HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Celtic Myth and Religion: A Study of…
Loading...

Celtic Myth and Religion: A Study of Traditional Belief, with Newly… (edition 2011)

by Sharon Paice Macleod

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3117357,052 (4.06)2
JSKupperman's review
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Sharon Paice MacCleod’s Celtic Myth and Religion is a very good, introductory survey of the literature, folklore, archeology and academia concerning 1st century BCE to 5th century CE Celtic religion. MacCleod discusses various Celtic peoples, focusing primarily upon the Gauls, Irish and Welsh and is generally successful in not confusing their practices and beliefs. There are, however, a few instances where she assumes, without evidence, crossovers between cultures. These are few and far between and readily detectable when they occur.

The greatest strength of this book is its breadth. It attempts to cover a great deal and does so quite successfully. The book discusses our various sources for knowledge of the Celts, the roles of druids, seers and bards, gods, folklore, the four major holidays and even has an appendix on the legal rights of Celtic women in the middle ages. For a non-academic publication Celtic Myth and Religion contains more than adequately endnotes, and extensive bibliography and a recommended reading list. The book is not, however, particularly deep, generally covering specific topics superficially. The excellent bibliography, however, allows the interested reader to expand on any given subject matter as they see fit.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the books is MacLeod’s reliance on Eliade, an historian and not an anthropologist, for her understanding of shamanism. While this is perhaps to be expected, it is still lamentable as Eliade’s work on the subject has been heavily criticized and frequently refuted over the last few decades. Other than this MacLeod successfully evades the popular, and usually incorrect, “facts” that have crept into what passes for “Celtic studies” in popular modern Paganism. This should come as no surprise, however, given that MacLeod’s dedication to an academic pursuit of Celtic studies and the fact that this is not a book about, or specifically for, modern Pagans. It is distinctly not a “how to be a Celtic pagan” sourcebook.

Celtic Myth and Religion provides a more than adequate introduction to the study of pre-Christian Celtic religion. Though it may not be useful to someone already well engaged in this study, anyone new to the field, including Celtic reconstructionist Pagans and those coming from a more Wiccan background, will find it very useful indeed. ( )
  JSKupperman | May 12, 2012 |
All member reviews
Showing 17 of 17
Not only does this book cover Celtic mythology, it explains Celtic religion and folklore in depth and details. Celtic gods and goddesses are compared to those of Britain and Gaul. Folklore traditions and customs are explained. Mythology is given a wide scope, from shamans, to druids, to the stars, to nature, and to animals. Translated Celtic texts are used as references and give a new view on Celtic life. With a writing style that is easy to read and very informative, the author provides a book that is great for anyone interested in Celtic traditions. ( )
  lewisbookreviews | Apr 28, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
For individuals interested in Celtic mythology this book is well researched and very readable. It is best as an introduction or overview of the topic. Unlike many scholarly books on mythology I found this one to be an enjoyable read, not just informative. I look forward to future books by the author, Nicely done! ( )
  goth_marionette | Dec 28, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In a lay academic tone, Macleod relates aspects of Celtic mythology and religious practice culled from the historic record in a manner accessible to readers unfamiliar with Celtic cultural heritage. Readers with some interest in Celtic cultural anthropology will also find many interesting tidbits and thought provoking ideas. The abundant footnotes, references, bibliography, and list of suggested readings provide a launching off point for more intensive study.

This work will also be of interest to Wiccans who practice a Celtic derived system. ( )
  ktoonen | Nov 21, 2012 |
This is a rich compendium of information about the Celtic peoples, exploring nearly three thousand years of history, belief and practice. It is a welcome antidote to reams of popular, romanticized writings about the Celts, and provides credible and extensively documented evidence usually available only in academic circles.
The author skillfully weaves a picture of the complexity of Celtic religious belief and mythic tradition. The book's concise chapters and broad overview make it appropriate for coursework with myriad recommendations for deeper study. Detailed explorations of primary sources about the Celts (usually through the eyes of their conquerors) are balanced by new and moving translations of poetry, songs and prayers.
Included are concise evaluations of Celtic mythology, wisdom traditions, mantic and prophetic literature, shamanic motifs,the foundation and diversity of Celtic societies throughout Europe, relation to the natural and unseen worlds, folklore, and surviving, sometimes obscure practices.
What is particularly admirable is the author's gentle insistence that when dealing with the ancient, pre-literate Celts, as well as with traditions preserved by their descendants, we can infer and imagine, and sometimes articulate meaning. But, we should be wary of imposing our worldview.
  DaphneBishop | Nov 7, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Wide if not deep in scope, the book is a good introduction and overview on many aspects of Celtic mythology and spiritual beliefs. The author touches on Classical accounts of Celtic religion, known Celtic Deities, ancestor veneration, druids, charms, herbal uses, healing, and other topics of folklore and religion. A thorough study of these topics would require far more space than the 243 pages allotted here, but what there is, is by and large quite good. ( )
  Rowntree | Sep 6, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A generally excellent and wide-ranging compilation of material on things Celtic, historically grounded and well researched. I might take issue with a few of her statements – there is no mention, for example, of the differing scholarly opinions on the value of the classical authors’ testimony regarding the druids – but on the whole this is a good and thorough introduction to the subject, which should also be of value to those already pursuing a Celtic path. ( )
1 vote gwernin | Aug 20, 2012 |
A wonderful read - and a treasure trove of authentic information on Celtic religious traditions and beliefs. So easy to read you might be misled into thinking the work is not in depth - but the author - who trained in Celtic Studies through Harvard - has read, collated and processed an enormous amount of information (see the Bibliography and endnotes as an example) and put it together in one extremely useful volume - great for those who want to explore their heritage, for survey courses at colleges (we saw it at Univ College Cork bookstore, and listed in the Royal Irish Academy recently as well). A unique and well-documented book covering the early period - Classical accounts on religion and druids, as well as deities, the yearly round, ogam, animal symbolism, beliefs about ancestors, Arthurian corpus, the Mabinogi, folk charms, herbs and healers, and seasonal folklore customs. Highly recommended - for the serious student, the interested general reader, and those involved in spiritual pursuits as well. This book has been long overdue - congratulations are due to the author. ( )
  MedvlReader | Jul 27, 2012 |
A wonderful academic resource, brimming with information on many aspects of Celtic religious belief, deities, druids, ogam, animals, legends, folklore, even a scholarly study of shamanism in Celtic tradition. An excellent reliable intro and overview, great for Celtic courses, Folklore, Anthropology, Comparative Religion, as well as the general reader and spiritual enthusiast. Makes most other books on Celtic spirituality obsolete. ( )
  Dublinfolklorist | Jul 27, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm always curious about mythology and old religions, so I was excited when I received this book from LibraryThing. I found this to be quite interesting; it had a wide range of subjects ranging from the Celtic gods to the legends and even a section about the rights of women during that time, which I didn't expect from this book and was intrigued to find. There are so many different subjects touched on in this book, however, that “touched on” is really the best word to use. This is a great book to begin to educate readers on many different points of Celtic religion and the author did include a section on suggested books for further study, which I can see myself taking advantage of. I also liked how the tone of the book was scholarly rather than the new age kind of style that frequently happens in books about old religions and mythos. Overall, I enjoyed this book; it was easy to follow, the topics were interesting, and it's always a positive thing when a book leaves you wanting to read more. ( )
  merigreenleaf | Jun 11, 2012 |
An authoritative collection of many important aspects of native Celtic belief, including mythological symbolism, deities, seasonal folklore from Scotland, Ireland and Wales. An enjoyable read, and an easy to access reference with excellent footnotes and bibliography. Extremely useful in light of the dearth of reliable recent works on the topic (and a market glutted with dry specialist materials and popular books on 'Celtic Spirituality' ranging from inauthentic to disrespectful.) Recommended to those interested in folklore and myth, song traditions, women's roles, and even those who wish to know more about the much maligned and misinterpreted druidic and poetic roles. Unique sections on female druids and seers, women's rights in early Irish society, in depth interpretation of seasonal celebrations and gender roles, shamanic elements in various Celtic sources, and the importance of genealogies and family traditions in traditional communities (ancient and modern). Well researched and written, with excellent appendices to boot. ( )
  albalecturer | Jun 4, 2012 |
An excellent resource - a good read and a unique book! This fills a long awaited niche - an enormous amount of reliable information from numerous academic sources collected, collated and presented in an easy to read format (it flows so easily that the non specialist may not realize how much information has been put together in this one volume). Excellent for undergraduate survey courses in Celtic, Myth and Folklore, Comparative Religion - have recommended it to many students in my sections, as well as interested enthusiasts (who have been barraged for decades by inaccurate dross posing as Celtic culture). Congratulations - this replaces many out-of-print books as a good resource for academic settings and anyone interested in Celtic culture, mythology, folklore and traditional culture (including new age and neo-pagan students seriously interested in these traditions). ( )
  irishscholar | Jun 4, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Where to begin? First, I'm glad I got this through Early Reviewers because I would have spent money on it otherwise, and I would have been rather unhappy about that.

It started off okay. Many of the sources she used are good ones. But there are red flags. Many of them.

The first problem I had was with some of the sources. Not that they were bad, but that she didn't go to original sources. As most people interested in this topic know, many Classical authors wrote about the Celts. And translations of these sources are not hard to find. They're even abundant, translations available from many different publishers. However, the only Classical source the author went back to the original for was Caesar's Conquest of Gaul (admittedly the most famous). If you're writing something that's intended to be scholarly, you don't quote Classical sources from other books, no matter how esteemed the author. You go back to the source itself. That's sloppy and lazy.

Then the HUGE warning flag. I don't care how long you have studied this topic. When you claim that Danu and the Morrigan are the same goddess, based "on extensive research," you MUST provide evidence. A claim that it's based on extensive knowledge, with no further evidence is simply not enough and it calls every single theory in this book into question. That's something I'd expect to find in a Llwellyn publication, not something extolled as a scholarly study.

There's also the bragging. Yes, the Celts were extremely fond of their genealogies and like many ancient cultures, traced some families back to gods, fairies, etc. And it's perfectly fine to give some examples of families that do. However, this can be done without inserting claims that one branch of your family traces its line back to Arthur's sister Morgause, another to fairies, another to gods. Genealogy is fascinating, yes. I personally love it. But the only reason to mention these lines are yours is to say "look how cool I am." Frankly, it disgusted me.

That being said, there are some good sources used, and there is some decent basic information. However, separating the wheat from the chaff will be difficult for those unfamiliar with the topic. In general, it should be avoided. ( )
1 vote | PirateJenny | May 25, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
While this book may not be everyone's cup of tea, for me it was a great way to spend some time! As a lover of non-fiction reading, this book went into depth of subject matter without becoming bogged down in the writing. Easy to read, easy to understand yet interesting ideas on an interesting subject matter. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in Celtic history. ( )
  HildebrandFamily | May 23, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Sharon Paice MacCleod’s Celtic Myth and Religion is a very good, introductory survey of the literature, folklore, archeology and academia concerning 1st century BCE to 5th century CE Celtic religion. MacCleod discusses various Celtic peoples, focusing primarily upon the Gauls, Irish and Welsh and is generally successful in not confusing their practices and beliefs. There are, however, a few instances where she assumes, without evidence, crossovers between cultures. These are few and far between and readily detectable when they occur.

The greatest strength of this book is its breadth. It attempts to cover a great deal and does so quite successfully. The book discusses our various sources for knowledge of the Celts, the roles of druids, seers and bards, gods, folklore, the four major holidays and even has an appendix on the legal rights of Celtic women in the middle ages. For a non-academic publication Celtic Myth and Religion contains more than adequately endnotes, and extensive bibliography and a recommended reading list. The book is not, however, particularly deep, generally covering specific topics superficially. The excellent bibliography, however, allows the interested reader to expand on any given subject matter as they see fit.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the books is MacLeod’s reliance on Eliade, an historian and not an anthropologist, for her understanding of shamanism. While this is perhaps to be expected, it is still lamentable as Eliade’s work on the subject has been heavily criticized and frequently refuted over the last few decades. Other than this MacLeod successfully evades the popular, and usually incorrect, “facts” that have crept into what passes for “Celtic studies” in popular modern Paganism. This should come as no surprise, however, given that MacLeod’s dedication to an academic pursuit of Celtic studies and the fact that this is not a book about, or specifically for, modern Pagans. It is distinctly not a “how to be a Celtic pagan” sourcebook.

Celtic Myth and Religion provides a more than adequate introduction to the study of pre-Christian Celtic religion. Though it may not be useful to someone already well engaged in this study, anyone new to the field, including Celtic reconstructionist Pagans and those coming from a more Wiccan background, will find it very useful indeed. ( )
  JSKupperman | May 12, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book is a good overview of the various mythologies and beliefs of the Celtic world. It touches on the old gods and goddesses, folk traditions, the roots of the Arthurian legends, and some interesting ideas about shamanistic practices. It’s got a more scholarly than new –agey tone to it (a definite pitfall of some Celtic-themed books).
Since it really is mainly an overview, I did come away wanting more, but one of the appendices is Suggested Reading and Further Study, and the Bibliography is enormous, so I’m looking forward to exploring more from both those lists. ( )
  megaelim | Apr 18, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Celtic Myth and Religion is a competent overview of myths in the Celtic world. She seems to use folk-etymology to claim relationships which may not exist in true culture. It is a quick read, but is for the general reader, not a scholar. ( )
1 vote Bidwell-Glaze | Apr 18, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
My husband reviewed this book.
***
I received an Advanced Reviewers Copy just a couple days ago and I’ve read through most of it – it’s not a long read.

Ms MacLeod trained in Celtic Studies at Harvard, is on the staff at the Celtic Institute of North America and has presented papers at the University of Edinburgh, University College Cork and others; she is also an award winning singer and musician.

The book is short - 206 pages of information followed by 3 appendices, 13 pages of footnotes, and a 9 page bibliography. Fairly small given the cover price of $26US

Inside is a wealth of information, but not much meat on the bones. She touches on a wide variety of subjects, but never delves into any of them deeply. Personally, I was left wanting more; but I’ve reserved several of her recommendations as well as a few of her reference works from my local library; those I don’t already have, that is.

Some of the folklore information is quite useful, the ritual year segment is telling and the pokes at Shamanistic pathways under Celtic theology can be quite interesting. She also touches on a couple of the more popular Myths of the Celts, namely Arthur and The Mabinogi, but only brief mention of the various Eire cycles.

Information on the role of women in Irish Pagan society is one of the appendices as well as some newly translated songs and poems.

If you’re looking for a good overview of Pagan Celtic practices and worldview, this would make a good addition to your library. If you’re looking for more detailed information on various aspects, then I’d suggest you get a copy from your library and then look over those books she referenced in writing this.

Overall, I’d give this a 7 out of 10 – the information is at the basic level, there’s not much of it, and the cover price can be a turn-off for those actually looking for more detailed knowledge.

This is staying in my library, however, for future quick-reference.
1 vote Morphidae | Apr 12, 2012 |
Showing 17 of 17

LibraryThing Author

Sharon Paice Macleod is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

profile page | author page

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
8 wanted1 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.06)
0.5
1 1
1.5
2
2.5
3 1
3.5
4 8
4.5 2
5 4

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alumn

Celtic Myth and Religion by was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get pre-publication copies of books.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 94,025,586 books! | Top bar: Always visible