By Artemis Gryphon Snowhawk
Our very own Professor Hopman has written a book entitled: Priestess of the Forest: A Druid Journey, and graciously granted an interview. This book is for “anyone who has European ancestry might be interested in the religion that was practiced from the Black Sea to Western France and Ireland, for a thousand years.”
Here are the reasons you should pick up a copy:
What inspired you to write this book?
I wrote the book for a number of reasons.
I’m concerned that some writers and members of the occult community are claiming that there were no female Druids. One author even says that women were not allowed access to the mysteries and that the only “real” Druidic relationship was between an older (male) mentor and a younger (male) student.
I have written an article about female Druids, Poets, Brehons, (lawyers and judges) and the evidence that we have for them; that will be published in the online magazine Magical Buffet in February, 2008.
Another reason I felt inspired to write this book is I often feel the winds of the Gods at my back, constantly urging me to write, teach, and celebrate the Druid tradition; my chosen spiritual path. I wanted to write a manual that would give the flavor of this tradition, its rituals, holy days, tools, practices and beliefs, in a pleasant form for beginners. It is a Bardic teaching tale, with the core tenets of our faith woven through it, and any reader would be able to create a personal Druid practice by studying the book.
Another aspect is while this book is not a strictly historical account; it does reflect the culture of pre-Christian Western Europe and the ways of our ancestors. Anyone of European ancestry might be interested in the religion that was practiced from the Black Sea to Western France and Ireland, for a thousand years, (roughly 500 BCE to 500 CE) and that has never completely died out.
How did you choose the title?
The story follows a Druid Priestess, an herbalist, living in third century Ireland.
It is called “A Druid Journey” because it is not just a novel; it’s also a spiritual text to be shelved with other spiritual books.
There are plenty of warriors in the book as well, which makes the story interesting.
How long have you pursued Druidism?
I have been a Druid since 1984, one of the earliest members of the Order of ADF, ‘Ar nDraiocht F’ein: A Druid Fellowship, founded in 1983. In 1986 I co-founded the Henge of Keltria, serving as its Vice President for nine years. In 1996 I started the Whiteoak mailing list which officially became a Druid Order in 1997. I am a co-founder of the Whiteoak Order (Ord na Darach Gile) and Co-Chief of the Whiteoak Order (www.whiteoakdruids.org).
What format did you choose for this book?
It is written like any novel, with separate chapters, however, I have included an extensive glossary and pronunciation guide to assist the reader in understanding the ‘Old Irish’ terms used throughout the book and pertinent to the Druid religion.
There is also a list of resources at the back of the book, as well as an interview with the publisher.
How long did it take you to write this book?
This was my first book of fiction. While non-fiction takes between one and two years to write, I found this much more difficult because I wished to accurately represent the cultural and religious elements while creating an engaging story.
This book took about nine years, including several rewrites and edits to the manuscript.
Your book is scheduled for sale beginning February 1, 2008.
Why do you recommend readers pick up a copy?
I hope that readers will get a sense of what a beautiful tradition we share. Beginners to the Celtic or Druid path will be interested, not only in the story but in the book’s guidance and the recommended reading listed in the back.
What do you hope readers will retain from your book?
I believe readers will find reflections of modern times in its pages. As I was writing it Religious Right was gaining precedence on the American political scene.
I did not realize until after I had finished that there were strong parallels between current politics and those of ancient times. Our ancestors had to struggle with issues between church and state, just as we are today.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I have another book coming out in May 2008 entitled A Druid’s Herbal – For Sacred Tree Medicine. This book will be a study in Druidic concepts regarding sacred trees and will act as a guide to the medicinal and magical uses of trees. I plan to make that a required text for my class at the Grey School called Tree Medicine-Tree Magic.
I am currently finishing a book on Scottish herbs and magic that should be out in late 2008 or early 2009. It has been a very busy year!
Our thanks to Professor Hopman for this enlightening discussion of her new book, we look forward to its release and to her future works.
Priestess of the Forest: A Druid Journey can be ordered here.
You can also order A Druid’s Herbal – For Sacred Tree Medicine here.
WHISPERING GREY MATTERS 27 YULE 2007