Someone told me long ago I was a druid in one of my past lives. Contrary to what I should have thought, it made perfect sense, and it still does. I always felt a calling to the Celts’ World, their myths, legends, the way they lived and the way they understood the divine, how they worshipped their gods and goddesses.
As part of Pagan Portals, “Pagan Portals: The Crane Bag: A Druid’s Guide to Ritual Tools and Practices,” by Joanna van der Hoeven, proved to be a good way to explore those ancient root I could have, and a great introduction to the Druids’ myths, their believes and spiritual work. As an introduction, I found it very useful and interesting, although I was left wanting to know more than what the book offers. It clearly opened my appetite for knowledge.
Van der Hoeven has a simple style that makes it easy to understand whatever she explains, providing a light experience, fluent stories and concepts, all of them mixed so the learning becomes funnier, as if she were talking with the readers. The author feels so near you can almost imagine her sitting right beside you presenting her faith.
The Crane Bag gets you immersed in the use of the tools and methods used in the Druids’ magic, a topic that called me since I knew about it. Because of the mystery around everything that is part of the Celtic lore and religion, I found little information, if not at all, about certain themes, one of them being the one for this book.
This book starts with a catchy and curious method: story-telling the origin of the Crane Bag, how it came to be the religious item it is nowadays for the Druids, along with a clear teaching in the story, as we may already know if we’ve read myths and legends. Still, this is not the only story we will find in the book.
Each of the tools has a tale related to it that, before the academic and explanatory part of the section, gives a clear idea of what it is intended to be used, a structure that works well if you’re into fiction and short stories, combining the best of the styles. Van der Hoeven made a good job keeping them short, although I would be interested in a longer book with a deeper analysis of such myths.
Readers interested will see that, although it is just a little part of the structure in Druidry and its rituals, it offers a complete review on what should be done and what should not. Works fine as a guide for the general structure that should be followed, but it leaves you slightly unsatisfied, as it ends right when things start to get interesting.
That’s the only one thing that bothered me for real, how short it was and how summarized it was all the information even for an introductory work as this is intended to be. It feels like Van der Hoeven tried to remain loyal to a page limit, which far from ruining the book, actually didn’t let it explore the full potential.
Another aspect that I loved about The Crane Bag was the fact that it includes beautiful, black and white illustrations to open each of the chapters, images that I’d like to print and have as posters in my bedroom, as prints for a scrapbook, a book of shadows, or anything else. This is not an illustrated book, but it gave it points to see such a good edition.
I cannot be done writing this without thanking the publisher for providing a copy of this great book, one that will remain in my library to consult and refresh the concepts, stories and tools used in Druidry. Also, thanks to the author for her work, as it clarified many ideas and gave an interesting insight on the topic; I’ll surely check her other works.
Print Length: 112 pages
Series: Pagan Portals
Publisher: Moon Books (July 28, 2017)
Publication Date: July 28, 2017
About the author:
Joanna van der Hoeven is a Druid, bestselling author and teacher. She is the cofounder of Druid College UK. Joanna moved to the UK in 1998, where she now lives with her husband in a small village in Suffolk near the coast of the North Sea. She is currently the Media Co-Ordinator for The Druid Network and is also the Director of Druid College UK.
About the reviewer:
Bader Saab is a digital journalist and self-published writer; a solitary, eclectic wiccan interested in the darker side of magic and divination; a gothic guy that tries to educate whenever he cans. Hopefully, someday he will succeed in one of them.