Thursday, January 30, 2014

Book Review: Where the Hawthorn Grows

Morgan Daimler’s book Where the Hawthorn Grows is an unusual entry in the growing marketplace of books about Celtic and Druidic spirituality, and I was very pleased to read it. While Ms. Daimler talks about being a modern Druid in North America and keeping ancient beliefs alive by bringing them into the modern age and allowing them to change to fit the current world, her main thrust is a reasoned effort at remaining true to the ideals of the ancient Celts as we know them through the texts and other historical sources that have come down to us. Following the threads of an ancient tapestry of spirituality and culture, she discerns the pattern the Druids wove centuries ago and exhibits it to us as a practical underpinning for modern pagan life.

To begin with, Ms. Daimler clarifies her own stance as a reconstructionist and Druid, including a clear definition of reconstructionism since it’s so often misunderstood, so often the source of argument and dissent within the broader pagan community. Then, based on the ancient texts and historical sources, she shares a discussion of ethics and beliefs, an extensive description of Irish deities and a lovingly composed set of seasonal sabbats and rites of passage.

Where the Hawthorn Grows is not the romance of Victorian neo-Druid fantasy but the reality of a spiritual and cultural tradition that can work well for modern pagans who want to connect with their Celtic cultural roots. This is not a beginner’s book; Ms. Daimler assumes familiarity with terms such as geasa and blot, so be prepared to look up anything that’s new to you. But for those who are interested in Celtic and Druidic paganism, it offers real substance and a comprehensive look at historically-based spirituality. Ms. Daimler provides references at the end of each section and an extensive reading list at the end of the book, which is helpful due to the heavy historical content of her text.

All in all, Where the Hawthorn Grows covers a huge subject well, providing a great deal of information and real substance on which the Celtic-leaning modern pagan can easily build a personal spiritual practice.

If you'd like a little taste before you buy, you can read the first chapter for free HERE.