Penny Billington has written a warm, accessible and wise book, based on her own extensive experience in Druidry and ritual magic. The emphasis here is on practical ways of being a Druid by doing what Druids do, and whenever necessary and appropriate, adapting the exercises she gives to one's own circumstances and capacities. Of course, no book can replace doing the work at hand, whether it's learning basic chords and fingerings as a guitarist, mastering the forms and patterns of a foreign language, or the art and science of breadmaking and brewing.
But the author offers a great deal. As an active and longtime member of OBOD (the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids), and a student of the teaching of Dion Fortune (founder of Society for Inner Light, and one of the major figures in the authentic occult and magical tradition issuing from the U.K.), Billington draws on these streams, while shaping a coherent and profound entrance to Druidry. As she notes, you can walk the solitary path, or join a Druid organization. But making use of texts like this one can be a useful middle way. The book, as the author notes, is consciously in step with contemporary practice, annotated so that readers can check and verify sources for themselves, and brim-full of techniques and practices in keeping with the teachings of several modern Druid organizations. The emphasis is on finding one's own Druidry, not conforming to some arbitrary standard of ritual or someone else's "real" Druid ideal.
Much has been made about how the specific practices and beliefs of ancient Druids are forever lost to us since they left no written records, and the references to Druids in the works of classical Greek and Roman authors are mostly based on secondhand accounts and sometimes markedly biased. But what such writers and speakers often forget is the surviving body of legend, myth, teaching and wisdom in Celtic literature. In each chapter, Billington includes an adaptation of a story from the Mabinogion, the Welsh collection of myth, legend and teaching which has wonderful relevance and serves as a storehouse of much Druid teaching. Sustained meditation on these stories will reveal much of use and value to the aspirant after a Druidry that is authentic simply because it is grounded in knowledge and practice.
Billington also develops the idea of the three rays of knowledge, nature and devotion into a coherent and balanced teaching. I especially liked how, throughout the text, she raises at least as many questions as possible answers, and how in each chapter she points us toward finding our own answers, as a good teacher should. Finally, Billington's book is both orderly and spiraling, acknowledging that we return to the foundations, revisit the basics, at many different times in our journey, often to see them as new and fresh because it is we who have moved and changed and grown. Highly recommended.