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Book Review: Pagan Portals: Gods and Goddesses of Wales


Title: Pagan Portals: Gods and Goddesses of Wales: A Practical Introduction to Welsh Deities and Their Stories

Publisher: Moon Books

Author: Halo Quin

Pages: 120pp

Price: $10.95 (paperback)

Release Date: 1 July 2019

Rhiannon. Pryderi. Pwyll. Arianrhod. Taliesin. Ceridwen. Annwn. In this brief -- but informative -- primer, Quin explores the primary texts which preserved the tales of the Welsh Gods and Goddesses; analyzes what we can learn about the Deities from these texts; and offers suggestions for meditation, journeywork, and offerings in their honor.

The text is divided into three sections. The first discusses The Mabinogion, how it came to us, and what people should be aware of while reading it. That text, Quin notes, was written down during the Christian Middle Ages, and is not a "pure" polytheist text. Additionally, she discusses the definitions of God, demi-god, and apotheosis, and how the exact nature of these Welsh beings is difficult to pin down; the relationships that we build with them are more important than the labels we apply to them.

The second section introduces the reader to the Deities and their myths, and offers example of the Deities' attributes, ideas for offerings, and a guided meditation. In the chapter on Rhiannon, for example, Quin retells the story of her meeting with Pwyll, their marriage, the loss of their son, and her unjust punishment; followed by a discussion of Rhiannon's nature as queen and equine Deity, and her links to travel, the Otherworld, justice, and motherhood.

The final section offers suggestions for how to build a relationship with the Deities, a helpful pronunciation guide, a quick synopsis of The Mabinogion, a glossary, and suggested further reading.

Like other Pagan Portals titles, Gods and Goddesses of Wales is meant to be an introductory text. It's perfect for those who are just starting down their path or who, like me, have a broad interest in polytheism and just want to know a bit about another tradition. While Quin points out that her interpretations of the Deities are entirely her own, I found them quite appealing; she showed me an entirely new way of understanding them. Plus, the recommended reading list helpfully points me in the direction of other reliable resources, if I should ever choose to move from "interested in" to "devoted to."

Recommended for every polytheist's library, but especially those who are feeling a tug towards the Welsh Deities and want to make sure this is the tradition for them.

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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


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