Book Review: “The Druid Magic Handbook” by John Michael Greer

Book Description

The first and only Druidic book of spells, rituals, and practice. The Druid Magic Handbook is the first manual of magical practice in Druidry, one of the fastest growing branches of the Pagan movement. The book breaks new ground, teaching Druids how to practice ritual magic for practical and spiritual goals within their own tradition. What sets The Druid Magic Handbook apart is that it does not require the reader to use a particular pantheon or set of symbols. Although it presents one drawn from Welsh Druid tradition, it also shows the reader how to adapt rites and other practices to fit the deities and symbols most meaningful to them. This cutting edge system of ritual magic can be used by Druids, Pagans, Christians, and Thelemites alike!

The first manual of Druidic magical practice ever, replete with spell work and rituals.

John Michael Greer is a highly respected authority on all aspects of Paganism.

My Review

I had high hopes when I started this book. Hopes of what, I didn’t know. Would I learn actual magic? The history of magic? More about druids and their part in history? Would I learn the secrets of the druid world?

Nope. None of that. Okay, a little bit of history about magic. That’s it.

I learned about the deliberate disenchantment of the world in the early 1900s and a bit of speculative history about druids. I say speculative because according to Greer, no one knows the true history of the druids or the magic they used. So everything is a guess, a possibility and imagined.

It’s not that I expected to gather a few herbs, a dead slug and tea leaves and create a unicorn. But I wanted to learn more about it. The it being more of the magical abilities that everyone possesses and can use if they choose to learn them.

The first several chapters were the most interesting. It explained energy in much of the way I understood it, and it gave ways to feel it, prove it is there, if you will. Once Greer gets into chapters on rituals and spells, it comes off as too instructional and repetitive.

In my opinion, magic is deeply personal and should be experienced and practised by gut feelings. Sure, a little idea of what to do can be given, but Greer goes right down to where one stands, what one says and thinks, the motions of their hands and tools on the table. Imaging colours starts to sound a little silly for someone whose created her own rituals just from instinct.

Those who read it might think they have to follow the script and not deviate. That’s great if you’re with a group and need to do the same dance, but alone, at home or in the forest, instinct should call the shots.

The many rituals explained with every detail reminded me of religions that preach and are rigid. I feel that was not the true ancient druid way.

When I say repetitive, I mean he repeats the same thing multiple times. For example, if he says to stand facing east, say and do this. Stand facing west, say and do the same thing and repeated for every direction and for every element. And this is repeated again for every action, every spell, every blessing, every incantation. I found myself skimming over paragraphs of repetitive texts because I knew what it said.

I also found the book preachy in an activist way when it comes to saving the environment. While nature needs to be respected and protected, some of things he wrote was a little silly and needless, and they had nothing to do with the subject of the book.

The fact that he includes other religions, particular, Christians, in his circle, baffles me. Back in the Dark Ages, it was Christians who destroyed Pagans along with Druids. If not for their bloody rampage, there might still be links to past Pagans and Druids. But all was crushed or went underground forever to be lost to modern man.

If you’ve never seen or heard of the Ogham alphabet, that’s there with a good description. If this is the first druid book you read, don’t let it be the last. While you’ll glean many interesting pieces of information and find references to lead you into deeper reads, there’s a lot left to be desired from the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America, John Michael Greer.

I claim to be no expert, but I learn Druidry with my heart, my mind and my connection with nature, and this book doesn’t speak to me.

Amazon Review

3 Stars

I expected more from “The Druid Magic Handbook”. While there are interesting topics covered, I found the book too instructional and too repetitive. Where instinct should have led the way, Greer provides strict directions. True druids have passed on centuries ago, so much of what the author relies on is imagined history, which he admits within the pages. Saying that gives us reason to doubt everything, as I do. I don’t regret reading the book, but I won’t be following its method of Druidry.  

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