Artio and Artaois is one of the most important books written this year; the reason for this being the scarcity of material, written or otherwise, about the elusive Celtic bear gods. As Anderson explains in detail, he had to go on quite a pilgrimage to see the one and only statue of Artio…
The book fits perfectly as part of Moon Books Pagan Portal series of short introductory books, which, in my case at least, often leave the reader with a thirst for more. The author, Andrew Anderson, also penned the excellent and very well received Ritual of Writing, again available through Moon Books and one of my ‘go to’ books when I seek inspiration and journaling advice.
Using as much physical evidence as he could find, (i.e., not much,) Andrew takes us on a very personal journey of devotion into the heartland of Europe and the origins of arctolatry in the Celtic tradition. The journey led him to Bern (Switzerland) and the chance to visit the aforementioned statue of Artio in the Bern Museum. Following this, Andrew takes the reader on an arctolatry world tour examining many cultures for evidence of bear love – from the highlands of Scotland and the legendary Tintagel castle in Cornwall, to Finland and the Kalevala, to Calisto and Artemis in Greek Mythology. Andrews weaves together some interesting and unusual sources, such as Disney films and star gazing, alongside more traditional sources such as archaeology and the somewhat scant historical evidence. Throughout the book, Andrew interviews various artists who feature bears in their work, not forgetting the infamous Bear Tribe who are responsible for the resurgence of interest in the midwinter Bear Feast in the UK. The section on honouring Artio and Artaois includes information on creating your own rituals and suggestions for making a bear feast to show your devotion; a useful source for future worshipping.
When the news of this new book, along with its very special subject, was released, there was considerable anxious anticipation from the bear loving community. After reading Artio and Artaois, I don’t believe anyone will be disappointed and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to everyone!
Book Details: Andrew Anderson. Artio and Artaois. Moon Books (25 Jun. 2021). ISBN: 978-1789044621
Review Details: Artio and Artaois was reviewed by Thea Prothero for Indie Shaman magazine and this review was published in Issue 50.
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