Book Review: The Flowering Rod
The Flowering Rod: Men and Their Role in Paganism
Megalithica Books (January 30, 2009)
Much discussion still comes from the role of women in neopaganism, and the fact that they have a voice which is still denied in many monotheistic traditions. Because of this, there is a more prevalent focus on women’s mysteries, while mysteries for men are largely absent from the conversation. Kenny Klein seeks to start adjusting that balance with his book The Flowering Rod, which was originally released in 1993.
The rituals included in the book cover the eight sabbats of the Wiccan wheel of the year. The rituals work with a variety of myths, from the Oak and Holly kings to Persephone’s descent in the underworld. Each follow a standard Wiccan format, but especially focus on the divine male. The rituals also encourage men to think about their roles in life and how they interact with the world. Emphasis is placed on those male qualities which do not fall in the limited ideas of what is “manly” behavior. For this, the book is a great reminder to men of what they can be. They are not limited to what society tells them is their role and what makes them real men. We need to encourage this mindset much more and make it more visible. For this, the book is a good tool.
Unfortunately, the spirit of the book for me was greatly soured by several points of inaccurate information. Klein spends a good deal of the first part of the book on the idea that the original peoples of Europe were all egalitarian and that the Indo-European invasion forced patriarchy on the once peaceful folk. Further, statements such a Tyr being the original master of the runes and Odin usurping that position, and that the Goddess Ostara was in fact Ishtar (I doubt Bede would have been familiar with Sumerian mythology) made me balk and put down the book for a while because I was so put off by such blatant errors. Then there is the rehash of the idea that nine million people were executed during the Inquisition, a number greatly overinflated and now the mark of very bad research. Apparently, Klein could update his book to include mention of Magical Judaism by Jennifer Hunter (published in 2006) but not to correct this falsehood. The claim that a British tradition of a Seven Year King, decided on by sports competitions, is the predecessor of the Olympics finally put me over the edge. When such basic history is tossed to the wayside, I have to wonder at the accuracy of the Welsh mythology he uses to make his points throughout the book.
I think that gender mysteries should make a comeback and support those who are developing men’s and women’s mysteries. This can be done without revisionist history. Take a look at the book if you are interested in the topic, but do keep a salt cellar nearby.
Two out of five stars.
©2010 by Soli.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.