, illiezeulette.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lá Lúnasa 2010

Blueberry Cream Cheese Poundcake(To anyone who reads via RSS, I apologize for the post that went through Sunday. I was trying to work on a draft and schedule it ... and ended up clicking publish instead before the post was even finished. *headdesk* Even after I deleted it, it was still showing up on RSS :/ So, please ignore that post as the following was what I was going for.)

Lá Lúnasa was a great success this year.

Saturday, I finished the cleaning I had started on Friday night, and baked some blueberry cream cheese pound cake (from a dear friend's recipe which you can find here), with the blueberries harvested at my grandfather's house. The blackberries were already gone, eaten by the family with some cream when Lúnasa arrived in our locale, so I had none for this celebration.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Long was the sorrow, long the weariness of Tailtiu

"Great that deed that was done with the axe's help by Tailtiu, the reclaiming of meadowland from the even wood by Tailtiu daughter of Magmor.

When the fair wood was cut down by her, roots and all, out of the ground, before the year's end it became Bregmag, it became a plain blossoming with clover. Her heart burst in her body from the strain beneath her royal vest; not wholesome, truly, is a face like the coal, for the sake of woods or pride of timber.

Long was the sorrow, long the weariness of Tailtiu, in sickness after heavy toil; the men of the island of Erin to whom she was in bondage came to receive her last behest. She told them in her sickness (feeble she was but not speechless) that they should hold funeral games to lament her - zealous the deed.

About the Calends of August she died, on a Monday, on the Lugnasad of Lug; round her grave from that Monday forth is held the chief Fair of noble Erin. White-sided Tailtiu uttered in her land a true prophecy, that so long as every prince should accept her, Erin should not be without perfect song.

A fair with gold, with silver, with games, with music of chariots, with adornment of body and of soul by means of knowledge and eloquence. A fair without wounding or robbing of any man, without trouble, without dispute, without raping, without challenge of property, without suing, without law-sessions, without evasion, without arrest.

A fair without sin, without fraud, without reproach, without insult, without contention, without seizure, without theft, without redemption: No man going into the seats of the women, nor woman into the seats of the men, shining fair, but each in due order by rank in his place in the high Fair."
— excerpted from Metrical Dindshenchas. ed and trans. Edward Gwynn. 1925. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies: 1991. (Read Online Here.)

Being in the summer season and the harvest coming on

As tomorrow will be packed with my Lúnasa celebrations and then my niece's birthday party later in the evening, I leave you with this season's greetings for now—

Lá Lúnasa Shona Dhaoibh! Moladh dhuit, a Dhéithe!


Lugnassad, luaid a hada
cecha bliadna ceinmara,
fromad cech toraid co m-blaid,
biad lusraid la Lugnasaid.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I love not man the less

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods;
There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar;
I love not man the less, but Nature more...
— Lord Byron (excerpt of There Is Pleasure In The Pathless Woods)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Signal Boost: Samhain at Tara 2007 - 2010

"Many of you also participated in the 2007 Samhain event where we re-established the old custom of lighting the signal fires on Tlachtga, Tara, and the surrounding hills. Want to do it again? Carmel Diviney, one of the main Irish coordinators of this international event, weighs in with this update..."
For more information, please read the full entry here on Kathryn's blog, Amhràn nam Bandia.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Online Academy of Irish Music

"Physically based in West Co. Clare, The Online Academy of Irish Music is a new and unique platform for providing quality Irish musical tuition on a global scale. The teaching is transmitted directly from some of Ireland's most experienced performers and tutors to any location in the world. We aspire to provide tuition for all instruments and at all levels."

*picks self up off floor* ... Needless to say, I'll definitely be enrolling. Would I like to have Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh teaching me how to properly sing trad music? Um, let me see — hell yea! I've really been wanting to advance in tin whistle as well, but looks like that class is already for advanced level, so I may wait another year for that and focus on singing right now.

Looks like you only need to pay if you want tutor feedback and access to the forums, but core lessons will be free. I seriously may die of excitement.

Is it September yet?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Not hard to tell

This always comes to mind when I see people acting like idiots online. It's from Tecosca Cormaic (The Instructions of King Cormac).
"O Cormac, grandson of Conn", said Carbery, "What is the worst pleading and arguing?"

"Not hard to tell", said Cormac.
"Contending against knowledge,
contending without proofs
taking refuge in bad language
a stiff delivery
a muttering speech
uncertain proofs,
despising books
turning against custom
shifting one's pleading
inciting the mob
blowing one's own trumpet
shouting at the top of one's voice."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Article: Ritual within Gaelic Polytheism

After a lot of work, Annie and I are pleased to announce that we’ve finished the article on “Ritual within Gaelic Polytheism”. It is now available here on the Gaol Naofa website.

And I want to say a BIG thank you to Thomas and Kathryn for giving us such wonderful feedback as we worked on it!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Looks like I might begin celebrating an early Lá Lúnasa this weekend as the blueberries and blackberries are ready and are currently being harvested.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

sharpens the senses

"Shaping spiritual practice requires effort, and work itself is an honorable spiritual activity. Poetry's role in this work can determine in large part the depth and range of practice, for it is poetry that most deliciously sharpens the senses, heightening awareness and presence in the moment."
— Robert McDowell, Poetry as Spiritual Practice, pp. 57

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ah, camping. How I've missed thee.

It felt wonderful to actually be up when the sun rose this morning. I'm a night owl, so I'm rarely up that early.

But there I was sitting, wrapped in a blanket whilst tending the fire as the sun broke over the trees, silently repeating 'Hail to thee, thou sun of the seasons' to myself. Must do that more often. Sit on the porch with a nice cuppa and greet the sun each morning. Mmm, sounds lovely.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Project Ogham

I’ve decided that I really want (need) to begin working with the ogham on a much deeper level. I’m not sure exactly how this is going to work out, in regards to what methods I’ll be using, or if I‘ll be doing them in order, but I know I want to focus on one feda (letter) a month. However, instead of focusing solely on the crann ogham (tree ogham), I’m going to combine it with the éan ogham (bird ogham). Why? I have three reasons actually:
  1. I have the sneaking suspicion that more abounds about the lore of trees than birds (both here in my locale and in the Gaelic countries) and I don’t want to miss out on the copious amounts I could learn from there.
  2. I have a strong affinity with our feathered friends, and here in our tiny valley (which I‘ve aptly named Gleann Préachán, or ‘Valley of the Crows‘, though sometimes I call it Gleann hÉanlaith, ‘Valley of the Birds‘) it is positively teeming with their presence and song. Being near them makes me happy, and I often sit on the porch and talk to the ones that fly up to me.
  3. To me, birds and trees are simpatico (able to exist and perform in harmonious or agreeable combination). Birds, though not all, reside in the sheltering arms of the tree and some depend on them for sustenance—berries, nuts, fruits, sap, bugs under bark, and acorns. In turn, some trees rely on birds—the and wind—for cross pollination and to help in perpetuating their life cycle by knocking fruits to the ground which germinates seeds.
When I see birds, I think of trees and vice versa. It just feels right to focus on them both. Since I am focusing on two things during the span of one month, I know this is a cycle I’ll be repeating numerous times (if not for the duration of my life) in order to learn all I can from them. The first cycle, however, will be documented here—though not fully. There is a great deal, I’m sure, that will remain with me or shared only with friends.

Also, I do realize some modifications might have to be made for trees or birds that are not in my area, but I want to try as hard as I can to keep that to a minimum. Our land is part of the Appalachian foothills, which scientists have said were once a part of the Caledonian mountain range in Scotland before the continents broke apart, so I’m hoping there will be things in common.

I'm still culling the resources I will use for this project, so more on this later.

Monday, March 1, 2010

PSA: oh, the lack of research hurts.

I didn't mean for my next post to be a rant and I will get around to posting about Lá Fhéile Bríde but I'm at the end of my tether with this lazy research I see in neopagan books and on websites.

Today's aggravation came up as I was was doing some research on the phrase brón trogain as referring to August/Lughnasadh. I decided to Google it and the search came up with the following as one of the results:

"I especially like the ancient name of Bron Trogain, sometimes translated as "earth sorrows under her fruits."" (Source)

*blinks* Um ... what?!

eDIL has...
Brón = 'sorrow'
Trogain (trogan) = 'earth', 'August', 'Autumn' or 'raven'/'female raven'

You can also see talk of it on OLD-IRISH-L here. It simply means 'the sorrow of the earth', and it is referred to in The Wooing of Emer as 'the beginning of autumn'.

Please tell me what this has to do with "under her fruits"? Why!? Why must some neopagans insist on twisting meanings and words to fit their goddess lore AND CALL IT ANCIENT?!


I wish I could save everyone from bad research but I know it's all in vain. Just a warning to any NeoPagans who may come across my blog: never take neopagan books as gospel. Do your own research and ask questions.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cros Bhríde

Cros Bhríde from Paula Geraghty on Vimeo.

In an old schoolhouse in north Donegal people gather to grant St Brigid permission to cross the threshold. She carries an armful of freshly cut rushes with a white cloth tied around them. They are laid on a long set of tables, and slowly men, women and children go up gather some rushes up to make the traditional St Brigid's crosses. There are a number of cross styles.

This all takes place on the eve of Lá Fhéile Bríde or St Brigid's Day, which falls on February 1st each year.

This was originally a pagan custom, which was Christianised. Imbolc was it's old pagan name and marked the the beginning of Spring.

This is a localised tradition. Here, in the old schoolhouse, all ages of the community gather to chat, make crosses, passing on skills and a culture that has deep roots. Children run around, dipping their hands in the tin of chocolates, allowed to stay up late. A huge pot of spuds is boiled, mashed with an old wooden potato ponder with scallions and salt added, maybe a drop of milk and when it's served on the plate a well is made for the great dollop of butter. Yum, yum.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh Mandy agus Donnelly, agus gach duine eile a raibh ann. Bhí an oíche an galánta ar fad.

Running time 15 minutes.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Book Review: Irish Witchcraft from an Irish Witch

Irish Witchcraft from an Irish Witch by Lora O‘Brien. © 2005 New Page Books. ISBN 1-56414-759-2. Paperback. New Age. 221 pages. $14.99 US. Read in August 2008. Source: purchase from a local pagan shop. (my review is x-posted here)

The author is very adamant in the first chapter on how this is not Wicca, but yet I barely see any differences. Witchcraft does not have High Priests and Priestess for one thing — that's a Wiccan trait — there's eight sabbats mentioned as well as initiation, "using" Celtic deities (rather than forming relationships. She lists beside each deity "modern uses," which I find horribly disrespectful), rites of passage, three levels (degrees), Lord and Lady, elementals, speaks of using sage smudge sticks and Tibetan bells for house cleansing (you think someone so adamant in cultural preservation would at least use juniper traditionally used by the Gaels to clear a house, not the Native American sage) ... to me it just looks like Irish Wicca. I truly can not see a difference.

On the upside, however, it is very delightful to see so much of the Irish language used within the book (along with easy-to-understand pronunciations). It was also fantastic to see her advocate learning Irish if you are going to call your spiritual path "Irish". And I loved that the author tackled the Witta issue as well as the Druid "bed sheet brigade" (page 203), I applaud her for both.

Other key points: she sticks to the four insular Celtic festivals within her Cycles chapter (she mentions the Solstice and Equinoxes as well, but only goes into full detail on the four fire festivals, unfortunately though there are some Wiccan bits and bobs thrown into these details) and she gives some fantastic book recommendations in the back.

I did find it hilarious how in the Website Recommendations she mentions Conradh Draoithe na h-Eireann, a group whom talk about some very odd things (like Atlantean land-healing and Masons ... what this has to do with Irish Druids, I have no idea), but I wouldn't trust a site with that on it. Nor would I trust a book which recommended the website.

Back to the shortcomings, there is one major thing that bothered me. On pages 85-86, the author states: "These are the ones who tie torn-up pieces of flowery umbrellas to a hawthorn tree outside the caves—just to leave an 'offering' of anything. Bring your rubbish home next time, folks". Tying bits of cloth to trees (called clooties) is an old and traditional Irish custom which locals still keep, so I have no idea why the author is so adamant that they should be removed and clearly through her choice of words, this was aimed at foreigners and tourists. Her statement is very condescending.

Now I completely understand her not wanting candle wax, crystals, bonfires, rubbish, and bits of plastic (page 125), but again she mentions not tying things to trees. Cloth and any food left as offerings are biodegradable (and non-synthetic) and are fine to leave, I don’t understand her disdain for them (well maybe food as that could attract animals, but I see nothing wrong with clooties tied to branches or coins hammered into trees -- both are things which locals do). She even goes on to say that she removes other people’s offerings (page 126)!

This book does have its drawbacks, but reading this review will help you spot them more easily. Overall, Irish Witchcraft from an Irish Witch is a decent piece of material for those interested in modern Witchcraft through an Irish lens. I’d recommend it to Wiccans looking for a more Irish/Celtic flavored path, but not really to anyone else.