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Henge Happenings: Official Newsletter of the Henge of Keltria

Beltaine 2005 - Issue 66

The Henge of Keltria, P.O. Box 1060 Anoka, MN 55303-1060

From the President

Ah, Bealtaine! After struggling through a hard, cold, desolate winter, we are now rewarded with warm sunshine and the sight of the tender green shoots of baby plants pushing up through the soil in the herb garden. On the farm, we are fitting land and planting onion seed, the first of it going into the ground as I write. The horses will taste the first sweet green grass of the pasture today. Spring came upon us this year all of a sudden, and just as suddenly, we have to be ready to get the work done.

Keltrians call this the Feast of the Flowering, and as with everything Druidic, the term contains more than one level of understanding. It certainly refers to the flowering of the Earth, and yet this flowering reflects our own spiritual opening, as the Dark Half of the year gives way to the Light Half. Flowering indicates fertility, and yet the fertility we celebrate is not only the fertility of the Land, but also our own physical and spiritual fertility as reflected in our increased activity at this time.

Let’s face it: isn’t it just good to be alive in May?

The big news at this writing is the forthcoming and much anticipated Gathering of the Keltrian Tribe 2005. It will be hosted by the Grove of the Golden Horse near Syracuse, NY on August 5th-7th. All Keltrian members and their immediate families are encouraged to attend. The Annual Members Meeting will be held at the Gathering, this year featuring the election of President, Vice-President, and Secretary. In this issue of Henge Happenings you will find more detailed information and registration forms for this event.

In other news, we are still getting information at the Henge Office that the fight over the impending desecration of the sacred Hill of Tara in order to build a highway continues for our Irish brothers and sisters. Letters are urgently needed for Tara. For details about the road situation, please see www.taraskryne.org. I can’t urge you all enough to please continue to write and otherwise support the efforts of those opposing the M3 going through the Tara-Skryne Valley. Send your own letter or customize the letter on the site. Together, we will make a difference!

Have a happy and blessed Beltaine, and we hope to see you in person near Lughnasadh!

Walk with Wisdom,

TopazOwl


Table of Contents

Henge Happenings
Issue #66
Editor: Tony Taylor

www.keltria.org

FromThePresident
The Bard's Path -- The Ancestors - Part 3 of 3
The Druid's Path -- Natural Law
The Druid's Path -- Skeleton in the closet
From the Internet -- Keltrian Druid Blog1
Reviews -- Time After Time by Mairéid Sullivan and Ben Kettlewell
Beliefs of The Henge of Keltria

Drawing of the Druid Sigil

Annual Meeting

This year's annual meeting will be at 1:00pm, Saturday, August 6th at "Nanny Oak Farm" near Canastota, New York. Please see separate anouncement for further details.



© Copyright 2005
All material published in Henge Happenings is
© Copyright by The Henge of Keltria, Inc.
All rights are reserved.
This publication is also:
Protected by the Berne Convention.

The Bard's Path

The Ancestors - Part 3 of 3

By C. Leigh McGinley

[Ed. Note: The Henge of Keltria Correspondence Course is intended to assist members of the Henge to improve their understanding and practice of Keltrian Druidism. This is the final part of Lesson X of the Henge of Keltria Correspondence Course.]

Working with the Ancestors

At some point we find ourselves working with our ancestors in order to further our Druidism. We can learn a great deal about our ancient traditions and our own Celtic spirit from our ancestors, even though they are no longer with us in this world. Some Seers work between those who have crossed the Veil and those loved ones who remain in this world, helping facilitate communication between the Worlds. One must develop a close relationship with particular ancestors in order to gain full benefit of their wisdom. The honoring of the Ancestors mentioned above are all excellent ways to begin to develop that close relationship.

Beyond that, there are ways to begin to open up to communication from the Ancestors. Ancestors can and will communicate with us in various ways. Many times our ancestors will visit us in our dreams with special information or teachings, and it is important to be able to recall what was relayed once the dreamer has awakened. One Keltrian Druid was introduced to her whole family line in this way, beginning from her deceased father and going back for generations, and discovered that there were indeed Druids among her ancient ancestors who were very interested in her progress.

Visions can be powerful messages from one’s ancestors as well. During a Samhain ritual, a Keltrian Druid had a vision of thousands upon thousands of people standing behind him, and he knew that they were all related to him and that they had come to show him that he had the constant support and protection of his kin. He found the vision very comforting, for he realized at that moment that he was never alone in his endeavors. He also found it quite sobering, for he realized too that he is the current culmination of the hopes of his forebears, which is quite a responsibility.

Meditations (either guided or undertaken on your own) with the purpose of meeting or being introduced to your ancestors are often successful. In keeping with Celtic tradition, a meditation or even a nap on the grave of an ancestor could be quite revealing!

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http://www.keltria.org/hengehap/HH-adver.htm.

Keltrian Lineage

Considering the importance our ancestors placed on lineage, it seems only fitting that Keltrian Druids record their own “Keltrian Lineage” in some manner so that future generations of our people will know and understand where they came from – in that respect giving them a sense of identity within the Order. The Henge of Keltria records which Grove and/or which Elder initiated a member into the Order. We also record elevations through the Rings of Birch, Yew, and Oak for each Initiate. In that way, every Keltrian Initiate has a “family tree” within the Order, and can trace his or her lineage back to the very first Keltrian Grove and the founders of the Henge. After all, someday we will be Ancestors ourselves.

Keltrian Initiates wear Remembrance Cords, a string of beads that hangs from the Initiate’s Ring cords or belt during ritual that allows other participants to know how that person was initiated and where they are in their studies along the Keltrian Druid path. The basic Remembrance Cord holds a different colored bead for each of the Feast Days, each of the Gods and Goddesses of our Pantheon who are honored on those Feast Days, and beads for the each of the Three Realms of Land, Sea, and Sky. From the basic cord, other beads are added to mark significant events that have occurred along the Druid’s path. For instance, there are beads that signify the Elder who initiated the person, or whether or not this Initiate was a Correspondence Course student, and/or into which Grove they were originally initiated. There are specific beads for Ring of the Birch, Ring of the Yew, and Ring of the Oak. There are other special events that can be commemorated with special beads as well, so that no two Remembrance Cords are ever exactly alike, but mark the owner’s individual experiences within the Order.

The Keltrian Remembrance Cord tells the history of the Keltrian Order, along with the history of each individual Initiate. By wearing our cords and keeping them up to date, we can see our history at a glance and be reminded of how we are all connected.

Conclusion

Remember that life and death are merely two aspects of the same condition. The spirit continues, whether in this world or the Otherworld, and communication is still possible between the worlds. There is an old Irish belief that, when you think of the dead, for that moment they can see you from their vantage point in the Otherworld. And so, the Ancestors are never farther away than a thought, guiding and guarding and teaching and loving us always from across the Veil.
May our Ancestors guide us along the path to understanding, and may we think of them often.

Recommended Reading for Further Study
Ancient Irish Tales, by Cross and Slover
Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales, by Alwin Rees & Brinley Rees
Scottish Customs, by Sheila Livingstone
Of Irish Ways, by Mary Murray Delaney
Tales of the Celtic Otherworld, by John Matthews
The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual, by Alexei Kondratiev
The Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom, by John and Caitlin Matthews



By-Laws Available

The Henge of Keltria By-Laws 2004-2005 Edition are available from the Henge Office for $5.00 (postage paid).
See the Henge Website for an on-line version.

The Druid's Path

Natural Law

By Tony Taylor

In the beliefs of Keltrian Druidism, belief number three states, “We believe that natural law reflects the will of the Gods”. Member 3992 asked, “What is meant here by “Natural Law?”

Walking the Keltrian Druid Path is difficult in that, although the beliefs are stated, there is little dogma defining exactly what each belief means. Although my interpretation of who “The Ancestors” are may be different from yours, if we can “honor the ancestors” together we will grow in our path together. Likewise, our understanding of “natural law” may be different. That is okay, provided our beliefs are not inconsistent in a meaningful manner. Thusly, the frame of understanding for all of the beliefs within Keltrian Druidism is subject to individual, group, and tribe interpretation.

In determining my understanding of a belief, I find it important to understand the context used by others. Second, it is important to consider and develop my own understanding of the belief and in doing so, eliminate any paradoxes. Finally, because of the sharing nature of a Grove or study group, it is important that my Grove develop or hold a complimentary view so we may achieve group mind during ritual.

“Natural Law” is a very ambiguous term and used differently by many different people. Its use within the “Beliefs of Keltrian Druidism” was intended to help define a Keltrian worldview, context, or frame of belief.  By first understanding what the term means in outside contexts, we can better understand what it was intended to mean within the Keltrian worldview.

First, some see “natural law” as the doctrine that some rights, privileges, or laws are immanent in nature. The concept that people “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” is often referred to as “natural law.” This context indicates that natural law is part of the fundamental nature of things rather than something established by the laws of man

Another view of “natural law” is that of a type of moral code. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, in his particularly convoluted manner, that:

Moral standards are derived from rational thought.
Rational thought is natural to human beings
It is morally appropriate that people behave in a way consistent with their rational nature.

Thus, moral law is derived from the rational nature of human beings (natural law). This was expanded to include that moral law and natural law are really the same thing.

 

Certainly, there are many other widely held notions about natural law, but generally there are two elements, on which most of them depend. First, there is a relationship between the notion of natural law and morality – that is to say there is a logical relationship between “natural law” and moral standards. Secondly, there is a sense that natural law depends upon an authority.

In 1998 & 1999, the Keltria E-Mail List had a series of postings that discussed the beliefs of the Henge. Rain, who later became Vice-President (1999-2003) and is now a member of the Ring of the Oak, wrote quite a bit about this topic. In those postings, she stated that Belief #3 “Essentially means that things happen the way they do according to the will of the Gods and Goddesses. We may not understand the reasons why, but they are there to teach and guide us. Looking at our hardships as challenges from the Gods and Goddesses allows us to learn and grow from them.”

She went on to indicate that Keltrians believe that the Gods and Goddesses are “able to change and manipulate the Universe according to their desires.” Often there is a deeper meaning behind what happens “naturally” – one that is intended by the Gods and Goddesses to provide us a lesson.

Searles O’Dubhain, long time member of the Henge wrote that, “Natural Law is the way that physicality sustains itself, as well as the way in which the present interacts with itself to form the future out of the past. It was created by the will of the gods and is sustained by those who embrace it. It can be changed by those who are able to exist outside of its boundaries, while those who operate solely within it are self limited by their own wills….” 
“This means that our lives are predestined by Natural Law and the will of the gods to the extent that we do not have our own spiritual consciousness and dual existence to allow us to make changes to our own destiny….”

This gave rise to a discussion between Searles and Rain regarding predestination and free will. In the process, a concept emerged that our free choices here on the “Earth plane” have a reflection upon the spiritual world. The Gods and Goddesses also have free will. Their actions reflect back into our plane; that reflection we call “natural law.” 

Lesson IV of the Keltrian Druid Correspondence Course is “Keltrian Druidic Theology.” In the process of that lesson, students are asked to describe “Examples of Natural Law they have seen or experienced.” Autumn Rose, Henge member and student, responded with some particularly interesting concepts. She, like most Keltrians, associates natural law with the will of the Gods but expands the notion into an understanding of natural law being the life cycle of creation and destruction (life and death) [and rebirth]. Therefore, it appears that, to her, the cycle of life is the will of the Gods.

TopazOwl, current President of the Henge and member of the Ring of the Oak, stated that, “the world around us, the natural world, has laws which are observable, and those natural laws (or norms) reflect the minds of the Gods (since they were made by those Gods).” She went on to give some examples of natural law. The first example was that nothing alive could stay alive without consuming something else that is also or once was living. Her second example was that the cycle of nature is such that beings (and seasons) are born, live, die, decay, and are reborn. This cycle can also be considered “natural law.”  These observable phenomena, along with all others in the natural world, reflect the will of the Gods.

The individuals who make up the Henge define the beliefs of the Henge. From students to members of the Ring of the Oak, of those who have considered what natural law is, a variety of explanations is expressed. It could be the cycle of life, the way that life sustains itself, the fundamental sense of morality, the way in which the physical relates to itself, or all of those concepts. One of the strengths of the Keltrian Druid beliefs is that people may view a specific belief slightly differently; however, they are joined together by holding that belief in common. We can all agree that natural law, whatever we believe it to be, reflects the will of the Gods.



 
Keltria T-Shirt Front
T-Shirts now Available

The Henge now has T-Shirts available on-line at:
http://www.cafeshops.com/keltria.
Check them out. We anticipate having a full line of Henge of Keltria merchandise over the next few months. Particular thanks to Ken F. for his beautiful artwork displayed on the back of this t-shirt.

Keltria T-Shirt  Back


 

Skeleton in the closet.

by Phil Hutchens

There have been some passings into the Summerlands in our local community recently. We the Pagan population are growing and aging. We have elders that are really Elders. So with the turn of the wheel and the passing of friends we need to think about our own deaths.

Most pagan’s believe that life continues after physical death. Without going into great metaphysical debates on the form of the next existence. Imagine now that you are able to look back into this world from the next place. Now take it to the next level, you are dead. Let go of the wonders around you for a moment. Look back into the here and now to those you’ve left in your previous life. What are the people you’ve known and loved doing to remember and honor the life you lived?

Is there a big Christian funeral service being arranged for your death? Did you die in the broom closet? Does it even matter now? After all, you’re dead. The predominate culture has some fresh challenges for the Pagans that are facing illness and death. We exist but not many are comfortable being out of the ‘Broom Closet.’ Family, work, and other stuff, all play roles in the decision to publicly acknowledge your beliefs. There is a balance between the Evangelists and the secret orders. We need to create a comfort zone that defines us not solely as a faith tradition.

While I was in training as a Hospital Chaplain two events happened that had me looking hard at the pagan community. They are the primary drivers for this article. As background, the hospital I trained in is one of the burbs. An area I know that runs amuck with pagans as I’ve been to their homes and some rituals. The hospital creates census of patients. On this census is an area for faith, it listed almost exclusively Christian faiths when one was given. I know from my interactions that the census was not completely accurate. I met many people of many faiths that had not listed their actual faith for the census. I still wonder how many that used ‘other’ or ‘none’ were people that felt they couldn’t be themselves there. We all get sick regardless of a belief system.

The first event involved a fairly young person. I never knew this person while alive as part of the pagan community. When our paths intersected, they were dying and unable to communicate. (See living will below) This person was pagan, their spouse was pagan, the person who married them, was pagan. Pretty straight forward it would seem. Except, the patient’s parent did not share or accept their beliefs. It may have only been in their grief the parents denied their child’s beliefs. The legality of patient’s marriage was even challenged. For the parents, a witch did the ceremony so how could it be legal. The parents planned and had the funeral in the faith the patient was raised in -- their faith. For the surviving spouse this added more grief and loss where there was already more than enough. They had a small ceremony on their own, isolated from the support of a larger community and family.

 

The second event involved a friend in the community less than a month after the first event. My friend had an unexpected overnight trip to the hospital. I asked out of curiosity what they had put on the admission form for religion. They said Catholic. I was surprised as they are very active and visible in the Wiccan community. They explained that their family wouldn’t understand. Luckily it was a short and uneventful stay. If it had been longer they would have experienced standard procedure for a majority of hospitals. Catholics are offered communion when Eucharistic volunteers come in, usually twice a week. Protestants have to ask for communion. Cakes and Ale (or Mead) anyone?

About Chaplaincy. It is now commonly called Spiritual Care and is standard in most hospitals. Some are paid positions others require a volunteer work force. Recently funding has been cut and complete programs shut down.

The majority of Chaplains serving are Christians. They are part of an economic and educational base. Traditional seminaries require a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education. From the ACPE web site “Clinical Pastoral Education is interfaith professional education for ministry. It brings theological students and ministers of all faiths (pastors, priests, rabbis, imams and others) into supervised encounter with persons in crisis.”

It is important to know that Chaplains aren’t there to save or convert you. They are there to listen and help you in your spiritual needs. That helping may take the form of calling someone of your own paths, clergy etc. Or if you are a solitaire, finding a connection if you want one. I am aware of only a few Pagans that have taken the training locally. Ideally and in a nut shell a Chaplain leaves their own dogma at the door. They can’t do that if they don’t know who you are. I’ll be honest some may see you are pagan and skip your room, feeling unqualified to understand your beliefs. Yet if you ask they can contact pagan clergy for you.

Our community needs to educate the care-giving community. Dorothy Soelle, in her book, Suffering, wrote: ‘We are never more powerless than when we are silent’

Breaking the silence isn’t going to be easy. As an example one Pagan on admission to a local hospital needed to get the Admissions supervisor to ensure they were listed correctly as a Pagan. The intake person was going to deny them their faith. Just because a person is a gatekeeper doesn’t make them an authority. Another Pagan patient had an uninformed chaplain. The patient didn’t know where to find a Pagan that would minister to the sick, so they did without. The entrenched Chaplains out there need to understand there are more of us and we will support each other.

When do we tell our families? Do you want your beliefs to lay silent with your body? Or do you come out at the funeral? Moments of crisis and grief are not the best time to spring from the broom closet, for that matter any closet. Decide what is important to you before someone else has to do it for you. If you want your crossing over to fit your life and beliefs, don’t have someone else break the news to family. My beliefs are it is better for the survivors to have two separate services/rituals than drop it on them posthumously.

 

Most Pagans figure that will be how it will be. The family will have a service, the coven or grove will have a ritual. While the coven and grove can attend the service, the rest of the bereaved will miss the ritual. It can be argued that a limited attendance ritual is cleaner energetically and spiritually speaking. Conversely, it might be energetically and spiritually upsetting to lay a Pagan soul beneath the Cross or a Star of David. You have to decide and act.

One of the most important things a person can do here in this life is to fill out a living will or health care directive. Everyone over the age of 18 should have one of these in force. This isn’t just for Pagans. My father-in-law has a few health issues but is doing better. For awhile he took monthly ambulance rides. This went on for over a year. I asked him not long ago what he wanted done. He reminded me he wanted to be cremated. I asked to be sure, if that was only after he was dead. He said yes, along with a few other things. Then the conversation got harder, I asked what health care he wanted if he couldn’t say for himself. He said we kids could decide. I explained that without direction there were two possible outcomes and we would never know which was right.

A: He would die prematurely because we withheld care. Or

B: He would live a long suffering death because we wanted everything medically possible done for him to stay alive.

Well, dad told me a few more things and then lightly touched on his wishes. No extraordinary nor heroic care. Start the conversation for yourself, talk to your doctor, and your loved ones.

Besides telling your caregivers what you want, you can make your funerary wishes known too. Use this for opening a dialogue to explain your beliefs. Or, if you prefer you can denote a secular service that at least won’t conflict with your beliefs. Then tell those in your community to have the private ritual you want.

Now when the time comes you can look back across and know they knew you.

Questions and answers on Health Care Directives can be found at: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/fpc/profinfo/advdir.htm. Another source of information about advance health care planning is the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. See: www.nhpco.org.

For those interested in Hospital Chaplaincy for the Pagan community, or wish to help in compiling or being a volunteer resources for MN and western WI, contact Phil via the Henge Office.

[Phil Hutchens is a Keltrian Druid in the Ring of the Oak and Ordained Interfaith Minister. He is available as a Celebrant for life events and hospital ministry in the Twin Cities (MN) area. "Skeleton in the Closet was first published in the Samhain 2004 issue of the Minnesota Pagan Press.]



 

From the Internet

Keltrian Druid Blog:

Edited by Tony Taylor

[The Keltrian Druid Blog is a weblog for Keltrian Druids, Members of the Henge of Keltria, and others interested in Celtic spirituality. The following are highlights of this blog. They may be found at http://keltria.org/Blog1.]

Druid Candidates in Carlisle
The News & Star published an opinion regarding the upcoming election in Carlisle (UK) that "Careful scrutiny of election pamphlets will be needed, in order to eliminate those with a tendency towards the occult, citing membership of extreme religious cults or witches’ covens and attending Druid ceremonies."
Wow! From the sounds of it, there must be several Pagans running. What a progressive place....

Druid Temple in San Francisco
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the SF Girls Chorus was close to having a home at 44 Page Street. The building, nearly 100 years old was originally built as a Druid Temple. It apparently still has some charming architectual traces of its past including Greek column capitals and a sculpted goddess head here and there.
A quick look across the internet failed to find any photos of or from the building. Any Druids in the San Francisco area want to take some photos?...

Book Release: Oak: The Frame of Civilization
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc. announced a publishing date of June 2005 for Oak: The Frame of Civilization by William Bryant Logan.
According to the publisher it is "An elegantly written natural, cultural, and eventful history of the oak tree -- and the interaction between oaks and men. Logan tells an enthralling story and makes a convincing case that as a supremely adaptable and generous instrument of human needs and desires, the oak tree not only was shaped by, but shaped the human.
Of course, as a Druid, I am particularly interested in what Logan has to say about the interactions between oaks and men. You can purchase it on Amazon.Com (Advance Sales).

  Ancient Druid Altar for Druid Sacrifices?
The Juicee News Daily had an article about "Haunted Places in the United Kingdom."
The article talks about the Chislehurst Caves as "a labyrinth of dark, eerie mysterious passageways which have been hewn by hand from the chalk, deep beneath Chislehurst. There are over 20 miles of caverns and passageways, dug over a period of 8000 years. The vast complex of caves are a maze of ancient mines originally carved out in the search for flint and chalk. They are divided into three main sections, Saxon, Druid and Roman. Each section was later connected by digging joining passages. There is a haunted pond deep within the caves, the legend goes that a white lady appears and floats across the water. For many years there was a reward for anyone who could spend the night alone down in the caves, to date there have been some unsuccessful attempts, but so far nobody has been able to do it.. There is also an ancient Druid altar where sacrifices were carried out in the Druid section of the caverns."
I haven't seen any clear evidence that ancient Druids actually performed sacrifices. I wonder what evidence they have....
please visit the web log.



 

Events of Interest
Beltane Brouhaha
Myrddin Wolfe, Henge member, would like to see a large Druid presence at this year's "Beltane Brouhaha" held in North Carolina. The NC Piedmont Church of Wicca is hosting it's 6th annual Beltane Brouhaha at Camp York, in SC's King's Mountain State Park from April 29th through May 1st.
Pre-registrations are being taken via the web (See: http://www.churchofwicca.org/beltane/) or through the mail at:
NCPCOW
PO Box 3
Shelby NC 28150
Meet up with Myrddin and other Druids at this event.


DVD Cover - Time After Time

Reviews
Time After Time
by Mairéid Sullivan and Ben Kettlewell

Review by Golden Nedlog

Time After Time is a moving DVD of music, poetry, prose and images. Mairéid Sullivan and Ben Kettlewell have produced a contemporary music video which unites her Irish and his Scottish-Cherokee American heritages in a marriage of visual and aural bliss.

The one hour seventeen minute DVD is truly a work of art. With images of natural landscapes, sacred gathering places, and ancient symbols and icons in Ireland, North America and Australia set to the music from Mairéid previous released music CD’s, Dancer, For Love’s Caress and Never Drift Apart. In addition the poems of W.B. Yeats and the famous speeches of Chief Seattle and Chief Joseph Nez Perce are brought to life by Ben’s instrumental compositions. I discovered after watching the DVD a few times that I was able to visualize the beautiful imagery just by listening to the music.

If you are looking for a soothing yet moving experience, curl up in your favorite spot and enjoy Time After Time. Additional information can be found on the web at www.lyrebirdmedia.com.

[ I used "Time after Time" as a background music video during a recent Druid get-together. It went over really well, was a great conversation piece, and kept the kids quiet too. - ed.]


Henge Happenings is intended for members of The Henge of Keltria. However, many of the particularly interesting articles have been made available to non-members. If you are a member of the Henge and need a replacement copy of Henge Happenings, please contact the Henge Office. Please report any broken links to the Web Master.

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