Book Reviews

Blog reviews …

From time to time I will be introducing reviews for books that are complementary to traditional British Old Craft and the Khemetic Mysteries … or just because they contain their fair share of ‘magical truths’ that are pertinent to all Paths and Traditions. Wisdom isn’t confined to a single belief system and sometimes we can benefit from a different viewpoint … even if it’s not remotely connected to the Path we personally follow.


This is my kind of book … and ‘music’ for the eyes … having come from the land around Llyn-y-van-vach, that ‘small lake deep in the wildest part of Carmarthenshire’. This is not the usual fare for New Aeon introductions to one of the basic fundamentals of traditional folk-medicine and wort-lore but an erudite guide covering the history, myth and symbolism of twenty-five plants known to the British Celts and used by them medicinally. The author obviously believes that to fully understand a subject it is necessary to immerse yourself in the doctrines on Celtic medicine, together with a comprehensive study of the history and beliefs of the time. She has a BSc in Human Physiology and PhD from the School of Pharmacy, London University, in medicinal plant chemistry, has been on research trips to Africa and South America to collect plant material used as medicine, and collaborated with scientists around the world, publishing internationally in scientific journals. Immersed in the Celtic tradition, she runs workshops on Celtic Medicinal Plants and in ‘Healing Power of Celtic Plants’ reflects this tremendous depth of knowledge in a beautiful, evocative style of the bard.
“I found myself living, deep in the countryside in a green, leafy, watery place, overlooking trees, meadows and hillsides with badger sets, and the deep blue hills of Wales in the distance. I was surrounded by plants that had been used as medicine for centuries, plants native to Britain, plants with a history. This magical place with its sacred wells and standing stones was steeped in Celtic mythology. I was drawn in, absorbed and seduced by ancient traditions kept alive by poets and story-tellers.”
Intent on keeping her subject pure, Angela Paine consulted the twelfth century secular herbal, the book of the Physicians of Myddvai, which drew on ancient Celtic tradition. “As I began to collate my list of herbs from this early herbal I noted that not all of them were indigenous to Britain. Herbals of this period made frequent mention of plants imported to Britain by the Romans. No doubt the Celts had adopted many of these plants by this time but the ancient Celts probably would not have had access to many non-indigenous plants. I decided to concentrate only on plants native to Britain. From these, I selected those that we still use as medicine today, many of which have been extensively researched. This list of medicinal herbs was to become the body of the book.”
It is often said that Magic is a blend of Science and Art and ‘Healing Power of Celtic Plants’ is the perfect scholarly blend without ever being dry or academic. I’m always being asked by students to recommend a serious, magical book on wort-lore and finally I have one that I can – hand on heart – and have already added to the recommended reading on the Arcanum course.
Healing Power of Celtic Plants by Dr Angela Payne is published by Moon Books.

ISBN: 978-1-90504-762-8 Paperback £16.99 || $29.95

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