Monday 10 November 2014

Review: The Awen Alone - Solitary Druidry

The Awen Aloneis a new book aimed at those setting out on the path of Druidry as a solitary practice. It is a beginners' book in the excellent Pagan Portals series by Moon Books and is by Joanna van der Hoeven, who previously wrote Dancing With Nemetona: A Druid’s Exploration of Sanctuary and Sacred Space and Pagan Portal-Zen Druidry.

Joanna has a gentle yet evocative style of writing; perfect for teaching the basics of this nature-based spirituality. The first section of The Awen Alone begins with a short chapter on the history of the Druids and then goes on to describe modern beliefs and practices.

Druidry is a religion that honours the cycles of nature and the concept of Awen - or "inspiration"; druids respect faith in all gods or none, so atheists are welcome as are all who are tolerant and accepting of others' beliefs. Joanna says:
"In Druidry, there is a broad interpretation of just who or what the gods are. Some Druids are monotheists, believing in only one god. Some are polytheists, believing in many gods. Some are pantheists, believing that everything is an interpretation of the divine, and this seems to bridge the two strands of monotheism and polytheism. A benefit of the solitary path is that we can choose our own path, which may or may not lead to relationship with deity or deities. We may choose to see Druidry as a religion, with deity concepts, or see it as a philosophy, and leave deity out of it."
Following on from theory, the second section of The Awen Alone covers practical elements - what to do as a solitary druid. This includes a useful chapter on meditation and how to meditate, a selection of lovely prayers, pathworkings, ways to connect with the natural world and the area in which you live and creating sacred space. The book also covers pagan seasonal rites to work with the cycle of the seasons. The final section includes an example of a druid ritual with guidance on how to write your own rituals as well as advice on creating your own daily spiritual practice.

Although this book is aimed at solitary druids, a section at the end includes the contact details for druid organisations that can offer advice, training or contact with Groves - or groups - of other Druids.

There are, of course, quite a few books already out aimed at beginners on various paths of paganism, so why buy this book rather than another? Well, I would say that if you are learning about druidry all on your own, without training from others, then you probably actually need to read several books on the subject to get an all-round perspective. Another excellent book that would complement The Awen Alone well is The Handbook of Urban Druidry by Brendan Howlin.

I particularly like The Awen Alonebecause in many ways it reminds me of an absolutely excellent book I read when I was first learning to be a witch - A Witch Alone: Thirteen moons to master natural magicby Marian Green. Both Joanna and Marian's books offer a well-written, practical and non-dogmatic way of developing your own spirituality and connecting with the natural world. They both also underline the importance of the human community in which we live as well as the importance of gaining personal experience of the natural world around us.

Pagan Portals - The Awen Alone: Walking the Path of the Solitary Druidis due to be published in November, but can be pre-ordered.

Links and previous related posts
Pagan Portals - The Awen Alone: Walking the Path of the Solitary Druid
Pagan Portal-Zen Druidry


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this comprehensive review and suggestions for other similar books. Blessings. Julie

duffy said...

This looks like a wonderful book. I find druidry fascinating.

I hope you don't mind me mentioning the correct pronunciation of the Welsh word "awen" - the "a" is short, like in cat, not long, like in car. I've heard so many English druids say it wrong - it probably shouldn't bug me as much as it does! :)

I will definitely check out this book when it's out - thanks for the heads up.

Badwitch said...

Duffy - thanks very much for explaining the pronunciation of "awen". I will try to do it right in future!