Well, out of the plethora of poorly-researched (or in some cases, not-researched) books on Druids and the Celts in general out there, Ellis’ work is that of someone who spent a large part of his adult professional life studying, writing and researching Celtic culture and society. As an academician, Ellis had access to resources that the average individual would not, and the writing skills and time to set forth his ideas lucidly and well. He is also a part of the living Celtic culture, through his involvement as International Chairman of the Celtic League, his University studies, plethora of writings, and his time as chairman and vice-president of the London Association for Celtic Education. His awards, honors and prolific writing career – on Celtic studies – are tremendous. This translates to someone whose opinion is a learned one, one that a group such as ADF, can trust, as it based on well-founded research, archaeological findings, and good, old-fashioned critical thinking.
The significance to me? I learned a lot of things, very early on, about Celts and Celtic culture, that cleared up some mythologies and sloppy thinking on my part. I did, however, find certain things unsettling. For instance, the idea that ‘Celtic culture’ has nothing to do with ancestry or bloodline at all, but is strictly linguistic and cultural. Growing up in America, how I connected to my spiritual path was through my ancestors – Scottish Gaels – and I thought of myself as a modern Celt. While it is true that my Grandmother was born and raised in Scotland, and my family came to America in living memory, I was born here in America and raised in American culture, and American English is my native language. Under this strict definition, I’m not a ‘Celt’ or a Gael at all. This leaves me floundering, for I have no identity, culturally, then. Both my Mother and Grandmother are very ‘Scottish’ culturally and raised that way, and it’s difficult to describe, but, I don’t fit in to the American culture all that well. This is an old pain of mine – I belong nowhere, to no one, and have no right to claim any culture, except one I don’t resonate too well with. Since I’m not fluent in Gaelic, I can’t call myself a Gael; since I wasn’t born on Scottish soil I’m not Scottish, but I was born in America so therefore I’m ‘American’. I struggle with this whole issue horribly, and this book did keep reminding me of not having any right to any Gael or Celtic identity, basically through an ‘accident’ of my birth.
I’m not particularly enjoying this book – it’s very dry in some spots, and he spends pages and pages on documenting the various arguments of others, which I find tedious to read. I am, however, appreciative of his expertise and the correcting of my sloppy thinking, so, I am forging ahead. And, yes, I would recommend this book to anyone who really wanted REAL information on the Druids, instead of the fantasy-novel mythology that abounds currently.