Resources for Celtic, Pre-Celtic, and British Traditions

This list is hardly exhaustive, but includes many books that will lead you on to many other resources. There are more and more books being published on the subject every year so all of our reading lists will be full til the end of time. That said, these texts are some that were foundational in developing my practice and, more importantly, inspired me to continue to create and innovate with the myths and traditions of some of my ancestors.

My other bit of advice is to explore contemporary writers who are centered in Celtic, Pre-Celtic, and British traditions from poets to singer-songwriters to writers of all sorts. Also, explore the musical traditions both ancient and modern (for example, have you ever heard a carynx play? It’s a life goal of mine to hear - and maybe even hold - one of these in person). Dive into folklore and myths and be sure to write your own along the way.

General

  • The Encyclopaedia of Celtic Wisdom: The Celtic Shaman's Sourcebook by Caitlín and John Matthews. You’ll find a number of the Matthews’ books (especially Caitlin’s) listed because they are not only embody scholarship that is approachable but intuitive experimentations with tradition that avoid the hang-ups of many reconstructionist text trying to get it “right.” Add in that they translate many of the primary sources themselves from a Pagan and Indigenous focus rather than Christian perspective. The Encyclopedia is a great place to start and good introduction to the Celtic tradition.

  • Celtic Devotional by Caitlín Matthews

  • The Celtic Book of the Dead: An Oracle to Steer Your Life Journey by Caitlín Matthews

  • Power of Raven, Wisdom of Serpent: Celtic Women’s Spirituality by Noragh Jones. A great resource, in part, because it explores the practice behind the charms of the Carmina Gadelica (see below).

  • The Celtic Shaman’s Pack by John Matthews

  • The Complete Herbal by Nicholas Culpeper

Druidry

  • The Druid Plant Oracle by Phillip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm

  • The Druid Way: A Journey Through an Ancient Landscape by Phillip Carr-Gomm

  • Spirits of the Sacred Grove by Emma Restall-Orr Previously released as Druid Priestess, Druid and Pagan philosopher Emma Restall-Orr shares with us her experiences of the year through the perspective of a Druid Priestess. It’s meditative and autobiographical - and though it’s a bit dated it’s still an important piece of work giving insight into a life lived as a modern Pagan. 

  • A Druid's Herbal for the Sacred Year by Ellen Evert Hopman

  • A Druid's Herbal of Sacred Tree Medicine by Ellen Evert Hopman

Ireland

  • Táin Bó Cúailnge An important text in Irish Reconstructionism. My favorite translation is by Thomas Kinsella.

  • Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland by Lady Wilde. Lady Wilde compiled a wonderful resource on the Fairy Doctor traditions of Ireland. Herbal cures, charms, and folktales paint a picture of ancient customs that can be adapted for today’s use.

  • Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom by Erynn Rowan Laurie. Good information but does tend towards the most dour of interpretations of the ogham. Laurie (at least when I was introduced to their work) is a staunch reconstructionist who’s done some great scholarly work but it’s her innovations with tradition that I find to be the most exciting. I recommend reading a few other books on ogham in addition to Laurie’s, especially when it comes to interpretation.

  • The Book of the Great Queen by Morpheus Ravenna. Focuses primarily on the Mórrigan, but you’ll also learn a lot about ancient Irish culture.

Scotland

  • Carmina Gadelica by Alexander Carmichael

  • Scottish Herbs and Faery Lore by Ellen Evert Hopman

Cornwall + The West Country

  • Traditional Witchcraft: A Cornish Book of Ways by Gemma Gary. One of my favorite  books recently published on Witchcraft. Gemma’s a great storyteller and there’s a lot of inspired information and practices in here.

  • The Black Toad by Gemma Gary

Wales

  • Arthur and the Sovereignty of Britain: King and Goddess in the Mabinogian by Caitlín Matthews

  • Mabon and the Guardians of Celtic Britain: Hero Myths in the Mabinogionby Caitlín Matthews.


 

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