Back in the early 1990s, when I was researching and working out some of my thoughts on what is now called Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism (CR), I wrote a book for our community. Tadgh MacCrossan's The Sacred Cauldron had been released by Llewellyn in 1991, but its focus was Gaulish and I felt that it modeled itself entirely too heavily on Vedic practice, as well as having other issues with the content. It was better than the pseudo-Wiccan "Celtic" material that was being published at the time but, in my mind, only barely.
A Circle of Stones: Journeys and Meditations for Modern Celts was published in 1995, with a Gaelic focus, and derived its material from the extant Irish and Scottish texts. I wasn't trying to provide an all-encompassing answer for the CR community, but I did want to offer an actual practice for people to work with and a few thoughts on expanding that in a more general way. I had a friend do the layout for the book and pasted in the art myself, along with making the cover, with a glue stick and a ruler, as you had to back then if you didn't have a lot of money for a desktop publishing program. I was surprised by very positive reviews and the warm reception my book received upon its release. Even more surprising to me has been its durability over the years. People recommended it to friends and, once my publisher Eschaton closed its doors, people kept looking for it used. I've seen it on Amazon for upwards of $80, which I always thought was a ludicrous amount to charge for a book that originally only cost $10.
Over the years, I've learned a great deal and I've come to feel that Circle of Stones reflects a place I was in nearly twenty years ago. As I've told many people, if I were going to write the book today, it would have been a very different work. I wasn't interested in rewriting it. Every author has to eventually let go of a project, and that time had passed for me a long time ago. I don't want to spend my life rewriting my first book. Yet people continued to request it, so I put it up on my website as a PDF file and it has been selling steadily -- a copy or two a month, usually -- ever since. That, however, was not what a lot of folks wanted.
I understand the desire for something to hold in your hand. Electronic books hold very little appeal for me, and I know it's the same for a lot of other people. Eventually, I was persuaded to reprint Circle of Stones through Immanion/Megalithica, the publishers of my book Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom. I didn't want to rewrite the book, but there were some things that I really could not let pass. I got some help correcting the Gaelic and Irish in the book, added a new preface and new and much improved pronunciation guide, and I hope to have Caera (who did the pronunciation guide) record a sound file of the prayers in the book for those who want it. I did some grammatical and other minor corrections and sent it off.
Yesterday, the second edition of Circle of Stones was released into the wild.
I'm very pleased with the cover art, and feel at least a little better about the content than I did. I consider it more of a historical document, if you will, than a reflection of the majority of my beliefs and practices today. I certainly feel that Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom is a far superior work, but I can understand why people like this one, as it offers some very basic, hands on practices that anyone can do. It's a useful introduction to CR cosmologies. A lot of folks have very fond memories of the first edition.
You can now purchase the second edition of A Circle of Stones from my publisher. It's also available from Amazon. Due to the publication of the new edition, I'll be removing the links for purchasing the PDF of the first edition from my website, The Preserving Shrine and it will no longer be available. I'm very grateful to everyone who has supported me over the years, and who has purchased the book either in its dead tree format, or as a PDF. Without your interest and encouragement, I would not be here now, writing and publishing for our communities.
As most of you are no doubt aware, I'll be going to Ireland (and the Isle of Man, Brittany, and points beyond) this summer on a Brigid pilgrimage through July and August. When I return, I intend to begin working on my next book, which I will be on Brigid and flamekeeping. It's a practice I have been involved with through Daughters of the Flame, maintained by Mael Brigde, since 1993, and through a CR-focused group called Brigid's Irregulars (no current website), which inspired the origin of the liturgy that I use. (There is a button on the sidebar if you would like to make a donation to help with some of my costs after the Ireland portion of the trip.)
Thank you, everyone, for all you have done for me over the years, reading my work and buying my books. I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate it.
Go raibh maith agaibh!