THE CELTIC LEGEND OF THE BEYOND
By Anatole Le Braz, translated by Derek Bryce, published by Llanerch Publishers at £6.95. 125pp. ISBN: 1-86143-045-0
Another little gem from Llanerch! The appetite for things "Celtic" is apparently insatiable amongst pagans and "normal" people alike, though most of that interest focuses almost entirely on a small handful of glamorised texts and legends of Goedelic, usually Irish, origin, and the same handful of ideas is peddled ad nauseum by a handful of prolific writers all saying the same thing over and over again - probably because it makes them a lot of money and because their readers are basically spiritual package tourists who expect chips with everthing.
Llanerch, by happy contrast, have a track record of wandering up long-neglected byways and getting off the beaten track with matters of Celtic interest and can be described as something of a cultural "Rough Guide". This present volume, therefore, is a selection of material chosen and newly-translated by Derek Bryce from le Braz's collection of Breton folklore and legend originally published in 1893 and as far as I know this material has been rather difficult to come by in recent years.
The focus is very much "darker" than the usual Celtic stuff, and centres on material connected to death and the dead - the lethal hostility of drowned sailors to those who mock them; the return of the dead to claim the living - whether the surviving friend who "inherits" the dead man's promised bride or to claim the promised bride herself for the grave; of those who encounter the Death Cart (a local variant of the Wild Hunt) and its master Ankou (Death Himself) and who wither and die shortly afterwards (including the story of a man who tried to cadge a lift!); and tales of powerful books of magick kept by village priests which could only be got rid of at the priest's death.
It is, I fear, only a matter of time before someone in California invents "Breton (Faery) Wicca" and "discovers" a Breton Granny from whom she learned all this stuff beside the hearth at her Granny's knee. And so another "ancient and hereditary" "fam-trad" is born....
But seriously folks, this is a very welcome addition to the corpus of material on "Celtic" lore and is such good value that you really ought to have a copy.