Tag Archives: Kevan Manwaring

New Pagan books for January 2017

Here are the latest books we’re aware of that are likely to appeal to Pagan readers. These are not reviews, information is taken from author and publisher websites.

The Long Woman,  by Kevan Manwaring.

Fiction. An antiquarian’s widow discovers her husband’s lost journals and sets out on a journey of remembrance across 1920s England and France, retracing his steps in search of healing and independence. Along alignments of place and memory she meets mystic Dion Fortune, ley-line pioneer Alfred Watkins, and a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle obsessed with the Cottingley Fairies. From Glastonbury to Carnac, she visits the ancient sites that obsessed her husband and, tested by both earthly and unearthly forces, she discovers a power within herself.

Buy the book on Amazon.

 

Pagan Portals – Merlin: Once and Future Wizard, by Elen Sentier

Bestselling author Elen Sentier looks at Merlin in history and mythology and considers his continuing relevance for people today. Best known as the wizard from the Arthurian stories, Merlin has been written about for well over 1000 years and is considered to be both a magical and historical figure. Over the centuries many people have had relationships with Merlin and in this book the author brings him to life for us once again in yet another way and from yet another perspective.

Buy the paperback AMAZON US AMAZON UK HIVE INDIEBOUND

Buy the ebook – AMAZON US AMAZON UK INDIEBOUND

 

A Dance with Hermes, by Lindsay Clarke

Poetry. In a verse sequence that swoops between wit and ancient wisdom, between the mystical and the mischievous, award-winning novelist Lindsay Clarke elucidates the trickster nature of Hermes, the messenger god of imagination, language, dreams, travel, theft, tweets, and trading floors, who is also the presiding deity of alchemy and the guide of souls into the otherworld. Taking a fresh look at some classical myths, this vivacious dance with Hermes choreographs ways in which, as an archetype of the poetic basis of mind, the sometimes disreputable god remains as provocative as ever in a world that worries – among other things – about losing its iPhone, what happens after death, online scams, and the perplexing condition of its soul.

Buy on Amazon.

 

Pagan Portals – Gods and Goddesses of Ireland, by Morgan Daimler

A concise guide to the Gods and Goddesses of pagan Ireland, their history, mythology, and symbols. Rooted in the past but still active in the world today, the Gods and Goddesses of Ireland have always been powerful forces that can bless or challenge, but often the most difficult thing is to simply find information about them. This short introductory text looks at a variety of different Irish deities, common and more obscure, from their ancient roots to the modern practices associated with honoring them in, an encyclopedia-style book with entries in easy-to-use sections.

Buy the paperback AMAZON US AMAZON UK HIVE INDIEBOUND

Buy the ebook AMAZON US AMAZON UK INDIEBOUND

 

The Heart of the Goddess: A Handbook for Living Soulfully, by Nikki Starcat Shields

We all know that our society’s old ways aren’t working. Racism, sexism, violence, environmental destruction, and violence are the warped legacy of the patriarchy. It’s time to reconnect with the values of the Feminine Divine – compassion, creative expression, holistic health, intuition, respect for diversity, communion with Nature, spiritual connection, and collaboration.
A grand new awakening is taking place. The Earth is calling us home, and those of us who hear Her voice are Her priestesses and conscious co-creators. We are embarking on an epic journey to a place of balance, where the qualities of the Feminine Divine re-emerge into this world. By surrendering our attachment to control and power-over, we can learn to live soulfully, even in a world gone mad.

Buy it on Amazon 

The Way of Awen

Early this summer I had the pleasure of reading Kevan Manwaring’s latest work The Way of Awen. It’s a book I very much recommend for anyone on, or drawn to the bardic path. You can read my full review of the book here.

In Druidry, and on the Bardic path (which can be the same thing, but aren’t always!) awen is sacred inspiration. Nothing is more important to a bard that inspiration. For any creative person, the energy that keeps us creating is a most essential thing. How we find it and work with it is highly individual. Druidry as a tradition holds inspiration as sacred and vitally important – not just for bardic work, but for ritual, relationship, and life as a whole.

Kevin has coined the gorgeous term ‘Way of Awen’ to denote a life that is devoted to following the call of inspiration. His book maps out his own personal journeys along this path and is a very heartening read for anyone called in the same direction.

I found the book and the term deeply resonant. About eighteen months ago I took a pledge ‘To love, serve and trust all that I can, as long as I can, wherever the awen takes me.’ It is an oath that has totally changed the shape of my life, taking me to my soul mate in America, and helping me see the aspects of my life that were not serving inspiration, nor were nourishing of my creativity. As I worked with the oath I had taken, I came to understand that where I find inspiration, I have a duty of care and to return something for what I am given, but where there is no inspiration, there is no duty for me. Realising that I am not obliged to do things that do not serve the call of the awen, was a big step onto this path for me. 

I’ve been through some radical upheavals this summer, but it’s put me in a place where I am both more able and more inclined to live creatively. I want to make creativity and inspiration the core of my life. I’m not just talking in the writing and the big, obvious expressions, either. But to have everything I do and every choice consciously informed by the flow of awen. There’s not much I do that isn’t consciously considered, but this is an act of moving deeper into my own values and creativity, and trying to bring that numinious awen light into everything I undertake.

I’ve talked with Kevan about my desire to work with his concept and blog about the process, and he’s been tremendously encouraging. So, this is a topic I shall be dipping into repeatedly, as I examine my life and look at how I work. I end today with a sweeping bow to Kevan, and offer my thanks for his wordcraft, vision and wonderful imagination.

Working with Stories

One of the things that myths give us, are stories that we can use to measure and make sense of our own lives. Relating personal experience to mythic archetypes it can be possible to find ways through hard times, answers to challenging questions, and ways of being. We can take the myths as role models, or as ‘what not to do’. Most of us will find times in our lives when we are out of inspiration, hope, or a sense of direction. In seeking mythic parallels, we can find answers to that, or at least the sense that others have faced challenges before and survived.

This is a notion I’ve been contemplating for a while, thinking about how pagan writers use myths to explore contemporary life – Emma Restall Orr uses the theme of Gawain and the Loathly Lady extensively to explore ideas of femininity in Kissing the Hag while Kevan Manwaring uses the Taliesin myth to explore his own bardic path in The Way of Awen. This is something any of us can do, at any time, for any reason. What prompted me to think of it was a suggestion from Ness on facebook (thanks Ness!) that I put my trials into the hands of a goddess for a while.

Crashed out for an hour this afternoon, I contemplated the stories of goddesses, and waited for inspiration. I remembered the story of Rhiannon- falsely accused of killing her child, and then made to bear people on her back like a horse, and tell her story to them. It would be fair to say that there are no close parallels between that and my own life, but it is story about endurance, staying true to yourself, and justice being done in the end.

Rhiannon endures with good grace. Her circumstances make me think of modern women accused of infanticide because their children have died from cot death. There were some high profile cases in the UK a few years ago. It’s the worst thing that could happen to a mother – to lose your child and then be blamed for it. Rhiannon is blamed. She has no way of defending herself and does not even know what has happened. She has no way of resolving things. All she can do, is endure with good grace, which she does, and tell her story.

There is a power in telling stories. In the end, the stolen child is recovered, Rhiannon’s good name is restored to her, and the real villain is punished. This is only possible because she has endured, she has survived and lived long enough to see things righted.

Normally I tend to favour active solutions to problems, rather than characters who wait for a rescuer, or for fate to return the balance. I don’t have a very trusting nature, and I feel safer when I’m doing something. But Rhiannon’s is a tale in which there is no scope for doing anything at all. There are no clues, nothing to go on. She’s not like Demeter, who is able to go and seek information about the missing Persephone. The child has gone, and there is no one who can tell Rhiannon how, aside from the mysterious thief. Rhiannon’s is a tale of powerlessness, and if any character had justification to despair, she would be the one. And yet, she gets through, somehow.

This is a story about not giving up, even when there is no visible reason for hope. That’s a very powerful message to turn to when there seems to be no way forward. It is also a tale about grace and a certain kind of quiet courage. Rhiannon does not dishonour herself in any way, despite what she is made to endure. She shoulders her burdens, literally, and she gets through. So may we all.

Pagan YA Fiction

One of the questons I’ve most frequently been asked is whether I can recomend suitable fiction for youg people who are involved with paganism. So, here’s a list of books to suit young adult readers (eight upwards). These are all books I have read and enjoyed, that are well written, and help to place a young reader in their own pagan context. These books draw on pagan themes and some may inspire readers to seek out the original myths.

Alan Garner’s books are excellent. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Moon of Gomrath and Elidor are all good. My favourite is The Owl Service, which should (I think) be accompanied by Kevin Crossley Holland’s retelling of the Mabinogian – very accessible, and after Garner’s intruduction to Blodeuwedd, its necessary reading.

Witch Child, by Celia Rees is a beautifully written tale, perfect for a young witchy girl, but with wider appeal as well. There is a sequel I think, although I’ve not read it.

The Green Man – tales from the mythic forest, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Winding is suitable for slightly older readers. Its a collection full of magic, mystery, pagan gods and forest power.

The Sunminers, Kevan Manwaring (available from www.lulu.com) is mythic, full of relevant themes, and will introduce younger readers to a man whose adult fiction they will want to explore later on! I’m a big fan of Kevan’s.

Tales of the Celtic Bards – Claire Hammilton – again this is one for slightly older YAs, but once they have a taste for myth and legend, this is a good book to pick up – accessbile and beautifully crafted, it makes some of the key Celtic stories available.

I would also suggest Brian Bates The Way of Wyrd. It’s a more grown up book, I was about 11 when I read it – and it affected me deeply.

Happy reading! If you can, find an opportunity to hear storytellers as well. The sharing of stories used to be about oral communication, in person and that’s a radically different, and very powerful experience.