Permanent Publications, 2004, 256 pp
Reviewed by Don Hills
Many of us will know Glennie for her books and pamphlets exhorting us to love, honour and connect with our beautiful Earth – or, as one reviewer has put it, “to touch the sacred and find spiritual regeneration and healing.” In this remarkable book she updates that work with much new material and artwork. With her whole-hearted commitment to celebrating the Earth and its cycles, Glennie delves into the living tradition of our Celtic ancestors and arrives at a magnificent collection of sacred ceremonies based on the eight Celtic festivals: the Summer and Winter Solstices, the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, the four cross-quarter points of Imbolc, Beltain, Lammas and Samhain. However, the celebrations in the collection are not in any way fixed or immutable; for her …they help us to discover more about ourselves and our intrinsic connection to Earth.
Glennie believes we are free to celebrate the festivals in whatever way we choose, and her book is packed with suggested ways to do just this. The first part describes the Wheel of the Year with its links to the basic Elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water (plus, for her, the important Element of Spirit), but she makes it clear that this has no implication of a …hierarchy of spiritual authority. We are each able to …follow our own path and break free of outworn attitudes, damaging dogmas and concepts, and to transform and change as we listen to our inner voice and seek our higher visions.
In the second part of the book, she looks at the nature of ceremony and ritual. For her, each festival is a chance to find yourself as part of the whole and to connect to the moment, to the here and now. You can look back to what you have been doing, feeling and thinking on your spiritual journey, and look forward with an understanding of the Earth’s and one’s own inherent energy, to where we wish to go for the benefit of both. Glennie strongly believes that the decision to enjoy an act of celebration on our own or with friendship groups is down to personal choice. You must work, she says, at the level you feel most comfortable with. And touching your deepest feelings and expressing the sacred will bring with it a connection to the inner core of your being. She has many suggestions about celebrating the Elements, creating outdoor shrines and sacred spaces. She recommends doing a certain amount of pre-planning as it helps to make the ceremony meaningful and special. Creating a seasonal shrine is, for her, a lovely way to help us connect directly with the Earth’s cycle.
By far the longest and richest section of the book is its third part, which contains a detailed description of the eight Celtic festivals. Like the rest of the book, these are beautifully illustrated with her own line drawings Indeed, even a skim through Sacred Earth Celebrations is a sheer delight. It’s impossible in this short review to do justice to the wealth of thought and care that has gone into Glennie’s writing and artwork – uplifting and heart-warming hardly describes it! It’s a source book par excellence for all of us who profess to wear the mantle of green spirituality.