Book Review: Earth Tree – An Anthology of Poems

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EARTH TREE – An Anthology of Poems
by Dawn McKenzie

Copies are available from Dawn McKenzie
Email: Leafspr8@xtra.co.nz
$NZ20 + postage

Natures riches, blended knowingly with elemental cycles, with spiritual beliefs, set within the magical land that is Aotearoa, this poetry captures it all. Readers are transported by the imagery created, born of Dawn’s life experience and deep understanding of the connection between all life forces. Delightful drawings of the branches and leaves the trees featured are sprinkled throughout the text, enriching the verse still further. ‘Earth Tree’ is a must have collection of poetry for both those who understand well our dependence and empathy with our planet and also for those who desire to discover it.

“She knows the cycles
Daybreak to sundown,
The seasons –
Beltane’s buds to winter bareness.
She knows the creative cycles,
The birds in her branches
Nest, fly,
and make their homes in her boughs.”

~Les

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Reading to Druid littlies – kids’ books that inspire spirituality

Since starting our family, or even before that – when we considered the idea of bringing children up in a spiritual tradition – we’ve been on the look out for books that inspire kids’ spirituality in different ways. There are those that are written for parents, like Starhawk’s Circle Round: Raising Children in the Goddess Traditionsand there are those written for the children themselves. The examples of these that we’ve read and enjoyed fall into several categories.

  • The overt reproduction of myths/magical stories

Moon Goddess Dance, written by Sally Seitz, illustrated by Joshua Allen.

This story takes most of the storyline of the Taliesin myth, especially using the transformations of Gwion and Ceridwyn through all the paired animals. It’s simple and sweet, with an emphasis on magic, but in my opinion it feels a bit shallow and is not very satisfying to read as an adult.

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  • Books that teach about spirituality

On My Way to a Happy Life, written by Deepak Chopra and Kristina Tracy, illustrated by Rosemary Woods

Deepak Chopra must be known to most spiritual seekers, if only by name. This beautiful book is a firm favourite in our house, with its whimsical illustrations and flowing text. It steps through seven simple lessons for a happy life that stem from Buddhism but resonate strongly with Druid beliefs. The messages are easy enough to understand for children and also are a wonderful reminder to adults to slow down and take time to appreciate things as well.

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  • Books that cultivate a reverence for the seasons/sacred spaces/land

Out and About, written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes

Shirley Hughes writes classic kids’ books that focus on kids’ experiences of the world, and though some of her series are a little dated in terms of family dynamics and gender roles (Lucy and Tom, for example), this book of poems is timeless. The verse is rich and satisfying, exploring each season in turn, and the illustrations are beautifully detailed. We read this book a lot in our house, and we have definite favourite pages – the double spread for spring gets lots of attention, and the autumn poem (Fire is a dragon alive in the night…) is chanted with great gusto!

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  • Blessings and lullabies

Kissed by the Moon, written and illustrated by Alison Lester

Alison Lester is an Australian author who draws on her experiences of a farming childhood for many of her books. While her picture books often focus on animals, this one is quite differently phrased – a series of what are very clearly blessings (May you, my baby…) expressing the wish that this child will grow up with a reverence for nature. The title comes from the final blessing – and may you, my baby, be kissed by the moon – giving the feel of a lullaby. This book is deeply satisfying to read, being both simple and heartfelt, and I can’t recommend it strongly enough.

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Happy reading!

– Steph

Book Review: From the Cauldron Born by Kristoffer Hughes

Image: From the Cauldron Born
‘From the Cauldron Born: Exploring the Magic of Welsh Legend and Lore’ is actually the second book by Kristoffer Hughes. His first book, Natural Druidry, is out of print but still much sought after. The Cauldron Born is at its most simple, a book about the Myth of Ceridwen and Taliesin, it is a story that many within the Druidic and Celtic traditions are familiar with.  Its more complex edge, or what is different about this book, is how Mr Hughes writes and what he extrapolates from this myth. What is found within the pages of this book is very much Magic, Knowledge and Wisdom. You see Kristoffer Hughes is not just a Druid Priest, but he is also a ‘Pathology Technologist’ who works for Her Majesty’s Coroner. He has used this skill and training, of figuring out how and why a person died, to delve deep into the mystery that is the myth of Ceridwen, and the Mabinogion. But Mr Hughes goes further than this. Whether by design or not, this book is also teaching the reader – if they are willing to learn – to apply these various techniques to dissect and delve deeper into other mythologies and legends. In turn this deepens your own understanding and magical practice.

Kristoffer Hughes writes in an engaging way, which draws the reader on to the end of the chapter with ease and encourages the reader to participate in the various exercises. I did and found them most enjoyable. Kris has a wicked sense of humour and fun as well as a serious side, both of which are sacred and it is evident in his book. It made for great reading.

At the end of the book is a yearlong ritual meditation and practice. If you are an aspiring druid looking to expand on your OBOD gwers, or to deepen your work I highly suggest that you at the very least read this.  While they are simple exercises they have a depth to them which is inspiring.

While it is a northern hemisphere book, it is not too difficult to translate the correspondences for the southern hemisphere, and we are quite well practised at that. You may also need to find substitutes for some of the physical things required, but the research you put into this will deepen your understanding of place, and practice even more (well it did for me). And the extra good news is that this book has a follow on book, Celtic Magic, which so far is equally as good.

Do I recommend this book? A whole hearted yes!  This book is written in a very accessible way, while at the same time to the discerning reader many layers can be found. Put simply, this book has hidden depths. The novice may enjoy it, and somebody who has been walking their path for some years may also gain new insight and wisdom. These are often my favourite types of book, those that help you think and understand things from new and different angles.  Those that deepen your own magic and practice.

Having read Kris’s other books, Celtic Magic and The Journey into Spirit,  I can say that this is pretty much how the other two are written. From the Cauldron Born is a book about Druidry. It is about Magic, Myth and Cerridwen. It is about inviting Magic and Myth into your life and practice. It is about how you connect to your magic, your place and your land, and what that means to you. Read this book for yourself and see, but be discerning as always!

Personally, I give this book 5 awens out of 5.

-Polly Lind

 

Polly is an Urban Witch and Priestess who lives in the windy city Wellington, New Zealand.  For further writing from Polly, and to check out her latest crafts, try the links below.

Website: http://pollylind.com/
Etsy Store: https://www.etsy.com/nz/shop/UrbanWitchery

 

Book Review: The Path of Druidry by Penny Billington

Image: The Path of Druidry

Image source: Llewellyn Worldwide

‘The Path of Druidry: walking the ancient green way’ by Penny Billington, is a complete course of study for those wanting to practice contemporary Druidry.

Penny shares her first hand knowledge, as an OBOD Druid, in clear conversational language with a hint of warm humour. The book is steeped in the Celtic mythology of the Mabinogion. Within each story Penny skillfully unlocks ideas that enlighten us to our humanness.

Each of the twelve clearly laid out chapters have a balance of thoughtfulness, theory and practical ways of trying out Druidry. To get the most from this book make the subtitle ‘walking the ancient green way’ literally and be prepared to get outdoors and explore. Even though Penny uses imagery from her home in Britain, I found it easy to relate the ideas in the book to New Zealand once I put my walking shoes on and explored her ideas in my local environment.

‘The Path of Druidry’ has plenty for everyone seeking to open their senses to the Druidic world of wonder while being thoroughly engaged at home, work and within their community. The book can be read by beginners who want a good foundation, and for those who want to expand their own familiar druidic practices. You are encouraged to delve deep into the treasure here.

-Dawn