I bought a copy of this when I was 11 years old, my very first “witchy” book with my own money. Pretty sure I mentioned this earlier, in one of the Coming Into This blogs (1st I believe), no matter. I liked the cover, it was Celtic…and of course, magic. In my interest I pretty much leapt on this book, since it had loads of things I liked. I had no clue what to look for in pagan/Wiccan/witchcraft books back then. After all, I’d never had one before, and no one around me was interested or knew anything about any of the “occult” things I was interested in, so I was out on a limb.
I’m going to talk a bit about my memories of this book, its contents and what exactly it means to me today, almost 10 years after I bought it.
Now, it’s a ridiculous book, looking back. It’s a complete “fluffy bunny” book. This is actually pretty much the reason I began calling myself a Wiccan and insisting that I was going to be having no problems in doing whatever I wanted with magic, i.e. which gods/goddesses I chose, what little tidbits from various Celtic pantheons I recognized…I thought it didn’t matter. After all, this was a real source and so I could trust it. Well, I’ve of course learned since that isn’t true (actually I knew before for general things, but assumed that pagan and Wiccan authors must have quite a bit of knowledge to be able to write).
Fluffy Bunny. This is the book that introduced me into that class. I wasn’t completely, willfully ignorant, but I also wasn’t going to really listen to anyone who contradicted this book, and the others I read and bought afterwards. All of them were along the same lines of Wicca-wrapped concepts, using “neo-Wicca” and pretty much the idea of “well if it works for you and it doesn’t harm anyone (Wiccan Rede), then it’s Wicca”. Again, not true. So I did have a short period, perhaps 3ish years where I was a fluffy bunny, completely into this whole “Wicca” concept that I thought I understood.
I’ve grown out of that stage. I haven’t read this book in nearly 6 years, I will admit. But I do know that even the last time I read it I didn’t believe it was the truth anymore, not something to be revered as fact. Not even to be taken really seriously. I’d learned far too much about Celtic mythology since first reading it when I was 11ish to still take it seriously. I really read it a few times over the last 2 years that I had it sitting out on my bookshelf for fun. It was light reading, amusing. Good ideas to tell my friends, the friends that were afraid I was “going to hell” for being Wiccan. (Not to say that I was always a nice child. I did enjoy at times making statements that would concern my very Christian friends, especially if they had been trying to proselytize me for any length of time. Not nice, not really the mature thing to do…but I grew out of that phase by the time I was 14 or 15.) It was fun to read it though, even when I didn’t believe it.
Now, admitting that my memory could be faulty on specific details, I do remember a few points about the book’s content itself. The history was atrocious. I seriously spent more time reading up on history and comparing it to the book to find the errors than I ever spent on the book itself. I remember correspondence tables having next to no information. And there were references to Druids throughout, when my memory serves. And I remember it usually or at least a few times being paired as “Celtic/Druidic” or some such similar notation, as though Celtic and Druid were equal terms. Well technically Druids are Celtic pagans, but not all Celtic pagans are Druids, so that’s horribly misleading. (And yes, the Amazon “look inside” preview does have the ‘Celtic and/or Druidic’ pairing.)
Pg. 1 from the linked version (“Look Inside” preview):
The elemental spirits…Earth, Air, Fire and Water.
Now, I’m almost positive that I’ve read that Celtic paganism recognizes 3 elements, not 4. If that’s wrong, please do let me know. I don’t have all my notes with me, so I won’t say that I’m completely certain.
I also remember an assertion that Celtic priestesses were important, women were warriors…equal to men in all respects. Well, archaeological fact is that there are no “Celtic warrior woman” tombs that have been found. Or at least, none that I had heard of before I came to Germany in September. So this is just an outright falsity. Now, based on Roman commentary about Celtic women it can be inferred that perhaps their women had some part on a battlefield, but the Romans don’t even specifically state that there were Celtic women fighting. And as for priests/priestesses, I don’t think there’s too much about them specifically. And how could anyone know to state something so boldly when there’s no written records by the people themselves before Christianity was brought around (if you’re considering Irish-Celts)?
The back cover though. Oh, dear me. Had I really known what I was reading, I doubt I would have bought the book. I saw the cover, read the first chapter in the store and promptly bought it. Not normal for me, I always (usually) read the back cover as well. I actually never read the back cover of the book until I looked it up for this. It claims one can “gain love, gain protection” (back cover of Amazon preview). Now, perhaps this is me fully breaking from the “fluffy bunny”-hood that made up my first 3 years of paganism, but I don’t think you gain protection. If you want protection, you had better work for it. It isn’t passive. You go about all mundane, legal ways first (the boring stuff that fluffy bunnies like to ignore, and like I did at one time as well), then, if more help is needed you do spells/prayer/ritual/whatever it is you choose. It’s work, effort, a conscious decision on your part to take action. It isn’t something that just happens because you want it to. Yes, I’m probably being overtly picky with the wording. No, to me it’s not a problem.
In any case – this was a nice little trip back in time. I had not thought about this book before I wrote my introductory posts here, and this brought that all back. It was nice to look back into my (not-so) distant (as I would like) memories of being a fluffy bunny who took a few books’ words as gospel truth for “Wicca” and Wicca as truth for all paganism. I really was a fluffy bunny when I thought this book was infallible. However, growth comes with knowledge.
It’s a good intro book at least if you already have a really good grounding in Celtic mythology and if you have a good “fluffy-content” sensor. But for the most part I would honestly say that it shouldn’t be used for any serious work. At least, I would never do so. However, it is a good laugh and I think I’ll read it again come August when I’m back home once more.
After all, an occasional trip back to the intro of the fluffy bunny in me is no problem. It shows me just how far I’ve come.∗