The Healing Power of Celtic Plants

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CalonDdraig's picture

Author: Angela Paine

Publisher: O Books

ISBN Number: 1905047622

Publication Date: 19 Oct 2006

Reviewed by: CalonDdraig


It's always hard to be objective about a book that means a lot to you, as indeed this book does mean a lot to myself. So when I was asked to write this review, I had to bear several things in mind: Ease of use and understanding for the average person, medical and scientific accuracy, and as this book deals with Celtic tradition and history pertaining to the Druids; a correct grasp of Celtic history and mythology. Hopefully I can paint an accurate picture of the book and draw attention to its strengths and its weaknesses.

The first thing to state about this book is that it is accessible. There are short chapters on 25 native British plants that are safe for the average person to use (provided the advice of the book is followed) and are easy to obtain or grow. The plants are listed by common name, which will be a boon to most people who aren't keen gardeners or herbalists, however the Latin binomial name and family are included for ease of identifying the herb in question. Each chapter is divided into sections, providing all the information needed to prepare and use the plant as a simple medicine. Also present is historical information, interesting facts about the plant being discussed and a small section on the active principles of the plant for those of a scientific mind. (It is here that the author shows her colours as a PhD graduate of Medicinal Plant Chemistry). Also of note is a short section at the back of each chapterlet is a section on Research that has been performed on the plant's efficacy. The format of this information is easy to digest and not complicated to understand, however the more inquiring will apriciate the full references and bibliography at the back of the book. 

The book is written with an ethnobotanical slant, and references to other indigenous cultures provides some of the proposal for how the Celts may have used the plants mentioned. Be warned however that the book does "only" cover 25 herbs, and if you intend to take this slightly deeper, another Herbal with slightly more variety and range will be essential. This is a good starter, but you may need more.

From the point of view of a herbalist suggesting a book to those of a Celtic or Druidic mind who would like to know more about Herbal Medicine, this book is a gem that will inspire and hearten; furthermore will convince people that herbal medicine does indeed have a place in modern healthcare while connecting it to its ancient roots. 

On the point of this text as a Druidic/Celtic work, some things are lacking. Several dates of fire festivals are several days out, if you believe the Celts had a strictly accurate calendar that is. There are also a few other points that niggle slightly, but in no way detract from the book's value as a starter family herbal. Robert Graves' "The White Goddess" is referenced a little too much for balance, but again that's only a niggle. The "Celtic Tree Alphabet" and Celtic Moon names are used, so this work could be said to have a neopagan bent. The Physicians of Myddfai are also quoted regularly, and this attention to Wales' medical tradition must be commended.

In total, I'd give this book 8/10 and recommend it.

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cuardai's picture

I totally and absolutely

I totally and absolutely agree.  Thanks for a great review.I'm always a little skeptical of herbal books that have Druid or Celtic in the title so your review is very much appreciated as now I can decide if I want to get it or not and from the points you made, I've got a good idea on that. MayaTosach Eolais Imchomharc.The beginning of knowledge is inquiry.

Eadha Deora's picture

top rate review


Wow, Calon Ddraig! This is one of the best reviews on DD I think!!! Excellent breakdown, a full coverage of each aspect as would be interesting to readers, and a professional, concise and objective writing style. Can you write more reviews for us!?? :D As a review, I'd give you 5 out of 5. We should have a function like on Amazon where you can say 'Yes' or 'No' to whether or not this review was helpful. I'd say 'Yes!!!!' for this one. Thanks!