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Recommended Books on Druidism
and Indo-European Paleopaganism

Most now available from Books!

Updated: March, 2007

Copyright © 1983, 2006 c.e., Isaac Bonewits

Excerpted from Bonewits's Essential Guide to Druidism,

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 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 of trees.

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.
_______. Authentic 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 and magic.
_______. 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.
_______. The Pagan Man: Priests, Warriors, Hunters, and Drummers. Citadel, 2005. Includes a discussion of Pagan men who are Druids and/or Celtic Reconstructionists.
_______. Bonewits's 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 Wiseman. The 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 Druids.
_______. 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 England.
_______. 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 worth reading.
_______. Imbas Forosnai. Oxford University Press, 1935. Available as an ebook from eDruid Press at

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.
_______. The Plight of a Sorcerer. University of California Press OOP.
_______. The Stakes of the Warrior. University of California Press, 1983.
_______. Archaic Roman Religion : With an Appendix on the Religion of the Etruscans. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.
_______. Mitra-Varuna : 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."
_______. A History of Religious Ideas, Vol. 1 - From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries. University of Chicago Press, 1981.
_______. A 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.
_______. Chronicles 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.
_______. Dictionary 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 Druidry solitary.

Patrick K. Ford. The Mabonogi and Other Welsh Medieval Tales. University of California Press, 1977.

Mara Freeman, Kindling the Celtic Spirit. Harper San Francisco, 2001. She also has a CD of Celtic Spirit Meditations.

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 druids.

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, 2006.
_______. A 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.
_______. The Rise and Fall of Merry England: the Ritual Year 1400­1700. Oxford University Press, 1994.
_______. The 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 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 mythology.

Erynn Rowan Laurie. A Circle of Stones: Journeys and Meditations for Modern Celts. Eschaton Productions Inc., 1995.

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 fever.

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. Hamlyn, 1970.

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, 1986.

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 Irish mystic.

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 at

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 the BDO.
_______. 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 Evil") style.

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.
_______. Druids, 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 ago.

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 to me.

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 Monroe’s 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,” etc.

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,. If you would like to be on one or more of Isaac Bonewits’ emailing lists, click here to get subscription information.

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