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Recommended Books on Druidism
and Indo-European Paleopaganism
Updated: March, 2007
Copyright © 1983, 2006 c.e., Isaac Bonewits
The following books (listed in alphabetical
order by author) will get you started on understanding what Paleo-,
Meso-, and Neopagan Druidism originally were and what they someday
could be. Clicking on any linked title will take you to Amazon.com
where you can order each book or (often) follow links to find
a used copy. Book cover art has been deleted to speed up downloading
of this page.
Margot Adler. Drawing Down the Moon,
Penguin (USA), 2006. This is the newest edition of the classic
book about Neopagan movements in America. Every member of the
Neopagan, Wiccan, and/or Goddess Worship movements in the USA
should own this book at least if they want to understand
our history over the last fifty years.
Nathaniel Altman, Sacred Trees,
Sierra Club Books, 1994. A meditation on the spiritual aspects
Philip Baldi, An Introduction to the
Indo-European Languages, Southern Illinois University
Press, 1983. Good basic intro to this topic.
Isaac Bonewits. Real
Magic. Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1989. A basic introduction
to the theory and practice of magic. Includes an extensive (if
somewhat dated) bibliography of other titles that will be helpful.
Thaumaturgy. Steve Jackson Games, 1998. A rewrite
and expansion of Real Magic for players of fantasy games.
It contains additional materials on the polytheology of worship
_______. Rites of Worship: A Neopagan Approach.
Earth Religions Press, 2003. A unique textbook on creating, preparing,
and performing public worship rituals, one of the primary duties
of many Paleo- and Neopagan Druids. Currently Out of Print; a
new edition will be released in December, 2007 from Llewellyn
Worldwide, under the title Neopagan Rites.
Pagan Man: Priests, Warriors, Hunters, and Drummers.
Citadel, 2005. Includes a discussion of Pagan men who are Druids
and/or Celtic Reconstructionists.
Essential Guide to Druidism. Citadel, 2006. An overview
of Druidic history, from its origins amid the Proto-Indo-European
peoples, to its extermination by the Roman Empire and the Roman
Church, its revival by fraternal organizations in the eighteenth
century, and its triumphant renaissance as a polytheistic earth
religion in the twentieth century. Includes historical notes
and ritual details not found in other books, including the dangerous
links between pubs and the founding of Druidic organizations.
Julius Caesar, translated by Anne & Peter
Battle for Gaul. Chatto & Windus (London), 1980.
A modern colloquial translation, filled with dozens of explanatory
maps, photographs and drawings. Currently out-of-print, but you
can read the Loeb translation of The
Gallic War while you're waiting for it to come back.
Alexander Carmichael. Carmina Gadelica:
Hymns and Incantations from the Gaelic. Floris Books,
2004. This one volume edition will be a good introduction to
Scots Gaelic folklore.
Philip Carr-Gomm. Druid Mysteries.
Rider, 2002. Originally published as Elements of the Druid
Tradition. A brief introduction to the facts and fancies
of Mesopagan Druidism, by the current Chosen Chief of the Order
of Bards, Ovates & Druids. Overtly romantic, yet honest about
absent historical evidence. Includes excellent guided meditations
and good ideas about bridging the gaps between Meso- and Neopagan
_______. The Rebirth of Druidry. Thorsons, 2003.
Originally published as The Druid Renaissance. Includes
a chapter by myself on "The Druid Revival in Modern America."
This will give you a global view of the current Druid revivals,
with chapters by leaders and members of many Druidic paths. It
belongs on every modern Druid's bookshelf!
_______. The Druid Way, Thoth Books, 2006. The
story of a vision quest/pilgrimage through the landscape of southern
_______. What Do Druids Believe? Granta, 2006.
Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Genes, Peoples,
and Languages, University of California Press, 2000.
Nora K. Chadwick. The Celts.
Penguin, 1985. A now classic work, somewhat out of date but well
_______. Imbas Forosnai. Oxford University Press,
1935. Available as an ebook from eDruid Press at www.edruid.com.
Peter Crawford. The
Living Isles: A Natural History of Britain and Ireland.
BBC Pubs, 1991. This beautiful book provides the essential biological
background to any pictures we may care to paint of what life
in the Islands was like during Paleopagan and Mesopagan times.
Barry Cunliffe. The Celtic World : An
Illustrated History of the Celtic Race, Their Culture, Customs
and Legends. Greenwich House, 1986. Some great photos!
H. R. Ellis Davidson. Myth
and Symbols in Pagan Europe: Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions.
Syracuse University Press, 1989. Though this great scholar wrote
many excellent books, this one emphasizes the many similarities
between Celtic, Germanic, and Scandinavian Paleopaganism, winding
up supporting the Dumézilian approach.
Guy Deutscher, The Unfolding of Language,
Henry Holt & Co., 2005.
Georges Dumézil. The
Destiny of a King. University of Chicago Press, 1988.
Plight of a Sorcerer. University of California Press
Stakes of the Warrior. University of California Press,
Roman Religion : With an Appendix on the Religion of the Etruscans.
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.
: An Essay on Two Indo-European Representations of Sovereignty.
Zone Books, 1996.
_______. Loki. Flammarion, 1997. All of these are
worth reading if you want to know what pre-Christian European
Paganism was really like.
Mircea Eliade. Shamanism:
Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. Princeton University
Press, 1972. This book will demonstrate why it's a serious dilution
and misapplication of the term to call druids "shamans."
History of Religious Ideas, Vol. 1 - From the Stone Age to the
Eleusinian Mysteries. University of Chicago Press,
History of Religious Ideas, Vol. 2 - From Gautama Buddha to the
Triumph of Christianity. University of Chicago Press,
1985. While just about everything he wrote about myth and religion
is worth reading, this is some of the best material on the history
of religious ideas available, organized both chronologically
and thematically. It includes an enormous amount of information
on Paleopaganism and early Christianity.
_______. Patterns in Comparative Religion, University
of Nebraska Press, 1996.
Peter Berresford Ellis. The
Druids. Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1995. A more recent
work than Piggott's, just as grouchy but multidisciplinary and
informed by both Dumézilian theory and the latest scholarly
research. He makes the excellent point that modern would-be Druids
should be far more concerned about the imminent demise of Celtic
languages and cultures than they usually are.
of the Celts. Carroll & Graf, 1999. Mythology
from all six Celtic nations, not just the Irish and Welsh. He
includes stories from obscure sources, with variations based
on the stories he heard as a child in Ireland, and has as a preface
one of the best brief explanations of the Celts as Indo-Europeans
I've seen. Unfortunately, he also falls into the "light
= good, dark = bad" dualism of the Christian scribes he
is so anxious to correct everywhere else.
_______. Celtic Women: Women in Celtic Society and Literature.
Eerdsman, 1995. A well-balanced book on the topic.
_______. The Celts: A History. Carroll & Graf,
2003. A revised edition of a solid work.
of Celtic Mythology, Oxford University Press, 1994.
Robert Lee "Skip" Ellison. The
Druids' Alphabet. Earth Religions Press, 2003. An excellent
introduction to the topic of ogham.
_______. The Solitary Druid: A Practitioner's Guide,
Citadel Press, 2005. An excellent book for those who prefer their
Patrick K. Ford. The Mabonogi and Other
Welsh Medieval Tales. University of California Press,
Mara Freeman, Kindling the Celtic Spirit.
Harper San Francisco, 2001. She also has a CD of Celtic
Philip Freeman, War, Women, and Druids,
University of Texas Press, 2002. A collection of new translations
of the major Greek and Roman writings about the Celts and their
Paul Freidrich. Proto-Indo-European
Trees. University of Chicago, 1970. Primarily a linguistic
monograph, this is the only book to cover in detail the various
species of trees known to have had names in the PIE language.
He includes a great deal of religious and symbolic detail without
always realizing that he is doing so.
Jeffrey Gantz. Early Irish Myths and
Sagas. Penguin, 1988.
Mirija Gimbutas. The Balts.
Praeger, 1968. One of the few works on this topic in English.
_______. The Slavs, Praeger, 1971. A valuable overview
of the Paleopagan Slavic peoples.
Miranda Green. The Gods of the Celts, Revised Edition.
Sutton Publishing, 2004.
_______. Celtic Goddesses: Warriors, Virgins, and Mothers.
George Braziller, 1996.
_______ (ed.) The Celtic World. Routledge, 1995.
An anthology of articles by scholars from several disciplines.
John Michael Greer. The DruidryHandbook. Weiser,
World Full of Gods. ADF Publishing, 2006. A work
of Druidic polytheology.
Godfrey Higgins. Celtic Druids.
Kessinger Pub., 1997. This is a reprint of the classic antiquarian
text, and is filled with hilarious nonsense.
Ellen Evert Hopman. Tree Medicine Tree
Magic. Phoenix Pub. Co., 1991.
_______. A Druid's Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year.
Destiny Books, 1994. These are by a modern Druid who is also
a trained herbalist.
Ellen Evert Hopman and Lawrence Bond. Being
a Pagan: Druids, Wiccans, and Witches Today (originally
published as People of the Earth). Destiny Books, 2001.
This book of interviews is an excellent introduction to current
thinking in the Neopagan community. Of course, I may be biased
because Druids in general (and myself in particular) are interviewed
first - a real change from the usual emphasis on Wicca. Wiccans
are, however, inevitably the primary focus.
Ronald Hutton. The
Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles, Their Nature and
Legacy. Blackwell Publishers, 1993. A brilliant review
of the history, prehistory and psuedohistory of British Paleopaganism.
This is an excellent tour of all "the things we know that
just aint so," and also belongs in every Druid's library.
Rise and Fall of Merry England: the Ritual Year 14001700.
Oxford University Press, 1994.
Stations of the Sun: a History of the Ritual Year in Britain.
Oxford University Press, 1996. These two will dispel a number
of false beliefs about the ceremonial calender of British Mesopagans.
_______. Witches, Druids, and King Arthur. Hambledon
and London, 2003. A book of excellent essays.
Kevin Jones. The Keys of Knowledge:
Ogham, Coelbren and Pagan Celtic Religion. eDruid Press,
available at www.edruid.com. An odd book, combining academic
research with the author's unverifiable claims about his "secret
Irish traditional knowledge."
T. D. Kendrick. Druids and Druidism.
Dover, 2003. A current printing of a classic, originally published
as Druids or A Study in Celtic Prehistory.
Thomas Kinsella. The Tain. University
of Philadelphia Press, 1985. A key source for understanding Irish
Erynn Rowan Laurie. A Circle of Stones:
Journeys and Meditations for Modern Celts. Eschaton Productions
Bernard Lewis. History
- Remembered, Recovered, Invented. Simon & Schuster,
1987. A succinct introduction to the ways in which people filter
history through their personal and cultural needs, fears, and
wishes, even when they're trying to be unbiased. An excellent
cure for excessive romanticism, scientolatry, and matriarchal
Dmitry Likhachov. The Great Heritage:
the Classical Literature of Old Rus. Progress Publishers
(Moscow), 1981. Like the Norse, Irish, and Welsh, the ancient
Slavs had great stories that reveal much of their common Indo-European
heritage to the discerning eye.
Bruce Lincoln. Priests, Warriors, and
Cattle. University of California Press, 1981.
C. Scott Littleton. The
New Comparative Mythology, An Anthropological Assessment of the
Theories of Georges Dumézil, 3rd Edition.
University of California Press, 1982. This is the best critical
introduction to Dumézil's work, with an extensive bibliography
of relevant books and articles by Dumézil and others.
A new edition of this will be coming out soon.
Proinsias MacCana. Celtic Mythology.
Ramsay MacMullen. Christianizing the
Roman Empire, AD 100400. Yale University Press,
1984. It wasn't as easy as most other books claim!
Jean Markale. The Druids: Celtic Priests
of Nature. Inner Traditions, 1999.
_______. Women of the Celts. Inner Traditions,
Caitlín Matthews. The Celtic
Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year. Harper
SanFrancisco, 1999. A book of meditations, one for each day of
the year, rooted in the Celtic cultures.
John Matthews. The Druid Source Book.
Blandford, 1996. An anthology of writings about the ancient druids,
mostly from obsolete sources.
_______. The Bardic Source Book. Blandford, 1998.
Ditto for ancient bards.
Carl McColman, Complete Idiot's Guide
to Celtic Wisdom. Alpha, 2003.
Damian McManus. A
Guide to Ogam, Maynooth Monographs #4, An Sagart,
St. Patrick's College, Maynooth Ireland, 1991. This academic
summation of all the genuine scholarship on the topic will certainly
cure a great deal of romantic nonsense spawned by Iolo Morganwg
and Robert Graves! Out-of-print, but Amazon or your local Irish
Import store should be able to get it for you.
F. Marian McNeill. The Silver Bough.
Cannongate, 1989. Genuine Celtic magic!
John F. Michell. The New View over Atlantis.
Thames & Hudson, 2001. This is the later edition of the book
that launched the whole ley-line concept.
_______. A Little History of Astro-Archeology.
Thames & Hudson, 2001. By one of the field's founders.
Brendan Cathbad Myers. Dangerous Religion.
Earth Religions Press, 2004. An entire book about the political
and cultural implications of Neopaganism.
_______. Irish Druidry: Celtic Mysticism, Theory, and Practice.
New Page, 2006. A good book on Celtic mysticism, written by an
Muin Mound Grove, ADF. A Druidic Wheel
of the Year. ADF, 2003. Spiralbound book and CD of ritual
scripts with music. Also available as an ebook from eDruid Press
Joseph F. Nagy. The Wisdom of the Outlaw
: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in Gaelic Narrative Tradition.
University of California Press, 1985. This will give you some
insights into the ambiguity of the warrior caste in ancient Ireland.
Ross Nichols, et al. The Book of Druidry.
Thorsons, 1992. Core concepts from the founder of OBOD.
Robert O'Driscoll, ed. The Celtic Consciousness.
George Braziller, 1987. Anthology of scholarly essays.
Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty. Women,
Androgynes, and Other Mythical Beasts. University
of Chicago Press, 1982. O'Flaherty (now known as Doniger) gives
an extensive discussion of the sexual politics of the Indo-European
myth system using sound research and a clear presentation.
Daithi O'Hogain. The Sacred Isle: Pre-Christian
Religions in Ireland. Boydell Press, 1999. An excellent
introduction to the topic, with cross-cultural insights from
other Indo-European cultures.
Garrett S. Olmsted. A Definitive Reconstructed
Text of the Cologny Calendar, JIES Monograph No. 39.
Institute for the Study of Man, 2001.
Emma Restall Orr. Spirits of the Sacred
Grove: The World of a Druid Priestess. Thorsons, 1998.
Through the cycle of the seasons with one of the founders of
_______. Druidry Thorsons, 2001. Thoughts from
a co-founder of the BDO.
Diana Paxson. Taking up the Runes.
Weiser Books, 2005. An excellent book to study if you wish to
use runes in your divination or magic.
_______. Essential Asatru. The best one-book introduction
to Paleo-, Meso-, and Neopagan Norse religion.
Stuart Piggott. The
Druids. Thames and Hudson, 1985. An excellent book,
covering the archaeological, classical, and historical evidence
concerning the Druids, both Paleopagan and Mesopagan, albeit
in a very grouchy, Secular Humanist ("all priesthoods are
Alwyn & Brinley Rees. Celtic
Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales.
Thames & Hudson, 1989. A classic Dumézilian analysis
of Celtic mythology and religion, based primarily on Irish and
secondarily on Welsh materials.
Julian Richards. Stonehenge: A History
in Photographs. Barnes & Noble, 2004. This
is a fascinating book for any druid or fan of Stonehenge!
Anne Ross. Pagan
Celtic Britain. Academy Chicago Pub, 1996. Even though
it is now somewhat dated, this is a classic text on Celtic cultures.
She covers the archeology and prehistory of Celtic Britain -
"warts and all" - including a lot of stuff romantics
would prefer be forgotten, yet with respect for the people involved.
Gods & Heroes from Celtic Mythology. Peter Bedrick
Books, 1994. This has some great artwork reconstructing what
ancient Celtic life would have looked like.
Anne Ross and Don Robins. The
Life and Death of a Druid Prince. Touchstone Books,
1991. A brilliant bit of archeological detective speculation.
Merritt Ruhlen. The Origin of Language:
Tracing the Evolution of the Mother Tongue, Wiley, 1996.
Exercises to show the reader how all current languages originated
from a single one in East Africa, tens of thousands of years
Michael Scharding, editor and chief instigator.
A Reformed Druid
Anthology, 2nd Edition, in three huge volumes. 20012005.
The Druid Chronicles (Evolved) can be found within
Volume 1 of ARDA, but is also available as a stand-alone
volume. All of this material is fortunately available online
in PDF format, along with a great deal of supplementary material,
including photographs, grove links, etc.
Philip Shallcrass. Druidry. Piatkus
Books, 2000. Same title, different co-founder of BDO.
Marie-Louise Sjoestedt. Gods and Heroes
of the Celts. Turtle Island Foundation, 1982.
Robin Skelton and Margaret Blackwood. Earth,
Air, Fire, Water: Pre-Christian and Pagan Elements in British
Songs, Rhymes and Ballads. Arkana, 1990.
Brian K. Smith. Reflections
on Resemblance, Ritual, and Religion. Oxford University
Press, 1989. A superb introduction to the complex world of Vedic
ritual and metaphysics. Much of what puzzles him will make perfectly
good sense to Neopagan ritualists, and will give us some glimpses
of what western druidism must have been like.
Lewis Spence. The Mysteries of Britain,
The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain, The History and Origins
of Druidism, and many other wretched tomes. Save your
time and money.
Leon E. Stover and Bruce Kraig. Stonehenge,
the Indo-European Heritage. Nelson-Hall, 1978. A
harsh but fascinating look at the people associated with the
various stages of Stonehenge's construction. The authors belong
to the "hard primitivism" school of Indo-European studies,
are hostile to religion, and positively rabid about clergy, but
the book does an excellent job of straightening out the bewildering
array of prehistoric and early I-E cultures in Britain. The bibliography
and research notes are good, but dated.
Norbertas Velius. The World Outlook
of the Ancient Balts. Mintis Publishers (Vilnius), 1989.
It's amazing how similar the Paleopagan Balts were to the Celts!
This text on Baltic folklore and customs will be very useful
in creating nature-based rituals.
Calvert Watkins, editor. The American
Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, 2nd Edition.
Houghton Mifflin Co., 2000.
I do not read
German, French, Spanish or any other modern (non-English based)
languages fluently, so I cannot recommend books in other languages,
although a great deal of material has been published in French
and German (especially). I would be happy to list good ones if
scholars with appropriate academic credentials were to send them
I do not recommend
Robert Graves The White Goddess, nor any of the
works of D.J. Conway (Celtic Magic, Norse Magic, etc.),
Tom Cross aka Tadhg MacCrossan (The Sacred
Cauldron), Murry Hope (Practical Celtic Magic), Douglas
Monroe (21 Lessons of Hogwash excuse me, Merlyn),
Edward Williams aka Iolo Morganwg (Welsh
Triads Vol. 3, The Barddas) source of much of Monroes
garbage nor any works by others based on the writings
of any of these mentioned authors. Over 90% of what is available
in print about the Paleopagan Druids is nonsense, so read carefully
and look for unverified (and/or unverifiable) assumptions, nationalistic
biases, scientistic dogmas, monotheistic reinterpretations, Victorian
whitewashes, references to Atlantis and/or ancient Egypt and/or
UFOs, claims of intact underground family traditions of Druidism,
sacred druid trees that are actually North American
vines, racism, anti-semiticism, sexism (patriarchal or matriarchal),
hetero- or homophobia, chapters (or entire books) on Celtic
Shamanism or Celtic Christianity or Culdees,
When in doubt, consult your nearest tree
Copyright © 2006 c.e., Isaac Bonewits. This
text file may NOT be freely distributed on the
Net, since it is an excerpt from Bonewits's
Essential Guide to Druidism,.
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