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The Ever-Popular Reading List Section

Which books for someone totally new to CR?

Gods and Heroes of the Celts — Marie-Louise Sjoestedt

This is an excellent introduction to Celtic mythology in a variety of cultures. It’s short and clear, emphasizing the importance of not attempting to smoosh Celtic deities into Classical Mediterranean models. A wonderful overview.

Celtic Mythology — Proinsias MacCana

This coffee table style book is a wonderful introduction to Celtic myth as well, and includes fabulous color photos of artifacts and archaeological sites. It’s an easy read and covers a great deal of territory.

Celtic Heritage — Alwyn and Brinley Rees

A more complex read than the others, Celtic Heritage relies very heavily on Dumézilian models and comparisons to Hindu religion. While these comparisons are useful, many in Dumézil’s camp tend to rely too heavily on Hindu models and view Celtic religion as almost identical in structure, if not in practice. It is important to remember that Celtic and Hindu cultures are in fact different, and that while similarities can help illuminate gaps in the Celtic records, it is not wise to attempt to import ritual and pattern in toto from one culture to another.

A Circle of Stones — Erynn Rowan Laurie

A book of practical exercises written by a CR elder for the CR community. The author states that she would present the material differently now, given her many more years of research and experience, but the practices presented and the materials on altars are extremely useful for those on an Irish or Scottish CR path.


Which three books are most important?

Four General Celtic Books:

Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe — H.R. Ellis Davidson

Celtic Mythology — Proinsias Mac Cana

Celtic Heritage — Alwyn & Brinley Rees

Gods and Heroes of the Celts — Marie-Louise Sjoestedt (translated by Myles Dillon from the original French Dieux et Héros des Celtes)

Three Scottish Books:

The Gaelic Otherworld — John Gregorson Campbell, ed. by Ronald Black

Carmina Gadelica — Alexander Carmichael

The Silver Bough — F. Marian MacNeil

Three Irish Books:

The Year in Ireland — Kevin Danaher

Irish Folk Ways — E. Estyn Evans

The Wisdom of the Outlaw — Joseph Falaky Nagy

Three Welsh Books:

Trioedd Ynys Prydein: The Triads of the Island of Britain — Rachel Bromwich

The Mabinogi and Other Welsh Medieval Tales — Patrick K. Ford

Ystoria Taliesin — Patrick K. Ford

Two Gaulish Books:

The Celtic Gauls: Gods, Rites and Sanctuaries — Jean-Louis Brunaux

Lady With A Mead Cup — Michael Enright


Which books do you recommend? (The Big List)

Celtic Art — George Bain

A Military History of Ireland — Thomas Bartlett and Keith Jeffery, eds.

Healing Threads — Mary Beith

Irish Bardic Poetry — Osborn Bergin

Auraicept na n-Éces: The Scholars Primer — George Calder, ed.

The Gaelic Otherworld — John Gregorson Campbell, ed. Ronald Black

Carmina Gadelica — Alexander Carmichael

Medieval Irish Lyrics with The Irish Bardic Poet — James Carney

The Great Queens — Rosalind Clark

A Guide to Britain's Pagan Heritage — David Clarke

Twilight of the Celtic Gods — David Clarke and Andy Roberts

Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland — Thomas Crofton Croker

Ancient Irish Tales — Cross and Slover

The Ancient Celts — Barry Cunliffe

The Celtic World — Barry Cunliffe

Mythic Ireland — Michael Dames

The Year in Ireland — Kevin Danaher

Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe — H. R. Ellis Davidson

Early Irish Literature — Myles Dillon

Tales of the Elders of Ireland — tr. by Ann Dooley and Harry Roe

Lady With a Mead Cup — Michael Enright

Irish Folk Ways — E. Estyn Evans

The Mabinogion — tr. by Patrick K. Ford

The Tory Islanders — Robin Fox

The Philosopher and the Druids: A Journey Among the Ancient Celts — Philip Freeman

Early Irish Myths and Sagas — tr. by Jeffrey Gantz

The History of the Kings of Britain — Geoffrey of Monmouth (tr. by Lewis Thorpe)

Irish Folktales — Henry Glassie

Passing the Time in Ballymenone — Henry Glassie

Celtic Goddesses — Miranda Green (This is a qualified recommendation)

Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend — Miranda J. Green (This is a qualified recommendation)

Gods of the Celts — Miranda Green (This is a qualified recommendation)

Symbol and Image in Celtic Religious Art — Miranda Green (This is a qualified recommendation)

The World of the Druids — Miranda Green (This is a qualified recommendation)

A Golden Treasury of Irish Poetry — David Greene and Frank O’Connor

The Making of a Druid — Christian-J. Guyonvarc’h

Symbols of the Celts — Sabine Heinz

Survivals in Belief Among the Celts — George Henderson

A Celtic Miscellany — Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson

The World of the Celts — Simon James (This is a qualified recommendation)

The Law of Hywel Dda — tr. by Dafydd Jenkins

The Mabinogion — tr. by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones

A Guide to Early Irish Law — Fergus Kelly

The Tain — tr. by Thomas Kinsella

The Celtic Heroic Age — John T. Koch and John Carey, eds.

The Apple Branch — Alexei Kondratiev (This is a qualified recommendation)

A Circle of Stones — Erynn Rowan Laurie

Death, War, and Sacrifice — Bruce Lincoln

The Banshee: The Irish Death Messenger — Patricia Lysaght

Celtic Mythology — Proinsias Mac Cana

The Learned Tales of Medieval Ireland — Proinsias Mac Cana

The Religion of the Ancient Celts — J. A. MacCulloch

The Oxford Dictionary of Celtic Mythology — James MacKillop

In Search of the Indo-Europeans — J. P. Mallory

A Guide to Ogam — Damian McManus

The Silver Bough — F. Marian McNeill

Celtic Art — Ruth and Vincent Megaw

Ancient Irish Poetry — Kuno Meyer

A Primer of Irish Metrics — Kuno Meyer

Conversing With Angels and Ancients — Joseph Falaky Nagy

A Handbook of the Scottish Gaelic World — Michael Newton (This is a qualified recommendation)

The Wisdom of the Outlaw — Joseph Falaky Nagy

The Book of the Cailleach — Gearóid Ó Crualaoich

Celtic Consciousness — Robert O’Driscoll, ed.

The Silva Gadelica — Standish O’Grady

Early Ireland — Michael J. O’Kelly

Welsh Folk Customs — Trefor Owen

Manx Calendar Customs — Cyril I. Paton

Cattle Lords & Clansmen — Nerys Patterson

Sex and Marriage in Ancient Ireland — Patrick C. Power

Pagan Celtic Ireland — Barry Raftery

Celtic Heritage — Alwyn and Brinley Rees

The Folklore of the Scottish Highlands — Anne Ross (This is a qualified recommendation)

Pagan Celtic Britain — Anne Ross (This is a qualified recommendation)

The Pagan Celts — Anne Ross (This is a qualified recommendation)

Gods and Heroes of the Celts — Marie-Louise Sjoestedt (translated by Myles Dillon from the original French, Dieux et Héros des Celtes)

The Aran Islands — John M. Synge

The Secret Commonwealth and the Fairy Belief Complex — Brian Walsh

Beyond Celts, Germans, and Scythians — Peter S. Wells

The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries — W. Y. Evans Wentz (This is a qualified recommendation)


Y Geiriadur Newydd: The New Welsh Dictionary — Christopher Davies

English-Irish Dictionary — Tomás De Bhaldraithe

Foclóir Gaedhilge agus Béarla: Irish-English Dictionary — Patrick S. Dinneen

Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru — Gareth Gareth, Gareth Bevan, and Patrick Donovan, eds. (Welsh)

Dwelly’s Gaelic Dictionary — Edward Dwelly (Scots Gaelic)

Foclóir Póca — An Gúm (Irish)

Etymological Dictionary of Scottish-Gaelic — Alexander MacBain

A Pronouncing and Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language — Malcolm MacLennan (Scots Gaelic)

Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla — Niall Ó Dónaill (Irish)

The Dictionary of the Irish Language — The Royal Irish Academy

Language Courses

Speaking Our Language — Cànan (Scots Gaelic)

Colloquial Welsh — Gareth King

Modern Welsh: A Comprehensive Grammar — Gareth King

Teach Yourself Gaelic — Roderick Mackinnon (Scots Gaelic)

Buntús Cainte — Tomas O Domhnallain (Irish)

Learning Irish — Mícheál Ó Siadhail

Grammar of Old Irish — R. Thurneysen (also includes some Gaulish and Welsh)


The Independent Scholar's Handbook — Ronald Gross (Not specifically about anything in the Celtic sphere but essential for learning how to continue your studies after school lets out)


Which books for kids?

This is a short list of books that have received recommendations within various CR fora. This is neither meant to be a complete list nor is it necessarily meant to be a recommendation of these works by the compilers (though some of them are). Consider it rather to be a sampling of the diversity there is in the field of books for children that have Celtic themes to them.

Little Celtic Activity Book — Winky Adam

Finn MacCoul and His Fearless Wife: A Giant of a Tale From Ireland — Robert Byrd

The Silver Cow, a Welsh Tale — Susan Cooper

The Celts Activity Book — Mike Corbishly

The Wishing of Biddy Malone — Joy Cowley

Fin M’Coul: the Giant of Knockmany Hill — Tomie De Paola

Lucy Dove — Janice Del Negro

A Child’s Book of Celtic Prayers — Joyce Denham (Illustrator), Helen Cann (Illustrator)

Celtic Gods and Heroes — John Green

Gods and Fighting Men — Lady Gregory

More Celtic Fairy Tales — Joseph Jacobs

The O’Brien Book of Irish Fairy Tales and Legends — Una Leavy

The Children of Lir — Sheila MacGill-Callahan

The Tain: The Great Celtic Epic — Liam MacUistin

Druids, Gods & Heroes from Celtic Mythology (World Mythology Series) — Anne Ross

Shape-Shifter, The Naming of Pangur Ban: Book One (The Pangur Ban Celtic Fantasies) — Fay Sampson

Pangur Ban the White Cat: Book Two (The Pangur Ban Celtic Fantasies) — Fay Sampson

Finnglas of the Horses: Book Three (The Pangur Ban Celtic Fantasies) — Fay Sampson

Life in Celtic Times — A. G. Smith

The Cool Maccool: Heroic Deeds of Finn Maccool Legendary Celtic Hero — Gordon Snell


There are so many translations, which ones do you recommend?

In order to make a reliable translation, the translator must be fluent in both the language they are translating from, and the language they are translating into. In addition, they must be an expert on the cultures from which those languages arise. As we have often stated in this FAQ, one cannot fully understand a culture without understanding the language of that culture. Similarly, one cannot make an accurate language translation without understanding the unique cultural contexts, beliefs of the culture’s peoples, and idioms of those languages.

See also How do you pick which authors to believe?

Some Specific Recommendations:

These are some editions which are known to be good translations of the source materials:

Tales of the Elders of Ireland — Ann Dooley and Harry Roe, trans.

The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales — Patrick K. Ford, trans.

The Second Battle of Maigh Tuiredh — Elizabeth Gray, trans.

The Mabinogion — Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones, trans.

The Celtic Heroic Age — John T. Koch and John Carey, eds.


Which authors/publishers should I absolutely, without doubt, avoid like plague fleas?

This list is based on many people’s experience and is specifically designed with CR in mind. For example, while Robert Graves has a poetic and evocative side to his writing, he is inaccurate and pretty much worthless in relation to Celtic subject matter. So while it may be difficult to make blanket statements and judgements, in relation to Celtic matters, we do feel qualified to steer you away from these authors and publishers.

Some inaccurate authors to stay away from:

DJ Conway

Murray Hope

Kisma Stepanich

Edain McCoy

Tom Cowan

Douglas Monroe

Robert Graves

Kaledon Naddair

Francesca de Grandis

Barry Fell

Sirona Knight

Iolo Morganwg

Frank McEowen

Publishers who put out more questionable books than good ones:


Capall Bann


For reviews of several books both good and bad on Celtic Paganism and Druidism, with in-depth explanations of why they are considered good or bad books, we suggest the reviews on the Digital Medievalist site.


Which authors/publishers are, with few exceptions, very reliable sources?

After careful consideration we have come to the (somewhat uncomfortable) conclusion that we can’t provide you with a definitive answer to this question. It is difficult to say an author will always be reliable, as people are fully capable of changing their minds, or spinning things differently for different publishers. Academic presses tend to be more reliable than occult presses as a general rule. Books on history and archaeology will most likely be more reliable than those on “Celtic Spirituality.” We have pulled together a selection of reading lists that contain a number of books that are quite good on a variety of different topics relevant to CR.

See also Which books for someone totally new to CR?, Which three books are most important?, Which books for kids?, There are so many translations, which ones do you recommend? and Which books do you recommend? (the long list).


So how do I find this stuff?

In many areas, it can be hard to find good resources at your local bookshop. It’s important to remember that most bookstores will do special orders for you if you ask. An excellent online bookshop for Celtic Studies books is Books for Scholars, which carries many important and otherwise difficult to find texts, primarily in Welsh and Irish studies, but also for other Celtic cultures.

Used copies of the books you want can sometimes be found through Abebooks , a site that acts as a central catalogue & order site for hundreds, if not thousands, of used bookstores around the world.

For books that are very expensive, you can check your local library, and if the books are not there, ask the librarian to help you with a process called Inter-Library Loan or ILL. This will bring a book you want from another library to your local library for you to borrow, and most US and Canadian libraries participate in these webs of information-sharing.

Another possibility, particularly for rare books or information that is difficult to find, are online editions. Many of the Irish-language resources with translations are available at websites like the Irish Texts at CELT page or the translations of texts from many Celtic cultures at The Celtic Literature Collective. Searches for authors and particular out of copyright titles at Project Gutenberg can also be fruitful.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig maintains an online collection of Scots Gaelic texts, including the first volume of the Carmina Gadelica , an important source text for traditional prayers, spells and invocations from the Highlands and Islands, collected in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Alexander Carmichael. SMO is the premier Gaelic-language college in Scotland and has a wide variety of Gàidhlig language resources on its website. Volumes one and two of the Carmina can also be found at The Internet Sacred Texts Archive .

Resources exist, even for those with little or no money. It’s just a matter of learning to look and knowing where to begin.



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