Four stars for the actual stories in Moyra Caldecott's collection, _Women in Celtic Myth_. But then I always like a good retelling. I was particularly impressed with "Findabair and Maeve", since the story of Queen Maeve's daughter is obscure. Ditto for the two Scottish folk tales, "The Sea-Maiden" and "The Farmer's Youngest Daughter." The other stories in the collection aren't anything new; everyone who retells Celtic myth ends up talking about Blodeuwedd and Macha and Emer and Etain. Caldecott spices things up by changing a few of the stories, most notably Etain's; this story takes on a MUCH darker cast in Caldecott's version.
Read it for the stories, SKIP the psychological and/or mystical theory that follows each one. It is completely obnoxious and off-base. The example that really sticks out in my mind is the analysis of Maeve and Aillill as the animal passions and the thinking mind, respectively. Huh? Maeve drinks and fights and has sex, so she represents the id? I don't buy it. Maeve drinks and fights and has sex because the Irish likes stories about people who did those things. Or, if you're determined to read a deep meaning into the myth, at least come up with one that's germane to the culture. If you want to tell me that Maeve's behavior indicates a sovereignty figure, I'll listen. If you want to tell me her myth is a Freudian text written long before its time, I'll just groan and skip ahead to the next tale. The worst part is this: remember how I said she changes some of the stories? Well, she doesn't say where she's making changes, and then she analyzes her own additions as if they're part of the original story. (I'll admit I could be wrong; maybe those parts of the story might just be hidden in obscure texts, or something. But I believe they're Caldecott's additions, since I've read a lot of versions of these myths, and those parts are new to me.) This book would have been much better if the modern psychological theory could have been left out.
I read this book a number of years ago, and I still love it. Each goddess is given a new myth, based in the old, and written from a new, feminist perspective. If you are into Celtic spirituality at all, I highly recommend this book. If you are a student of Celtic mythology, I also recommend this book, for the different perspective it will give you. It is an easy read, and great introduction to the central goddesses in Celtic mythology.