Mike Gleason


Something Worth Fighting For by Janval Phagan © 1995 Flying Witch Publications 1-900433-02-8 20 pages $5.24 (U.S.)

Probably the single most neglected segment of the Pagan population, even more so than our burgeoning group of Elders, is that of warriors. In the early days of public Paganism (the middle of the 20th Century) warriors were often considered to be the complete antithesis of the movement. It was a time of love and peace. Warriors were not considered to be viable representative of Pagan thought.

At that time the concept of “warrior” was restricted to members of the military, but as the author points out so eloquently, there are other types of warriors, from those who fight against death (doctors, nurses, paramedics and others); those who fight against criminality (police, lawyers, judges, etc.); and spiritual warriors (individuals such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Dalai Lama among others). Each of these is a warrior and each deserves to be respected for doing what is needed.

This very short pamphlet serves two purposes, neither of which is likely to go away in the near future. The first purpose is to remind us, one and all, of the cost to our warriors – not only for them but for their families and loved ones and society in general. The big, set battles are a thing of the past, but the snipers and terrorist attacks continue to take their toll in lives and emotions. The second purpose is to raise money for, and awareness of, The Soldiers, Sailors and Airman’s Family Association, in Britain. Both of these are worthy causes.

There is a listing in the middle of battles and wars which have involved people of the British Isles, which may be a real eye-opener for some people.

If you or any member of your family has ever been in the position of a warrior, take a moment to say “thank you” to the firefighter, the cop on the beat, the ambulance attendant, or the soldier home on leave. And while you’re at it, drop a couple of dollars in the donation box (or the mailbox) for a veteran’s organization to help these men and women and their families.

The Power of Love by Michael Berman © 1995 Flying Witch Publications 1-900433-17-6 75 pages $8.99 (U.S.)

This little book is full of love stories- with a moral. Each of them is designed to be used as a teaching tool. Some of the stories are familiar, drawn from well-known fairy tales. Some are drawn from other cultures with which the average reader is less familiar.

These stories are intended to stimulate thinking and to cause the reader to perform some self-examination. But more than that, they are intended to be shared.

This book is a useful tool for those who wish to learn more about the concept of love, and what it embodies in cultures around the world. Many forms of love are examined. Many approaches are presented, and much knowledge is revealed – all in a short little book that is well worth the cost.

Tales of the Celtic Bards by Claire Hamilton © 2003 O Books

ISBN 978-1-903816548 320 pages Paperback $24.95 (U.S.)

Over the years there have been many tellings and retellings of the myths of the Celtic people, and this boom is another retelling. As the author (an MA in The Bardic Tradition in Ireland from Bristol University) notes “If this story is new to you then you must hear it. But even if you know it well, listen again, for there is always new wisdom to be found in it.” She is an accomplished harpist, and has produced a CD to accompany this book.

The initial tales are told by a bard, Bruach, to a young man and his village. Although the details surrounding the telling are sketchy, the stories themselves grab and hold your attention. They are told simply, as would have been appropriate to a rustic setting. Greater depth could have been achieved, but the simplicity increases the appeal and provides inspiration for further exploration.

After dealing with the Irish tales she moves on to the Scottish tales that share some stories with the Irish since, in ancient times, they were linked. These stories are drawn from the Finnian (or Ossian) Cycle. There are differences in these tales, especially noted in this telling of the story of Diarmaid and Grainne.

The tales conclude with stories from the Welsh collection known as the Mabinogion, ending with the story of Taliesin, drawn from the Hanes Taliesin (13th century), and the story of the lost city of Ys from Brittany.

The book is completed with some notes on the stories, a short glossary, an extremely short (14 entries), and a guide to Irish and Welsh pronunciation. None of these are extensive but they all contain enough information to be helpful.

My one regret is that I did not receive the CD of music which accompanied the hardcover edition of this book. The book has just been released, and they have not yet arranged the packaging of the book and CD. I am awaiting arrival of that CD and can honestly say that, if Ms. Hamilton plays a harp as well as she tells a bardic tale I am sure it will be a joy, and would add greatly to setting the mood for the various tales.

Although this is not the most extensive collection of bardic tales I have ever read, it is easily the most enjoyable. I was swept away and carried along by the images and pacing. I most heartily recommend this book. Since the holiday season is approaching I feel good saying that it would make a nice Yule gift.