“The Three Realms: Gaelic Polytheism in the Modern World” authored by Kelsey Beland
Books about Gaelic Polytheism are few and far between. At the time I picked this up for Kindle I was consuming pretty much anything that I could on the subject. They kept disappointing me, though, and unfortunately this one continued that trend in a number of ways.
I’d be dishonest if I didn’t say that I was entirely happy with the scholarship in the book. There are definitely some clear errors- such as the repeated reference to Danu (a figure who Academics, at this point, pretty much agree was most realistically a linguistic error).
That being said? Despite being short and informally / poorly formatted, and containing questionable scholarship in some areas, I was incredibly impressed with the Bibliography; it lists direct myths and even provides links to read them online- something I appreciate, though I know all of the locations already. I really would have liked to see far more sources in it, though- especially pertaining to material outside of the myths or Celtic Recon websites. doubly so since some works they referenced in the body of the book certainly didn’t appear in the Bibliography (something which is poor form in my opinion).
Another issue I had with the book was that the author didn’t really explain their reasons for doing things (like rituals) the way they did. I really would have liked to have seen some sort of explanation behind their actions; why did they come to these conclusions for their actions? How? What sources did they pull from? But that might just be because I’m constantly asking the “how” and “why” questions; I can’t help it. It’s just how I’m hardwired.
My biggest problem with the book, though, wasn’t in any of the above. Instead, it came from the fact that it’s not hard to see the influence of NeoWicca on some of these rituals and other items presented within the book. In fact, I found a lot of it very similar to the methods used by NeoWicca- especially in some of their rituals, the holidays listed (like Yule), and in other areas; in some places it’s fairly faint and hard to spot, but in others it’s pretty blatant.
In all honesty, I really wouldn’t have much of a problem with it if the Author hadn’t taken the time to explicitly point out that it wasn’t; despite saying that several things “do not follow the standard NeoWiccan or Wiccan Script”, it very clearly does in a lot of areas. And don’t get me wrong…. There’s nothing wrong with Wiccan influences, certainly. It’s a Reconstructionist religion, after all. While filling holes with NeoWicca isn’t really my preferred flavor of Reconstructionism, we don’t have much information. To fill in these gaps we have to pull from somewhere… I just wish people (not just the author) would at least recognize it instead of making a big fuss about how “they don’t do that”.
Still, they certainly provide food for thought regardless. And if you ignore the Academic errors it possesses, it’s really not that bad.