The History Of The Celtic Tradition Religion Essay
Wicca according to Gerald Gardner is not Celtic in tradition but borrowed some of the Celtic influences in such as the Gardnerain Wicca which some followers believe to be Celtic.
“Author Jane Raeburn believes that while there is "a firm distinction between historical Celtic inspiration and modern Wiccan practice", that the two can be blended to form "a living path of ethical and spiritual growth". As Carl McColman has observed, many people find beauty and meaning in this spirituality that blends "religious witchcraft with Celtic wisdom".”
The Celtic tradition is solely based on the ancient beliefs of the Gaelic’s, the Gualish, and other Celtic traditions that existed in the golden age of the Celts. Celtic spirituality dates back past Christianity. There are many traditions within the Celtic belief system in which a person could establish their path. The term “Celtic” crosses over at least 8 known countries known as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Ireland, and Scotland to name a few.
Some of the different paths within the Celtic tradition is Faery Faith, Celtic Reconstructionalists, Celtic Witan Church to name a few. We will get into each of these in lesson 2.
The Celtic people lived in the gypsy fashion as their huts were made to be moveable should the need arise. Everything in which they owned they carried on their back from place to place. The Celtic culture was never removed from Europe as it is still shining in the traditions of the Ireland and Scotland today.
The Celtic people did not view their deities as gods and goddesses but as ancestors and viewed sexuality as sacrament. While the Celts believed that reincarnation and transmigration they did not believe that their gods punished them after death. While Celts understood the words culpability and responsibility they had a hard time understanding the Christian word sin. St Patrick himself burned almost 180 books written in Celtic language because the Celtic people refused to convert to Christianity.
Celtic legend states that the Celts believed that people came from trees transformed by divine powers. The first woman was a Rowan tree and the first man was believed to be an Alder. The ancient Celtics swore by the three elements called the “Three Realms” Land, Sea, and Sky.
Celtic women were held to a high degree and were believed to be as good a warrior as their male counterparts. It was not unusual to see a celtic woman fighting next to her man for what she believed because it was said that when a celtic woman was angry she was a force to reckon with.
Lesson 1 Assignment Post Below:
1. Why did the Celtic people believe that humans came from trees?
2. Find me two celtic legends in which you believe are true and be sure to state where you found them.
3. What did the celtic people believe their soles were reincarnated or transmigrated into?
Lesson 2: Celtic Traditions
Celtic Reconstructionalism: "Celtic reconstructionist paganism, a more culturally specific and historically based path which 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. Like Wicca, and like the Celtic culture upon which it is based, modern Celtic paganism embodies a strong reverence for nature." (http://www.joellessacredgrove.com/Celtic/celtictraditions.html#recon)
This became a practice in the 1990’s as an approach to Celtic neopaganism. Many celtic Reconstructionist believe that while the celtic tradition was consumed by Christianity that the celtic tradition lived on in folklore through music, dance, and art. Many reconstructionist study archeology, historical manuscripts and comparative religion mainly of celtic heritage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtic_Reconstructionist_Paganism
Celtic Shamanism: "Celtic Shamanism is a shamanic path that is 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."
(Quote used from the author, Tira Brandon-Evans, Moderator, Society of Celtic Shamans http://www.faeryshaman.org)." (http://www.joellessacredgrove.com/Celtic/celtictraditions.html#recon)
Celtic Shaminism is where the belief of the “Three Realms is found to be practiced. Celtic shamans study the Shamans Cosmos. The Shamans cosmos is divided into three levels/worlds: The Upper, Middle, and Lower worlds. These worlds are considered to be accessed through the “Tree of Life” which is also known as the “Great Tree”. The “Tree” is the central pole, the centre, and the core of the universe.
The Upper world is a spiritual realm where the realm of stars is found. Healing and identity teachings are found here as well with the aid guides and lessons in responsibility.
The Middle world is where we live and breathe and is shadowed by the other world in which we are able to maneuver between. This is possible because both worlds overlap.
The Underworld is said to be where we will find our ancestors and spirits living. This is also the realm in which is considered to be the root of our deepest thoughts and emotions, in other words the depths of our psyches. Healing and growth are found here in the light of the earth.
These are the “Three Realms” in which the Irish refer to and consider to be Land, which is the underworld, Sea is the Middle world, and Sky of course is the Upper world.
Celtic Traditionalism:“This may not be a familiar term to many people, it consists of trying to reconstruct the beliefs and practices of the original Celtic people, as opposed to Druidic learning’s, this tradition focuses more on the beliefs of the average Celtic man or woman.” (http://www.joellessacredgrove.com/Celtic/celtictraditions.html#recon)
Celtic Witan Church: "A legally incorporated church and religious organization formed for the study and practice of 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. The Church honors the Celtic deities with full moon rituals and sabbat festivals. There are many open rituals and training programs.” (http://www.joellessacredgrove.com/Celtic/celtictraditions.html#recon)
Faery Faith: "The Faery Faith is based upon the belief that everything in this and the otherworld is alive and that each thing is possessed of its own soul or spirit. This belief is called animism and was prevalent in the Western world before the advent of the Christian religion, which insists that only man has souls or spirits and everything else in the world has been placed here for the use of mankind. This attitude, that humankind is superior to all of the rest of creation, does not prevail in those parts of the world were animistic beliefs are still held." (http://www.joellessacredgrove.com/Celtic/celtictraditions.html#recon)
Faery Faith is considered to be a Wiccan based tradition in which was a branch of the “old Dianic” tradition. Faery Faith was founded by Mark Roberts and his High Priestess Epona. Participants of Faery Faith practice the ancient and modern Celts customs in the same way that the Celtic Reconstructionist do.
Lesson 2 Assignment
1. Find a celtic path in which you feel would you would be interested in and why. Write a paragraph or two no more than 2 please and tell me something about the tradition and why you feel it suits you or why it is interesting to you.
2. Look on the internet and find at least 2 practicing Celtic Witan Churches and describe what it is they are trying to accomplish in their church.
Lesson 3: Celtic Symbols and Their Meanings
Druidism sits at the core of celtic traditions and cultures that date back 2,000 before the Christian era. Ancient celts are believed to have no written words but used symbols to communicate a deep reverence for nature, the universe, and the world around them.
“Even though there is tangible evidence of pagan symbolism what is known comes mostly from mythology and folklore. Celtic symbology and Celtic symbols with meaning are today a source of much debate worldwide.” (http://www.livingartsoriginals.com/sacred-celtic-symbols.html)
While the celtic people were skilled master craftsman, successful farmers, great builders and wonderful artists they were are also spiritual and traditionalists and lived in harmony with nature. They were considered to be pagans because of their believes and uncivilized due to this belief and ways of lives.
When the Romans and Christianity took over the celtic culture it was the celtic symbols that the druids developed as a way to preserve their way of life that we know as much as we do today.
The Celtic cross or otherwise known as the Sun cross was a symbol in which was used to show the relationship between the spirits and the earth. The cross as shown consists of a circle with a cross in the center. The circle represents the sun which was believed to have cosmic powers and to be the center of the universe. The Cross is said to show the connection of the sun with self, wisdom, nature and the gods. It was also considered to depict the four seasons and the four directions: East, South, North, and West , Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall.
The Celtic knot is the most identifiable of celtic symbols we see today. It is said to bring love or to tie two lovers together forever. The strands of the knot are intertwined together and symbolize protection and unity. It is believed the celtic knot shows how everything is related to another.
The triquetra is a word meaning three or tri. Quetrus means cornered. The original meaning of the triquetra was simply to be triangle. The triquetra was originally found on a rune stones in Europe and was found on German coins. It is believed to be a pagan religious symbol and has the resemblance of the Valknut, which is a symbol associated with Odin. The Triquetra is used to represent the symbol of trinity and primarily used on pagan book of shadows in the modern world.
The triple spiral or triskelion is an ancient symbol that was found in a number of Irish Megalithic and Neolithic sites one of which was the Newgrange Passage Tomb. This was a symbol made by pagans who built the Newgrange and other unknown monuments and believed to pre-date celtic people and beliefs. This symbol is believed to represent the “Three Realms”.
The Three Rays or Arwen is a symbol in which the first and third rays represent the male and female energy. The middle ray represents the balance between the male and female rays.
The Five-fold is also symbol of balance in which the four outer circles represent the four elements Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. The middle circles are said to unite all of the elements in which to reach a balance between all four elements.
Lesson 3 Assignment:
1. There are many forms of the celtic cross can you find two more forms other than the one shown here and do they have different meanings? If so what are those meanings?
2. Find two more celtic symbols not listed above; describe what they are and what they represent.
3. Why did the Druids not use words to preserve their traditions? Use no more than a 5-6 line paragraph for this question.
Lesson 4: Celtic Deities and Mythological Figures
Tuatha De Danann
Tuatha De Danann are the children of the Goddess Danu. Some legends say that the Tuatha De Danann came to Ireland from the sky and yet others say that they came from far away islands. Some say that the Tuatha De Danann are fae folk that only the celtic people could see and talk too and therefore they protected the celts. Truth is they came from four cities called: Gorias, Murias, Findias, and Falias. They brought four great treasures and were skilled in poetry and magick.
One treasure was Nuada’s sword which was brought from Findias. The second treasure was a terrible spear which belonged to Lugh and was brought from Gorias. The third treasure was Dagda’s cauldron and this came from Murias and the fourth treasure was the Stone of Fal also known as Stone of Destiny and came from Falias. On May 1 which is Beltane the Tuatha De Danann arrived in Ireland and was hidden by magick in which was used by Morrigu, Badb, and Macha. The armies Fir Bolg and the Formors met the Tuatha on the Plain Sea near Leinster for the benefit of bringing peace and to divide Ireland. This never happened as king Eochaid of Fir Bolg refused any kind of talks.
During the Summer Solstice the three armies came to battle near the Village which is now known as Cong neat the pass of Benlevi. This battle lasted 4 days in which the King of Tuatha lost his hand in battle with the Fir Bolg’s champion Sreng. Also during this battle the King of Eochaid was killed and the Fir Bolg army was reduced to 300 men. The Tuatha offered the Fir Bolg’s a third of Ireland in a gesture of peace.\
Gods and Goddesses
Cernunnos (ker-noo-nos)/ Cernowain/ Cernenus/ Herne the Hunter Cernunnos is known to all Celts in one form or another as the Horned God, the God of Nature, the God of the Underworld and the Astral Plane. He is also known as the “Great Father.”
To the Druids he was known as Hu Gadarn and the Horned God of Fertility. Cernunnos was portrayed by the Druids as sitting in the Lotus position with horns or antlers on his head. He had long, curling hair and a beard. He wore only a neck torque and either held a spear or a shield. The stag, ram, bull, and horned serpent were Cernunnos’ symbols.
He was associated with virility, fertility, nature, animals, physical love, woodlands, reincarnation, wealth, commerce, crossroads, and warriors.
The Dagda was also known as “The Good God,” All Father, and Father of the Gods and Men. He was also considered to the Lord of Life and Death. Dagda was the Arch-Druid God of Magick, and Earth God. Dagda had four palaces which were in the depths of the earth and under hollow hills. Brigit, Angus, Midir, Ogma, and Bodb the Red were the most important of Dagda’s children. Dagda was associated as the God of Death and Rebirth, Master of all Trades, and Lord of Perfect Knowledge.
Brigit (Breet)/Brid (Breed)/ Brig/ Brigid/ Brighid (Ireland, Wales, Spain, and France)
Brigit is the daughter of Dagda and called the poetess. Brigit was often referred to as the Triple Brigids, The Three Blessed Ladies of Britain, or the Three Mothers. She is also considered to be another aspect of the Danu and associated with Imbolc.
Brigit had an exclusive all female priesthood at Kildare in which there was an ever-burning sacred fire. There were nineteen priestess which represented the nineteen-year cycle of the Celtic “Great Year.” Sacred prostitutes were Brigit’s Kelles and Brigands were her Soldiers.
Brigit’s associations are the Goddess of fire, fertility, the hearth, martial arts, healing, physicians, and all feminine arts and crafts to name a few.
The Crone was consider to be one aspect of the Triple Goddess and represented old age and death, Winter, the end of all things, the waning Moon, and post-menstrual phases of women’s lives. Dogs were often seen accompanying The Crone and guarding the gates to her After-world.
She saw crows and all other black creatures as sacred. The gatekeeper dog in which whose name was Dormarth (Death’s Door) was known in Celtic myth in which true curses were cast with the aid of the dog. The word canite (dog) was used for Satiric Bard that allowed curse to come true.
Lesson 4 Assignment Post Below
1. Research on the internet more Gods/Goddesses and find one that draws your attention (Note: TFA has a very good Gods/desses library in which to research).
2. Write a two paragraph description of the god or goddess of your choice and tell me what draws you to this god or goddess.
3. In Dagda’s description there are several of his children listed, do some research and find me the names of two more of his children and a short description of them. (1 or 2 lines).
Lesson 5 Celtic Seasons and Celebrations
The Celtic year was divided by the light and dark half of the year. Samhain was the beginning of the dark half of the year.
Holiday rituals and celebrations such as Samhain and Beltane were observed as fire ceremonies by all Celts and were considered to be sacred fire festivals.
During Samhain (November 1) which is the Celtic New Year the entire village would put out the fires burning in their hearths and ceremoniously relight them using the fire from the King’s Chief Druid in which he ritually lit.
Beltane is known as the Pagans fire festival and is the celebration of spring (March 21). This is also the time of fertility, new life, and the awakening of the earth after a long hard sleep of winter much like it is celebrated today. The only difference is then the village’s young people would sleep outside, make love, only to return home in the morning with flowers in their hair.
Beltane is also associated with the Dance of the Maypole. This dance symbolizes the tree of the world in which two rows of dancers spiral around the tree weaving ribbons. The ribbons symbolize the turning of the earth on its axis, the turning of the seasons, and the turning of the universe.
Winter Solstice was known the Celtic people as the Alban Arthuan which is associated with the Arthurian legend of King Arthur. It was believed that King Arthur was born on the Winter Solstice. Winter Solstice was observed on December 21 and is the shortest day of the year.
Summer solstice is celebrated on June 21 and is the longest day of the year. The Celts named this Alban Heruin “The Light of the Shore.” Summer Solstice was celebrated by the Celtic people in the forest with picnics, a big bonfire and games.
Autumn equinox is the beginning of autumn observed on September 21. The Celtics also called it Harvesthome because this was a time when the harvest began and when the sun began to fade as the dark half of the year began.
Imbolc was another fire festival and the Celtics believed that the ewes and cows lactated during this time as it was the time after giving birth to their young. During Imbolc milk was poured onto the earth as an offering of nurturing and to assist in fertility. Imbolc was celebrated to honor the Goddess of Fertility Brigid.
All information for this lesson was found on this website
Lesson 5 Post Below
1. I mentioned above the Celtics called their celebrations Alban Arthuan and Alban Heruin research on a site of your own or use the one I have listed and find two more ritual celebrations in which the name more of the Albans. Describe to me what this celebration is and why they call it this.
2. I have only listed a few of the Celtic year celebrations research and find the ones I did not list and a short description of them such as how the celts celebrated them and why.
Lesson 6 Ogham Alphabet
When I first began to research more about my Celtic heritage I discovered that there just was not enough information and discovered why that was. The ancient Celts wanted to keep their religion in secret from the Christians when Christianity was forced upon so many people. So the Druids developed a language so to speak. This is called the Ogham Alphabet pronounced (Owam) or Sacred Druidic Alphabet.
This alphabet was developed from trees that were believed to have living spirits in them and the only people who could understand this alphabet was the initiated. Now this alphabet was sacred because of its special meaning to magick and divination and that the ancient Celts revered their kinship with the trees. Because of this kinship the magick in the writings showed.
The Celtic would use flat sticks in which they would carve the individual alphabet in and this lead them to believe that the oak, ash, and hawthorn trees were homes to spirits and faeries. Because these trees stood together they were called the Faery Triad of Trees. With this said the word oak comes from the word Duir and gives credence to the respect in which the Celts had for trees. Certain trees were believed to have healing properties for humans. As a matter of fact this is where the expression “knock on Wood” comes from the ancient Celts wood knock on the tree to ask for permission to take branches or blossoms from the trees.
There were rules against which trees could be used and for what reasons. People were not allowed to take Hawthorn branches from the trees and take them into the house. This was considered to bring bad luck. The only time that it was not considered bad luck was on the eve of Beltane. Among wiccans today and modern Celtic followers this is still a belief. Before you could break off or cut the branches you have to ask permission from the trees.
Divination Signs and words
These signs and letters were used to write requests to the gods/goddesses during rituals. You can engrave them on flat sticks using a knife or paint, carve them into candles or use runes. Let’s take a look at some of the alphabet and what each represents.
Month – November
Color – White
Class – peasant
Letter – B
Meaning – New Beginnings
Changes – purification
Month – December
Color – Gray
Class – peasant
Letter – L
Meaning – Controlling your life, protection against control by others
Month – January
Class – Chieftain
Letter – F,V
Meaning – Help in making choices, spiritual guidance and protection
Month – February
Color – Listed only as bright such as yellow
Class – peasant
Letter – S
Meaning – Gaining balance in your life
Month – March
Color – Glass green
Class – Chieftain
Letter – N
Meaning – Locked into a chain of events, feeling bound
Month – April
Color – Purple
Class – peasant
Letter – H
Meaning – Being held back for a period of time
Month – May
Color – Black and dark brown
Letter – D
Class – Chieftain
Meaning – Security, strength
Month – June
Color – dark gray
Class – peasant
Letter - T
Meaning – Energy and guidance for problems to come
Month – July
Color – brown
Class – Chieftain
Letter - C, K
Meaning – Creative energies for work on projects
Month – August
Color – variegated
Letter – M
Meaning – Inner development occurring, but take time for relaxation
Month – September
Color – sky blue
Class – Chieftain
Letter – G
Meaning – Take time to soul-search or you will make a wrong decision
Month – October
Color – grass green
Class – shrub
Letter – NG
Meaning – Upsets or surprises
Lesson 6 Assignment Post below
1. The alphabet above is just of the Celtic Calendar year there are many more of the alphabets in which you must research and list me 3 more other than the ones above. Be sure to list the month (if any), the color, class, letter, and the meaning.
2. I have listed in the reading above only three trees in which the Celtic people found sacred can you find me 3 more trees and tell me why they are so sacred.
Lesson 7 Letters of the Ogham Alphabet
Below you will find the letters of the Ogham alphabet
These are the strokes in which these ancient letters and script were made:
Right side/downward strokes
B beith [b] (*betwias)
L luis [l]
F fearn [w] (*wernā)
S saille [s] (*salis)
N nuin [n]
Left side/upward strokes
H úath [y]?
D duir [d] (*daris)
T tinne [t]
C coll [k] (*coslas)
Q ceirt [kʷ] (*kʷertā)
M muin [m]
G gort [g] (*gortas)
NG gétal [gʷ] (*gʷēddlan)
Z straif [sw] or [ts]?
R ruis [r]
A ailm [a]
O onn [o] (*osen)
U úr [u]
E edad [e]
I idad [i]
These are the constants below:
These are the vowels below
Beith, Old Irish Beithe means "birch-tree", cognate to Latin betula.
Luis, Old Irish Luis is either related to luise "blaze" or lus "herb". The arboreal tradition has caertheand "rowan".
Fearn, Old Irish Fern means "alder-tree", Primitive Irish wernā, so that the original value of the letter was [w].
Sail, Old Irish Sail means "willow-tree", cognate to Latin salix.
Nion, Old Irish Nin means either "fork" or "loft". The arboreal tradition has uinnius "ash-tree".
Uath, Old Irish Úath means úath "horror, fear", the arboreal tradition has "white-thorn".
Dair, Old Irish Dair means "oak" (PIE *doru-).
Tinne, Old Irish Tinne from the evidence of the kennings means "bar of metal, ingot". The arboreal tradition has cuileand "holly".
Coll, Old Irish Coll meant "hazel-tree", cognate with Welsh collen, correctly glossed as cainfidh "fair-wood" ("hazel") by the arboreal interpretation. The Latin corylus is a possible cognate.
Ceirt, Old Irish Cert is cognate with Welsh pert "bush" , Latin quercus "oak" (PIE *perkwos). It was confused with Old Irish ceirt "rag", reflected in the kennings. The Auraicept glosses aball "apple".
Muin, Old Irish Muin: the kennings connect this name to three different words, muin "neck, upper part of the back", muin "wile, ruse", and muin "love, esteem". The arboreal tradition has finemhain "vine".
Gort, Old Irish Gort means "field" (cognate to garden). The arboreal tradition has edind "ivy".
Géadal, Old Irish Gétal from the kennings has a meaning of "killing",
Straif, Old Irish Straiph means "sulphur". "blackthorn".
Ruis, Old Irish Ruis means "red" or "redness", glossed as trom "elder".
Ailm, Old Irish Ailm is of uncertain meaning, possibly "pine-tree".
Onn, Old Irish Onn means "ash-tree", although the Auraicept glosses aiten "furze".
Úr, Old Irish Úr, based on the kennings, means "earth, clay, soil". "heath".
Eadhadh, Old Irish Edad of unknown meaning. "test-tree or aspen"
Iodhadh, Old Irish Idad is of uncertain meaning, but is probably a form of ibhar "yew", which is the meaning given to it in the arboreal tradition.
Lesson 7 Assignment Post Below
1. Make from flat sticks or carve into candles or just use some markers or crayons and paper to write me a small request from the gods/goddesses. By small I mean no more than 2-3 lines.
2. Using the picture of the alphabet above find the letters of your name and write them down also find the letters of three people in which you know and write their names as well. Then post the picture below.
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