From the Vice President – Imbolc 2014

by BeanSidhe

Photo of Vice President BeanSidhe

Vice President BeanSidhe

Greetings fellow Keltrians,

As I began to prepare to write this letter I decided to look back at some older additions of the Henge Happenings. I wanted to see if I was on the right track with what is to be conveyed in this quarterly newsletter.

I started with HH #31 which was released August of 1996. Issue after issue what continued to jump out at me was the sheer determination to produce the finest quality Druid origination possible.  My chest swells with Celtic pride as I Continue reading

Knitting is a Service Too

By Tony Taylor

Photo of Tony Taylor taken by Karl

Tony Taylor

I received an email from a long-time member asking what could she do for the Henge. Although she does not practice Keltrian Druidism, she loves the Druid way. She enthusiastically supports the Henge while celebrating with a local grove of another tradition.  She also has skills in many disciplines; she writes poetry and songs, shares her plant knowledge and lore with others, and gives psychic readings. Her degree in pastoral studies aids her in her daily work as do the Gods and Goddesses.  She also mentioned that she knits.  I went on-line and looked once again at examples of her knitting - impressive, beautiful work. Clearly, she is a very talented person and has much to share.

“Ah-ha,” I exclaimed aloud.

In Keltrian Druidism, we think of the Bard, Seer, and Druid as paths or areas of service rather than levels of accomplishment. That is to say, Keltrian Druids of all levels of accomplishment act as Bards, Seers, and Druids. Anything you do that honors the Ancestors, reveres the Spirits of Nature, or celebrates the Gods and Goddesses is a service to them.

For example, we celebrate Boann at the Feast of Flowing and at the Feast of Flowering.  Boann represents the woman cycle of life during which an individual takes care of self. We always need to be cared for like the Maiden, take care of others as a Mother, and take care of our community, which is the responsibility of the Crone. These are the four stages of care in our lives. Throughout all of our lives, we have times where we take care of ourselves; however, the other three phases of life are never excluded as we do so. In other words, the characteristics of all of the Gods and Goddesses are within you. They ebb and flow in their influence in your daily life. Similarly, you do things that fit the path of the Bard, the Seer, and the Druid every day.

The key to being a Keltrian Druid is service to the triad. Keltrian Druids, first and foremost, consciously honor the Ancestors, revere the Nature Spirits, and celebrate the Gods and Goddesses of the Irish Celtic pantheon. I encourage members to share their knowledge, skills, and abilities with the other members. Members can share through writing, song, photographs, workshops, pretty much any medium that will print.

In our knitter’s case, if she decided to knit a pouch for ritual use, she could write about the iconography she used. For example, if a Keltrian sigil, awen symbol, or maybe a cauldron representing The Dagda, were used she could describe why she chose that specific iconography. She could  explain the specific purpose for which the pouch is intended and the method used to consecrate and dedicate it for that purpose.  Photos of the pouch, possibly even in a simulated ritual setting, could accompany a potential submission for publication. (Note: Photos during actual rituals are not appropriate.)

Knitting as type of knot magic and is quite ancient.  Concentrating on the pouch’s use or the intended recipient while working on it creates an object of both beauty and power. Such a work is easily service to the Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Gods as well as to the Henge.

Follow me on Twitter: @tonytaylor50 and @Keltria
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[Originally Published in Henge Happenings #100 - Samhain 2013]

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HH-99 – From the President – Lughnasadh 2013

From the President

 Lughnasadh 2013

By Tony Taylor

Gathering of the Keltrian Tribe and Annual Meeting

Photo of Tony Taylor with deer staff

Tony Taylor

Wren and I have been busy with our many projects. Certainly the 2013 Gathering of the Keltrian Tribe and Annual Meeting of the Henge of Keltria was at the top of our list.  Every gather is great, but this year was among the best.  I hope we will have the gathering hosted there again sometime.

I enjoyed the field trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park, as well as workshops by Topaz Owl, Eibhlean Owl, and Steward of the Wood. It was really nice to meet our OBOD guests and a newer member from California who drove over 1000 miles to the gathering. She easily earned bragging rights for driving the longest distance to attend. There were many opportunities to connect with the nature spirits. Marmots, pikas, elk, magpies, and humming birds visited us throughout the field trip.

Book of Keltria

The big project Wren, Karl, and I are working on is the new Book of Keltria, which is our correspondence course in book form. There are new theology and ritual chapters replacing the previous versions of the correspondence course material. Also the Gods chapter has undergone substantial rewrite. A big change in the theology chapter is that the “beliefs” have been replaced with “hallmarks” of Keltrian Druidism. The fundamental difference between the beliefs and the hallmarks is that within Keltrian Druidism, what you believe is not as important as what you do. Hallmarks are based upon actions rather than words.

Book of Ritual

Another big project underway is a substantial rewrite of the Book of Ritual.  There are many things that were not covered adequately in  previous versions of the Book of Ritual. I hope to get this information incorporated and a new edition released soon after the Book of Keltria. This expanded edition will provide details on the how, what, and why of Keltrian ritual.

 

From the Secretary – Beltaine 2013

by Eibhlean

Photo of Secretary Eíbhlean

Secretary Eíbhlean

Beltaine 2013

Keltrians around the world are feeling the expansive spring and pre-summer energy energy. We celebrate in many new and innovative ways, so let’s share our joy of learning and growing as a tribe.

Our 2013 Gathering is coming together beautifully and we encourage everyone to join us in Colorado for what we anticipate will be a great and empowering Gathering....

We continue to look for innovative ways to reach out and engage our collective and the greater community.  Please share your stories and insights regarding honoring our Ancestors, our joy at sharing this amazing world with the Nature Spirits and our devotion and service to the Gods.  Keltrian Druids appreciate the many unique perspectives that intelligent and thoughtful minds bring to the tapestry of our shared understanding.  We stand together in sadness and joy.  We continue to strive every day of our lives to Walk with Wisdom.

With gratitude,
Eíbhlean/Owl
Secretary – Henge of Keltria

Keltria Journal: The Visit

EXCERPT - The Visit

By Tony Taylor

Mountain Lion Walking

Mountain Lion on a path

The setting was a suburban, single-family home one mile from downtown Quincy, MA, and eight miles from downtown Boston. This is a densely populated  - or as the locals say, “thickly settled” area and an unlikely place for the wonderful, as in full of wonder, event about to transpire.

The Druids were gathered for a rare ritual. The elevation of a Druid to the Ring of the Oak occurs only after a minimum of seven years of study, experience, and service.  More often than not, it requires twice that many years to be considered for this honor.  The candidate was, as expected, excited as he meditated on his past accomplishments and future challenges.  He wondered what new mystery would be revealed and what new experiences would unfold.  The other Druids focused their minds on providing the ultimate experience for him. Often, the clergy performing the ritual gain their own new insights from the process.  It was an extraordinary and auspicious day.

The Chief Druidess, the Candidate and I....Continued...

[This excerpt is from a two-page article was published in Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #41.  It is available in its entirety to members of the Henge of Keltria via the Members Home page.  It is available to non-members of the Henge via Mag Cloud.]

From the President – Samhain 2012

Samhain 2012

By Tony Taylor

Keltria Journal

Photo of Tony Taylor with deer staffThe first new edition of Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick was published in time for Fall Equinox. All members of the Henge should have received access to the download edition.  If you had trouble getting your copy of Keltria Journal, please let the Henge Office know. Print and electronic copies are available on line at www.magcloud.com.

The theme for the next issue of Keltria Journal, number 41 is "Nature Spirits."  How are birds, animals, and reptiles observed in divination? How do you relate to the Nature Spirits in your everyday life?  In what way can or should our interactions with the Nature Spirits impact our daily lives and activities?  Submission guidelines are posted on the Keltria website. If you don’t have access to the internet send a SASE to the Henge Office to request a copy of the submission guidelines.

In the Works

The Council of Elders project, The Book of Keltria is still in progress. Current estimate of completion date is the first of the secular year.

Publishing a 2013 Henge of Keltria Calendar is still in progress.  The Board of Trustees has reviewed the submissions and selected the ones they think were best both in terms of content and reproduction quality. A special emailing will be sent to announce its availability.

[Ed Note: The Calendar has been published. It is available from Cafe Press.]

Keltrian Druid Calendar

Tony’s Druid Blog

Reminder that many of my thoughts are posted to Tony’s Druid Blog http://keltria.blogspot.com/ on a regular basis. Recent Blogs have included:
BBC Radio - The Druids
Tony's Recommended Reading
Druid ritual closes Paralympics in London 2012

- Walk with wisdom, peace, and honor.

Druidism: The Druid and the Littlest Unitarian

By Tony Taylor & Wren Taylor

Photo of Wren & Tony Taylor

Wren & Tony Taylor

The small, dark haired girl eyed me owlishly. Her mother stood directly behind her with her hands resting lightly on the child’s shoulders. She explained that her daughter’s classmates told her that Druids were evil, and if she ever met one, surely she would be sacrificed to Satan in an instant. This is the reason that she brought the child to my presentation. The woman wanted her daughter to see for herself that people who follow a different religious path are nice, normal people, with jobs and kids.

I received an invitation to speak at a Unitarian church in suburban Minneapolis. The congregation was interested in learning more about paganism in general and more specifically Druidism. Dressed in a sport coat and tie, I focused on our similarities rather than our differences, and continued that theme into the question and answer period. The queries were intelligent and pointed.

As the end of the session neared, a gentleman said that I made my point regarding similarities; however, he was more interested in the differences. In a space that was just more than a heartbeat, I blurted out, “Dominion over the Earth.”  That’s when the fun began.

Relationship to Nature.

Druids of all types develop a personal relationship with the Earth. Understanding the three Celtic Worlds of Earth, Sea, and Sky is fundamental to Keltrian Druidism.  Also, developing a close relationship with all creatures, seen and unseen is important to many Druids. Within Druidism, nature is not separate from man nor was it given to man for his domination nor even stewardship. Nature is not something to be subdued nor overcome; people are a part of nature and need to live in harmony with it.

Archdruid Karl summarized it extremely well.  “One of the essential differences between mainstream Christianity and Druidry is traditional Christianity’s vision of self-fulfilling alienation: in alienating itself from the world, it also alienates humankind not only from direct contact with Divinity, but also from the natural world and from themselves as well. In that unnecessary chasm, “redemption” occurs only within a narrowly defined relationship with their nominally singular god and that god’s exclusive chosen people (or church). Thus, mainstream Christianity lives out a mythos of exile along with hope for only a partial redemption. It can never be whole because the wholeness of each human being is not admissible. It is a distortion of an ancient myth of incarnation that should result in ever-widening circles of soul-expansion that lead not only to a higher state, but a deeper one as well – roots growing not only into the heavens, but deeply into the earth as well.”

The connection that Druids have with the earth and all its creatures is a defining characteristic of Druidism.

Relationship to Divinity

Christians and Keltrian Druids have complex views of divinity.  Many Christians believe in one God; however, polytheism underlies much of Christian thought when describing the Trinity.  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are often viewed and treated as individual entities. Druids embrace a wide range of perceptions regarding deity from monotheism to polytheism and even panpolytheism. Others hold the concept that individual gods and goddesses are aspects of or manifestations of a single, unifying, unmanifest deity.

One key difference is Keltrian Druids are not told what they must believe; rather, if they follow the ritual formula, they are practicing Keltrian Ritual. In Keltrian Druid practice, the individual is free to experience the gods and goddesses in a way that suits his or her sensibilities. The idea is that deity is flexible.  We do not dictate dogma.

Relationship to Life

Keltrian Druid belief #4 states, “We believe that all life is sacred and should neither be harmed nor taken without deliberation or regard.”  Druid practice encourages us to live life in its fullness and develop our spiritual relationships with this world, the Otherworld, and everything in our universe.  Animals and plants are not resources to be exploited nor dominated.  Rather, we seek cooperation with them.

As mentioned previously, man is not separate from the world.  Keltrian Druids interact with the divine and its endless aspects and manifestations in the natural world. We are not dependent upon external redemption nor a Messiah for salvation.  Each individual must cultivate their own growth and evolution through the development of personal, social, and spiritual relationships with all life and with all spiritual entities. Life is a wonderful thing.  It should not be filled with terror, pain, and suffering.

Wisdom

 

Photo of Wren Taylor

Wren Taylor

One of the key goals of Druid life is the mastery of wisdom. A Christian approach to viewing the world usually limits perception to two options such as yes/no, good/bad, black/white.  To gain wisdom, Keltrian Druidism encourages practitioners to employ triads in problem solving.  The Druid looks for alternate ways to understand the Earth, her inhabitants and the universe.  There is always a third perspective to consider and understand; sometimes there are more.  Certainly there are some techniques that can be used to simplify the process. For example, how does a particular issue affect Mind, Body, and Spirit?  Employing the specialized disciplines of the Bard, Seer, and Druid, how do these perspectives enhance the understanding of a particular issue?  A dualistic view of a situation or question creates argument and righteousness.  A triadic view creates discussion. compromise and creative solutions.

As an exercise, try to balance a playing card on the tips of two fingers extended in a peace sign. It can be done, but it is unstable.  Now add a third so that your fingers resemble the legs of a three-legged stool. The card is now stable.  This demonstrates thinking in triads. Referring to the black/white example of dualistic thinking, the third leg of the stool - the triad - is not grey.  Grey merely continues on the same line, the same path.  The triad is pink, or sunset. Perhaps it’s a coffee pot. It needs to be a totally different perspective.  This is difficult to master; however, you will succeed with practice.

Religion Evolves

Druidic religion changes; the beliefs, practices, and relationships of modern Keltrian Druids would be unfamiliar to Druids of a hundred years ago and alien to the Druids of the ancient past.  Druids adapt to a changing environment as the relationships between them and the spirits around them evolve.  Codifying beliefs into creeds in response to millennia-old heresies is not in the Druidic playbook.

Texts are not sacred because they were handed down by the divine; rather, they are sacred if they produce the effect of making our spiritual relationships with others stronger. Likewise, a place becomes sacred when its effect is to foster stronger or better-defined spiritual relationships with others.

For example, although my relationship with trees is significantly different from  an ancient Druid’s, we both would have a profound experience encountering a giant sequoia for the first time.  The way in which we experience such an encounter may be very different, but the importance and the impact of the experience would significant for both of us.

The Henge and Keltrian Druids adapt to new discoveries and scholarship. If recognized experts agree on an aspect of a new discovery, which affects our practice, we embrace it.

Cyclical Time

Most Druids see time as cyclical. It is a world without end; there is no “end of days” nor a linear creation of all. Was there a “big bang” which started it all? Probably. Could it have been the aftermath of another universe, which collapsed into a singularity to start the cycle of our universe? Quite possibly. All things come into existence, have a life, and then cease to exist only to nourish the birth (and become part of) of something new.

Three Foundations in Keltrian Druidism

Keltrian Druidism is a complex set of beliefs and practices. Individuals are free to interpret the information gleened from the required reading and come to their own conclusions as long as they are in direct support of the three foundations of Keltrian Druidism:

  • Honor the Ancestors.
  • Revere the Nature Spirits
  • Worship the Gods and Goddesses of our Tribe.

In my preparation to speak with the Unitarians so many years ago, I focused upon the similarities of our traditions. How were Druids the same as other traditions the Unitarians would know and understand? Persecution exists today, but twenty years ago the atmosphere was extremely hostile. We wanted to demonstrate that we were not all that different. We merely had a different perception of the universe and our relationship to it.

During my visit I grew in my understanding of the differences between Druids and other religions and learned much of what makes those differences important.  And the little Unitarian learned that Druids may be a little different, but they don’t have two heads and really aren’t very scary.

 

The Fawn

Lessons to an Aging Druidess from the Natural World

By C. L. McGinley

Photo of C.L. McGinley

C.L. McGinley

Two summers ago, I journeyed to Boston by train to attend a week-long intensive that resulted in certification in Harner Method Shamanic Counseling. It was a fascinating and sometimes grueling 5 days of shamanic journeying and self-evaluation. On the final day of the seminar, I met a new spirit on my culminating journey – a woman named Morning Glory, who was accompanied by three animal spirits: a doe, a yearling doe, and a doe fawn. I touched noses with all three deer, establishing a bond, and Morning Glory told me she was to be my teacher for a time. She admonished me to return to her as soon as possible, for she had many things to teach me.

Life being what it is, I did not get a chance to return to that glade in the deep woods where I had met the woman and her deer (a place I had accessed from the Upper World, much to my surprise at the time). I did journey, but it was for other people and animals. I once received a message on a journey for another (several months later) -- a message through my spirit horse, who told me that Morning Glory wanted me to come to visit her. I said that I would, and fully intended to, but other things kept getting in the way and I did not find the time.

I was busy building my shamanic life & wellness coaching business, you see, and I was working in the Otherworld to find lost dogs and help people heal in body, mind, and spirit. I had no time for journeys to Spirit for myself. On the physical plane, I traveled to an equestrian trade show on Memorial Day weekend with my good friend, Ravendancer, to promote my business in person and give a presentation. The day after my return home, I received a phone call from a young man. He told me he had a fawn that he wanted to bring to me. I am a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, so I asked pertinent questions and found out that he and his buddy saw a doe dead on the side of the road who had obviously been hit by a car. On closer inspection, they discovered a small fawn standing by the body, and so they picked the fawn up and took it home. They were told by neighbors that, without a license, they could be arrested for even having the fawn, and so they wanted to bring the fawn to me. I agreed that they could bring the fawn to me, and I went out to the barn to prepare an empty stall between two of my horses.

I was not prepared for this fawn, as much as I tried to be. Oh, I had everything I could possibly need for her comfort: goat milk replacer, hay bedding, a heat lamp for warmth, baby wipes, three different sizes of bottles and nipples. Still, I was not prepared. When the boys brought the little deer to me, I determined immediately that she was a doe fawn, but she could not have weighed over 5 pounds, and I estimated that she was not two days old yet, because she still had her umbilical stump. I had never seen such a tiny fawn before. I removed the fawn from the car and I carried her, kicking and bleating, into the barn and then into the stall I had fixed up for her. I placed her carefully on the loose hay bedding and sat down to be at eye-level with her. We were left alone, she and I, and we looked into each others’ eyes, each assessing the other – and I was not prepared for the sorrow I saw there in those big, brown, long-lashed eyes. It came to me then that her name was Deirdre, for her sadness was palpable. The loss of her mother, and the witnessing thereof, had affected her deeply.

And it came to me quick as a flash as my heart went out to the little creature that this fawn was sent to me by Morning Glory, and was perhaps even the physical manifestation of the spirit fawn with which I had touched noses in the Spirit World. I did not know if the plan was to send her to me even as I met her in the Spirit World. I only knew that with the arrival of this fawn, Spirit was at work in my life once again. Our connection was instant and powerful. From the moment we locked eyes, I became Deirdre’s mother and she, my child.

Deidre in her pink coat

She trusted me implicitly, because, well, she already knew me. For my part, I groomed her and fed her the bottle every 4 hours like clockwork, getting up at least twice a night for the first month and a half. It amazed even me that I could do that, that I could get myself out of bed and go out in the cold night to feed a tiny baby that was not really mine. I was surprised that it wasn’t some chemical instinct that drove me, a result of oxcytocin letdown or other maternal hormone. No, it was the knowledge that I was the only mommy she had now, and the love I felt for this small, helpless baby from the start. That was what drove me to sleep in fitful bursts of 2.5 to 3 hours at a time, to mix formula and heat bottles to just the right temperature in the microwave, and to spend most of my waking time sitting on a mounting block or on the floor in a stall in the barn, snuggling and playing kissy-face with a doe fawn that wore a little pink dog jacket sized for a Chihuahua as insulation against the chilly spring evenings.

After a rough and scary two weeks of scours (diarrhea), I finally got her on a very expensive fawn replacer formula (instead of the goat formula) that I ordered online, and adjusted it so that she could tolerate it. She never did tolerate even the fawn formula full-strength. But fawn formula wasn’t the only thing she ate. From the first week, she experimented with just about everything green or brown from the earth. Her “playpen” was my fenced garden yard, where lovely raised-bed garden boxes beckoned with such fawn-ish delights as peas and beans and red chard, where trees shaded the well area in the heat of the day, providing a cool hiding place. Her favorite things to eat were fallen leaves from all kinds of trees: willow, aspen, oak, alder, ash. Grape and rose leaves were a favorite as well, and for some reason, she loved geranium petals.

She learned the meaning of the word “no” fairly quickly, as most toddlers do when they get into trouble. She got on well with all the other animals, taking a liking to the dog and to Alf, the old horse, especially. One of her favorite things was breakfast with Mommy on the terrace, and she shared bits of cantaloupe from a fork with delicate grace. She soon had the run of the house, and discovered that bottles could be had on the terrace, in the kitchen, or in the barn – wherever the Mommy was. She started to understand going outside to do her business.

Her sadness began to evaporate. Her legs grew strong and agile. She played and jumped about like a goat, and bleated in loud complaint like one as well. And one of the things she complained about loudest was restraint.

This brings me to what Deirdre has been teaching me. For all the basic life lessons I have taught her, she has taught me much more, things both precious and profound.

She has taught me that love is a bond that cannot be broken, but that holding someone against his or her will breaks trust and frays the bond – and that restoring that trust may take some time. Deirdre and I traveled from barn to garden yard each day, and on that short journey, there were a great deal of scary things that instinct told her to run away from. I realized that in the wild, she would run away from, not toward, her mother at the first sign of trouble. It made sense in the wild: the fawn would hide in the woods or tall grass while mother led the predator away from her. However, it would be dangerous at my farm, where roads and traffic and farm vehicles were always a danger, and should she run in the wrong direction – well, I didn’t want to think about it. So I bought a small dog harness and walked her on a retractable lead from barn to garden, where she could then be turned loose to play within the safety of the fence. This worked wonderfully for a few months, but as she grew older and stronger, she began to fight the restraint, and got herself in quite a tangle a few times. She began to fear and resent the harness, until eventually, I couldn’t even get near her with it. She once got all four feet and her neck caught in the harness and immobilized herself. Filled with terror at not being able to move, she let out the most heart-wrenching sound I have ever heard from an animal. It was a sound of desperation, and of finality –it was a death cry. I hope to never hear such a sound again, for it broke my heart. She would approach me with fear after that, fear that remained and caused conflict within her for days.

Photo of Deirdre the deer at 4 months

Deidre - 4 months old

I tried an adjustable dog halter. It was not feared like the harness, and she was easier to control, but she still fought it with all of her heart, and threw herself on the ground like a drama queen when I asked her to wear it. I realized that fawns were not like foals, who eventually got used to the idea of being lead around by a halter. Deirdre, after six months, is still not used to such things. Her spirit is wild and free, and restraint does not work with her. As Mommy, I am able to guide her where I want her to go with a push from behind, and now she has her own turnout behind the barn and I don’t have to lead her anywhere. Consequently, she follows me everywhere.

So she has taught me that sometimes protection and prison are the same, depending on how you look at it.

She has taught me that fear is a dangerous thing – sometimes more dangerous than the thing we fear. It can make us do foolish things that might jeopardize our safety. For this reason, children of any species still need boundaries for their own safety, until they develop the wisdom to understand and reason.

She has taught me that gentle and quiet does not mean weak or ineffective. Ask my cat, Moby. One day he decided he had had enough of Deirdre licking his face while they were in the garden, and he swatted at her face with one clawed paw. Her immediate reaction to his threat was to strike at him rapidly with both front hooves. He reacted the only way he could: he ran! This was no helpless fawn!

More than anything, she has taught me how to be a real mother, and to know what it is to have someone depend on me for everything – food, shelter, warmth, love. I’ve had baby animals before, especially foals, but this was different somehow. The bond the others had was with their natural mother first, and then with me. This fawn thinks that I am her mother. She has taught me a capacity for love and an infinite patience that I never knew I had. She has taught me that I have more strengths than I ever knew, and that some of them are the quiet, unassuming kind. She has opened my heart and my soul to the healing power of love. She has saved me.

I do not know what the future will bring for Deirdre. I do not know if she has the savvy to be turned out in the wild; after all, she has never really been wild – and yet I have seen her instincts kick in at the most crucial of times. I do not know if she will decide one day to leave here and live the life of a doe, or if she will stay protected for the rest of her life. When she is old enough, I will let her decide, because I love her.

But I thank Morning Glory every day for sending me Deirdre. Those lessons she promised to teach me are still being learned, every day, through the doe fawn, and I am guessing that there are more to come. There is one thing I know for certain, though: I have never been so blessed.