Book Review: The Crane Bag by Joanna Van Der Hoeven

A Druid can work with nothing more than his mind, if necessary. That said, tools can help us to focus that intention more clearly, and assist us in ritual simply by being physically present. – Joanna Van Der Hoeven

It’s easy for new Pagans to fall in love with the exhilaration of finding all their new ritual tools. Witchy shops online and IRL flourish when newbies come flocking to their doors. Yet, we hear over and over again that you don’t NEED tools to practice magic or be a Pagan. Those who follow Druidry hear this even more. Most “newbie” books on Druidry will avoid any long winded chapters on tools altogether. Druids and all Pagans still rush to explore what tools they can use because they are just that, tools. Tools help us work more efficiently and make our practices exciting. The Crane Bag by Joanna Van Der Hoeven quickly gets to the meat of what tools a Druid might make/acquire without loosing sight of the important tenant that tools are not NEEDED for any practice.

Like other Pagan Portals by Moon Books, we get a small easy to read guide in The Crane Bag. The author begins by explaining the relevancy of a Crane Bag to Druidry and how it might be used in practice. The bulk of the book goes into detail about the different tools a Druid uses: silver branch, staff, cauldron, drum, fetishes, sickly, robes, altars, fires, and incense. Each tool gets a bit of historical explanation followed by modern examples. I love how brief each section is without sacrificing the important details. I learned something new in this chapter and had other ideas reinforced.

The second half of the book goes into details about Ritual in Druidry. For those who do not use a guide provided by an Druid Order, this primer on ritual will be incredibly useful. Examples are given for each section of ritual and also a short description of why it is included in Druid ritual. The focus on ritual is another way to reinforce the idea that Druids don’t need tool, that the intention and process is more important. It’s also good to see how tools might be used in a ritual context. They aren’t just meant to be pretty things that sit on a shelf!

Finally, there is a brief chapter on altered states. It ties in well with the conversations about ritual in the chapter before and again brings the reader back to intention. Obviously, this chapter in particular could be much longer. Whole books have been written on the topic. This merely stands as an introduction to the topic and gets the newbie started on the right track.

This is a fantastic introduction to Druidry Tools and Rituals perfect for the beginner. I’d also suggest teachers grabbing a copy to lend out to their students. It takes such a short time to read you are unlikely to loose it 😉

Can we also just give Moon Books a round of applause for this awesome series Pagan Portals? Finally, something that gets to the meat of topics while not dragging readers down with too much content. They always leave room for the reader to go out and practice, do, and experience!

If you’d enjoy reading more about my Magical Tools check out the following posts/videos.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Crane Bag by Joanna Van Der Hoeven

  1. Great review of a great book. Joanna is one of my teachers at Druid College UK, and I love her grounded descriptions of what Druidry is and how to practice it. While it is of course true that Druids don’t need to use tools they are nice to have, especially if you can find/make your own.


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