I finished Practical Magic in the Northern Tradition by Nigel Pennick this evening. I was really excited about this book at first. I really was. As stated in an enthusiastic post when I received it in the mail, I really liked the book he coauthored with Prudence Jones. I had high expectations; expectations that, past that visually offensive cover, I would learn so much.
Nope. Not really… What I thought was a contextual introduction turned into the entire book. Had I not already read so much about Pagan holidays, symbols, tools, etc, etc, etc, this book would have been wonderful. Now, I did learn some new things, but they were kind of trivial and/or not culturally specific. Everything else was subject matter presented in the above linked A History of Pagan Europe.
Pennick put most of his focus on Asatru despite the book’s supposed focus on all of Northern Europe. It was Odin this, Thor that… This will be very helpful when comparing Druidism to Asatru, but I didn’t learn anything knew about Celtic tradition. Pennick’s often eclectic approach left me baffled and/or frustrated. He referred to Brighid, the Goddess, as a virgin even though she has a son in the Invasion myths. He even Wiccanized her with the maiden, mother, and crone/hag deal. That just isn’t the case in Irish lore.
In the end, the book was kind of boring and, in general, a waste of time for me to read.