Often the introductory texts to a spiritual group/organization is makes promises of fulfillment and power as often as the present fallacies as truth. This book is none of those things. Druid Mysteries: Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century is a short, yet pleasurable read. Written by Phillip Carr-Gomm, the Arch-druid of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD) this work is an introduction to the beliefs of his order. This work is not a historical work about the ancient druids, nor does it claim to be. Carr-Gomm is a careful and caring academic.
As an introduction to Druidry, this book presents a vast amount of information in simple detail. More detailed study is encouraged by a recommended reading list and a hefty bibliography. The nature of the Druid historiography is sketchy. Many have claimed the Druids as their own, and in the name of nationalism the reality of Druid culture has become difficulty to ascertain. What Carr-Gomm does here is focus not on the Ancient druids, but on the revivalist druids of the 17th century onward. Examining these various histories generated within these groups Carr-Gomm has created a mythical history that is a metaphor for what modern Druids should aspire too. Again this is not a work of history or anthropology.
The remainder of the book explores the beliefs of the OBOD. Carr-Gomm offers a uncomplicated, yet detailed presentation of the Order’s practices. Here are detailed the roles of and the relationships between the Bards, Ovates, and Druids. Placing them into non-hierarchical authority driven system. Also present is the description of stone circles and their importance not only to the Druids, but as a connection to the ancient civilizations who created them. The magic, gifts, and understanding of the Druids is covered as well. Creating an excellent primer for understanding Neo-Druidry.
One of the most interesting features about this work are the exercises found at the end of each chapter. Each is tailored to the material covered in its respective chapter. Most of these exercises require the reader to visualize themselves as part of the ancient Druids. They focus on immersing the reader in the sacredness of nature, community, and stone monoliths. Carr-Gomm does an excellent job on presenting these exercises as a way of communicating the reader’s experiences to themselves. These exercises are not overtly magical, yet they can cause many unexpected and entertaining realizations.
In short Druid Mysteries is a valuable tool to the beginning Druid and those interested in exploring Neo-Druidry. The histories presented are not wholly accurate, yet they form a metaphor for communicating what OBOD members believe. An excellent work if read in context.