Patricia Monaghan

Poetry, Nature, Culture

Selected Works

Fiction
Nonfiction
A new edition of the definitive guide to dozens of ways to meditate, presented for beginners. Co-authored with yoga expert Eleanor Viereck.
"A dreamy, utterly enchanting walking meditation on Ireland's pagan heart."
--Booklist
An introduction to the history of wine in the Midwest and a guide to current producers.
Poetry
Poems about the sacred Heartland
Seasons as metaphors for women's lives
Poetry and physics dance in this stunning collection
A searing book about the effects of war on veterans and their families.
Edited nonfiction
Three volumes of essays on fascinating divinities from around the world
Encyclopedia
Definitive volume on the myths and legends of the Celtic peoples.
The definitive resource on the world's female deities.
Essays and poems
Selected links to online works
Online reviews of Patricia's work

Works

Alaska By Heart: Recipes for Independence by Sarah Pagen
What happens when an Extremovore cooking show hostess, daughter of an Alaskan marijuana farmer and prophet, turns to politics? Find out in this satirical romp told in the voice of the first woman candidate for president of the American Independence Party!

Meditation: The Complete Guide
There is no doubt that meditation is good for us. In fact, for Westerners who live in the midst of stress and information and sensory overload, meditation is probably crucial to mental and physical health. Yet for many people it is still a mysterious, esoteric practice. Confusion abounds. Do I need to follow a certain religion in order to meditate? Must I believe in God? Do I have to close my eyes and meditate every day for half an hour in order for it to be effective?

Authors Patricia Monaghan and Eleanor Viereck have done a great service in helping readers understand the many forms and effects of meditation. By dividing the book into nine sections--Shamanism, Yoga, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Western Traditions, Creative Meditations, Meditations in Life, and Active Imagination--readers can see the ideology behind the many forms of meditation. Each brief chapter then describes a specific meditation, such as sketching from nature, walking a labyrinth, needlecraft, trance dancing, taking a pilgrimage, and practicing breath awareness. Within every chapter the authors offer specific instructions and suggestions as well as a comprehensive list of resources. Meditation: The Complete Guide is a well-written book that blends comfortable narration with extensive research--a valuable resource for beginners and even old pros. --Gail Hudson

Grace of Ancient Land
A suite of poems celebrating rural life in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin, this chapbook is part of Voices from the American Land, an innovative program aimed at increasing awareness of the diverse and precious landscapes of America.

Seasons of the Witch
From maidenly spring through abundant summer, then to blazing autumn and visionary winter, these poems trace the connections between the seasons of the earth and those of women's lives.

Goddesses in World Culture
This collection of essays by some of the world's most distinguished writers on women's spirituality is an important addition to the scholarship in this area. It is also entertaining for the ordinary reader, filled with myths and descriptions of rituals from around the world. Three volumes cover Asia and Africa; Europe and the eastern Mediterranean; and the Pacific and Americas.

The Encyclopedia of Celtic Myth and Folklore
Celtic peoples were talented storytellers. Like many others, they passed down recollections of history and conveyed religious ideas orally, developing a strong mythological and folkloric tradition through the generations. Christianity brought literacy to the Celts, and converts who became Christian monks wrote down many of the old stories, recording them in several languages, including Irish, Welsh, and Latin. These stories provide a rich, panoramic view of Celtic culture.

The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore is a fascinating reference to the myths and folklore originating from the people of the Celtic lands—Ireland, Scotland, Celtic Britain, Wales, Brittany and central France, Galicia, and the smaller islands where the Celts lived. This accessible book offers a broad overview of the elements that constitute and characterize Celtic mythology and folklore, including figures, deities, events, stories, and places. Concise A-to-Z entries provide brief descriptions of the subjects, emphasizing the original sources of myths and traditions and including bibliographic references.

The encyclopedia is a valuable asset anywhere myths, legends, folklore, and Irish culture and history are popular.

Dancing with Chaos
Review in The Burning Bush, Number 8, Autumn 2002

This collection by Irish-American popet Monaghan uses science, particularly chaos theory, as a metaphor for human relationships. The opener, the aptly titled "In the Beginning", revisits Ovid, order and form imposing itself on the chaos of the cosmos. "[L]et me be the voice of mutability, / the only constant in this world,"writes Monaghan here. The ongoing tensoin between order and chaos informs this collection throughout, as the poet makes the obliquely Ovidian remark in the penultimate poem, "What cannot be controlled will not be" ("Ecstasy"). Yet Monaghan seems to want to embrace chaos just as much as she is aware of its dangers. "Strange Attractor" describes "the accident / That changed everything, the sudden bend / In a previously straight road, the lack, / Suddenly, of directional signs," the way that one unexpected event or decision can send your life onto a new and wholly unpredicted course. But in this instance she writes, "I didn't want / To be safe." Indeed there is no pat ending to this poem: "As the sky went dark and opal, I vanished / Into someplace torn and darned with wind, / Buoyed upon the flood right up to the impact --"Quite often Monaghan employs standard free verse lines to convey her ideas, but in one instance, the poem "Degrees of Freedom," she allows form itself to demonstrate the "infinite // degrees of / freedom," in chaos, as previously confined poetic lines break up all over the page. "Hurricanes in Spacetime," a rather different piece, evokes an ancient quality in this story of the death of time. A few other Monaghan poems also read like short stories.

"The Three-Body Problem" takes its title from 19th-century mathematician Henri Poincare's answer to a "famous problem: how can we calculate the motion of three bodies in movement around each other?" The note continues, "Poincare determined that linear equations -- ones in which actions have linear reactions -- cannot solve such problems. Rather, nonlinear equations, in which actions can generate geometric reactions, are necessary." Monaghan places this principle in the realm of romantic / sexual liaisons: "Two bodies, then a third. / And everything is different after that." It's not quite clear if Monaghan is referring to an actual threesome, rather than a love triangel, but this seems likely given the following stanza:
When the bodies interact, everything

becomes important. Huge changes are caused
by the tiniest gestures: a glance, a whisper,
the touch of fingertips on the inside of a wrist.

In fact, it is her love (sex) poems that come across most strongly, the physicality o pieces like "Desideratum," "Your Mouth" and "Your Eyes, At That Moment" helping to offset the theoretical science that is to be found here generally. It may be that things like dark matter and fractal geometry lie behind the fabric of the universe, but it is "the truth of sex: salmon roiling / in the seas, a cat screaming / in the night, ravens flying wing / to wing, the tearing pain of birth" that we actually experience in our lives (if we're lucky). While Monaghan is at her most honest and her most visceral when she explores such subjects, Dancing with Chaos remains a strong collection read as a whole.

Review by Michael S. Begnal

Homefront
"War poisons life on the home front even half a world away from the battleground, a hidden truth Monaghan reveals with emotional acuity and striking imagery in her strongest collection to date. Writing from the perspective of the children of soldiers in stealthy and incandescent poems in which each word has the weight of a fist, a stone, a bullet, a bomb, she envisions a house full of guns where "even dreams weren't safe." In a mythic vein, Monaghan, a citizen of both America and Ireland with a passion for Celtic culture, writes ravishing balladic poems of Ireland's bloody struggles, capturing the romance and tragedy of rebellion. With verve and mastery, she even retells the story of the legendary seventh-century Irish king, Sweeney, who was driven mad by war. Finally, Monaghan writes arrestingly of the terrible legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and all the questionable wars that followed. Disclosing and haunting, Monaghan's exquisitely restrained, powerfully resonant poems of protest articulate the feelings of many on the home front who keep watch and suffer in silence."
--Donna Seaman, Booklist

The Red-Haired Girl from the Bog: The Landscape of Celtic Myth and Spirit
Ireland: land of rambles, burning peat, dark beer, misdirection, lilting speech, enchanting melodies, green hills, ruddy faces, and goddesses. Goddesses? In Ireland? Like many Irish Americans before her, Pat Monaghan traveled to Ireland for the first time as an adult, seeking her roots. What she found was much more than her physical ancestors. She found spiritual forebears in the legends and landmarks of spirited women: witches, hags, wanton girls, mothers. This book is the story of her journeys, and the story of the journeys the legends have made through time.

Wineries of Wisconsin and Minnesota

"The brave souls who plant new vineyards and start new wineries are making a valuable contribution to renewing the Minnesota and Wisconsin countryside--and so does Patricia Monaghan's beautifully written, carefully researched guide. This book will enrich the experience of anyone who makes it their companion in exploring the back roads of the Upper Midwest." Jeremy Iggers, food journalist and award-winning author of Garden of Eating

"Wineries of Wisconsin and Minnesota invites you to savor a taste of the local landscape and celebrate the rural essence of these unique regional wines. As a practical guide it offers tips on how and where to enjoy northern wines; as a historical reference it explains the geological, botanical, and cultural challenges dedicated, local artisan producers faced when establishing their vineyards." Susan Streich-Boldt, Slow Food Madison

"As a longtime supporter and promoter of our local farmers, I can say with great relief that it is about time someone got around to taking notice of the burgeoning wine industry of the Upper Midwest. Patricia Monaghan's book is an informative history, a grand overview, and an in-depth visitor's guide, all in one." Lenny Russo, Chef/Proprietor, Heartland Contemporary Midwestern Restaurant & Wine Bar, St. Paul, Minnesota

The Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines
Drawn from a variety of sources ranging from classical literature to early ethnographies to contemporary interpretations, the Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines provides a comprehensive introduction to the ways goddess figures have been viewed through the ages. This unique encyclopedia of over thousands of figures of feminine divinity describes the myths and attributes of goddesses and female spiritual powers from around the world.

The two-volume set is organized by culture and religion, exploring the role of women in each culture's religious life and introducing readers to the background of each pantheon, as well as the individual figures who peopled it. Alternative names for important divinities are offered, as are lists of minor goddesses and their attributes. Interest in women's spirituality has grown significantly over the last 30 years, both among those who remain in traditional religions and those who explore spirituality outside those confines. This work speaks to them all.

The Goddess Path
Examining over a dozen figures from world mythology, The Goddess Path shows how people today can use these images to enhance the own lives and spirituality.

"The Goddess Path is a welcome addition to the literature, and a wonderful introduction for women (and men!) who are just entering the universe of feminist Goddess Spirituality. The book's introductory chapters are inclusive of male lovers and sons who might find themselves seeking this path along with their beloved women. The Goddess is central; this is not a book about the God. The Goddess is a deity all people can love and honor.

The opening chapters, "The Goddess Defined," give clear descriptions of the basics of the Goddess' spirituality: Who is the Goddess? What are Her images? What are Her rituals like? What are the beliefs and worldview in a religion of the Goddess? The remainder of the text, indeed the bulk of the volume, is "The Goddess Revealed." These twenty chapters delve deeply into twenty goddesses, from Gaia's abundance to Pomona's joy.

Patricia Monaghan's very special gift, revealed in all her writings, is her ability to present wonderfully detailed scholarship, not in a dry way, but in writing that is poetic and gorgeous. Perhaps the most special thing about this book is the invocations to the Goddesses that begin each chapter. These invocations are Patricia's poetic translations and recreations of invocations to these Goddesses, invocations used by Her people in each culture, from ancient times. There is a special sort of connection and recognition, reading such words as "Brigid, lead me home," and imagining a Celtic woman of ancient times breathing the same prayer.

Each chapter teaches myth and meaning, symbols, feasts, invocations, suggestions and activities. There is a wealth of knowledge here, and a wealth of beauty, challenges for personal growth, and visions for ritual. The chapter on Saule and Saules Meita, from the Lithuanian tradition, helps women heal from family violence by walking the Goddess Path. Work with Brigid for survival, or Isis when it is time for restorative love.

This is a book to be savored. --Dawn E. Work-MaKinne

The Goddess Companion
Prayers, poems, and songs to the Goddess from around the world and across the ages have been collected and adapted for the modern devotee in The Goddess Companion: Daily Meditations on the Feminine Spirit. Author Patricia Monaghan offers a disparate meditation for each day of the year, including February 29--April 5 is a Lithuanian folksong; August 6 a quotation from Proverbs; October 17 a Korean shaman's chant. After each prayer there is a two-paragraph "thought for the day" in which Monaghan offers the reader philosophical observations or helpful advice designed to assist living and growing in the spirit of the feminine. The very pretty purple and gold-embossed cover makes it an excellent nightstand adornment, and the gentle meditations are a stress-reducing way to begin or end your day by honoring Her and Her spirit in yourself. --P. Randall Cohan

Online works
Patricia's works online are often portions of upcoming or recent books. These links are checked regularly but you may occasionally discover a disabled one.


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