Author: Ross Nichols
Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Publication date: 1992
List: US$19.95, C$28.50
Price & More Info: Click Here
Over the years, I am sure that hundreds, if not thousands, of books have
been written on the topic of Druidry. Some of them have been scholarly,
some have been fanciful, and most of them have been written by outsiders.
Factual history of the movement is hard to find, for a number of reasons.
In the early days there was a reluctance to commit the teachings to writing.
Once some of the teachings began to be written down, they were condemned and
destroyed by the dominant religion (Christianity). For the safety of its
members it disappeared from the sight of the common man. It continued
underground, as have many persecuted minorities.
This book has one major advantage over many of those other books. It has
been written by a Chosen Chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids
(OBOD). While he acknowledges the lack of historical data from the earliest
times (".the gaps are larger than the area covered by what is known."), he
has the advantage of access to what records do exist. He makes no claim to
an uninterrupted lineage. In the past two hundred plus years, there have
been numerous manifestations of the Druidic movement - from the OBOD, the
Ancient Druid Order, the Secular Order of Druids, the Glastonbury Order of
Druids, to the ADF started in the US by Isaac Bonewits. There have been,
and continue to be, differences in emphasis.
In the words of Philip Carr-Gomm (one of the editors of this book) "Ross
managed to combine three books in one: a history of Druidry, a guide to
certain ancient sites, and an anthology of Druid wisdom." It was certainly
a necessity when it was written (1975) and it still is. It serves as a
counterpoint to much of the romanticized nonsense written on the topic. It
is thoughtful, considerate of varying opinions, and presented in a manner
which is both educational and interesting.
The author perceives Druidry as a philosophy as opposed to a religion, which
may offend some readers. Nonetheless, this is an important work on the
subject and deserves to be read by anyone interested in the topic. Whether
you agree with the conclusions of the author, there is a great deal of
information and food for thought between these covers.
More modern books tend to confine their notes; it seems to me, to the back
of the book, thus necessitating a constant back-and-forth to see what the
notes say. Mr. Nichols used footnotes (i.e., notes at the bottom [foot] of
the page) thus doing away with this. Personally, I much prefer the footnote
style, if you don't, well there aren't a lot of footnotes to deal with, so
it shouldn't be too large a problem.
The bibliography and index are both short (three and five pages,
respectively). While some of the referenced works may be hard to locate,
most of them should be accessible through any reasonably large library or on
In all honesty, I almost didn't order this book, as I wasn't sure if I
wanted to tackle the subject - since so much has been written on it in
recent years. It was who the author was that decided me. I am grateful now
that I did request it. It is informative without boring, and it is a fairly
enjoyable read. If you are looking for a good book to read about Druids as
they probably were, this is the book for you.
Reviewed by Mike Gleason