|2016 books: 42-45
||[Nov. 26th, 2016|11:26 am]
Hemlock B. Bootsalotta
The Druids and Celtic Women: Women in Celtic Society and Literature by Peter Berresford Ellis
I was in the middle of reading The Druids when I just happened to look at my bookshelf and realized there was a second copy sitting on the shelves. So two spaces cleared for the price of one.
There isn't a lot of information available about the Druids because they never wrote anything down about their tradition or practices. So all the documentation either comes from the Romans (who hated them) or from Christian converts (who wanted to convince people that Christianity is superior.) Most of the existing evidence points to them being the intellectual class of the Celts, parallel to the Brahmin of India. Being a Druid wasn't a job title, but many rulers, teachers, priests and warriors of the time came from the Druidic class.
I have to admit I had a bit of a giggle over the fact that the author laments the popularity of goofy Druid imagery with the new-age crowd in his intro to this book.
As historical writers go, I love the way Ellis presents his information. He takes care to explains where he got the information and any supporting data and why he considers it credible. He even includes material that he disagrees with and explains why. So I was very pleased when I picked up Celtic Women and realized it was by the same author. In it he makes a very strong case that women in early Celtic society had a role equal to that of men, and the loss of that status happened much later than in other parts of Europe. Along the way he tells the stories of several famous women and the how they influenced major events in their respective countries.
Irish Wonders by D R McAnally
I did not like this book. I was hoping for something that explained a little more about where the "folks" legends and characters come from. instead it's just somebody repeating a story, written in such a way as to imitate the accent. (Which I hate, I think it makes it harder to read and doesn't add anything.)
Celtic Heritage by Alwyn Rees and Brinley Rees
Now this is more like it. The Rees start by describing the various cycles of Celtic mythology and the major players in each and follow that up by comparing the treatment of various themes in the stories of each cycle. Like Ellis, they point out the places where the source material is thin or has had the serial numbers filed off to make them fit them into Christian mythology. And not a leprechaun to be seen.
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