First and Foremost, this book is not a text book. It is a very personal account of life through the eyes and experience of a highly intellignet, talented and very special druid priestess, who is not "flaky" by any means and who has been practising and living her craft for most of her life - certainly more than 10 years. This book transports you to Emma's world - a truly magical place which most of us can only dream of glimpsing. This book is real and inspiring, Emma's language is pure poetry and I feel sad for anybody who cannot see the beauty and passion in her words and who cannot be truly inspired by them. Druidry is the quest for Awen, divine inspiration ... it is not about new age magical practices.
If you are a pagan, buy this book. If you are not a pagan, buy this book!
In concept, this book sounded promising--instead of a "how to manual" or yet another shallow "101" book, a practicing priestess writes a memoir of her spiritual experience.
However, as a rational educated adult, I found this a very nerve-wracking read. It is as if the author expects the reader to leave her critical mind at the door. Yes, mystical experience is intuitive, poetic, a right brain affair, but, in the words of a previous reviewer, the effect was flaky and an affront to the reader's intelligence.
I have read a lot of experimental prose, but even James Joyce was more coherent than this. Stream-of-consciousness is one thing, but this prose meanders into a quagmire. For example, in the first chapter, even in the here and now reality, the author has an interview with a journalist and leaves the pub at closing time, which is around 11 pm in Britain, then drives to her grove to meditate. So it must be the middle of the night, in October, very dark, and yet she describes her walk to the grove, the colors of the autumn leaves, etc. as if it were daylight. She encounters a blackthorn dryad who pricks her hand with her thorns, numerous other spirit entities. She slides into a trance and relives what reads like a childhood sexual trauma except that the perpetrator is otherworldly, then wakes up again and everything is all right. The trauma is not explored further, but there are numerous spirits and at one point pixies interrupting her thoughts. I was half-expecting unicorns and an alien abduction. The book reads like the Druids by Disney, as "new agey" and cartoonish as The Celestine Prophecies except not as well-written. As someone who used to work with mental health professionals, I wondered about the author's grip on reality. I shudder to think that she is anyone's spiritual role model. It is no wonder, given books like this, that earth spirituality is dismissed as a flaky trend.
This is disappointing as I have read interviews with the author in which she sounded very reasonable and coherent. Perhaps she is more grounded in person than she came across in the book.
There are so many books on similar subjects out there. The writing of people like Caitlin Matthews, Starhawk, Margot Adler, to name a few, are earth religion books that are intelligently written and do not ask you to amputate your brain before you read the first page. Although he hasn't published any books specifically about Druidry, Isaac Bonewits writes fantastic essays on the subject, available at no cost at his website.
It's important that Earth Religionists demand as much from their authors as any other spiritual community. We have our left brain for a reason. Be mystical by all means, but don't lose your critical faculties or commonsense.