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odubhain
March 5th, 2010, 09:16 AM
On the CR FAQ site is a list of:
Some inaccurate authors to stay away from:

DJ Conway

Murray Hope

Kisma Stepanich

Edain McCoy

*Tom Cowan

Douglas Monroe

*Robert Graves

*Kaledon Naddair

*Francesca de Grandis

Barry Fell

Sirona Knight

*Iolo Morganwg

*Frank McEowen

I've placed * next to the names of authors that I don't think should be avoided. Most of those with an * are those who had their own UPG or experiental takes on deities, spirits, practices and ways. They are not scholars of Celtic tradition so much as they are influenced by Celtic traditions and seek to advance ways and practices through non-scholarly but very Celtic IMO ways. Some on the list have modified things and presented them as if they were ancient source material (a practice that is not limited to modern times but goes back thousands of years in almost all traditions and especially Celtic ones).

Read the * out of them but understand that this is only their take on Celtic ways while being influenced through modern presentations and associations.

Iolo (of course) is the best and the worst of the lot. Tom Cowan and Frank McEowen have a very shamanic take on things Celtic which seems to be anathemia to CR folks. I advocate that Druids and Seers among the Celts used techniques that were also used by Shaman in other cultures (though the Druids used very Celtic practices to achieve their results).

Searles O'Dubhain

IvyWitch
March 5th, 2010, 10:37 AM
I don't know that Tom Cowan should be on that list. I mean, I can see why people wouldn't like him because his approach is less traditional but I still think that there's a lot of value in his writing, if taken with a grain of salt if a shamanic approach isn't your thing. But, from what I'm understanding of his writings, he's not confusing the definition of shamanism, so he's at least got some idea what he's talking about.

Then again, I'm only about a chapter into Yearning for the Wind, so I could be wrong.

Nuadu
March 5th, 2010, 10:42 AM
I would agree with you Searles that people like Iolo morganwg shouldnt be avoided, imo the history of neopaganism is as important a study for a Celtic Pagan as the academic study of the culture. Every pebble causes ripples in the pond and sometimes it can be difficult to discern between a *modern idea* that can be proved using trad sources and *original practices* visible in Trad sources.

With Morganwg its not just the history of neopaganism its the history of the 'celtic' culture in Wales and Britain. When I consider the influence that literary figures have had historically in the formation of a national identity it makes me that bit prouder to be a neopagan. If Morganwg never wrote his bits of inspirational lit and Wales never declared its celtic Identity for Britain would Ireland ever have reasserted its right to self governance?

Ripples spread across the surface of the whole pond even to the edges.

odubhain
March 6th, 2010, 03:11 PM
I would agree with you Searles that people like Iolo morganwg shouldnt be avoided, imo the history of neopaganism is as important a study for a Celtic Pagan as the academic study of the culture. Every pebble causes ripples in the pond and sometimes it can be difficult to discern between a *modern idea* that can be proved using trad sources and *original practices* visible in Trad sources.

With Morganwg its not just the history of neopaganism its the history of the 'celtic' culture in Wales and Britain. When I consider the influence that literary figures have had historically in the formation of a national identity it makes me that bit prouder to be a neopagan. If Morganwg never wrote his bits of inspirational lit and Wales never declared its celtic Identity for Britain would Ireland ever have reasserted its right to self governance?

Ripples spread across the surface of the whole pond even to the edges.

I have books by all the authors on the don't read list and have learned something from every one of them (even Monroe). I made the acquaintance of a few of them who were under fire from the critics and none of them seemed like bad folks to me (but didn't get to meet Monroe before he went to Mexico).

Steven Akins' work probably will be added to the "don't read" list at some point (based on the opposition to his LFR book by many of the CR "elders"). I learned a few things from it as well. Steven seems like an earnest person but he seems to exercise some bad judgement in attempting to make his information and sources seem better than they are. I think almost every author is tempted to do that at times. Many resist while others bite the snitzel. :-)

When telling a tale, it is entirely unnecessary to stop and provide footnotes. It''s the glamor and the spell that it puts on the audience tha makes the experiencemoving.Michael Flatley's "Lord of the Dance" was like that. I got a lot of spirit and entertainment when I saw it presented in Texas (he was still the lead at that time). It was outside and my wife and I had a blanket on the grass (and it was sorta dark where we were sitting but way too public :-).

Robert Graves popularized Ogham with his The White Goddess even if he was not completely accurate about it. Almost every author on the "don't read" list has something to offer us. Murray Hope's book on Celtic Wicca got me interested in the Ogham (along with a request by some friends about them). I'm sure I could offer a positive statement about each one of them though they are not what one would call scholarly. I got into an argument with Erynn Lauried and Gordon Cooper about "Witta" as I recall. They were attacking Edain McCoy's book by that name and saying no such work could exost in Irish. I agreed that the word "Witta" was not an Irtish spelling but played the Devil's Advocate suggesting it could be a word that "sounded" that way for a Witch or Witchcraft. I didn't ever find one but tried to keep an open mind about it then. I still have an open mind about it until I ask everyone in Ireland about it! :-)

The discussion got pretty heated on both sides back then. I think everyone is waiting for an apology from the other side that will never be coming. I have a lot of practices in my life that are not Irish but one thing I've always been noted for is my black Irish temper. It takes a lot to get me upset but once I am, the die is cast (and sets very quickly). That series of events and the difference between open and closed miinds has affected our online relationship ever since. It's probably made me a better scholar at times, as I always expect to be challenged when I'm not embracing the majority rule of CR (which is a significant part of the time).

Searles O'Dubhain

Weatherlite
March 6th, 2010, 05:28 PM
Like any author, I think you have to take some things with a grain of salt and others on pure faith. I mean when you really think about it, even authors of supposedly accurate history books about recent events, such as the Vietnam War or even WWII, will either make mistakes or skew what they write in favor of how they want it to look. I can't tell you how many things I was taught in college that are utter nonsense. But, like you said, we can learn something from all of the authors.

I do have a question on one specific author though; DJ Conway. I've always taken a particular liking to her books. Now, I don't think she's the end-all be-all but she had some very good information and provided some great starting material. Yeah, some of it was a little "eh" but it wasn't horrible. So the question is, what exactly do you feel makes her work so bad?

odubhain
March 6th, 2010, 06:23 PM
Like any author, I think you have to take some things with a grain of salt and others on pure faith. I mean when you really think about it, even authors of supposedly accurate history books about recent events, such as the Vietnam War or even WWII, will either make mistakes or skew what they write in favor of how they want it to look. I can't tell you how many things I was taught in college that are utter nonsense. But, like you said, we can learn something from all of the authors.

I do have a question on one specific author though; DJ Conway. I've always taken a particular liking to her books. Now, I don't think she's the end-all be-all but she had some very good information and provided some great starting material. Yeah, some of it was a little "eh" but it wasn't horrible. So the question is, what exactly do you feel makes her work so bad?

I don't think her work is bad. It's not CR or Druidic though. She also seems to be trying to expand Wicca into Shamanism. While there are elements of all these things in modern Wicca, they seem to be out of context in Conway's work. She is most probably laboring under the Llewelyn mandate that hey must put out or keep five books in print all the time. I expect that she has dilluted some of her own work to do that and has padded it with Llewelyn's database type stuff to increase the page count.

I haven't really gone into detail on her later work since I felt like the material I was seeing was more appropriate to Wicca. She was a decent start point but her experiences and my own diverge as do our ways and paths. Not good but also not horrible. Of course, if there is someone with an axe to grind arounfd these parts about Conway, I don't think they will avoid letting the sparks get on our tinder. :-)

Searles O'Dubhain

Nuadu
March 6th, 2010, 06:25 PM
An acquaintance of mine published a book recently that might be of interest, specifically of the issues of DJ Conways writing surrounding issues of sexual politics and more superficial things. I'll get the name of it anyway.

One of the things Ive noticed with DJ Conway are the bad correspondances. If you compare 'Celtic Magic' and 'Norse Magic' on google books there are no differences in correspondances or practices. It is inconcievable that not just two cultures but two sets of diverse cultures occupying different environments with different lifestyles have no differences in how they interpret the world around them. Its just silly.

Nuadu
March 6th, 2010, 07:00 PM
Steven Akins' work probably will be added to the "don't read" list at some point (based on the opposition to his LFR book by many of the CR "elders"). I learned a few things from it as well. Steven seems like an earnest person but he seems to exercise some bad judgement in attempting to make his information and sources seem better than they are. I think almost every author is tempted to do that at times. Many resist while others bite the snitzel. :-)

I really like the book, the myths are a great work of literature better and more educational then anything [else of that style that] I have read. I think the main problem most CR's have with it is they havent read it.


I got into an argument with Erynn Lauried and Gordon Cooper about "Witta" as I recall. They were attacking Edain McCoy's book by that name and saying no such work could exost in Irish. I agreed that the word "Witta" was not an Irtish spelling but played the Devil's Advocate suggesting it could be a word that "sounded" that way for a Witch or Witchcraft. I didn't ever find one but tried to keep an open mind about it then. I still have an open mind about it until I ask everyone in Ireland about it! :-)

Ah yeah! The ultra modern cynacism of CR is the main reason I dont like it. I think Bill Hicks said in a stand up show once that the one thing we can all do to make the world better is make a choice between fear and love. Fear wants you to be suspicious, buy big locks for your door to close yourself off and love wants you to trust people. The love side doesnt cost money, it doesnt require effort in theory so it should be easy. But its the harder of the two choices Ive found. Its a principal expressed in every martial art, in a lot of religions. Dont meet force with force if you want to live a happy healthy life.

Anyway that ramble over with all I can say about Witta is in my experiance whether through lack of resources or through lack of interest in the enterprise that type of codified approach wasnt preserved in written record. So it would be of no value to anyone that needs an academic basis for their religious belief or to anyone that values the term 'ancient'... without a written source to refer to it would be impossible to find an academic basis for it that cant be applied to general folk culture and it would change with each individual and with the culture over time anyway so it would be no different to folklore.

If you give up the reliance on trappings of modern neopaganism you can find beliefs all over the world involiving energy work, divination, healing and so on in 'folk culture'. It wont fit into a nice little box for classification as witchcraft or shamanism etc. but since we neopagans are supposed to be religious people not teenagers to be marketed to with labels i dont see a need for that or for Witta style books.

CelticMoon11
March 8th, 2010, 08:08 PM
I take Edain McCoy with a big grain of salt, but they aren't a horrifically bad read if you want some light entertainment. That said I was given the Celtic Myth & Magic book by my grandmother before she died, so I'm a bit bias as it has sentimental value... like the Witches Handbook by the frosts Ive been told many a time I should burn it... but I can't and don't really see why it is so hideously bad (yes I know some of their other works are what resulted in the absolute hatred some people have for them) :)

ninurta2008
March 9th, 2010, 09:37 AM
From an insider of the recon community, stay away from Leonard W. King's translation of the Enuma Elish, its both wrong and outdated. They knew so little about the akkadian language at the time, and it clearly shows in the text.

BryonMorrigan
March 9th, 2010, 02:26 PM
I do have a question on one specific author though; DJ Conway. I've always taken a particular liking to her books. Now, I don't think she's the end-all be-all but she had some very good information and provided some great starting material. Yeah, some of it was a little "eh" but it wasn't horrible. So the question is, what exactly do you feel makes her work so bad?

She presents other religions as being subsets of Wicca, even though they predate Wicca by thousands of years. I've read some of her books, and they always seem to make this assertion without any pretense to "This is my interpretation" or "This is how Wiccans do things." She presents them as historical fact, which is unconscionable.

~*Sacred*~
March 9th, 2010, 02:27 PM
She presents other religions as being subsets of Wicca, even though they predate Wicca by thousands of years. I've read some of her books, and they always seem to make this assertion without any pretense to "This is my interpretation" or "This is how Wiccans do things." She presents them as historical fact, which is unconscionable.
That's annoying.

BryonMorrigan
March 9th, 2010, 02:42 PM
Examples of DJ Conway's Bull-S---:


"Celtic Magic and Norse Magic are the only two true Western European magical traditions." (Norse Magic, p.3)Really? Does your definition of "Western European" exclude Rome then?


"In Norse Mythology, the goddess specifically called "The Lady" is Freyja." (Norse Magic, p.39)Oh brother.


"The pentagram is one of Freyja's symbols." (Norse Magic, p.40)Facepalm.


"Odhinn, known as the Great Father or Allfather, is the male equivalent of the Crone." (Norse Magic, p.41)Man, I'm not a Heathen...but this is really p-ssing me off.

For the record, I used to have a brick-and-mortar store and was a retailer for Llewellyn Books. When we closed, I ended up with a bunch of Llewellyn titles that never sold. So now, I have all these DJ Conway, Edain McCoy, Amber K, etc., books that I can't even _give_ away. (Nor would I really want to inflict any more of their books on unsuspecting people...)

Seren_
March 9th, 2010, 06:22 PM
I do have a question on one specific author though; DJ Conway. I've always taken a particular liking to her books. Now, I don't think she's the end-all be-all but she had some very good information and provided some great starting material. Yeah, some of it was a little "eh" but it wasn't horrible. So the question is, what exactly do you feel makes her work so bad?

She's readable, as are most of the authors on the list Searles gave. But like most of the authors on that list, there are some serious problems with the claims she makes, as Bryon Morrigan has pointed out. I haven't read (or even heard) of some of the authors on the list, but the problems a lot of people have with Graves and Iolo are well documented, as are the problems with Edain McCoy (see: Witta; potato goddess).

For me, as far as D J Conway is concerned, her book on fairies is particularly problemmatic in terms of the way she approaches them, and portrays them, because it's not really anything like the lore associated with them. They were (and are) considered to be dangerous, to be avoided, and yet here she is encouraging people to 'work with' them in a way that really isn't borne out by tradition, almost like they're a pick'n'mix selection.

I think that's the crux of the problem from a CR perspective; the books (or authors) on the list present things in a way that's generally poorly researched, sometimes an outright fraud, and not the sort of reference that should be considered helpful or informative for a CR approach.

I do agree with Nuadu's point, though - these books should be read because they're a part of history (and we CRs do love history). I just don't think they're particularly relevant to a CR approach in terms of books that help inform CR practices, and in that sense I'd avoid them. Given the fact the list is aimed at CRs, or anyone interested in possibly pursuing it, I think it's fair to discourage people from reading them in favour of others in the sense that they just aren't relevant, or accurate, as far as the methodology of a reconstructionist is concerned, and seeing as people generally have limited time, access, and/or funds to read good books then the focus is going to be on where is best to start, as far as the authors of the FAQ are concerned.

David19
March 17th, 2010, 10:43 PM
Oh brother.

This may be wrong, but, I have heard that the name "Freya" does actually mean Lady, not in the modern Wiccan sense or anything (I think I've seen it quoted from Edred Thorson's 'Witchdom of the True'), like I said, I'm not sure if that's true or not, and not trying to defend D.J. Conway either.


For the record, I used to have a brick-and-mortar store and was a retailer for Llewellyn Books. When we closed, I ended up with a bunch of Llewellyn titles that never sold. So now, I have all these DJ Conway, Edain McCoy, Amber K, etc., books that I can't even _give_ away. (Nor would I really want to inflict any more of their books on unsuspecting people...)

That's what Amazon is for! ;), or, take them to a charity store, it's what I did with some of my books I didn't need anymore. That is, if you don't mind not getting money for them.

David19
March 17th, 2010, 10:44 PM
Really? Does your definition of "Western European" exclude Rome then?

Also, just wanted to add, I take it she hasn't heard of the Golden Dawn, OTO, Dion Fortune, Crowley, etc.

Noinden
April 1st, 2010, 02:48 PM
I was around for the dabate on this list and it got quite heated. This was done by "majority rules" for who did and who did not make the list. Like all lists they are flawed. But to me it's not a bad list. I'd make sure Monroe, Akins, Conway and McCOy are always on those lists. The rest... are choice. I happen to agree with the whole list. But I am a Zealot about bad source materials.

enteef89
November 30th, 2010, 01:32 AM
Just curious, how is McCoy on the list? I have Celtic Myth and Magick, and though I havent dived deep into it yet, it doesn't seem bad. Just wondering if I should bury it now.

Seren_
November 30th, 2010, 06:07 AM
Just curious, how is McCoy on the list? I have Celtic Myth and Magick, and though I havent dived deep into it yet, it doesn't seem bad. Just wondering if I should bury it now.

Her books are basically Wicca with shamrocks slapped on. What you end up with is neither Wicca nor Celtic, really, but the author's own construct. That's fine if you get something out of it, and find some truth in it, but it's not what CRs would recommend as a good read because she's notoriously shoddy in her research and presents throroughly bad history - where to start on that one, really?

Pentagrams aren't Celtic - they weren't used or emphasised in Celtic ritual. The four elements are a Classical model, not native to Ireland - they saw the world in terms of land, sea, and sky. She presents the typical model of 'the God and Goddess' as Celtic.

The very use of the word 'Celtic' in her books is wrong, because what she's really doing is basing her work on Irish culture and smushing bits from other Celtic cultures in, and emphasising the historicity of it all. 'Wita' is not an ancient Scottish religion; 'Witta' is not an ancient Irish tradition. She presents both as historical and factual. In fact, she presents many of the different paths she mentions as historical, when they're not.

In another book, Witta, she mentions an ancient Irish potato goddess. Except, of course, there were no potatoes in Ireland until the Americas were (re)discovered. Nor is 'Witta' (or Wita) a word that would ever be found in Gaelic.

Most of the books on this list are there because they present bad history or outright lies. As an author, McCoy falls under both camps and really while her work might be of value to many, it has basically none to CRs. CR emphasises good historical research and practices based on what we know of the pre-Christian Celtic cultures. McCoy does neither, and as such she just isn't all that relevant to a CR approach. The big sticking point is that she presents what she's writing as historical and authentic, when what she's really doing in framing an eclectic mix of Celtic cultures, Classical and bits of medieval occult philosophy in a modern neopagan practice.

Put simply: Even when she gets her research right, her presentation is completely at odds with a CR approach. Personally, I'd recommend you bury it if you're looking for something that's based on good research.

Xander67
December 1st, 2010, 04:52 AM
Some of the work that has been published from the 70's on in particularly most of Lewellyn's books, are just the same info being repeated with a different style to avoid lawsuits.

It is always smart to try and find as close to the ancient texts as possible. Some of the new books are entertaining, and refereshingly helpful in clarifying and expanding on things, but they are few and far inbetween...

In Amber K's defense tho, her little green pocket sized book on True Magic was kinda nice.. it is a nice beginners book. I still like to read it now and then and pick out things I needed to be reminded of.

Edain McCoy, eh, *shrugs* the only one of her books I actually bought was her "Witches" qaballa, and i particularly liked her likening of the Tree to a hard drive file system.. it helped me somewhat to perceptualise the method of associating things in their proper sphere.

Malcolm
December 2nd, 2010, 07:10 PM
Lewellyn

I just have to see that on a book and I usually put it down. I think, like a lot of folks, my first books came from them....then I figured out exactly what Xander said. I was also 15 at the time.