Poetry: Leborcham Lies to Conchobar

Leborcham Lies to Conchobar

by Jenne Micale

Cracks in the mud - geograph.org.uk - 1271501

"Cracks in the Mud" - Ian Paterson [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Her face -- a riverbed
in high summer, webbed with
grief that cracks as mudflats,
and cattails of hair hang

ragged and gold, yet shot
with tarnish. Skin is bark
sloughing on the hard ground
strained by a drought of joy.

The very image of
the Cailleach, blight's white crone --
spring's bud blasted by
the hard wind of regret!

Leave her to her bleak home
in the leaf litter, man --
a warrior should have
a beauty like sunrise.

Such I tell you, old friend.
with my Druid tongue, I give
the unaccustomed lie
to king stag in his hall.

And why? For the twigs in
my crane bag have always
their alphabet of
truth, although twisted, bent

as winter's brow, as my
own hag hand. But here -- here
is what I do not say,
what I deny you, king:

That love's laughter lights her
hair, her green eye, her bird
of a soul -- firing her
brand, a star in the dark

as his arms, circling, sweep
her from the grass's green bond --
a whirl of air and sun,
desire, dream and sunrise.

No hardship can chip it --
no grief can cage a soul
fledged to freedom in the
blue with its mate soaring.

But see -- the words I twist
do not lie so much, king.
They are but a vision
if she had stayed with you.

Originally published in Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick

Cover of Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #42

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #43

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #43 -- The Heroes Issue. Is available in its entirety from MagCloud.

Music by Kwannon
(Jenne Micale)

 [amazon_enhanced asin="B00GIWHIXG" /][amazon_enhanced asin="B00G5NOKIY" /][amazon_enhanced asin="B003IOS0NE" /]

EXCERPT – Druidess, Priestess, Poet & Seer: Women’s Historical Roles in Celtic Religion

By Sharynne MacLeod NicMhacha
(Sharon Paice MacLeod)

We have often seen the Victorian image of the white robed druid carrying a golden sickle while gathering mistletoe from an oak tree. Sometimes there are depictions of female druids as well, although the role of women in Celtic pagan religion seems to be less obvious. What roles did women historically fulfill in Celtic religion? While the evidence we have is sparse, there is actually more than we might think to help us decipher women’s roles in Celtic society, and in particular, their sacred spiritual roles.

Rozentals Nave

First of all, how do we know any of ‘what we know’ about Celtic women in religion? Greek and Roman writers were quick to mention the strength, character and relative independence of Gaulish women, especially compared with women in their own cultures. Later, the early medieval Irish law tracts (which are believed to have preserved some fairly old information about Irish society), provide quite a bit of interesting information about the legal status of women (keeping in mind that these may be laws ‘as recorded,’ and not necessarily reflective of women’s status in all cases). Overall, from what we can see, women in Celtic cultures seem to have had more rights than women in some other ancient cultures, although they did not have equal status. However, a lack of complete equality (which is still a factor in our own society), does not necessarily equate with subservience or victimhood, and there must certainly have been empowered women who ‘broke the mold’ despite the official rules.

We know there were historical female rulers and leaders. A Celtic woman named Onomaris from Galatia bravely led her starving people across the Danube several centuries BCE, conquering foes and obstacles and establishing a new homeland. We also know of at least two historical female rulers in Britain during the Roman occupation: the treacherous Cartimandua and the fierce Boadicea.

Although not historical in nature, female leaders and warriors are mentioned in Celtic legends. The female warrior Scáthach was said to run a school where she taught martial arts to men. Queen Medb (later anglicized as Maeve) was a legendary Irish queen, who in....

Continued in Issue #43 of Keltria Journal.

Cover of Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #42

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #43

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #43 -- The Heroes Issue. Is available in its entirety from MagCloud.

Books & Papers
by Sharon Paice MacLeod

[amazon_enhanced asin="0786464763" /][amazon_enhanced asin="0786471387" /][amazon_enhanced asin="0674055969" /]

Just Saying:Satirists as catalysts and (anti) heroes

EXCERPT - From Keltria Journal - #43

Just Saying:
Satirists as catalysts & (anti)heroes

— Jenne Micale

Sugar Loaf Mountain - Glengariff County Cork Ireland

Likely, the assembly at Roi Dedonn, known forever after as Tarbga, swelled with satisfaction at the final battle between Finnbennach Ai and Donn Cuailnge. Not because of the cattle raid's outcome, although Conchobar and Medb likely stood to watch the proceedings, garbed in their tribal finery with their hosts arrayed about them. No, they swelled with satisfaction because one of the last acts of the warring bulls – about so much had been gambled and lost – was to trample Bricriu to death.

Bricriu is one of the anti-heroes of Celtic mythology and one of two cáinti, or satiric poets, to play major roles in the Táin Bó Cuailnge. Cáinti were members of the honored class of fili, or poets, but poets of a particular type: with their words, they wielded the power to destroy, to bring the prideful low, and to literally disfigure those who lied or behaved dishonorably. As Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson notes in A Celtic Miscellany, “in a warrior aristocracy, where a reputation for the princely virtues of generosity and courage was of the highest social importance, this might be a disaster” (195). More than simply the Jon Stewart of their day, cáinti were masters of the hex and, like other fili, possibly members of the druidic class.

Freckles: Ireland's Biggest Jerk

I've got an average house with a nice hardwood floor
My wife and my job, my kids and my car
My feet on my table and a Cuban cigar
But sometimes that just ain't enough
To keep a man like me interested....
No, I've gotta go out and have fun
At someone else's expense

-- comedian Dennis Leary,
in the song “I'm an Asshole”

Ireland's greatest jerk had impeccable taste in mansions, a propensity for sunburn and a great love of backstabbing, which he likely considered more of a practical joke. He and his wife were excellent party planners, and he manages – like many a world-class....

Continued in Issue #43 of Keltria Journal.

Cover of Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #42

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #42

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #43 -- The Heroes Issue. Is available in its entirety from MagCloud.

[amazon_enhanced asin="0982726376" /][amazon_enhanced asin="0615158005" /][amazon_enhanced asin="190571324X" /]

Keltria Journal #43 – From the Editor

The following is the complete text of "From the Editor" from Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #43 -- The Heroes Issue.  This issue is available in its entirety from MagCloud

From the Editor

Photo of Tony Taylor

Tony Taylor, Editor
Keltria Journal

When I was young, my ideas regarding heroes were ill considered. Micky Mantle and Roger Maris were great ball players, but they really weren’t true heroes. By the time I reached the “age of reason,” I realized that a hero is someone who lives with integrity and teaches with both words and actions – not merely a celebrity.

The character that came the closest to fulfilling my idea of a hero was Paladin of the series “Have Gun Will Travel.” He had a classy, even an aristocratic air; and yet, he was never condescending. He always distinguished right from wrong, and was never mean or spiteful. Snobs and bigots were distasteful to him and he always helped the exploited or downtrodden. Paladin’s religious proclivities were decidedly nebulous, although he demonstrated knowledge and acceptance of all religions. First airing in the late 1950’s, this program’s scripts were conceived long before the era of “political correctness,” and yet Paladin quoted Kahlil Gibran even though I noted Gibran was a personage of the 20th century and not the 19th. The fact that Richard Boone, who played the part, had a physical resemblance to my much-admired grandfather impressed me as well.

When I began on the path of Celtic spirituality and Druidism, I found that many of the Celtic heroes and heroines share characteristics with Paladin. They often displayed their human aspects in that they didn’t always act heroically. When they didn’t it was usually because some sort of geis has been laid upon them. The ancient Celtic heroes’ actions should demonstrate how to act and react to situations with honor.

Read the heroic stories in Celtic mythology, particularly Cú Chulainn’s and Finn’s stories, and consider whether they behave as true heroes or are they acting without honor? Do the gods teach them lessons? Would Paladin be proud of them?

About this issue

Cover -- Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #43

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #43

Welcome to Issue 43 of Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magic. The theme of this issue is Celtic Heroes and Heroines.

I have often read stories of the Bards of old satirizing kings and royalty effectively destroying their reputations. Although clear examples of that skill are few and far between, Jenne Micale draws our attention to the stories of Briciu, an ancient anti-hero. Bricriu may certainly be thought of as the original “jerk” as Jenne shows us in “Just Saying: Satirists as Catalysts and (Anti) Heroes.”

Jenne’s poem, “Leborcham lies to Conchobar,” pairs well with her article illustrating that what may seem to be lies are really truth.

Sharynne MacLeod NicMhacha encourages us to understand the many roles of women in Celtic society in her article, “Druidess, Priestess, Poet & Seer: Women’s Historical Roles in Celtic Religion.” From the treacherous Cartimandua and the fierce warrior Boadicea, to the gentle herbalists, “Druidess, Priestess, Poet & Seer” provides insight to Celtic women and their place in Celtic society.

Cover - Keltria Journal #42

Keltria Journal #42

Steven Posch is a well-known storyteller in the Midwest. I have known him Steven since the mid 1980’s. When I received the interview, “Our Plow, It Is Made of the White Quicken Tree,” I was pleased to include it in this issue. This interview was originally submitted for inclusion with our “Storytelling” issue (#42); however, because the interview is so focused upon Yule and “wassail,” I decided to wait until this issue, which is much closer to Yule. Johnny Deer is Steven’s alter ego and fulfills the role of interviewer. Steven, like Jenne, also has included a poem, “Plowman’s Wassail,” which can be sung to a traditional tune.

Cú Chulainn and Finn are, arguably, the greatest of the Celtic Heroes. Saigh Kym Lambert leads us through a comparison and a contrast between these two heroes in “The Heroes Betwixt and Between.”

Please send your thoughts and opinions regarding this issue, future themes, or other comments to letterstotheeditor@keltria.org.


Cover of Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #42

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #42

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #43 -- The Heroes Issue.  Is available in its entirety from MagCloud.

[amazon_enhanced asin="1578632846" /][amazon_enhanced asin="0786464763" /][amazon_enhanced asin="0982726376" /][amazon_enhanced asin="B000F5LBMQ" /][amazon_enhanced asin="0615158005" /][amazon_enhanced asin="190571324X" /]

Review: Avalon is Risen by Leslie Fish

Avalon is Risen by Leslie Fish

Music Review by Valerie Voigt

After many years, I have a new favorite Pagan album.  It’s Leslie Fish’s new CD, titled AVALON IS RISEN, featuring some of Leslie’s best compositions plus a few gems by other Pagan elders.

For those who don’t know already, Leslie Fish is a longtime Bard, famous among West Coast Pagans.  She used to direct Manzanita Choir, which performed for rituals in the San Francisco Bay Area.  This album is deeply rooted in her several decades of Pagan Bardic magical practice, and reflects not only her experiences but her very personal approach to myth and lore.

The title track, written by the late elder Druid, Isaac Bonewits, is an anthem:  it announces the triumphant return of the Old Ways and of the life-affirming values they embody.  This song celebrates the many Pagan paths, calling to the different branches of Indo-European Pagan priesthoods and joyfully inviting the rest of the world to throw off slavery and join with us in equal fellowship.  Using just this song as the basic text, one could teach a semester-long class in the history and lore of the Old Religions.

Some of the songs explore aspects of Pagan life and identity seldom found in either books or music.  For example, “Berserker”:  most of us have heard of these “bear-shirt” Norse warriors and their battle frenzy; this song considers what a Berserker’s life might be like, and the discipline that must be required of such a person today.   Likewise,
“Mount Tam” is about making difficult choices in an emergency situation.  Leslie, longtime Bard and warrior also, shares with us her personal choices, and invites us to consider our own.

On the other hand, her great sense of fun shines through, too.  “The Gods Aren’t Crazy” is a lighthearted—and theologically tenable!—explanation of Fortean phenomena (rains of frogs, UFOs, and similar unexplained occurrences).

The album’s production values are top-notch.  The sound engineering is professional-quality, and the arrangements are rich and varied:  there is none of the unfortunate sameness from which many “genre” type albums suffer.  The back-up musicians include such well-known and virtuoso performers as Kristoph Klover and Margaret Davis, and no
synthesized music is used:  it’s all done on traditional instruments.  Bodhran and French horn, mandolin and fiddle, harpsichord and oboe, all are played with skill, precision, and flair.

The gorgeous album cover, with its profuse Celtic and Norse-style knotwork, makes many visual references to Celtic and Norse myth.  The lyric booklet included with the CD includes liner notes with valuable supplementary information about the songs and about Pagan lore and history—and a little in-joke or two, here and there, for those who know how to see them.

A fun and thought-provoking work that will be appreciated more and more each year as the listener’s own study and knowledge of Pagan lore deepens.

Avalon Is Risen” is available for purchase and free Internet streaming from Prometheus Music's website. Also available from Amazon.Com.

[This review was originally published in Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #42, which is available from MagCloud. -ed]

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Unverified Personal Gnosis, Truth and Imbas

Unverified Personal Gnosis, Truth and Imbas

by Searles O’Dubhain

Thumbnail photo of Searles O'Dubhain.

Searles O'Dubhain

As Amergin White Knee has taught us in the Cauldron of Poesy materials:

"When the Cauldron of Knowledge is turned by divine ecstasy, rather than by human joy alone, its special grace is a gift that transforms a person, who becomes both sacred and knowledgeable, so that their works include miracles, prophecies, judgments and precedents. It is these people who establish the wisdom that guides our knowledge and regulates the forms of our speech. Though this knowledge comes from within a person, its truth and its power is from the gods and originates from outside of a person."

This is one of the main abilities of the Draoithe (Irish Druids) and the Filidh (Irish Vision-Poets) that distinguishes them from all others. It is the knowledge that illuminates and is known as imbas in Irish and is called awen in Welsh/British writings and traditions. Some modern folks term such inspirations as UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis). This seems to be an attempt to negate prophetic knowledge and inspiration as being only imagined (until it is verified by currently accepted science or through academic logic alone). To apply this term as a blanket to divinely inspired knowledge is to overlook a few truths from that heritage:

In ancient Irish society and tradition, that which was true was considered to have its own power to stand alone in the world or anywhere, to the point that those who heard truth could see its meaning and importance even when it seemed to contradict those things that were supposed to be the “accepted wisdom.”

To this point, it was the Druids and Poets who were seen to be the sources of imbas and the judges of truth in that society. This attitude and basis in that society had an accompanying paradigm saying that no person could be a Druid, Poet or Judge who had ever been demonstrated to have broken the truth and to have presented a falsehood.

Generally, the imbas or awen that was received by a Celtic Seer was seen to be verified in Nature or in the actions/results of the people presented in the traditional tales. If not already a tradition, then  the results of a divine prophecy or a discovered wisdom had to be eventually demonstrated in society by examples or outcomes (remembering that a given for a wise person in Irish Celtic society was that they retained their status and position only so long as they were shown to be true and correct).

As Katheryn Simms observed and stated in her article, the “Poetic Brehon Lawyers,” this idea of truth from imbas bringing real results to the people was not just an Irish or a Welsh notion, but was a pan-Celtic concept:

“The pagan belief that the moment when a judge issued his verdict was an encounter between the human and the divine, and that the will of the gods was outraged by an unjust decision, while just judgements drew down divine blessings, is already testified among the Celts of Gaul in the first century B.C. where Strabo remarks that the druids were chiefly trusted to try cases of homicide, and that when there is an abundance of these they consider that there is also abundance of the land, presumably because their many just judgements drew down the gods blessing on the crops. “

Imbas is not a free ride. It has to be demonstrated to be true wisdom from the gods. Such inspiration and universal truth is not unlike Einstein’s brilliant understanding about the ways in which matter and energy are related. The truth of it came to him in a flash and he spent years (if not the rest of his lifetime) proving and expanding upon this insight. I expect that ancient and modern druids also do the same with their own knowledge that is received from the minds of the divine. It is not enough to receive the revelation; one must also do the work of bringing the new truths back to the people in a useful and relevant way.

Being true and wise is wonderful but one must also be useful and productive. That is why the demonstration of imbas is to be found in the results that grow from its seeds rather than in claims or even discussion. The tales are filled with how prophecy and the uncovering of hidden things is accomplished or demonstrated to be true. These tales formed the basis of society’s codes of living and morals to the point that prophecy and divine truth were considered to be usual rather than exceptional (or to be challenged as untrue out of hand, as is often the case in our more disillusioned and skeptical modern society). The use of the term UPG, a classification and claim that something is merely made up or an illusion, as a club nowadays to quash inspirations and unusual wisdom to the point that thinking remains within the confines of accepted wisdom, is also a great wrong. Society must continue to advance in its life or it risks the death of stagnation and rot that accompanies the imprisonment of any idea or material thing. Innovation and inspiration deserve open fields upon which to exercise their creative truths to the benefit of all. To keep these in a box only makes for humus and decay, to the point that only nature in her long-term laboratory can transform them into anything new or renewed.

So, let’s rejoice in imbas and rather than calling it UPG, let’s get up and go out into the great laboratories of existence, science, and Nature, to ascertain what the power of truth has uncovered for us via inspiration and knowledge provided to us by the gods. It is only through the verifiable and proven results that we should be known as druids and not by our own or anyone’s claims, or even the acclamations of others, for there really is a truth against the world. Sometimes, one must journey far to find it and bring it back to the people and the lands where life is lived.


Storyteller, Mythology and the 21st Century


Storyteller, Mythology and the 21st Century

— Mary Gavan

Statues of man reading stories to wife and children.

The Story Teller
(Eugene, Oregon)

As a Celtic storyteller, my preference is for triads.  The triad I consider is storyteller – mythology - 21st Century.

Regarding the 21st Century; the media disseminates news of injustice, poverty and war that befall mankind in its search for civilization.  Much less reported are peace, progress and prosperity. Even less reported is the innate goodness of people. Where does the truth of the 21 Century lie?  Which myths are perpetuated?  What events does a storyteller highlight?

Storytellers resemble the media myth makers of the 21st Century.  We both use the same treasure chest of tales, technique and thoughtfulness.  We both carefully craft according to our agenda. The difference lies in the outcome.  In brief, the outcome is the personal story versus the product advertising.  Advertising is backed by substantial money and clout.  Paradoxically, hope for a better future in 21st Century exists where traditional storytelling prevails.

As a storyteller, my art form demands researching, crafting and sharing.  My research is to look into print resources and to listen to ordinary people. As a committed user of public transport, I acknowledge that listening in transit provides wee gems; for example, a Mexican couple recounted the repatriation and respectful burial of their compatriot, Julia Pastrana, after 153 years.

Storytellers listen.   I listen as life unfolds diverse stories afore my eyes and ears.  I listen to the foibles and frustrations of ordinary people for these are the stories I tell.  To paraphrase Chekhov, my stories witness people, not judge them. My work is to find the details necessary for truth telling and craft them into a story so that others can hear the beauty and the angst of humanity and thereby experience the range of their own humanity.

The details of Pastrana’s story came to light in a New York Times article.  In that one article, I saw two interwoven stories:  Firstly, the story of 19th Century Julia Pastrana who, in life and death, toured Europe touted as the ugliest woman until her corpse came...

[Continued in Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick - Issue #42.]

Keltria Journal #42 - Storytelling 

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Keltria Journal -Storytelling: Life Viewed Through a Mythic Lens


Storytelling:  Life Viewed Through a Mythic Lens

by Daphne Bishop

Photo of a Thatched cottage by Irish Sea

Niarbyl - Thatched cottage by Irish Sea Photo by Joseph Mischyshyn via Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

At the beginning of [amazon_link id="0500270392" target="_blank" ]Celtic Heritage[/amazon_link], the historians Alwyn Rees and Brinley Rees take us into the southwestern Kerry cottage of a traditional Irish storyteller. They describe him as he relates a series of heroic tales, anecdotes, proverbs, rhymes and riddles. He is a “literary artist,” one who has memorized hundreds and hundreds of tales and yet cannot read or write English. His words draw neighbors and friends who visit continuously, sometimes in groups. They sit by the man’s hearth, listen attentively and never interrupt a story in progress.

A hundred years later, in South Africa’s infamous Robben Island prison, a group of apartheid-era prisoners fights for the right to read, write and study. Among them is Nelson Mandela, who will spend twenty-seven years of his life behind bars. His comrade, Sonny Venkatrathnam, is eventually granted the right to one book. After talking it over with his fellows, he chooses the complete works of William Shakespeare, a volume whose tales reverberate with markedly similar political struggles. The poetic words depict the anguish of injustice and untimely death, but also resonate with transcendent themes of human endeavor and triumph. Throughout the bitter years of imprisonment, Shakespeare’s stories, which were composed centuries earlier and in a very different milieu, provide inspiration, intellectual stimulation and hope.

We live in a society that is disconnected from its stories. We inhabit a world severed from the richness of its cultural heritage. Fairy and folktales, myths and sagas that were once taught in schools and formed part of our cultural currency have been forgotten. While many of the earliest scholars who retrieved, preserved and disseminated these stories, especially the English, dismissed them as superstitious and primitive, some modern critiques have been equally harsh. Myths and fairy tales are reduced to stereotypes or, even worse, are too offensive to teach at all.

Millions of Americans are descendants of the six surviving Celtic cultures, yet how many are familiar with the legacy of epic tales, the songs, poetry and wisdom texts that permeated the culture of their forebears? How many realize the marvelous Celtic antecedents of the Arthurian myths, which are arguably the seminal myths of Western Europe, and continue to be retold and reinvented in ever more fascinating ways?


[This excerpt is from a three-plus page article was published in Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #42.  It is available in its entirety to members of the Henge of Keltria until the next issue of the Journal is published via the Members Home page.  It is available to the public in both electronic and print form via Mag Cloud.]

From the Editor – Keltria Journal #42

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick - Issue #42

From the Editor - Tony Taylor

Tony preparing for a handfasting.

Tony preparing for a handfasting.

When I think about spring and summer all sorts of wonderful activities come to mind. Weddings, festivals, conferences, and eisteddfods all contribute to the excitement of these seasons.  The contributions of those who follow the bardic path enhance all these activities and are an important part of Keltria. For example, during Keltrian weddings and handfastings, we often practice the art of storytelling as part of the ceremony. It is great fun and enjoyed by everyone assembled. We weave the usually mundane story of couple’s meeting into a Celtic wonder tale completely blown out of proportion and peppered with innuendo. For example, the bride is the not so-helpless-princess and the groom is a knight who rescues her anyway. The “best woman” and “best man” tell the story then dissolve into an argument as to whether or not the groom is worthy of the bride and vice versa.

With hands on hips, the best man paces back and forth critically eyeing the bride while extolling and exaggerating the virtues of the groom. The groom is subjected to the same scrutiny by the best woman. Each attempts to top the other’s story. These tall tales always contain a bit of truth, as a Celtic boast should. For example, in reality the bride may have cooked a roast beef dinner for her family, but the boast might be that she single-handedly slaughtered the last aurochs when it threatened the tribe. She ate its heart, which gave her the beast’s strength and bravery. Then, she cooked the carcass in a huge cauldron, cast by her own hands, which fed her entire tribe for many days. Ultimately, the dueling duo agree they will allow the wedding to proceed and heartily shake hands.

At gatherings, and particularly at eisteddfod, there is a time and a place for the bards assembled to tell stories and enthrall the audience with their skills. We appreciate the opportunity these events provide us to hone our storytelling abilities.

Cover - Keltria Journal #42

Keltria Journal #42

The theme for this issue of Keltria Journal is storytelling. The authors come from a variety of backgrounds and share different perspectives. We begin with Jenne Micale, who, like many of us, comes from a family that did not speak of their history. She carries us along on her personal journey of discovery.

Isolde Carmondy and Chris Thompson, the Story Archaeologists, lead us through three different tales of the past demonstrating why telling the stories of places (dindshenchas) is important today. They emphasize that tales of time and place provide a connection and continuity, which explains our place in the universe.

Daphne Bishop associates the authors and film makers of today, such as J. K. Rowling, J. R .R. Tolkin, and George Lucas, with ancient storytellers. She challenges us to modernize the ancient Celtic lessons, imbuing them with relevancy to our times, thereby keeping them alive.

Mary Gavan, a professional storyteller, describes the characteristics of an effective raconteur beyond the mere telling of the tale.  If we follow our personal convictions and succeed against all odds, we become the inspiration for the storytellers of the future. However, stories are more than just the content. The successful storyteller captivates the mind, body and the spirit of the audience, creating an aura of wonder.

Finally, in the 1990’s many members of the Henge of Keltria were actively creating new mythology. Inspired by “The Power of Myth” the idea of  “MYTH” (Make Yourself The Hero) Keltrians staged “cattle raids”  at several festivals. The concept was to capture participants’ “cattle icons”, i.e., stuffed toys, by making imaginative plans and implementing them using guile and skill rather than brute force. At the evening’s campfire, tales were told of the day’s exploits in the form of the Celtic boast.

The results were marvelous. Twenty years ago, Beltaine 1993, we published “Cattle Raids”, the first of several stories from “The Book of the Valley”, as an example of how a tale can grow in the telling to become a Celtic wonder tale.  Elements of truth weave through the story but Celtic exaggeration runs rampant.  The story is clearly among the “Best of Twenty Years Ago.” Enjoy.

Send your thoughts and opinions regarding this issue, future themes, or other comments to letterstotheeditor@keltria.org. Be sure to indicate if the letter is publishable.

Note: Keltria Journal Issue #42 is available on the Keltria Member Webpage until Issue #43 releases.