2.3.11

Pagan Celtic Spirituality

Article

Ancient cultures around the world were more closely connected to the natural world physically and spiritually then we are today. The people from ancient times relied greatly upon the natural gifts of the Earth for food, clothing and medicine, and the Celtic culture developed their spirituality from observing nature closely.

Pagan Celtic spirituality developed from their understanding that all of existence has a cyclic nature, and a direct connection between the material world and the otherworld. The Druidic teachings, from Welsh Celtic tradition tell of an unseen world affecting the visible world, with everything existing on simultaneous levels.


The Otherworld
According to Celtic tradition, the Otherworld is the realm of spirit, existing alongside the everyday world, with the two worlds only separated by a veil. This veil is a thin penetrable barrier, which ‘thinned’, or even lifted at various places and times. A mist, a lake, a hill, could all be places where the veil was thin enough to allow passage between the two realities, and ‘time’ had no connection. Celtic literature documents such travels.

Today, some of the traditions of the Celtic people survive in Catholicism in Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, Cornwall, and the Isle of Man – the Celtic nations. However, their original spiritual and religious views can be gleaned from their well-known myths and stories which exist from the Welsh ‘Mabinogion’, Irish stories and sagas, and the famous tales of King Arthur Pendragon.

The Mabinogion
The Mabinogion is the title given to a collection of eleven prose stories collated from medieval Welsh manuscripts. The stories draw on pre Christian Celtic mythology, international folktale, and early medieval historical traditions. In the mid 19th century Lady Charlotte Guest was the first to publish English translations of the collection, making the name ‘Mabinogion’ popular at the same time.

Pagan Celtic Traditions
There are many different forms of pagan Celtic traditions, and some of these include; Celtic Shamanism, Druidry, Faery Faith and Celtic Traditionalism.

Celtic Shamanism is a shamanic path based on the Faery Faith of the Celtic people. Modern Celtic shamanism builds on ‘core shamanism’ through the myths and traditions of the British Isles. Historically shamanic roles among the Celts were filled by druids and bards.

The responsibilities of a Druid included those of priest, receiving and holding knowledge of the past, present and future, scientific and medical learning, and settling disputes.
Bards were trained as druids, but specialized in memorizing and reciting stories of the myths of their people and sacred lore and incantations, in verse form.

The Faery Faith is based upon the belief that everything in this and the otherworld is alive, and everything is possessed of its own soul or spirit. This belief is called ‘animism’, which was present 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, is not accepted in those parts of the world were animistic beliefs are still held.

Celtic Traditionalism is a current religion consisting of trying to reconstruct the beliefs and practices of the original Celtic people, as opposed to Druidic teachings. This tradition focuses more on the beliefs of the average Celtic man or woman.


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