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Monday, April 4, 2011

Magical Monday: Celtic Traditions

Today’s A to Z Blogging Challenge is all about the letter “C.” For this week’s Magical Monday, I’m exploring Celtic traditions of neo-paganism. 

Artwork credit: Katherine Sunderland

There are many related belief systems (listed below) of the Celtic tradition. All maintain these basic points:

No division between the sacred and the secular.
Spiritual equality of women and men.
Preference for rural life.
Honor nature and God's creatures.

From there, you can find great variety in terms of focus on past or present, beliefs about life in the universe, and use of rituals. 

Whether any branches of Celtic tradition are “magical” is subject to opinion. I like a broad definition of magic--any extraordinary or mystical influence. What is mystical to some may not be to others. 

The Pan Celtic movement is one of the strongest in neo-paganism. Music emphasizing pipes, drums, and harps during rituals helps renew Celtic traditions. Neo-Celts traditionally decorate or “dress” sacred wells, believe in fairies, and celebrate solstice days with great fire festivals. The winter solstice is often celebrated with dancers wearing horned costumes, in reference to the Celtic Horned God Kernunnos, also known as Lord of the Animals or the Great Shaman. 

The Celtic year begins with the harvest feast of Samhain, on the last eve of October. Another feast takes place on May Eve, called Beltane. Then, all fires are extinguished and relit from Bel’s Fire, sacred to the solar-fire god Bel.

This exploration was especially interesting to me, having an Irish heritage.  

Do you have any Celtic blood? Still honor any Celtic traditions?
Branches of Celtic Traditionalism:
Celtic Reconstructionalism-- seeks to recreate, to the best extent possible in the modern world, the religion of the ancient Celtic peoples of Western Europe and the British Isles. Modern Celtic paganism embodies a strong reverence for nature.

Druidry-- based on the practices, rituals, and magick of the early Celtic priestly class known as the Druids. Many expressions of the tradition still exist, and their differences have often been cause for dissension in the pagan community.

Faery Faith--maintains the belief that everything in this and other worlds is alive, each thing possesses its own soul or spirit. This belief is called animism and was prevalent in the Western world before the advent of Christianity, which holds that only man has souls or spirits and everything else in is solely here for the use of mankind.

Celtic Shamanism-- a shamanic path based on the Faery Faith of the Celtic peoples of Western Europe and especially of Britain, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Cornwall, Isle of Man and Brittany.

Witta-- combines old Irish traditions with influences of the Norse. Witta recognizes that at each stage in the development of Irish paganism, each generation has been able to add something of value.

Celtic Witan Church--A legally incorporated church which studies and practices the goddess-oriented nature-based religion of the ancient Celtic peoples. This is a fertility religion concerned with all aspects of prosperity, growth, abundance, creativity, and healing. 



Wendy said...

I like reading about Celtic folklore. I'm sure this information will come handy in my fantasy stories, too. Thanks for the glossary and the link, Marsha.

Charmaine Clancy said...

Both my husband and I have Celtic heritage but don't keep up with any traditions. I do love Celtic myths and legends though :)

Beth Kemp said...

Nice overview of celtic traditions - nice to see a range of ideas, rather than 'celtic' being used to mean just one system. Thanks for the summaries.

Marsha A. Moore said...

I was surprised how involved and varied the Celtic traditions are. Thanks for stopping, Wendy, Charmaine, and Beth.

Corinne O'Flynn said...

I love all things Celtic. The subject is so vast! My husband and I are both Irish, so I have always been drawn to the myths and lore. Thanks for the post and the link to the more info.


Emily Pikkasso said...

Hey Marsha
Yes, it is amazing how many branches there are to the tree. You have described them very well in a fashion which makes it easy to differentiate between them.
I am a Pathmaster of the Faery Shaman and a Faery Friend. I quietly mark all the holy days of the year.
There is still magic in the world today, just take that first step sideways.....


iZombie said...

who doesn't love a Celtic post... and the traditions r free!
jeremy [iZombie]


Anonymous said...

Fascinating insight into Celtic traditions. Thank you.

Joyce Shor Johnson said...

Great roundup of Celtic tradition. I cherish my Celtic roots.

Marsha A. Moore said...

Nancy, I knew this was your specialty, so I'm glad to have your input on the topic.

Thanks for your interest, Corinne, Joyce, iZombie, and Damyanti!

J.L. Campbell said...

Interesting stuff, Marsha!

Marsha A. Moore said...

Thanks, J.L.!

RosieC said...

I've used some of the old Celtic traditions as a basis for the "religion" (I use the word quite loosely) of my characters. I think some of the ideas are universal, but some are particularly Celtic, too. I have Irish background, but most of those traditions have been lost in my family.

East for Green Eyes

Marsha A. Moore said...

I was raised to cook many Irish foods, the other traditions didn't pass along to me. Thanks for visiting, Rosie.

Marie Dees said...

I'm mostly Irish and have cousins still in Ireland. I'm Wiccan so often I do observe the old traditions. But I'm also likely to go to a Hindu satsang.

Marsha A. Moore said...

Marie, both practices sound fascinating. Thanks for stopping by.

L'Aussie said...

Hello Marsha. I adored this. I love learning new things about other cultures. Beautiful illustration also.

I'm travelling the world for the A-Z. Currently I'm in Darfur. Hope you can travel along.


L'Aussies Travel Blog A - Z Challenge Posts

Marsha A. Moore said...

Thanks, Denise! I'll be over to join your travels later today.

Flidais said...

If you are going to use my copywritted artwork then you should at least credit me as the artist. -Katherine Sunderland

Marsha A. Moore said...

Katherine, my sincere apologies. I didn't know the artist of the lovely work. I have edited my post to give you credit. Thank you for letting me know. I've followed you on FB to learn about and enjoy your art.