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Nature Mystics & This Ancient Heart

November 11th, 2015

Here are a couple of excellent book reviews by the Chief of The British Druid Order Philip Shallcrass. The first is ‘Nature Mystics: The Literary Gateway to Modern Paganism’ by Rebecca Beattie from Moon Book’s Pagan Portals series and the second, another from Moon Books, ‘This Ancient Heart: Landscape, Ancestor, Self’. Both fantastic reads for those on the Druid path. Many thanks to Philip for allowing me to share them here.

Nature-Mysticsby Rebecca Beattie,
Moon Books
Winchester (UK) & Washington (US), 2015
£4.99 UK, $9.95 US
132 pages.

This little book is a joy to read, delving into the lives and works of some well-known, and many lesser-known, British and Irish literary figures in search of the origins of contemporary Paganisms. The writers, five men and five women, are selected because the philosophies that underpin their writings place them all in the category of Nature Mystics, defined by the author as “someone who has mystical experiences in nature, or connects to the divine through nature, and uses that connection as fuel for inspiration.” The familiar writers are John Keats, Thomas Hardy D. H. Lawrence,W. B. Yeats, J. R. R.  and E. Nesbit. The less familiar are Mary Webb, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Elizabeth von Arnim and Mary Butts.

Rebecca Beattie writes with admirable clarity about her chosen authors, her format being first to give a brief overview of them, followed by an account of their lives, their spirituality, and then their writings, quoting passages to show how their spirituality is expressed in their work. Within this format she offers many, often surprising, insights into both the authors and their works…to read the whole review click here.

AncientHeartThis Ancient Heart: Landscape, Ancestor, Self

eds. Paul Davies & Caitlin Matthews. Foreword by Graham Harvey. Afterword by Ronald Hutton Moon Books, Winchester (UK) & Washington (US), 2015. £8.99 UK, $14.95 US 198 pages

This book explores how we humans in the 21st century relate to the spirits of the lands in which we live, their other-than-human inhabitants, and our collective and individual ancestors. By a series of turns of fate, I’m writing my review in the ideal setting of a quiet garden, overlooked by an ancient oak tree that occasionally drops acorns around me as a pair of hunting Buzzards circle overhead, their piercing cries borne on a soft summer breeze. Ideal because it chimes so well with the subject matter of this hugely enjoyable, informative and thought-provoking book. Each of the thirteen writers brings a unique perspective, making it an absolute pleasure to read. Remarkable for its breadth and depth, this is the best-written, most refreshingly original anthology I’ve come across in years, and I’m not just saying that because I wrote one of its chapters. The book opens with a foreword by Graham Harvey (right), a Pagan academic who has done much to popularise the philosophy, or life-way, of Animism amongst modern Pagans and to enhance our understanding of it. The introduction by Paul Davies, known to his friends as Oddie, follows, setting out the parameters of the book and briefly running through each of its chapters and the areas they cover. The first chapter is by my friend, colleague and long-time companion, Emma Restall Orr. It is written in her unique style, combining poetry with precision, asking searching questions about dying, death, afterlives and how we, the living, interact with the dead. As a true visionary who genuinely does see dead people pretty much all the time, she is ideally suited to her task. My own chapter follows, detailing my personal relationship with Wolf spirits and with animals as ancestors, a concept that occurs in many archaic cultures, including those that comprise the British Isles…to read the full review click here.