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Author Topic: The Druid Handbook  (Read 9542 times)
Áine
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« Topic Start: March 19, 2008, 05:22:53 pm »

Went on a trip to the local bookstore (a decent one, not the comercial sell-outs Grin) and purchased The Druid's Handbook by John Michael Greer, but I see that he borrows heavily on Robert Graves.  Did I just waste $20 or is there something worthwile in it?

And does anyone else agree with me that authors who publish crap should be covered in honey and feed to ants?

A show of hands, anyone?
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« Reply #1: March 19, 2008, 10:06:21 pm »

Went on a trip to the local bookstore (a decent one, not the comercial sell-outs Grin) and purchased The Druid's Handbook by John Michael Greer, but I see that he borrows heavily on Robert Graves.  Did I just waste $20 or is there something worthwile in it?

And does anyone else agree with me that authors who publish crap should be covered in honey and feed to ants?

A show of hands, anyone?

Greer is pretty respected by the Druid community, from my understanding. Obviously, he's no recon, but I'm not sure that's what you're looking for. From a "I'm looking for something Celtic" perspective, it's not too bad. I haven't read it since I bought it, so I'd have to dig it out for more in depth review, but it's not the worst thing you could've spent your twenty on.
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« Reply #2: March 19, 2008, 10:17:48 pm »

Went on a trip to the local bookstore (a decent one, not the comercial sell-outs Grin) and purchased The Druid's Handbook by John Michael Greer, but I see that he borrows heavily on Robert Graves.  Did I just waste $20 or is there something worthwile in it?

And does anyone else agree with me that authors who publish crap should be covered in honey and feed to ants?

A show of hands, anyone?

Greer is pretty generally respected, period.  He writes things that make sense.  If he borrows on Graves, it's probably him trying to glean the wheat from the chaff.
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« Reply #3: March 19, 2008, 10:42:17 pm »


I would have to agree with Jorgath, I have his book Monsters A Field Guide to Hunting them. It sounds really dumb, but, he is at EVERY turn saying the first step to any investigation is say that it is a hoax, and try to DISPROVE the investigation, if you can't then it may well be real and you can continue to investigate with a BUNCH of safety precautions (mundane safety and some magical, but more mundane). So my whole point is, I would imagine that if is using a bad source, it's probably to sift through it.
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« Reply #4: March 20, 2008, 07:54:21 am »

I would have to agree with Jorgath, I have his book Monsters A Field Guide to Hunting them. It sounds really dumb, but, he is at EVERY turn saying the first step to any investigation is say that it is a hoax, and try to DISPROVE the investigation, if you can't then it may well be real and you can continue to investigate with a BUNCH of safety precautions (mundane safety and some magical, but more mundane). So my whole point is, I would imagine that if is using a bad source, it's probably to sift through it.

I also have the monster book and I think the trying to disprove it first is a good touch.  However there are some things that made me raise my eyebrows.  For example, he said that lake monsters are dragons (actually, probably not too far a stretch) and the ufos and their occupants are really just modern incarnations of the fey.

And his section on vampires made me want to throw the book across the room.  I don't have time to check but IIRC he said that in folklore, vampires were always spirits of the dead that fed off psychic energy.  Then, I think he says that the idea of a resurrected corpse that drinks blood came from the imagination of Western European gothic writers.  I'll check to verify this later when I have more time and energy.
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« Reply #5: March 20, 2008, 11:45:41 am »

I also have the monster book and I think the trying to disprove it first is a good touch.  However there are some things that made me raise my eyebrows.  For example, he said that lake monsters are dragons (actually, probably not too far a stretch) and the ufos and their occupants are really just modern incarnations of the fey.

And his section on vampires made me want to throw the book across the room.  I don't have time to check but IIRC he said that in folklore, vampires were always spirits of the dead that fed off psychic energy.  Then, I think he says that the idea of a resurrected corpse that drinks blood came from the imagination of Western European gothic writers.  I'll check to verify this later when I have more time and energy.

No need!  I grab my handy Vampire Slayers' Field Guide to the Undead by Shane MacDougall! 

I'm too lazy to write up an exact quote, but the "psychic energy" idea comes straight out of one place I could find in a hurry: the United States of America.  Most other vampire legends are of resurrected corpses, many of which drink blood or otherwise consume body parts.
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« Reply #6: March 20, 2008, 03:44:10 pm »

No need!  I grab my handy Vampire Slayers' Field Guide to the Undead by Shane MacDougall! 

I'm too lazy to write up an exact quote, but the "psychic energy" idea comes straight out of one place I could find in a hurry: the United States of America.  Most other vampire legends are of resurrected corpses, many of which drink blood or otherwise consume body parts.

Actually, I think many cultures worldwide have beliefs in psychic vampires (I'm thinking about some African tribes but it's been a while since I read up on it).

Back to Greer, I just skimmed a little bit of the vampire section of the monster book (because that is the part I have done considerable reading in) and I found some objectionable things:

  • He says that Vlad Dracula's real last name was Tepes.  No, he used Dracula as his surname.  Tepes (meaning "the impaler") was a name given to him by his enemies.
  • Sunlight and garlic are universal vampire deterrents.  While that may be true for garlic, the sunlight thing was mainly the work of filmmakers.  In some areas, vampires attacked during the day instead of at night.
  • And as I mentioned earlier in this thread, he said that most folkloric vampires are "predatory ghosts" and that the reanimated corpse is a minority view.
I'm not in a mood to critique the entire section so I'll leave it at that.
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« Reply #7: March 20, 2008, 04:06:18 pm »


Well, ya, it's not a perfect book, by any means. There were a number of places I was like, wait, what? Like the vampire section, however, it was an interesting thing linking UFO sightings with Fairies.
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« Reply #8: March 20, 2008, 04:23:07 pm »

linking UFO sightings with Fairies.

Say what?

The only thing I've run into with Greer is someone over on Get Religion stamping his feet when I said he wouldn't be accepted as a source by all Recons. That was a long conversation.
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« Reply #9: March 20, 2008, 04:31:21 pm »


Well, he basically said that the way we talk about UFO's and the like are analogous to how ancient people talked about fairies.
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« Reply #10: March 20, 2008, 04:46:28 pm »

Well, he basically said that the way we talk about UFO's and the like are analogous to how ancient people talked about fairies.

I found that to be one of the more interesting ideas, actually.
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« Reply #11: March 20, 2008, 06:27:07 pm »

The only thing I've run into with Greer is someone over on Get Religion stamping his feet when I said he wouldn't be accepted as a source by all Recons. That was a long conversation.

GASP!

But he's published by Llewellyn!  They're known for only publishing the MOST reputable authors!

*quickly turns away*

Sorry, I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.
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« Reply #12: March 20, 2008, 09:05:34 pm »

Well, he basically said that the way we talk about UFO's and the like are analogous to how ancient people talked about fairies.

Aha. Now I get it.

Really, can you imagine going back in time and flicking your Bic? Probably get your ass burned at the stake.
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« Reply #13: March 20, 2008, 09:12:32 pm »

GASP!

But he's published by Llewellyn!  They're known for only publishing the MOST reputable authors!

*quickly turns away*

Sorry, I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

This was actually a very strange conversation. One of the guys had Greer placed as some sort of Pagan theological wunderkind and was going on and on about how he couldn't wait for someone like that to get involved in discussions amongst the various Recon faiths about all the similarities and such. I just finally told him that I didn't really give a rat's ass how revered the guy might be amongst Celtic Recons, but he carried zero weight amongst Greek Recons and I would be interested in watching the conversation he had with us.

The guy also mentioned some professor who apparently spent his time unearthing Native American and Chinese religious similarities and then doing the usual pointing at commonalities and equating the religions.

I'm not sure when people got it in their minds that someone who might be considered a religious authority on the Chinese religions won't be considered an authority on the Greek religions.

Like I said. It was a very strange conversation.
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« Reply #14: March 21, 2008, 12:34:42 am »

I also have the monster book and I think the trying to disprove it first is a good touch.  However there are some things that made me raise my eyebrows.  For example, he said that lake monsters are dragons (actually, probably not too far a stretch) and the ufos and their occupants are really just modern incarnations of the fey.

And his section on vampires made me want to throw the book across the room.  I don't have time to check but IIRC he said that in folklore, vampires were always spirits of the dead that fed off psychic energy.  Then, I think he says that the idea of a resurrected corpse that drinks blood came from the imagination of Western European gothic writers.  I'll check to verify this later when I have more time and energy.

Yeah.  i have the book too, and appreciated that "it's probably a hoax or mistake, most of the time" attitude.  But what did bother me, IIRC, is that he has a very specific worldview, about energies, etc., that he then proceeds to universalize.  I didn't like the universalization.  Also, his stuff on vampires was not really correct, if one looks at folklore.  The most consistent ways of getting rid of a vampire are either beheading or cremation, and in most European contexts, they were, indeed, reanimated corpses.

That said, his thing about UFOs functioning in our culture the way fairies did in times past is a pretty common view among folklorists; there's an essay on just that in Narvaez's The Good People.
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