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The Druids: Celtic Priests of Nature (original 1985; edition 1999)

by Jean Markale

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Member:PhaedraB
Title:The Druids: Celtic Priests of Nature
Authors:Jean Markale (Author)
Info:Inner Traditions (1999), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library, to be deaccessioned, PEIB, cover verified, Verify other, packed
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Tags:Pagan history, Druids, Celtic, @box01

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The Druids: Celtic Priests of Nature by Jean Markale (1985)

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Started reading a while ago (couple years). The words were a little hard for me. Never finished reading. Loads of his own personal views. ( )
  Krystina_fate | Apr 10, 2008 |
Markale does a wonderful job of developing each chapter into a comprehensive exploration of a given topic, presenting evidence and counter-evidence, weighing sources and coming to intelligent conclusions. I found the essays of Part Four: Druidic Thought particularly appealing to my personal love of theology/philosophy, but the chapters in Part Two on various deities within the Celtic pantheon were also of great interest (though perhaps not as valuable if the reader is not familiar with at least some basic Celtic myths and story-cycles).

Two aspects likely to raise objections, especially from Neopagan Druids today: Firstly, as more deeply explored in the final chapters, Markale puts forward a vision of druidic philosophy and belief which is essentially monistic/monotheistic in nature and, though perhaps politically opposed to Christianity at the time of the latter's arrival (or forced entrance) into the Celtic world, does not inherently conflict to modern, more tolerant eyes. Secondly, Markale insists that druidism, being an aspect of a particular class of priests and judges within the ancient Celtic social framework, is inseparated from that framework and so is not a valid spiritual tradition today (the single, four-page chapter devoted to the issue of "Neodruidism" displays this view perfectly).

If the reader can look past these two minor concerns (or, better yet, understand and appreciate the spirit of scholarship and intellectual honesty from which they spring), there is a great deal of valuable information and insight to be found in the pages of this book. ( )
1 vote skiegazer3 | May 16, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0892817038, Paperback)

A comprehensive and revealing look at the druids and their fundamental role in Celtic society that dispels many of the misconceptions about these important religious figures and their doctrine

• Written by the world's leading authority on Celtic culture

Druidism was one of the greatest and most exalting adventures of the human spirit, attempting to reconcile the unreconcilable, the individual and the collective, creator and created, good and evil, day and night, past and future, and life and death. Because of the oral nature of Celtic civilization our understanding of its spiritual truths and rituals is necessarily incomplete. Yet evidence exists that can provide the modern reader with a better understanding of the doctrine that took druidic apprentices 20 years to learn in the remote forests of the British Isles and Gaul.

Using the descriptions of the druids and their beliefs provided by the historians and chroniclers of classic antiquity--as well as those recorded by the insular Celts themselves when compelled, under Christianity's influence, to utilize writing to preserve their ancestral traditions--Jean Markale painstakingly pieces together all that is known for certain about them. The druids were more than simply the priests of the Celtic people; their influence extended to all aspects of Celtic life. The Druids covers everything concerning the Celtic religious domain, intellectual speculations, cultural or magical practices, various beliefs, and the so-called profane sciences that have come down from the Celtic priesthood.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:07 -0400)

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