Sunday, February 3, 2013

Book Review by Niall Jordan (Mr. Abhainn)


Reviews by Mr. Abhainn (Niall Jordan) on his blog and on Amazon.

Review of Lora O’Brien’s “A Practical Guide to Irish Spirituality – Slí Aon Dhraoi”

A full review will be forth coming as I have some work to continue to prep this blog and organise some other web commitments before returning to Limerick on Tuesday.

The book is “A Practical Guide to Irish Spirituality Slí Aon Dhraoí” by Lora O’Brien, it is published by Wolfpack and is available HERE. The premise of the book is an interactive workbook style that the reader diaries their experiences of working with the exercises. O’Brien has included a variety of questions to help propel the reader in their own journey through their relationship to the the world around them.

It opens with, “You don’t have to be Pagan, or New Age, or Magical, or Spiritual, to read this book. You don’t even have to be Irish. To get the full benefit, you do have to be open minded, willing to learn something about yourself, about Ireland, and maybe even about your place in this land”, a bold claim to make but amongst those of us who have attempted to work with the Irish Traditions makes a little more sense. Simply put we are talking about Irish Traditions, plural, and so from the perspective of the modern seeker, or cuardóir to borrow from O’Brien’s first book, Irish Witchcraft; the exercises in the book don’t merely describe the semiotic and symbolic relationship we have with our spirituality but brings the reader on a journey throughout it with meditations beautifully crafted.

It is packed full of thinking points and questions, many of which you will answer about yourself, offering many personal, unexpected and wonderful insights as well as the ones provided in the book by the Author.

Amazon Review - 5 Stars!


While I'm one rarely drawn to write reviews for books I find myself called into a stark realisation that few people have offered one on this latest offering from Lora O'Brien. What makes this even harder to rectify in my own mind is that O'Brien is no stranger to writing having written 'Irish Witchcraft by an Irish Witch'. I will endeavour to keep my praise of this book to the book itself but I feel that I ought to explain myself as well. I know Lora O'Brien from around the Irish Neopagan scene, indeed she guided those of us lucky enough to attend her talk at Feile Draiochta through a meditation which was the first time I've seen a room en masse drawn into a meditation so deeply and part of that I chalk down to O'Brien's experience but the rest is the terrain in which she coaxed us all down was Irish (see did have a point relating to the book!).

Whether one is Irish by choice or by birth, defining "Irishness" is problematic. We're a nation built on generations of trade, invasion and settlement. As an island nation its impossible for any of us to be "pure" Irish and honestly pure Irishness has a mindset that is open to all - which Lora does in her book. Rather that closing off Irish Spirituality to a select few she opens the process to any and all spiritualities looking to connect on the level of the land.

To aid the reader O'Brien has inserted an experiential level to her work through allowing the reader to record their own experiences and prioritise them. This is a strong psychological and sociological perspective to the book without being cold while being self-reflective. Some of the exercises allow us as localised people living in a globalised community to learn to use resources at our fingertips i.e. stories from family members, learning local history, etc. The clever way(s) in which O'Brien coaxes the reader to reflect on these encounters is also of huge import to the reading of this book as a standing ovation, metaphorically speaking, to the Echtra and Immrama (the latter moreso) of Irish heritage.

Without giving too much away I wanted to offer what I enjoyed about this book was its flow. Lora O'Brien doesn't attempt to over intellectualise the whole process nor does she offer a cheap sugar rush to fulfil your senses only while reading. If one heeds the author's advice and journals the process the founding steps for a strong and test-worthy [I mean test-worthy not trust-worthy] spirituality will be there. While I loved Lora's first book this one shows how much there is to learn about Irishness and the Irish psyche throughout the ages and gives the reader a more honest sense of that history.

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