Pagan, Shinto & Spiritual Book Reviews March 2016

Pagan, Shinto & Spiritual Book Reviews March 2016 March 28, 2016


This month’s reviews include books on Celtic Paganism, Christo-Paganism, and a very new translation of a very old Shinto text…


Angels and Goddesses: Celtic Christianity and Paganism in Ancient Britain, Mike Howard

Christo-Paganism fascinates me, partly because of my Catholic background and partly because I see parallels between combining Paganism and Christianity and the way Shinto is combined with Buddhism is Japan. I therefore decided to read up on the historical links between the two in Britain in the evocatively titled Angels and Goddesses. In this book, Mike Howard traces the history of Christianity in the British Isles from the Roman era right up to present day, placing particular emphasis on the relationship that early Christians had with pagans. This includes exploring the legends of the Grail, pagan elements in the stories of the saints, and Christian adaptations made to existing pagan community structures and festivals.

Angels and Goddesses presents a mixture of historical fact, hypothesis and mythology, and it isn’t always entirely clear which is which. It is based on quite a few assumptions, especially regarding the Druids since so little is actually known about them. But it’s still an enjoyable and interesting read, giving a good introduction to the historical and legendary links between Christianity and the old Celtic beliefs. I didn’t feel that I really got an idea of what Celtic Christianity is (perhaps because there is no clear answer to this), but there is still some good food for thought. I can imagine it’d also be useful for those thinking of making a pilgrimage to Pagan-Christian sites in Britain and Ireland.

Angels and Goddesses is concise but impressively detailed, written with clear passion. It’s also very accessible, but  I felt that to give it a real polish of authenticity, it could have benefited from some additional structuring, editing to get rid of some of the poor punctuation, spelling and vocabulary choices, and perhaps some pictures (even drawings would do) to help in explaining some of the evidence for Christian-Pagan worship outlined by Howard. But all in all, a pretty solid introduction to some of the historical and mythic basis for Christo-Paganism.

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