This sections includes both books about Arthurian traditions and about British Pagan and magical practices and the source literature upon which the first category of books is based. The Arthurian traditions comprise a variety of paths from Paganism to Esoteric Christianity. Some of these works are cross-referenced in the Celtic Studies section.
Trioedd Ynys Prydein. Cardiff: University of Wales, 1961.
This is one of the most useful books on Welsh literary tradition, folklore, and mythology and a sad reminder of what has been lost over time. The Triads were lists of three connected items (such as characters who all did a certain acts or had a certain characteristic) and, in this case, believed to have been mnemonic devices for bards and storytellers. An example is “The Three Futile Battles of the Island of Britain.”
One of them was the Battle of Goddeu: It was brought about by the cause of the bitch, together with the roebuck and the plover;
The second was the Action of Arfderydd, which was brought about by the cause of the lark’s nest;
And the third was the worst: that was Camlan, which was brought about because of a quarrel between Gwenhwyfar and Gwenhwyfach.
That is why those were called futile: because they were brought about by such a barren cause as that.
The first part of the book is a lengthy discussion of the Medieval manuscripts on which they were written, the forms of the language used and the probable dating of the manuscripts. The second part has each triad in its original Welsh followed by an English translation with notes. There are also several appendices to this section containing related Welsh literature. The third part is a dictionary of personal names found in the triads and what was known about them at the time of writing. Invaluable to students of Welsh mythology or Arthurian legends. (SR)
The Mabinogi, and Other Medieval Welsh Tales. N.P.: University of California Press, 1983.
A well-respected compilation of Welsh medieval literature tranlated into English. It includes the the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, “Culhwch and Olwen,” “Dream of Rhonabwy,” “Lludd and Llevelys” and some of the Gwion Bach/Taliesin literature, along with excellent commentaries. This was the first translation of the Mabinogi I read, and its still one of my favorites. (SR)
The Mabinogion. N.P.: Viking Penguin, 1977.
Another well-respected compilation of Welsh medieval literature tranlated into English. It includes the the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, “Culhwch and Olwen,” “Dream of Rhonabwy,” “Lludd and Llevelys” and the three Welsh Arthurian Romances (but not the Gwion Bach/Taliesin materials). Gantz's translations are somewhat more formal in tone than Patrick Ford’s. Both the Ford translations and the Gantz translation are valuble to the study of Welsh literature and legend. (SR)
The Secret Tradition in Arthurian Legend. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, UK: The Aquarian Press, 1983.
This approaches the Arthurian legends from an esoteric Christian/ceremonial magic/qabalistic viewpoint. I have not read this in a long time, but I remember it as being not too difficult. (SR)
King of the Celts: Arthurian Legends and Celtic Tradition. Rochester. VT: Inner Traditions, 1976, 1977 (trans).
This work explores the Arthurian legends in the context of Celtic literature and folklore. This translation takes work to get through. (SR)
I have many works by John and/or Caitlìn Matthews who are among my spiritual mentors. They work primarily with Irish/British Celtic and Arthurian myth systems. John Matthews seems to have his primary training in Arthurian/Grail traditions, while Caitlìn appears to come from a Irish Pagan tradition.
From a historical and linguistic standpoint, their works have been criticized. However, their goal seems to be the creation of a modern spiritual system using British and Irish Celtic and Arthurian materials as a basis, rather than relating factual history about the Celts or about British and Irish literary history. They are usually emphatic about their purposes and repeatedly state their purposes in their works. (SR)
They have written numerous books separately and together. For a more information see their web site. Some of the most useful for beginners are:
Arthur & the Sovereignty of Britain. London: Arkana, 1989.
________. Celtic Devotional: Daily Prayers and Blessings. New York: Harmony Books, 1996. ISBN 0-517-70413-7.
This is the best book of daily blessings, devotions, prayers and short meditations I have ever used. I’ve used this book on a more or less daily basis and the meditations are the most thoughtful I have ever encountered. I would recommend this book to anyone who had an interest in integrating Celtic spiritual practices in daily life. (DT)
_________. Elements of the Celtic Tradition. Shaftsbury, UK: Element Books, 1989.
_________. Mabon & the Mysteries of Britain: an exploration of the Mabinogion. London: Arkana, 1987.
_________. Singing the Soul Back Home: Shamanism in Daily Life. Shaftsbury, UK: Element Books, 1995.
One of the best books I have ever read dealing with the shamanic journeys, the upper middle and under worlds and the spirit world. The meditations are challenging and moving. (DT) Ditto. (SR)
. Celtic Shamanism. Shaftsbury, UK: Element Books, 1989.
________. Elements of the Grail Tradition. Shaftsbury, UK: Element Books, 1990.
________. Elements of the Arthurian Tradition. Shaftsbury, UK: Element Books, 1989.
________. Gawain, Knight of the Goddess. Wellingborough, UK: Aquarian Press, 1990.
________. Robin Hood - Green Lord of the Wildwood. Glastonbury, Somerset, UK: Gothic Image Publications, 1993. ISBN 0-906362-24-5.
As far as I know this book has not been published in the United States but it can be mail ordered. It is my favorite esoteric look at the Robin Hood myth from the early ballads to morris dancing and Maid Marian. This book also contains fantastic guided meditations steeped in British folklore. However, this book is not to be used as a historical look at the life of Robin Hood. (DT)
The Western Way. London: Arkana, 1985.
An introduction to Western Magical Traditions, both “Native” traditions and “Hermetic” traditions. (SR)
R.J. Stewart also works in these areas especially with the god-form of Merlin, and some of his works are:
The Mystic Life of Merlin. London: Arkana, 1986.
________. The Prophetic Life of Merlin. London: Arkana, 1986.
________. The Way of Merlin. London: Aquarian Press, 1991.
________. Earth Light. Shaftsbury, UK: Element Books, 1992.
Strictly speaking this book and the one cited below are not part of the Arthurian traditions. However, they have interesting and challenging methods of magical study and I have learned much from them. (SR)
________. Power within the Land. Shaftsbury, UK: Element Books, 1992.
________. The Waters of the Gap: Magic, Mythology and the Celtic Heritage. Bath, England: Ashgrove Press Limited. 1989. ISBN 1-85398-012-9.
This book is specifically about the hot springs at Bath in England and explores the history and legends of the site. This is a great guide and source, but Stewart still insists on spreading the “triple mother goddess” and “maiden, mother and crone” myths as opposed to looking at the source information about the Celtic triple goddesses. (DT)
Pagan Celtic Britain: Studies in Iconography and Tradition. London: Constable and Company, LTD, 1992 reprint of 1967 edition.
This is an encyclopedic account of what was known about Pagan Celtic Britain in 1962 and is quite useful if you ignore Dr. Ross’s opinions about the “primitiveness” of Celtic religion. Of course, more anthropological and archaeological studies have since been done since then, so the book is somewhat dated. (SR)