I've been reading and reviewing for long enough that I'm rarely surprised by a topic (and often genuinely pleased when the author give me a new line of thinking). Andrew Anderson’s Artio and Artaois – A Journey Toward the Celtic Bear Gods was a total surprise an an entirely good way.
There are five chapters, typical of the Pagan portals series which are more about bite-sized looks at topics rather than in-depth explorations. The first looks at Bear (as deity) throughout Europe, the second focuses on Britain, and the third widens to include the world. I found chapter four, in which Anderson looks at Bear in our current culture -- think about such luminaries as Pooh, Iorek Byrnison (His Dark Materials), and Mor'du (Brave) -- especially enlightening. The final chapter focuses on how one might honor Bear in one's spiritual practice, another excellent chapter. Here we are offered dates for sacred celebration based on aligning the Wheel and the Year with a typical bear's hibernation cycle. There is an excellent bibliography and resource section, something oft-overlooked.
While the foundation is classic UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis) the author does a very good job of tracing their quest through many countries and sources. Many of us feel a strong connection to a Deity about whom little is known other than a name, a gender, and (or!) a place where they were worshiped. Such is the case for Bear deities, and the author's search can serve as a kind of model for discovering more about one's chosen deity.
~review by Lisa McSherry
Author: Andrew Anderson
Moon Books 2021
pp. 120, $12