Imbolc greetings from the President

Photo by Cypresseyes

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, this coming season of Imbolc, beginning February 1, reflects the first stirrings of returning warmth. We’ve already noticed the days getting longer and may be aware of the first stirrings of life around us. Similarly, the Henge of Keltria is also stirring into new life with changes in membership process, administrative structure and website emphasis.

At our most recent meeting, the Henge’s board of trustees has decided to move to a fee-free membership process. We have opted to put our emphasis not on organizational structure, but on spiritual practice. Thus, Keltrians will be known not by membership dues, but by adherence to the Keltrian Hallmarks and to ritual practice. (Doubtless there will be details to work through as we move forward, but our intent is clear.) While published material is provided to general subscribers, more individualized training and mentoring can be contracted, as well as possibilities for initiation, Grove participation, and service through the Board of Trustees and Council of Elders. Financial support through donations is always appreciated, of course. More changes are in the offing and will be laid out in the coming months.

Meanwhile, let us enjoy the blessings of this season, renew our practice of the Keltrian Hallmarks and remember the value of ritual practice as well. Our relationship with Nature Spirits, our Ancestors and Divinity, and with our Keltrian practices can be a safe harbor in a world of unpredictable storms.

Karl Schlotterbeck, President

Board of Trustees

From the President: Happy Solstice!


Sunrise between the stones at Stonehenge on the Winter Solstice in the mid 1980s. By Mark Grant, via Wikimedia Commons

In the hustle and bustle of this time of the year, amidst endless demands for our attention and dollars, and in the manufactured tension between “political correctness” and expressions of individual devotion, let’s remember the reason for this season. (The malcontent complainers are hardly a credit to their faith, whichever it is.)

In the northern hemisphere, this is the darkest time of the year and, at the solstice, we anticipate the rebirth of the sun. The Unconquered Sun is the reason the emperor Constantine declared Sunday (day of the Sun) as the official day of rest – now celebrated by most Christians as the day of worship -- and December 25 was only fixed as a Christian celebration during the fourth century. The Solstice had been long celebrated as the birth of solar deities and was a fitting time to mark renewal through the birth of the Christian and Mithraic (Roman) icons. Gift-giving was already a part of the Roman celebration of the Saturnalia. 

From Northern Europe comes the tradition of the shaman who, at the time of the Solstice, rode his reindeer-powered shaman’s sleigh into the heart of the Sun and returned to his people to bring gifts and guidance – the original figure who has become known today as Santa Claus.

So, let’s get beyond these petty late-coming internecine squabbles. No matter with what sectarian group we identify and may pretend is the original or truest, let’s remember what pre-dated them all: the cycles of life where, out of the darkness of the year, is born divinity originally found in Nature as the renewed Sun; where light arises out of darkness, life out of death. The words we put on these cycles are but clothing on the body of the Great Mystery of life, death and renewal. 
So, Happy Solstice, along with whatever else you may be celebrating!

Book Review: Founding Fathers, Secret Societies

Freemasons, Illuminati, Rosicrucians, and the Decoding of the Great Seal
by Robert Hieronimus, Ph.D

Review by Karl Schlotterbeck

Cover - Founding Fathers, Secret SocietiesCertainly, this is a book for anyone interested in American history or in the various secret societies that may have had an influence on America’s founding. Dr. Hieronimus uses the development of the Great Seal and the relatively recent appearance of the reverse side of the seal as signifying a positive change in America’s destiny.

Beginning with the way the Iroquois Confederacy was used as a model for the development of this country, he writes, “This rich Native American democratic tradition was the real source of the new Americans’ distinctive political ideals. Indeed, centuries before Columbus arrived in the New World, democracy was alive and well, just waiting for the Founding Fathers to discover it.” Also mentioned are pre-Columbian visitors to North America and legends of Masonic concepts and practices existing among Native groups – including the speculation of one writer that this may have come through Druids.

In his historical context of his subject, he includes the development of Freemasonry, Rosicrucians, various Illuminati groups, along with biographical information about of Washington, Franklin, Jefferson (including their astrological charts) and lesser known players.

Of particular interest to Hieronimus is how both sides of the Great Seal were designed but only the one side was ever struck – the side we usually see with an eagle, arrows, stars, etc. The reverse side (with pyramid and eye-in-triangle floating over it) was never struck and did not even come to public display until it was put on the one-dollar bill in the 1930’s. Fundamentalists have objected to the design on the reverse with paranoid ideation linking (in their imagination) the pyramid with such nefarious organizations as the United Nations, Zionism, NATO, Communism, taxes and secret societies.

All-seeing Eye / Eye of Providence

All-Seeing Eye

Hieronimus, if I read him accurately, makes a more indirect connection between the design and these groups, giving the design a much deeper and archetypal meaning that speaks of the Founding Fathers’ dual vision for this country. The two sides, as he sees it, indicate their vision that included both physical and spiritual destinies. To that end, Hieronimus analyzes the symbols found on both sides, including the Latin phrases (which contain both Pagan and Christian origins). For example, he relates the pyramid to the sacred mountain and thereby the Great Mother, the floating eye to the Eye of Horus and the polestar, and the number 13 as representing transition - not just the number of states. The reverse side of the seal is more than a sign for some time-limited society; it is an archetypal image pointing to our self-realization and rebirth.

Further, Hieronimus asserts that the rise in interest in the reverse side of the seal during the last century paralleled the rise of feminine consciousness and may be “initiating a higher level of integration in the American consciousness. . .”

In Appendices to the main body of the work, Hieronimus also includes various theories about the age and meaning of the pyramids; and a discussion of the nature of talismans.

On a personal note, I knew Robert Hieronimus when, in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, he taught classes in symbology and was well-known in Baltimore for his symbolic murals and other paintings. His interest and expertise in symbols is one of the primary cornerstones of his work.

Founding Fathers, Secret Societies is a rich feast of history, esoteric movements, symbology, and psycho-sociology.

Founding Fathers, Secret Societies: Freemasons, Illuminati, Rosicrucians, and the Decoding of the Great Seal, by Robert Hieronimus, Ph.D., with Laura Cortner. Published by Destiny Books, 2006. Recommended.