From the Vice President – Samhain 2013

Photo of BeanSidhe

BeanSidhe

In this season we are inundated with the sights and sounds of the macabre. The ghost that says boo and the bloody zombie that slowly chases us. All of these symbols of death lend a lightheartedness to the realization that death is part of our life path. The emotions we experience as a loved one passes can not be fully described. We vary from sadness to anger and guilt with many other emotions that seem to be beyond our control. As druids we are always communing with our ancestors. We hold great honor for those who have passed before us. Samhain gives us the opportunity to work the task of letting go of to the physical, remembering the mind, and honoring the spirit of those who have passed.

As we step into the Celtic Winter we begin to receive the sustaining gifts from The Dagda’s cauldron of bounty. Gratitude is necessary for what we may be gifted with from The Dagda. If your body is craving steak and you receive a can of spam add a little hot sauce and be thankful.

The Dagda also blesses us in the Celtic Winter with the opportunity to renew our spirit.  The earth mother takes a sigh from growth and production. We see nature retreating. Animals secure their beds and rely on the bounty that the Celtic Summer has provided. We too can retreat into our mind and spirit and take this time to enrich our knowledge of the world around us and of ourselves.

The energy of The Mórrigán allows us to simplify and cull negative or disruptive aspects that we may have allowed to enter our life.

This is a time of gratitude and introspection. We now have the opportunity to walk the path of the responsible druid. One who is sustained with gratitude in mind, nourishment of body, and enrichment of spirit.

 Walk with Wisdom,
BeanSidhe

Excerpt – Cattle Raids – 1

EXCERPT From Keltria Journal - Issue #42

Book of the Valley: Story One -- “Cattle Raids”

— Caillean ap Gwynedd

Tales are woven of love and sorrow, of adventure and magic, a little truth and a little laughter. Great are the deeds done and many of them true, and many more which grow in the telling, and who now may say which is which? Listen, Cymry, and I will tell you tales from the Book of the Valley, tales of the first great Cattle Raid....

Photo of Ewes Lookat at Camera by Lisa Jarvis [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Ewes looking at Camera

Long had the day stretched, and how long exactly is difficult to kin for time spent in the Valley passes not as time passes elsewhere in the world. Fleet had been the warriors and cunning the battles, and many the cattle won and lost and won again. More than cattle alone were traded that day, and upon that hinge will the door of this tale swing shortly. Twilight at last called the Celts to their Tribe fire, there to let the sweat dry from their bodies and the heat to cool from their weapons, and to watch the shadows wage timeless war of their own with the sunlight, winning night with the knowledge that the battle would be lost or won again come morning.

Logs thrown on the past night's embers startled sparks into the darkening skies like fiery bats loosed in hunt for lightning bugs, and the Cymry eagerly settled into their accustomed places to partake of the evening's entertainment. For it is truly spoken that no Celt loves aught so much as a well-crafted story, and so it is told in days past Aonghus Bleidd ap Fainne was beat about the ears by his wife for composing a lusty song celebrating their lovemaking ere the latest lovemaking was quite complete. Any road, the listeners in place and the míd horns full to brimming, the first of the tellers of tales rose to stand in the fire's light.

Iarwain this was, he who it is told was visited by one of the Lords of the far north who traveled from those storm gray lands on a task which is quite a tale in its own right, and who brought rain and thunder to the Valley one summer's afternoon (and other things as well....). And so the first tale was told of the Sun God's love for the Dark Lady, and how the very laws of the Universe were altered for one evening only so that the two (who travel each in hir own...

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

Keltria Journal #42 - Storytelling

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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.

-SO

Keltria Journal -Storytelling: Life Viewed Through a Mythic Lens

EXCERPT

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?

Continued...

[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 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 – In the House of No Stories

EXCERPT: In the House of No Stories:

Finding the tales of my ancestors

by Jenne Micale

Photo of Jenne Micale

Jenne Micale

In the elementary school classroom, the teacher pushed primary-color tacks onto the map of the world, one for each of our ancestors. Specks of plastic dotted the usual places: Italy, Ireland, sometimes Africa. Our assignment, she said: Find out where your family is from for a book report and, of course, the ceremony that was thumbtacks-on-the-map.

On the way home, my next door neighbor glowed and crowed of her European mutt heritage: English and Danish and French, and whatever else she remembered to say that day. She chanted the names of her line and recounted her family's history as I kicked leaves on the sidewalk. The neighborhood used to be her family's farm, even though it had since been reduced to one green and white farmhouse in disrepair.

At home, I turned to my parents, who shifted their feet and turned to busy themselves with some mundane task: “Where do I put my thumbtacks on the map?”

Continued...

[This excerpt is from a three-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 via the Members Home page.  It is available to non-members of the Henge and in print form via Mag Cloud.]


[amazon_image id="190571324X" link="true" target="_blank" size="medium" ]Talking About the Elephant[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id="0982726376" link="true" target="_blank" size="medium" ]To Fly By Night: Craft of the Hedgewitch[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id="B003IOS0NE" link="true" target="_blank" size="medium" ]The Twisted Book[/amazon_image]

Keltria Journal: White Ravens and Druid Birds

Excerpt: White Ravens and Druid Birds:

Wisdom, Power and Prophecy in Traditional Celtic Bird Divination

by Sharynne MacLeod NicMhacha (Sharon Paice MacLeod)

Photo of Sharon Paice MacLeod

Sharon Paice MacLeod

Receiving guidance from the appearance, movement and sounds of birds and animals is one of the oldest forms of prophetic divination, and is found around the world in both ancient and indigenous cultures. In traditional societies humans are understood to be part of the natural world, not separate from or above it. The other living beings who inhabit our world – animals, birds, fish, and insects – are perceived as having wisdom, power and blessings which they can share with human beings, as long as they are honoured and respected.

For those involved with the study or practice of Celtic religion, there are many options to choose from when learning how to understand and interpret the movements and wisdom of our partners in the living web of life. One method is to connect with other living beings and interpret their arrival according to your own personal spiritual or mythic symbolism. Certain animals may appear in dreams, meditations or journeys, and accordingly will have special and perhaps very personalized significance for you.

Photo of a White Raven

White Raven

For example, for one person the owl may be a wonder to see but not evoke a sense of connection. For another the owl who appears in dreams and then on the branch of a tree outside your window will constitute a very different experience. Keeping track of the content of dreams, meditations and other personal workings helps track the appearance and potential symbolism of animals, birds and other creatures.

Another option is to learn about the traditional symbolism of animals in the area in which you live. Someone living in Maine may see different animals than someone in Texas, as might someone living in the south of Britain and the north of Scotland. People following Celtic spiritual traditions in Australia experience a very different natural world than the homelands of their Celtic ancestors, and may not see any of the animals described in Celtic mythology or folklore. Respectfully learning about indigenous traditions associated with birds and animals in your region is another way to connect with the wisdom of the natural world.

For those people practicing Celtic spirituality in Ireland, Britain and other parts of Europe, the indigenous beliefs of their own ancestors are available to them, and are present in the landscape around them. The traditional symbolism associated with divination in Celtic traditions may also be practiced in other areas as well, where many of the same animals may be seen (parts of the north-east and north-west of the United States and Canada, for example). Similar animals may be found in other regions, and some associated symbolism can be connected with those creatures in the area you live in.

Continued...

[This five-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.]

Keltria Journal 41Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick #41

Yule 2012-Imbolc 2013

Includes:

White Ravens and Druid Birds by Sharynne NicMhacha
Against Over-interpretation by Nimue Brown
The Visit by Tony Taylor
Birds of Ill Repute by Jenne Micale
The Pelegian Heresy by Brendan Myers

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Edge of November

Edge of November

by Karl Schlotterbeck

[Archdruid Karl provides inspiration in a poem/song called “The Edge of November.”  There is an on-line version of the music at http://www.keltria.org/Sounds/The_Edge_of_November.mp3 where Karl provides both voice and accompaniment (guitar).] 

He’s things to do in his work-a-day world,
Entranced by computer screens.
Flat images show him another flat scene
But they are not what they seem.
So he says good night to his co-workers there -
For a moment he actually cares;

Then off he drives in his fashion machine.
He’s got places to go and be seen.
He makes his way home on the crowded flat road
Absorbed in his thoughts and dreams
Till he comes to his house and parks his car
And hears the whispering leaves say:

Chorus

Everything’s alive
And dressed in its disguise;
There’s light within the dark
And masks that hide the eyes.
Each one with a tale to tell:
Our friends and kin beyond the veil.

But he’s things to do and he turns away
And walks to his house alone.
Unlocks the door and checks his phone
Lights the pumpkin on the sill
He turns on the light to invite them all in
As something stirs within.

The children come, he shares their joy
His worries they all die.
He sees the shining light in their eyes
Behind the shadowy masks.
As he turns to the flickering light in the glass
The voices come and ask: Isn’t. . .

Chorus

{Bridge Spoken}

As the rays of the rising moon
Penetrate his lonely gloom
He surrenders to the voiceless choir
And once more feels that spirit’s fire.

He went next morning to his work-a-day world
On the first day of November.
He hummed a strange uncanny tune
And decided to remember:
He has friends in the fire and a light in the dark
And a sister in the Moon.

Chorus

[Ed note:  An audio of this song is available here.]

-------------


Books by Karl Schlotterbeck

[amazon_enhanced asin="B009CMUXV8" /][amazon_enhanced asin="0595258786" /]

Review: Celtic Visions

Celtic Visions: Seership, Omens and Dreams of the Otherworld

by Caitlin Matthews

Reviewed by Autumn Rose

Celtic VisionsTypically for this author, Caitlin Matthews’ newest book is a blend of information and practical suggestions.  On the information side, she gives us nine meaty chapters describing and interpreting the psychic practices of our druidic Irish and Welsh ancestors.  The descriptions go well beyond dictionary definitions and are illustrated by quotations mostly from original sources.  In addition, Matthews offers in some cases interpretations not previously encountered by this reader.

For example, she touches on the corrguinnacht, the crane posture.  In this posture the practitioner stood on one foot, with one hand raised and one eye closed, while performing a spell.  According to Matthews, the aim was to “cancel” one side of the body in the physical world so that it could appear in the Otherworld, thus allowing the practitioner to exist in both realms simultaneously.

Another such interpretation involves the ancient Irish custom of imposing geasa, or taboos.  Matthews describes geasa as soul contracts, designed to protect the soul for as long as the contract was not broken.  If the person in question was a king, the protection extended to his kingdom.  Violations of geasa chipped  away at the soul, and successive violations weakened it progressively.  Thus, in the tales of Cú Chulainn and of Conaire, when each had violated all his geasa, he became vulnerable to death.  It’s interesting to note that this interpretation links the strength of the body to the integrity of the soul.  In the case of a king, again, the health of his soul determined the health of the land.

Beyond these and other explorations of ancient Celtic psychic beliefs and customs (e.g., the bull ceremony , the Three Cauldrons, poetic inspiration and so on), Matthews seeks to help readers adapt these customs for personal use today.  To quote the author herself, “This book will not make you a seer, but it will help you become better attuned to your instincts, imagination,  insight, and inspiration.”  When an author makes a claim like this for his or her work, it should always be understood that fulfilling the promise depends almost entirely  on the effort the reader/practitioner puts into it.  Reading the book is not enough by itself.  Nobody gets from Point A to Point B by reading a map.  One has to undertake the journey.

Matthews gives the reader plenty of help along the way.  At the end of each chapter she provides a suggested exercise intended to put the practitioner in closer touch with both the proximate world of Nature and the Otherworld.  For example, after the chapter titled “Omens and Divination” she shows how readers, by habitually observing their natural surroundings and noting events that follow, may learn to recognize omens that can inform and guide them.

The icing on the cake of this book is a pronunciation guide---always a gift to those not versed in Old Irish.  I recommend Celtic Visions, especially to beginning students, for its wealth of  information and  its usefulness as a guide to personal development.

[amazon_link id="1780281110" target="_blank" ]Celtic Visions: Seership, Omens and Dreams of the Otherworld[/amazon_link]

  • Hardcover: 242 pages
  • Dimensions: 7.5 x 5 inches
  • Publisher: Watkins Publishing, 2012
  • ISBN: 978-1-78028-111-7