Book Review: The Path of Druidry by Penny Billington
I have been waiting a long time to write this review. I wanted to make sure that I gave this book a thorough write up as it is one that I think most Druids should have on their reference shelf. The Path of Druidry by Penny Billington is one of the best introductions to Druidry out there in book format, and I’m thrilled to finally share it with you!
Penny Billington is a notable celebrant of OBOD and has been the editor for the Order’s magazine Touchstone (which I’ll be honest is not my favorite thing). She has published other works as well. What I love about this author is she has a style filled with flowy descriptions that easily evoke the mysteries one finds in Paganism while being direct and concise. You don’t get stuck in all the pretty images, although there are plenty of beautiful meditations. There is meat to her writing and one can really chew on it!
This book directs readers through a comprehensive look at the basics of Druidry. There are chapters on history, elements, seasonal celebrations, the different classes of Druidry, divination, and much more. Each chapter also includes visualizations, study breaks, meditation, and tales from the Mabinogion. The book has a similar feel as the OBOD Bardic grade course but is distinct in it’s tone. Topics are covered in depth for a beginner book and offer something for even the most seasoned practitioner.
As a speedy reader there is one element that really frustrates me in this book. No matter how many times I read The Path of Druidry I cannot get used to how frequent the study breaks are. The little meditations or visualizations that break the “lesson” part of the chapters up is a nice way to ensure that readers are practicing and not just reading. This is a grand idea. However, they come up so often and quickly that I feel at times I’m not getting any reading done! I think this really boils down to how fast I read, but speed readers should be aware of this before diving in.
A feature that I do love is the ending to the chapters. Using the Awen symbol, the author speaks on the three rays of study & practice: the nature ray, the knowledge ray, and the devotional ray. Each ray has a short, focused section at the end of a chapter illustrating how this aspect of Druidry is found in the chapter. For example, chapter six is called “Co-Habitees of the Natural World: Teachers and Totems”. It’s all about working with animals. The devotional ray at the end gives concrete ways a practitioner can use animals in their work. Ideas include starting a wormery, compost heap or become involved in local wildlife issues. The knowledge ray encourages readers to research folklore and myths for the symbolic meanings of local wildlife. It also includes a long visualization on connecting to totem animals. The nature ray speaks of choosing an animal and getting to know that animals perspective by looking at the world at its eye level or walking the neighborhood at the same time the animal is active. These are all such wonderful, active ways of approaching the topic at hand and give lots of space for practitioners to expand their study in what ever way works best for them.
This beautiful and easy book makes learning about Druidry and strengthening your practice a true joy. I hope that everyone interested in Druidry has the chance to read The Path of Druidry by Penny Billington if not add it to their personal collections!