There’s a ridiculous number of introductory publications on Celtic mythology out there. Figuring out which ones room the best can it is in a an overwhelming task. This already an overwhelming quest is further facility by the fact that most of these publications have incredibly generic titles prefer “Celtic Myths and also Legends” or “Celtic Mythology.” At very first glance, lock all appear to be much more or less identical.
But anyone who well-acquainted through this ar will call you the nothing might be more from the truth. Part are much superior to rather in regards to the scope and accuracy the the info they present, and also in creating style. Some room written because that scholars or a more intellectual audience, if some are written because that a more general audience and also are written in a more entertaining and obtainable way.
So how can you recognize which ones room worthy the paying her hard-earned cash for, and also which persons are just forgettable, “me too” efforts?
This list was written v the intention of helping you to do precisely that. Here, I present ten the the finest introductory books in the ar (last to update April 2019), along with descriptions that are designed to help you number out which publication or publications on Celtic mythology space the finest matches for what girlfriend personally space looking for.
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The publications are numbered around from the most newbie-friendly and also general (#1) to the most advanced and/or committed (#9). The lower-numbered publications aren’t necessarily better than the higher-numbered ones, but they are generally an ext accessible.
The Celtic and also Germanic peoples, consisting of the Norse, common very comparable mythologies. This shouldn’t be surprising, due to the fact that they shared comparable ways that life, lived in similar lands, spoke comparable languages, and shared a common ancestry. For this reason if you’re right into Norse mythology, opportunities are you’d acquire a lot out of Celtic mythology, too. If you’ve come to this page for the reason, you might want come take particularly close look at #5, H.R. Ellis Davidson’s Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: early on Scandinavian and also Celtic Religions.
If you discover this list to be beneficial enough the you decide to purchase one or an ext of the books detailed here, the best means you can say “thank you” is to buy whatever you decide to buy with the Amazon links detailed at the finish of each book’s description. As soon as you do, I automatically get a tiny commission ~ above your acquisition with no extra cost or hassle for you whatsoever.
Without additional ado:
1. Celtic Myths and Legends through Peter Berresford Ellis
For the reader who’s in search of an entertaining advent to Celtic mythology that concentrates squarely ~ above the story themselves, Peter Berresford Ellis’s Celtic Myths and Legends delivers the exceptionally well. His retellings of the Celtic tales make because that a an extremely fun and also pleasurable read.
Ellis is a talented and also esteemed Celtic scholar as well as an innovative writer, and although the publication is completely nontechnical, jargon-free, and also reads together fiction quite than nonfiction, the reader deserve to sense the this is the job-related of an achieved professional in the field.
The book assumes no prior expertise of Celtic mythology whatsoever, and also is highly obtainable and newbie-friendly. ~ above the whole, Celtic Myths and also Legends is probably the best book ~ above the topic for most total beginners. Click here to watch or purchase Celtic Myths and also Legends at Amazon.
2. Celtic Gods and Heroes by Marie-Louise Sjoestedt
Just around every publication on the Celts the was released after the 1940s cites Marie-Louise Sjoestedt’s Celtic Gods and Heroes frequently, and also with good reason. This publication has was standing the check of time substantial well, and remains the quintessential scholarly arrival to Celtic mythology.
While Sjoestedt go retell a couple of of the most essential tales that Celtic mythology, those story are installed within theoretical discussions the Celtic mythology and religion. The point is not the story themselves, but rather what the stories present us around how the Celts knowledgeable the world and its divine inhabitants. Accordingly, Sjoestedt groups her product according to some of the major themes in Celtic religious beliefs so the those themes deserve to be explored in depth.
Her writing format is an additional one the this book’s major strengths. While intellectually rigorous, the publication is never dry. At times, the native seem come glow top top the page.
And despite its rigor, the publication assumes no prior expertise of that subject.
Highly recommended for anyone who’s searching for a scholarly, theoretical introduction to Celtic mythology and also religion. Click right here to check out or purchase Celtic Gods and also Heroes in ~ Amazon.
3. Celtic Mythology by Proinsias Mac Cana
Proinsias Mac Cana’s Celtic Mythology (hey, ns warned you that these publications all have deceptively generic names) is, prefer Sjoestedt’s Celtic Gods and Heroes, a publication that you’ll uncover referenced over and also over again in the scholarly literature and in the derivative, “me too” introductory books on Celtic mythology. It’s one more one that the landmark functions in this field.
Like Sjoestedt, Mac Cana considers the product conceptually and analytically. When he recounts a story from Celtic mythology, it’s to illustrate a larger point around the Celtic worldview, not to just tell a story. His writing format is outstandingly lucid and also to-the-point, which permits him come convey a very huge amount of information and ideas in a fairly short space. Also like Sjoestedt, he’s most interested in the underlying fads in Celtic mythology and also religion, and doesn’t assume that the leader has any kind of prior knowledge of the Celts.
Mac Cana’s Celtic Mythology and Sjoestedt’s Celtic Gods and Heroes enhance each other really nicely, with distinctions in focus that add to a fuller picture than you’d be able to glean from either book alone. Click right here to see or purchase Celtic Mythology in ~ Amazon.
4. Celtic Heritage: ancient Tradition in Ireland and also Wales by Alwyn and also Brinley Rees
In Celtic Heritage, the Rees brothers administer an in-depth factor to consider of countless of the recurring concepts in Celtic mythology, through a particular eye for the meaning of these motifs and also the positions they inhabited within the framework of Celtic mythology and also religion as a whole.
But the publication focuses on various themes than Sjoestedt or Mac Cana (above) do. It additionally draws generally from later individual traditions from the Celtic lands, especially Wales and also Ireland, and compares them with what we recognize of pre-Christian Celtic religion.
In addition to providing a rich and detailed look at a beautiful and also compelling cosmology and philosophy, the publication is often able to show that echoes that this cosmology and also philosophy have actually resounded powerfully in individual traditions well right into the contemporary era.
While the book doesn’t assume any kind of prior knowledge, it’s certainly useful to have read something favor Sjoestedt or Mac Cana (above) before tackling this one as result of its level that detail. Click right here to check out or to buy Celtic Heritage at Amazon.
5. Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions by H.R. Ellis Davidson
Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson was among the giants that the academic study that the mythology and religion the the Norse and also other german peoples. Most of her books, such together Gods and also Myths of north Europe and The Lost ideas of north Europe, were created for a general audience, and also they’ve delighted, inspired, and also stimulated scholars and also laypeople alike for many decades.
Toward the finish of her an extremely productive life, she turn her attention to the mythology and also religion of one of the german peoples’ neighbors, the Celts. Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe was her highest achievement during this period.
The publication compares the mythology and religion the the Celts to that of the Norse and other germanic peoples, illustrating plenty of of the an effective and compelling commonalities between the two traditions. This method is particularly important since the sources of our understanding of the Celts and also Germanic peoples are few in number and also written at a late date, commonly by people who had currently converted to Christianity. No one of them provide anything close come a full or considerable picture, but every one of them have hints to contribute.
What Ellis Davidson did in this publication is assemble those clues and administer as close come a complete or comprehensive snapshot of pre-Christian northern European religion as she could. The truth that she drew on both Celtic and Germanic sources permitted her to type and current a fuller snapshot than would have been feasible to by illustration on the product of either one of those 2 closely-related heritages alone.
Like the other publications on this list, no prior expertise on the reader’s component is assumed.
Highly recommended because that anyone who’s interested in either Celtic or Norse/Germanic mythology, and for those who are interested in both, this book is just indispensable. Click below to see or purchase Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe at Amazon.
6. Early ireland Myths and also Sagas analyzed by Jeffrey Gantz
Now we concerned the major sources ~ above Celtic mythology native the old and medieval civilizations – in English translation, of course. Due to the fact that the single greatest source of our current knowledge that Celtic mythology and religion originates from Old irish literary works, any type of list of primary sources on the Celts need to start with those irish pieces. (For those of you who are acquainted with Norse/Germanic mythology and also religion, irish literary resources occupy about the same position with regards come the mythology and religion that the Celts as carry out the icelandic literary resources with regards to the mythology and also religion the the pre-Christian german peoples.)
Early irish Myths and also Sagas is one anthology of numerous of the most important of this texts, and it’s the perfect place for someone brand-new to Old Irish literary works to start. These room epic story of adventure, heroism, romance, mystery, and magic – greatly entertaining and moving and educational. Click right here to check out or purchase Early ireland Myths and Sagas at Amazon.
7. The Tain translated by thomas Kinsella
The Táin Bó Cuailnge (“Cattle Raid of Cooley”) is a prose epic that forms the centerpiece of the so-called “Ulster cycle” the Celtic mythology. It speak the story of the formidable deeds of Cú Chulainn, a son of the god Lugh and perhaps the foremost of every one of the Celtic heroes.
While the tale is largely involved with happenings among humans, several Celtic divinities do appearances at miscellaneous points, and also scholars debate the degree to which plenty of of the human personalities themselves space actually divine beings whose true identities may have been censored through the Christian monks who taped the story. Thomas Kinsella’s translate into is very evocative and full the life and also energy. Click below to see or to buy The Tain at Amazon.
8. The Mabinogion translated by Sioned Davies
The Mabinogion is a repertoire of Welsh story that were composed down in the fourteenth century, however whose beginnings lie in oral legacies from earlier times. Scholars controversy just how old these stories actually are, and also just exactly how much authentic Celtic mythology they contain. Yet the Mabinogion go contain numerous mythological elements, plenty of of i beg your pardon have particular parallels in the surviving documents of the mythology of Ireland and also Gaul. Even if it is one look at those facets as actual pre-Christian survivals, whimsical productions of a later age, or some combination of both, the Mabinogion is a message with i m sorry one need to grapple in creating one’s own views about Celtic mythology and religion. Fortunately, if you’re into medieval romances, the Mabinogion need to be ideal up your alley, anyway.
While the writing format of countless of the other obtainable translations is wooden and awkward, Davies’s is flowing and natural, with no affected loftiness nor impacted casualness. And also while countless editions of the Mabinogion only present select parts that it, this edition presents the work in the entirety. Click below to view or buy The Mabinogion at Amazon.
9. The Celtic Heroic Age edited by man T. Koch and John Carey
Continuing with the main sources, Koch and also Carey’s The Celtic Heroic Age is an anthology of messages from old and medieval writers top top the pre-Christian mythology and religion the the Celts. Few of the writings contained in this volume will certainly be familiar to those who have already read Early ireland Myths and Sagas, The Tain, and the Mabinogion. However, many of the other pieces had here will not be. These incorporate lesser-known yet still highly relevant messages from the Celtic nations themselves, from old inscriptions to middle ages folktales.
But the genuine centerpiece of The Celtic Heroic Age is the writings on the Celts from ancient Greek and Roman authors, i m sorry are among the most far-reaching sources for our current knowledge that the Celts’ world, including, that course, your mythology and also religion. All of the far-ranging classical sources are here, including Julius Caesar, Posidonius, Tacitus, Strabo, and many others. Collecting castle all right here in one volume, along with so many other messages on the Celts, is an accomplishment that will be of an excellent value to any type of serious college student of the Celtic world. Click below to view or to buy The Celtic Heroic Age in ~ Amazon.
10. Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend through Miranda Green
When studying any type of mythology, names and other appropriate nouns deserve to sometimes come and also go together densely and rapidly as in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, for example. Simply as readers of Tolkien have tendency to appreciate his work-related much much better if they’re armed with a dictionary or at least glossary of vital terms in Tolkien’s works, so it is with any type of mythological system. Celtic mythology is definitely no exception in this regard. Those through a dictionary on the topic will make progress much much more quickly and with less frustration, and end up v a more thorough mastery of the subject.
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Miranda Green’s Dictionary the Celtic Myth and also Legend is hands under the ideal such book out there. The various other dictionaries that Celtic mythology top top the market today room all basically just watered down and less comprehensive versions the Green’s book. Where the various other dictionaries market a brief blurb because that each entry, environment-friendly in many situations offers a brief article. And since green is among the leading excavators of the Celtic world today, you have the right to be sure that what you’re analysis is top-notch in regards to its accuracy. Click below to watch or buy Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend in ~ Amazon.
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