Dance Of The Moon: Celebrating The Sacred Cycles of The Earth
paperback, Llewellyn Publications
If you’re looking for a witchy book talking about seasonal festivals, then this title might not be what you want. I’ll admit, given the publisher, and the title, and the cover artwork (which is beautiful!), that was my first assumption about this book’s contents. However, the back blurb tells you a bit more, and gives a hint that this book suffers from two downfalls. First, it tries to give too much information. The book covers the time frame from Paleolithic people all the way to 2012. That’s a lot of centuries to go over, and then when it covers peoples from all over the globe, a 300 page book, including bibliography and appendices is simply not enough page real estate to cover everything. The second failing is that the book seems to take the view of the “good old days”, that we were all better off as agrarian societies worshipping the moon, and how things were so much better back then.
That, of course, leads to the question, better for who, and for what reasons? I think it’s safe to safe to say that no matter what century historians explore, there will be good points and bad points. Some points may even be really good or really bad. Our world is not black and white and never has been. The author, in spite of his academic writing style, which leads you to believe he is simply reciting the facts and giving thoughtful, unbaised analysis, really does have a strong point of view. And it’s one where in a few places, I found myself very uncomfortable.
On Page 81, the author makes the following statement. “The love of laughter and fellowship is nearly universal, in everyone but Spartans, witch burners, the Taliban, and a few others.”
Really? Can the author make this statement with any sort of factual basis. While we cannot look to Hollywood for our facts, I can think of two recent productions where Spartans are shown to enjoy their lives as hard, and as much, as they enjoyed their physical pursuits. Unless you have lived during these times and with these people, I’m afraid you can’t say to know exactly what they are thinking. And the assumption that we do, whether we’re talking about a Spartan’s love for laughter, or some future civilization looking back on our own, is pretty arrogant and says more about the person making the supposition than it does about the people who are being supposed about.
The book is not without merit. It does introduce the reader to cultures and time periods with which the reader may not be familiar. And the table in the back correlating the moons, the zodiac signs, and other information, where probably available elsewhere, is very useful. I think though the reader will need to be prepared to deal with a rather dry and academic prose style, and be aware, as we should always be, of the author’s biases and points of view.
And yeah, I am more than able to admit that I made some guesses myself when I got this book. In some ways, it turned out exactly like I thought it would, going back to the “Good old time” where people worshiped the moon and lived happily ever after, and in others, it was completely, startlingly different. And in the end, I’m not sure I could recommend this book.