This review is for the same book published under the name _Celtic Rituals_:
The first reviewer was right. It is MARVELOUS.... It is the first book I've read that actually grounds you in the Wheel of the Year by making sense of the often disconnected stories of Celtic myth. NONE of the neo-pagan stuff is here exept to compare and contrast what he writes to what has been written or done by neo-pagans.
At first I thought that I would not like to use the Celtic revisioning of the elements. Then I started reading the rest of the book. Now the elemental placements make sense. The book has NO illustrations so your best bet to understanding where everything falls is to draw your own Wheel of the year and place on it, the elements, the moons and the earth/sun celebrations. I highly recomment putting the neo-pagan elemental directions (in reference to the cycles of the day) in the center to keep you aware of where you are. The best place to start is the chapter on the Moons. Here the author uses the Song of Amergin to understand and celebrate the different moons of the year. Why I suggest starting here is simple: The Celts have no surviving creation myth and to truly be grounded in a mythic cycle it helps greatly to have one so that you understand the basic symbolism of the religion. The author's study of the Song makes this possible. Even though he IN NO WAY suggests that his study of the Song is a Celtic creation myth, he inadvertently shows that the Song could well be the only surviving record of a Celtic creation myth. THAT IS MY THEORY not the author's. The author also finds the strands of similarities among the different stories in Celtic myth and strings them together to help one see an actual pattern in the chaos that is Celtic myth. He makes a connectable and smoothly flowing study of Celtic ritual for the Wheel like NO OTHER author I've read who has written on the subject. I CAN now see the BIG picture among all those disconnected stories of gods and mortals. Now all the stories flow together, connect to the Earth, the Wheel--everything!! You wanna really UNDERSTAND the ritual of Lughnasad read this and nothing else on so called "celtic" ritual or wicca. If you want to UNDERSTAND why one celebration may seem like a repeat of the one before--read this book. If you want to UNDERSTAND Celtic spirituality--START here!
I never EVER wanted to tackle a book on Celtic mythology--now I eagerly await an opportunity. Now that I can see the connections between different gods, understand how the Celts saw their year--I can go deeper into the studies of my ancestors. His research is valid and scholarly. He is amazing. This is my new "bible" and it replaces thoroughly EVERY ritual primer I've ever read. I no longer feel like I'm studying a religion that was created by modern ritualists that belongs to a dozen different countries and traditions, but like I'm studying--in an organized and wonderfully understandable form--what my ancestors did and why they did it. I can actually understand why they celebrated what they did and can connect it to my life!
Thanks to this author I CAN reclaim my tribal ancestory. Something I've wanted to do for over 13 years. He has brought to life what was once a very dead and/or POORLY resurrected religion.
Bless you Alexi--Bless you three times three times.
There are very few books like The Apple Branch- the scholarship is impeccable and the author's knowledge of and passion for Celtic culture shines through on every page. This is the one book which everyone involved in Celtic spirituality must read. The underlying logic of Celtic religion is laid out in a clear and understandable way, but no easy short cuts are offered. Instead, Kondratiev stresses the need to learn a Celtic language and be involved in Celtic culture. This book would be useful to Celtic Christians as much as to Celtic Pagans, for the author makes no strict division between the two. This is a book to be read and re-read; an ongoing source of both insight and inspiration.