Category Archives: Celtic Scholar’s Reviews and Opinions

Inside the Táin

Full Title: Inside the Táin – Exploring Cú Chulainn, Fergus, Ailill, and Medb
Author: Doris Edel
Publisher: Cruach Bhán Publications
Published: 2015
ISBN: 978-3-942002-20-2
Pages: 371, including 2 Appendices, Works Cited and Index
Synopsis: This is the first literary-critical study of the Táin Bó Cúailnge in its entirety, and as an autonomous literary work. Continue reading…

Táin Bó Cúalnge

Series: Irish Texts Society Volume XLIX

Editor: Cecile O’Rahilly

Publisher: The Irish Texts Society and Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies

Published: First Published 1967, this copy 1984.

Pages: 357 includes the original text, translation, notes to the text and introduction and Index + Introduction.

**Notes from Celtic Scholar: This short review is not about the actual text of the Táin Bó Cúalnge or the translation but mostly about the Introduction and the notes at the end.

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Celtic Cosmology: Perspectives from Ireland and Scotland

Title: Celtic Cosmology: Perspectives from Ireland and Scotland

Editors: Jacqueline Borsje (Editor), Ann Dooley (Editor), Séamus Mac Mathúna (Editor), Gregory Toner (Editor)

Publisher: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies

Published: April 1st 2014

ISBN: 0888448260 (ISBN13: 9780888448262)

Pages: 324 including Bibliography.

Synopsis: From the deep sea to the waters above the sky, from the world beneath our feet to the promised land across the ocean – this volume represents a search for traces of cosmologies in Celtic sources, especially those of Ireland and Scotland. These cosmological traces are investigated for their Indo-European and Semitic parallels and influences. The broad world orderings – Celtic tripartition (earth, water and sky) and Christian bipartition (this world and the next) – are explored, and the cosmological meaning of specific demarcations in the landscape is analyzed. The world was mapped with words, as signposts for contemporary and future generations. These written “maps” are not only geographical, they also constitute ethical and mythological guidelines. Through storytelling, landscape and social space are processed in a framework of cosmic good and evil. In a Celtic mental world roads, rivers, mountains and hills are vital markers. Hills and caves were used in rituals and were seen as entrances to a subterranean otherworld where supernatural beings dwell and knowledge of the cosmos was believed to reside with these supernatural or subterranean beings. This knowledge is connected with protection and violation of the landscape and waters, and is often associated with the king, truth and justice. In the socialized landscape features of periphery and centre are closely related to kingship: thus, looming tragedy can be deduced from the route that a mythical king takes; royal capitals are outlined in landscape and architecture as ritual centres. The naming of significant places is a human act of creating order. In the Celtic literary tradition of explanatory and etymologizing stories, place-names serve as signifiers and warning signs (taboos) and some Celtic narratives on naming places appear to function also as performances of atonement for disruptions of the cosmic order.

 

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Review: I honestly thought long and hard before writing this review. I don’t feel like I have absorbed enough from the essays to actually talk about them confidently. It is not because the essays were not well written but because there was just too much to take in at once. This book needs to be read REALLY slowly with the stories that the essays are referring to at hand to see context. I was also not really all that familiar with the Scottish material and felt like I needed more time to absorb those parts.

So let me tell you what I thought in general. FINALLY, a book about Celtic cosmology that pulls in examples from mythology and folklore then throws in some Info-European material for some comparative analysis. The introduction itself was a beautiful treasure of definitions and thoughts that needed to be said. The essays themselves were written by people who know their stuff and edited by people who are experts in said stuff. The book is not a read it once kind of book. It is one that you must dip into time and time again to tease out all the information you need to understand Celtic Cosmology. It should be a staple in any Celtic scholar’s bookcase!

 

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Blood of the Celts

Full Title: Blood of the Celts – The New Ancestral Story
Author: Jean Manco
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Published: 2015
ISBN: 978-0-500-05183-2
Pages: 240 including illustrations, end notes, Appendix, Bibliography, and Index
SynopsisBlood of the Celts brings together genetic, archaeological, and linguistic evidence to address the often-debated question: who were the Celts? What peoples or cultural identities should that term describe? And did they in fact inhabit the British Isles before the Romans arrived? Author Jean Manco challenges existing accounts of the origins of the Celts, providing a new analysis that draws on the latest discoveries as well as ancient history. Continue reading…

How to Read a Myth

Title: How to Read a Myth
Series: Phylosophy and Literary Theory
Author: William Marderness
Publisher: Humanity Books

Synopsis:
Roland Barthes and Mircea Eliade pioneered two contrasting yet equally influential theories of myth. Until now, no one has successfully integrated Barthes’ interpretation of myth as a system of signs and Eliade’s interpretation of myth as a sacred narrative. In this important contribution to the study of myth, philosopher William Marderness proposes a comprehensive theory that accounts for the diverse interpretations of Barthes and Eliade, among others.

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Brigid

Name of Series: Pagan Portals
Full Title: Brigid – Meeting the Celtic Goddess of Poetry, Forge, and Healing Well
Author: Morgan Daimler
Synopsis: Pagan Portals – Brigid is a basic introduction to the Goddess Brigid focusing on her history and myth as well as her modern devotion and worship. Primarily looking at the Irish Goddess but including a …

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An Leabhar Urnai A Book Of Celtic Reconstructionist Friendly Prayers

An Leabhar Urnaí: A Book of Celtic Reconstructionist Friendly Prayers

By Air n-Aithesc (Our Message) in Air n-Aithesc Press Books

92 pages, published 3/1/2016

An Leabhar Urnaí: A Book of Celtic Reconstructionist Friendly Prayer, was inspired by Ceisiwr Serith’s book A book of Pagan Prayer. This book offers prayers and invocations in Old Irish, Gaulish, with their English translations; as well as prayers in English to Welsh, Irish and Gaulish Gods. The authors and editor also took the time to add a little information on the Gods they pray too and the reasons behind writing their prayers or…

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