Pagan Portals - The Crane Bag
A guide to the ritual tools and practices of the Druid tradition.
An introduction to the ritual tools and practices found in the Druid tradition. Held deeply within Celtic mythology, the crane bag is both a symbol of sovereignty, as well as an item containing the ritual tools of the Druid. With the proper use, it can further the Druid in working with the tides of nature, finding his or her own place in the environment, living in balance, harmony and peace. In ritual, these tools and practices can guide one to deeper levels of meaning and understanding within the tradition, helping the Druid on his or her journey through life and towards integration with the natural world.
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This book is part of a series called Pagan Portals, created by the publishers, Moon Books, where leading authors and practitioners share their knowledge across the complete Pagan spectrum. Joanna van der Hoeven is a Druid and a writer, amongst other creative pursuits, who trained with Emma Restall Orr and the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. She lives in Suffolk where she works as a Druid priestess for her community. She is also a co-founder of Druid College UK where she tutors. This short book (under 100 pages) initially seems pretty specific but actually presents an easy to grasp overview of Druidic life, especially concerning rituals. It is written in a practical, straightforward style which quickly demystifies not only what ritualistic tools can be used by Druids, but also why and how they are used. After a brief introduction there is a short, mythical story, which explains how the crane bag came to be and how it got its name. The bag itself is a container for the Druid’s ritualistic tools, but is also an expression of the soul of the Druid and, when used in ritual, connects the physical with the spiritual. Then, after a section on the importance of ritual, the author presents the two main chapters which make up the bulk of the book: The Druid’s Tools (covering items such as the staff, cauldron and drum, but also robes, altars, candles and more) and Druid Ritual Elements (covering the main parts of many rituals such as the call for peace, casting the circle and closing the ritual). It is a highly practical book in that it describes how to obtain or make the crane bag itself as well as all the tools it can contain. The section on ritual elements contains many phrases and sayings that can be used in practice, altogether presenting a do-it-yourself ritual kit which will be especially useful for those who wish to follow these practices solo rather than as part of a group. Finally there is a chapter on how altered states can be achieved using techniques such as meditation, drumming or chanting. Although this guide would prove an excellent introduction for those starting to explore the Druid Way, it will also be of interest to anyone following a path in green spirituality or any form of paganism. The author’s deep connection with the land comes across in the way she describes the rituals and how they can be performed outdoors (ideally in a wild place though this is not at all necessary). In fact there is much in common with the way we worship and respect Nature within GreenSpirit, and it is clear how many of our own rituals and practices have Druidic roots. ~ Green Spirit magazine, November 2017
A new book by Ms van der Hoeven is always something to look forward to, and The Crane Bag does not disappoint. Part of the Moon Books Pagan Portals series of short introductory texts, the Crane Bag is a guide to use of ritual tools within Druid practice. I wont give too much away, but the Crane Bag is a significant symbol within Celtic Mythology, created used by the sea god Manannan to hold all the great treasures of the land - similarly a Druid could create a special bag to hold ritual tools. Joanna's clear and concise writing style makes the book both engaging and informative. Her suggestions of both the rituals elements and suggestions of specific tools are both sensible and wise. I particularly liked the meditation examples and guidance on altered states.The illustrations are also worth a mention. I highly recommend this book, as it will appeal to both novice and seasoned practitioner. ~ Vate Pathfollower, Amazon
The Crane Bag, Joanna van der Hoeven’s forthcoming book*, offers an introduction to the ritual tools and practices found in the Druid tradition. It achieves this briefly, simply and with a light touch – as books in the Pagan Portals series are designed to do. Yet it much more than a tick box guide. It provides context and meaning, showing the modern evolution of the Druid tradition itself. I found The Crane Bag a very useful contribution to its topic and highly recommend it. ~ James Nicholl, https://contemplativeinquiry.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/book-review-the-crane-bag/
On the day of the Summer Solstice I received a lovely and unexpected present - a copy of the book Pagan Portals - The Crane Bag: A Druid's Guide to Ritual Tools and Practices. It really cheered me up because I had not been able to spend the solstice celebrating. On the solstice eve I had had to go the dentist to get a crown put on tooth I'd managed to break and on the longest day itself I had been working in an office all day. To come home and find The Crane Bag on my doorstep was a reminder that the best gifts can be totally unexpected. Pagan Portals - The Crane Bag is by Joanna van der Hoeven, whose previous books on Druidry include The Awen Alone: Walking the Path of the Solitary Druid, which is deservedly a best-seller. Her new book, which is officially launched in July, focuses on the practical tools and rituals of Druidry. The crane bag is a theme that runs through Celtic mythology - created to honour and remember the tragic tale of a woman who was turned into a crane by magic, it was said to hold the treasures of ancient Ireland. Bags used to hold ritual items as well as herbs and foraged items for spellwork are also often called crane bags by Druids and this book gives all the details. Publisher Moon Books says about The Crane Bag on its website: An introduction to the ritual tools and practices found in the Druid tradition. Held deeply within Celtic mythology, the crane bag is both a symbol of sovereignty, as well as an item containing the ritual tools of the Druid. With the proper use, it can further the Druid in working with the tides of nature, finding his or her own place in the environment, living in balance, harmony and peace. In ritual, these tools and practices can guide one to deeper levels of meaning and understanding within the tradition, helping the Druid on his or her journey through life and towards integration with the natural world. Getting this book has inspired me to make my own crane bag to take with me when I am out and about. I'm always filling my pockets with things I find for my altar or for the mandalas I've been creating from flowers each month this year. A crane bag will not only be a better place to put them, it will make my foraging seem more a part of a traditional spiritual practice. ~ Lucya Starza, A Bad Witch's Blog, http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2017/06/review-crane-bag-druids-guide.html
Joanna van der Hoeven is a practicing Druid and the cofounder of Druid College UK. In "Pagan Portals: The Crane Bag: A Druid's Guide to Ritual Tools and Practices" she draws upon her years of experience and expertise to write a truly 'user friendly' introduction to the ritual tools and practices found in the Druid tradition. Held deeply within Celtic mythology, the crane bag is both a symbol of sovereignty, as well as an item containing the ritual tools of the Druid. With the proper use, it can further the Druid in working with the tides of nature, finding his or her own place in the environment, living in balance, harmony and peace. In ritual, these tools and practices can guide one to deeper levels of meaning and understanding within the tradition, helping the Druid on his or her journey through life and towards integration with the natural world. Impressively informed and informative, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Pagan Portals: The Crane Bag" is especially recommended for the novice student of Druidic Lore and would prove to be an enduringly popular and appreciated addition to personal, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Druidic Lore that "Pagan Portals: The Crane Bag" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.61). ~ Midwest Book Reviews
I read this slim volume on a two-hour ferry crossing between Dover and Dunkirk! This morning I woke up (in our house set in the forest in Sweden) to the call of two cranes in the field in front of our house. It seems that today is the day for writing my review of this book. The cranes themselves say so! This book is not actually about cranes though it does start with a Celtic crane myth. It is really a brief introduction to ritual tools and practices from the Druid tradition. “Held deeply within Celtic mythology, the crane bag is both a symbol of sovereignty, as well as an item containing the ritual tools of the Druid. With proper use, it can further the Druid in working with the tides of nature, finding his or her own place in the environment. Living in balance, harmony and peace” (- From the back cover). This is a useful book for complete beginners taking their first steps in exploring Druidry. It will help you find out if this tradition is for you or not. If you want to delve deeper there are other books on the market (some by this same author but also by other authors) and if not, there is no harm done as this is a small and affordable book. The author takes us through all the basics, from “What is ritual?” to why we may choose to carry staff and drum, as well as a bowl, knife, candles and incense in our crane bag. Having described the tools she takes us through the elements of Druid ritual: the Call for Peace, Casting the Circle, honouring the Spirits of Place and Three Worlds, the directions and ancestors and so forth. I like the way she emphasizes the need to source our equipment in an environmentally conscious and sound way. She points out that a number of items can often be found in charity shops ( recycling is always preferable to using Mother Earth’s precious resources to make new items). She also explains how making tools for others is a sacred art for craftspeople (like drum makers). As a teacher of sacred art I agree completely! This makes great summer reading for anyone keen to know a little bit more about Druids and their craft. ~ Imelda Almqvist, July 2017, PaganPages.org
A great introduction to the tools and rituals often used by those not only following a druid or pagan path but by spiritual traditions worldwide. Although based around the Celtic myth of The Crane bag it touches on a vast number of subjects and is full of tips and tricks that can be applied to help deepen ones connection to the natural world. Written in simple clear language, I found it to be an easy read. It flows nicely from page to page, from chapter to chapter. Although containing lots of information it doesn’t weigh the reader down with too many details but encourages one to develop their own path. A great starter book to enliven and enrich any spiritual practice whilst also containing that extra bit of information to inspire the more advanced practitioner into trying new ideas. ~ Julia H, Amazon
Just finished this compact tome today.I can thoroughly reccommend it! "Small,but perfectly formed" springs to mind. This is a great primer for any newcomer to a Pagan practice from the British Isles,you don't need to be a Druid to find it relevant.Whilst we don't have a definitive system followed by all here historically this is a good insight into Druidic/Celtic practice that I think works.The "Crane Bag" of the title,as is indicated in the text,is very similar to the "medicine bag/pouch" that occurs in First Nation American shamanistic practice,which is what many would recognise,but the idea was common to many early practices as a connection to place,deity & spirits of place. I especially liked chapter five, the "Altered States" section. All in all the book gives a nice,simple way to honour the deities that is sympathetic to these Isles & doesn't get bogged down with too much ceremony & comes across as honest & heartfelt. If you want to perform ritual in a simple,holistic & approachable manner this is the book for you! ~ Gothmother, Amazon
Storytelling and practicality combine to guide the reader through the creation and uses of ritual tools. Joanna is clearly inspired by the ancient tales and offers useful insights and ethical understanding to ground old teachings in a contemporary setting. A clear passion for the Land permeates the book and will inspire many readers to deepen their links to their own local landscapes. The ritual format moves beyond the Wiccan styles familiar in so many other books, to consider practices rooted in myth and Insular Celtic culture. Whilst built on solid scholarship, this book is accessibly written and engaging, a definite bonus to the bookshelves of those starting out in Druidry as well as experienced walkers wanting to revise and reconsider their journeys. ~ Robin Herne, Course Leader, Religious Studies and Ethics, University Campus Suffolk and author of Old Gods, New Druids
Concise, precise and, despite its brevity, comprehensive. Indeed, just like a true Crane Bag, this book contains all you need plus that little bit extra. Its open and friendly style makes it an easy read and it gets directly to the point. But don’t be deceived by that into thinking it is superficial. Far from it. A wonderful little tome that provides the perfect start for a lifelong practical exploration of an essential part of the Druid Way. ~ Graeme K Talboys, author of The Path Through the Forest: A Druid Guidebook, Way of the Druid and Arianrhod's Dance
The Crane Bag is a nice little introduction to a very English style of “Druidry” (Druidism) which is in essence nature worship. In it the author shares her passion for the land and shows how to do simple rituals upon it. She also shares ways to cultivate respect for the Earth and all her creatures. Like Joanna I always do my Druid rites out of doors and in this book I find a kindred spirit. ~ Ellen Evert Hopman, author of A Legacy of Druids – Conversations With Druids From Britain, the USA and Canada, Past and Present