I am making a concerted effort this year to keep better track of all the various books I read that are relevant to my Druidic path. With any luck not all of these are going to be from the new age section of the bookstore; as most people on a Pagan/Polytheistic course of study will tell you, 201+ books are often best found exploring other disciplines. Still there will doubtless be many selections from authors in various fields of spirituality, including Druidry, Traditional Witchcraft, and the different strains of Polytheisms.
I will be starting things off with Peter Paddon’s Grimoire for Modern Cunning Folk. I do feel a little awkward writing this review, since Mr. Paddon recently passed away, but it was the first book to make it out of the “pending” pile this year. Grimoire will prove most interesting to those practitioners who already have a good bit of magickal/ritual experience as it gives one something to compare and contrast.
Overall I greatly enjoyed this book. It’s a quick read, but is a very comprehensive introduction to Paddon’s own brand of cunning craft. For anyone who has either a CM or “Wiccanate” background, the variations in ritual and worldview are both novel and intriguing. There are times when it seems as if the author “doth protest too much” about the differences between “traditional non-Wiccan witchcraft” and Wicca; if I had to hazard a guess, I would say this is because of Paddon’s own Alexandrian background. Still, it’s a small quibble in an otherwise fascinating text.
However, as interesting as the subject matter can be, this is a far from perfect publication. Parts of the work read as if they’ve been directly transcribed from one of Paddon’s podcasts, and while he is a very eloquent speaker, that doesn’t necessarily translate smoothly to the written word. Paddon has admitted to self-publishing, and I fear it shows in the quality of the editing and the illustrations (which can be rather pixelated). (Please also bear in mind that I edit for a living, and therefore may have less tolerance for small mistakes.) I wish there been another set of eyes on this text as clearing up a few typographical errors really would have enhanced the quality of the publication. Also, the organization of the book is somewhat whimsical, and it is not always clear what is the intent of the overall structure. There also is very little in the way of concluding thoughts to tie the often disparate pieces of the work together.
All of this aside, I’d recommend this as just the right tool for breaking some of the ironclad correspondences that have grown out of the Golden Dawn-influenced paths, especially in regard to both magickal implements and establishing ritual space. There are several interesting pathworkings/mediatations, and a nice rundown of how to apply the Eightfold Wheel in a non-agrarian context. Paddon’s focus on Welsh deities is welcome, though sometimes his spellings are a bit odd. If you want a little shakeup for your standard Pagan practice, this book is a great place to start.
Paddon, P.A. 2011. A Grimoire for Modern Cunning Folk. Los Angeles: Pendraig Publishing.