Samhain Blessings and the Transformation of Keltria

Karl Schlotterbeck, President Emeritus

As of sundown on Tuesday, October 31, the corporation of the Henge of Keltria no longer exists. It was a decision well over a year in the making. (You can read the “Report of the 2017 Gathering of the Keltrian Tribes” in my August 13, 2017 post.) The Henge of Keltria has been a shelter for many of us, whether members or initiates, and a source of wisdom and teaching through its publications, correspondence course, grove training, mentoring and presentations at our annual gatherings. The Council of Elders has provided theological guidance, and rituals for dedication, initiation, elevation and other celebrations. Various members (mostly trustees and elders) fielded questions and inquiries from the public, and supported far-flung groves. Naturally, this website/blog has been a resource for contact, teaching, dissemination of information and interchange among members.

With the dissolution of the legal entity, none of these activities is necessarily lost. Their form, however, and the weight of their expression will now fall on a wider population of Druids and interested folk. Those who have taken this path seriously will continue to carry forward the activities that have made Keltria the bright light that it has been. We must distinguish here between Keltria and the legal entity known as “The Henge of Keltria.” Although the legal arm is no longer the center for us, we continue to evolve and carry forward individually. It is up to each of us to maintain the spiritual entity of Keltria as individuals or as a groves or other associations.

The time of the official dissolution of the Henge of Keltria was purposely set for sundown on the 31st at the turning of the year. This is the time of letting go into an apparent dormancy that allows the incubation of seeds until Spring awakens a hidden life into flower once more. A universe of possibilities remains open to us. We are the Druids of the present, living in this world that has seen much change since the founding of the Henge, and there remain opportunities to carry our work and celebrations into the future – which we are creating in each moment, with each action. To help serve these purposes, Keltria’s Walk with Wisdom blog site will be supported for at least the next five years.

Now, in this time when the veil between the worlds is thin, may we be receptive to the ancient spirit of the Druids and become ourselves the cauldron that feeds the spiritual needs of our shared Earth and its visible and invisible residents. As we honor our Ancestors of Blood, let us also recognize our “Ancestors of Spirit,” including the founders of Keltria, its Elders and officers who wrestled with theological issues, and put into written and spoken words a body of immense value from which we are all fed.

No one can do our work for us. It is we who are the ones called to honor the ancestors, revere the spirits of nature and celebrate the gods and goddesses of our tribe. Nothing in this regard has changed, the Hallmarks of Keltrian Druidism remain as valuable as ever, and the Book of Keltria is a guide for this time and Druids of the future.

May you have a blessed Samhain, and may the gifts of this time surround and inspire you.

Report of the 2017 Gathering of the Keltrian Tribes

 Karl Schlotterbeck, President Emeritus

The 2017 Gathering of the Keltrian Tribe was held August 4 and 5 in Coon Rapids, MN. We had members attending from New York, Maine, Minnesota and, by phone, Georgia. Seminars were presented on the topics of:

  • Ancestors of Place, by Tony Taylor
  • Flidais: A Discussion of the Deer Mother from Irish Tradition, by C.L. McGinley (TopazOwl)
  • Denizens of the Otherworld, by Karl Schlotterbeck
  • Ancestors, History, and Finding Yourself, by Rain
  • The Irish Spirit Wheel: Space, Time and Soul, by Karl Schlotterbeck
Photo of a reverie harp

Revere Harp

We were entertained with the assistance of Wren’s Phred the reverie harp, demonstrating that, indeed, music hath charms to soothe a savage breast.

On the secular side of things, the Board of Trustees decided to send to the International Druid Archives of Carlton College (home of the Reformed Druids of North America) Keltria’s various archives that now fill elders’ attics and shelves. In addition, the Keltria website and blog will be funded for five years. Thus, we expect that interested Keltrians and others will continue to have a “home” for articles, reports of research, and the general exchange of ideas.

Attendees at the Annual Meeting addressed the dwindling number of members able to serve in administrative roles by voting to dissolve the corporation. As readers may know, the Henge of Keltria was incorporated in Minnesota as a non-profit corporation in 1995. Of course, corporations operate under various state and federal requirements, and these became increasingy difficult to maintain in such a small organization without the same people moving around in administrative roles. As required for dissolution of the corporation, designees were appointed to carry out the necessities of dissolution, including dispersal of assets toward maintenance of the Druid Archive at Carlton College. Dissolution will be effective as of sundown on October 31 of this year. Tony Taylor and Karl Schlotterbeck were identified as the “Designated Authorities” for activities regarding the dissolution.

While the Henge will no longer exist as a legal entity, Keltria will continue in its new form, continuing to evolve as Druidism for the 21st Century. Those having been heavily involved in administrative duties will now turn their attention more fully to their spiritual practices. As before, mentoring in the unique approach of Keltrian Druidism can be available through direct contact.

Wicker warrior burning - Carrying messages to gods.

Wicker warrier carrying messages to the gods. Photo by Wren.

After the seminars and administrative duties were completed, attendees traveled to a beautiful site in Ham Lake and engaged in a Transition Ritual (written for the occasion) to honor what has been and to embrace possibilities for what is to come. Prayer slips were put into a wicker warrior (made for this purpose) who carried the prayers into the Otherworld through fire. (Pictures can be found on the Keltrian Druid Facebook page.) Then, a small cairn was built and blessed to honor the past and to lay a foundation for the future. Finally, light from the Central Fire was dispersed (as has been the tradition of Beltane fires on the Hill of Uisneach), with each participant taking a candle lit from the Center of All Things.

In casual moments, we enjoyed each other’s’ company, reminisced over past events (the good, bad, ugly and beautiful), envisioned what form Keltria might take in the coming years, and talked of a Gathering next year.

Thus, even with our small numbers, we had an event with educational, administrative, legal, musical, social and ritual elements – a testament to the work of the founders and the depth of our active colleagues.

The staff of the Best Western Plus in Coon Rapids were always happy to help, and provided a perfect meeting space for our group.

From the President: This year’s Gathering and Annual Meeting

Shield logo for Gathering of the Keltrian Tribe.I hope the warming days of Spring are bringing renewal to all.

Our annual Keltrian gathering is only two months away. As many of you know, with the Gathering also comes our Annual Meeting with elections, along with consideration of any other Henge business (some major items this year, but more on that later).

Serving as a board officer is one way to show support for the Henge, to embody Keltrian ideals and to serve one another. Elected offices include those of president, vice-president and secretary. Trustees at large have also been an option, but we may or may not be electing one trustee this year, depending on the outcome of proposed bylaw revisions that will be presented this year. Regardless of that outcome, I encourage members who have an investment in the activities of the Henge to run for one of the offices coming open. (I will run for re-election, but would be delighted to see others showing a similar interest.)

If you think you might be interested, but are unsure of the responsibilities, feel free to check the bylaws for officer qualifications or write to the existing officers with your questions.

If you are attending this year’s gathering, please let me know at president@keltria.org so we can better plan. The registration fee for the Annual Gathering is only $20 and can be paid on arrival.

Finally, in addition to ritual, social time and the Annual Meeting, some of the most valued elements of the Annual Gathering are workshops and seminars presented by members on topics of Keltrian interest. If there is a topic you’d like to see presented, or would like to present one yourself, please let me know.

An organization is only as strong as its members’ willingness to serve.

Reminders:

Dates of Gathering: August 4 & 5

Place:    Best Western

3420 Northdale Blvd NW

Coon Rapids, MN 55448

Call the Best Western directly (763-576-0700) for our “Keltria Group” rates - $80 for single occupancy and $90 for double occupancy.

Karl Schlotterbeck

president@keltria.org

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!

The Power and Pitfalls of Mythologies

Photo by Ulchaban

Photo by Ulchaban

Mythologies – recognized and not recognized – are powerful forces in all societies. They help tell us who we think we are and our place in the world, and how to relate to those within and outside our official circles. They inspire acts of heroism and terrorism, conquest and resistance to conquest. They give people hope and reason to live, ways to navigate our world, and a relationship with the Divine (or an image thereof). They are also used in the subjugation of conquered peoples to erase unwanted ideas or troublesome competing mythologies and languages.

Celts had mythologies that celebrated a direct connection with the land and the ruler’s responsibility toward that land. If the ruler was unfit, the land suffered.

The power of mythology is not limited to history or religious expression. Countries carry their own (often white-washed) mythologies, and their leaders use mythologies (via propaganda) to present a desirable image of themselves. We see negative mythologies created about the character and identity of others. Often we see an illusory image created by the opponents purporting to know the motivation and some secret agenda of the other. As a psychologist, it is painfully obvious that how much we are asked to make judgments on is based on little more than rumor, innuendo, accusation and a contrived image. Truth is an unwelcome guest at this table.

06-14-07-staugustine-281Of course, mythologies are not always consistent and will provide contradictory models for us. But those contradictions, I submit, simply show the complexity of human nature and the human condition.

Speaking of the human condition, our memories are often the mythology we use to explain who we are and how we came to be this way. We have constructed a mythological identity for ourselves, attributing influence to others, to ideas, to lessons, successes and failures.

The test of any mythology – religious, personal or secular – is whether it helps us navigate our world and allows us to draw inspiration from it. If not, it is just a social belief system; for genuine mythologies are alive, and enliven those who can embody them!

For Keltrians, do our myths live in us, inspire us, educate us? Do they help us relate to one another, to the Spirits of Nature, to the Ancestors, to the Divine? How personal is our relationship with any of the divine figures of our pantheon?

I invite us all to examine how we might – each in our individual way – engage with and celebrate our myths. We can re-read the stories, see where they come alive in us, how they speak to us and give us a glimpse into the source of wisdom and inspiration. We can celebrate our holidays and rites, and honor the characters that live in the mythologies and, perhaps, discover them already alive inside of us.

Karl is the ArchDruid Emeritus and current President of the Henge of Keltria.

Feed the fish: Drop your hazelnuts into the Well of Wisdom! We're always looking for submissions to the Keltria blog: poetry, photos, essays, articles, recipes, random musings related to the Henge and more! Share your imbas with your fellow Keltrians. Contact HH-Editor@keltria.org or dulcimergoddess@keltria.org.

 

From the President: A Happy Samhain to All!

Karl SchlotterbeckHow amusingly coincidental that our American elections come in the Halloween season when people dress in strange costumes of personas that they think will gain them treats from us and, in a curious twist, attempt to dress their opponents in mythologies which they themselves are often hiding. It requires a lot of effort to keep the Cup of Truth in my head from shattering but, rather than giving up, turning away or numbing out, I try to be an adult and sort through wasted words for some glimmer of truth that will help me understand what is going on beneath the surface, and what the potential might be for our long-term evolution. I hold out hope that a truth might grow in our consciousness that is worthy of the ancestors, respectful of nature and her spirits, and would be honorable in the face of all we hold as sacred.

Of course, we all know that this version of the darkening year derives from Celtic celebrations at the beginning of the first month of winter – Samhain. As Samhain approaches, we in the Northern Hemisphere are faced with that recurring theme of letting go and going into the dark. Although we might like to ignore the fact that death is always near, awareness of the changes of seasons in our part of the world (Northern Hemisphere temperate zone) shows us different kinds of transitions. Some only look like death, as life draws in and down, only to rise and blossom once more in the spring. Those that do die as individuals leave seed behind that becomes the new generation of their kind. It seems to me that there is also a kind of death in those who fight the darkening of this season and try to stave off their anxiety by pretending nothing is changing and use artificial light to continue on. Indeed, there is light in the dark, but it doesn’t come from strings of manufactured lights or from metaphors of death and resurrection (even if reflecting a reality), but from the light we each carry within ourselves and the capacity to receive inspiration (imbas). Imbas cannot enter if we close against the dark for, when we open to what is, we can recognize the greater truth and embrace our destiny.

May all who read these words find in their hearts the best seeds of their nature and dreams that they can nurture through the dark months and into the new seasons. But first, I raise a glass to the Dark and its embrace.

usedsamh14

Photo by Cypresseyes

Moving into the Evolving 21st Century: A Time of Transition, Review and Revision

From Henge of Keltria's President

Karl Schlotterbeck

Karl Schlotterbeck

Over the years, a small number of people have been actively involved in maintaining the mundane affairs of the Henge and its spiritual underpinnings, and specialists have kept the website going and produced our various publications. During our recent Annual Gathering, participants discussed ways to be of service to the varying needs of our members, and to make the Henge more sustainable in our modern environment with evolving means of communication through the web, blogs and social media. A basic question was, in light of modern trends, how the Henge might remain true to its mission while best serving and being served by its members, initiates and officers.

During these discussions, several possible ways forward were noted, such as reducing the number of officers for more efficient decisions and communication, or continuing as-is – with adjustments to various operations, and revision of the by-laws to bring them up to date. By the end of the Gathering, our consensus was to take the latter option: continue with our current administrative structure, while revising the by-laws and re-structuring our membership process. (See below.)

Since the by-laws have not kept pace with the evolution of the Henge (and show an increasing number of amendments to attempt to do so), a major overhaul is being undertaken, spearheaded by President Emeritus Wren and Trustee TopazOwl. It will, of course, go through the usual process of discussion and official approvals.

Jenne Micale, who has been elegantly editing Henge Happenings (HH), has been given the official title of “Communications Officer” and will guide us through a transition from the periodical publication of HH to an ongoing blog-based platform called “Keltria’s Well of Wisdom.”

With unanimous consent of the board, BeanSidhe accepted appointment to the office of secretary of the Board of Trustees. We are grateful for her willingness to serve in this capacity. TopazOwl was re-elected to her seat on the Board of Trustees, and Ulchabhan was elected to the open seat. We want to thank retiring trustee Caroline for her service to the Henge in this capacity. Autumn Rose graciously continues to serve in her position as trustee.

The Board received and unanimously adopted a proposal from Treasurer Tony to simplify renewals by shifting memberships to an annual renewal consonant with the calendar year. Thus, memberships will run from January 1 to December 31 each year. The Board’s resolution approved on July 9, 2016 are summarized as follows:

1. Memberships that expire between July and the end of this year will be extended to December 31 of this year.

2. Automatic renewals between now and December will be suspended with the intent to begin renewals this December for 2017.

3. No new memberships will be accepted from now until December of this year.

4. Before the end of the year, the Board will review and revise the membership process as deemed appropriate.

Thus, the Board of Trustees is actively engaged in reviewing our operation in the mundane affairs of the Henge. In addition, the Council of Elders, in consultation with members of the Ring of the Oak, is also taking the next few months to review various policies to strengthen Groves.

It was a busy and exciting Gathering with the potential for strengthening the heart of Keltria on many levels. I wish to thank all the participants who invested their time, finances, ideas and optimism toward a renewal that promises to benefit us all.

Walk with Wisdom.

Gathering of the Keltrian Tribe

From the President

Photo of Tony Taylor taken by Karl

Tony Taylor

The Gathering of the Keltrian Tribe and Annual Meeting of the Henge of Keltria is held at various locations in the United States. The site location is selected by the Board of Trustees based upon proposals submitted by the membership. The following is a list of past gatherings.

  • 1999 – Camp Gaia (Kansas City) KS
  • 2000 – Quincy (Boston), MA
  • 2001 – Coon Rapids, MN
  • 2002 – Syracuse, NY
  • 2003 – Coon Rapids, MN
  • 2004 – Clarksburg, WV
  • 2005 – Chittenango, NY
  • 2006 – Clarksburg, WV
  • 2007 – Shreveport, LA
  • 2008 – Letchworth State Park, NY
  • 2009 – Bangor, ME
  • 2010 – Cumming, GA
  • 2011 – Ham Lake, MN
  • 2012 – Cumming, GA
  • 2013 – Estes Park, CO
  • 2014 – Vestal (Binghamton), NY
  • 2015 (Proposed) – Decatur, GA
    (For information regarding any of the gatherings, please contact the Henge Office.)