Inner Traditions / Destiny Books, Rochester, VT, 1995
trade paperback, 213 pages, ISBN: 0-89281-501-9
Rich in tradition and folklore, this complete guide to the plant lore of the Druids describes the eight major festivals of the Pagan year and the appropriate herbs and rituals to celebrate these sacred days, serving as an important resource during the round of the sacred year.
"A good working knowledge of Western Herbology is a must for any aspiring Druid today"- from A Druids Herbal
Ellen Evert Hopman presents here a guide to the herbs and plants used in the Druidic tradition -- their characteristics, uses, magical correspondences, and much more -- all richly supported with additional material and carefully organized for maximum accessibility.
Overview: The author begins by introducing the Druids themselves, including the Ban-drui or woman-druids, as well as the Bards and Ovates. She also covers some beliefs and customs of ancient Celtic cultures. Chapter 2 covers herbal basics, from herbal preparations and homeopathic remedies to suggested magical uses of herbs and the festivals of the sacred year. The next chapters feature herbs for Winter Solstice, Imbolc, Spring Equinox, Beltaine, Summer Solstice, Lugnasad, and Fall Equinox. Chapter 11 presents scientific evidence concerning the herbs of the Druids. Chapter 12 gives astrologic associations for herbs. The last chapters present herbs for specific purposes: consecration and purification, funerals, handfasting, house blessing, and baby blessing.Then comes the lavish end matter: a pronunciation guide, a resource guide, a generous bibliography broken down by subject, and not one but TWO index entries, one each for plants and subjects. You will have no trouble finding what you need in this book!
Features: Full renditions of two calendar systems appear: the months of the Coligny Calendar and the Celtic Tree Calendar (also given as the Ogham Alphabet). For the herbs associated with specific festivals, each entry lists the common and scientific names followed by the parts used, herbal uses, homeopathic uses, and magical uses. The same information appears for Herbs of the Druids, along with a list of plants whose pollen turned up in core samples from bogs, showing their presence in mesolithic and neolithic periods. A nice rendition of the "Song of Amergin" opens the section on Sacred Groves and Circles, and finally the listing of herbs for specific purposes continues to provide the same pattern of information as seen previously.
Recommendations: An absolute must for Druids and Ban-drui (which includes the modern Avalonian path), _A Druid's Herbal_ also holds significant appeal for herbalists and anyone interested in plant magic. Accessible to beginners but with plenty of detail for experts, this book is ideal for all levels of experience. Highly recommended.
[This review originally appeared in Moonlight & Magick. and is Copyright 1998 by Elizabeth Barrette.]