Helena Paterson opens her book by briefly discussing Druids, Druidic Astrology, and religion in general; from there she moves briskly on and minimally summarizes creation myths. There is a fascinating, but far-from-the –topic tangent about Atlantis in there as well. Actually, Paterson spends more time and space on the Atlantis theories than on any of the other individual topics which misleads the reader from her central point.
Paterson lumps humanity into four races – Celts, Brits, Greeks and Egyptians. I think this is too limited. Not to mention the fact that it ignores many races, like Asians, Native Americans and Africans. What I did find useful is the included charts, one to correlate the typical zodiac with the Druidic zodiac and one to list out the Druidic signs with the archetypes. These are particularly useful as they provide a quick and easy reference for both systems and what she talks about in the book.
Moving on to the actual zodiac part of her book, she seems very thorough. The initial two pages have a beautiful illustration and a summary of the sign in an easy bulleted format which gives a great quick reference for the reader. After that, each sign offers a tree, letter of Celtic alphabet, dates, planet, gem, flower, archetypal character, quote, illustration, solar symbolism, myths associated with the sign, and astrological significance. The pages are decorated almost like an illuminated text: beautifully illustrated and an aesthetically pleasing presentation of her material. Throughout, Paterson discusses the illustrations she uses and what they symbolize. As well, each aspect is described in several paragraphs, offering insight into past use and present meanings.
While there are some differences, Celtic zodiac is very close to traditional astrology. Paterson's dates are slightly different from the traditional astrology but otherwise she sticks fairly close to traditional astrology. The only basic difference appears to be the Celtic associations she has assigned to the different signs. Oddly, although the subtitle of the book is “How to Interpret Your Moon Sign” she does not provide any way to determine your actual moon sign. Instead we are only given the equivalent of the Sun sign, and can not take into account what our moon sign might be – or how it might influence our interpretation.
At the end of the book there are no correspondence tables or appendices to offer a quick reference for the reader. Instead, Paterson has a standard astrological chart (found at the end of her introduction) but no chart of symbols for the planets or signs. In other words, the reader would need cross reference these symbols in other material.
In defense of her theories, Paterson directs the reader to a variety of Welsh and Irish libraries – making it impossible for the average reader to verify. While she argues for general respect to be given to the Druidic astrology she doesn’t really back up her claims other than to say she has found overwhelming evidence of it. Her claim is passionate, but her reference list is rather short. There is a longer bibliography list, however it includes many books on topics not necessarily related to the lunar cycles.
While her information is good and interesting to read, Celtic Lunar Zodiac appears to be just a revamp of traditional astrology using Celtic symbolism. This is further marred by the unfocused and off topic Introduction. That said, the book itself is beautifully crafted and the symbolism is interesting. This is a good book to use for cross referencing zodiac significance but avoid the introduction and don't expect any original insight into astrology.
~review by Eileen Troemel
author: Helena Paterson
Llewellyn Publications, 1997