Cylch Blodeuwedd

Druidic Grove in North-West Wales

Earthwalking: Celtic Spirituality for the 21st Century

by Aethnen - January 20th, 2009.
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by Gillian Monks

To some, Celtic Spirituality is about a pantheon of colourful characters who, long ago forsook all morals and conscience; and the practices of a priesthood and people of some couple thousand years ago. To me, Celtic Spirituality is the thread which still runs through the fibre of our Celtic culture and life today, which is still as fresh as it was for our ancient forefathers with perhaps more relevance for us in the light of our wider scientific knowledge. The number 3 holds a highly significant position, and there are three ways in which many people of Celtic descent still evince their (sometimes far-distant) roots.

All religions, all spiritual traditions, have sacred orientations . . . in Celtic Spirituality one of the most important is the Hearth, the heart of the Celtic home. This represents the nurturing, sheltering, material focus of the tribe, group or family, the place where¬† everyone comes to be warmed and fed, and also where that food is prepared. but the Hearth is also where, certainly in the past, people began and ended their day; talked and sang, dreamed round it. It houses the element of fire and its smoke drifting up the chimney provides an ever open doorway to “otherworlds”. The outward trappings of modern life may appear to have altered out of all recognition, but humanity moves far more slowly. How many people meet and chat at the washroom door, or congregate around the office coffee machine or electric kettle? Perhaps with the centrally-heated home, a lit candle placed in the centre of the dining table is the closest many may get to a Hearth–but do make sure that all the family gathers around that table at least once each day!

Another deeply ingrained Celtic character trait is that of Hospitality. In the Celtic household, the guest, their needs and wishes, reign supreme. In the past, it was a massively unforgivable transgression to break this deeply honoured belief, which is what made so many unworthy actions perpetrated by various Celtic deities, and traitorous activities brought about by erring mortals so particularly heinous and heart-breaking. Taken to its deepest, fullest interpretation, “Hospitality to all who travel” becomes unstinting and unconditional love, for we are all “travellers” along our various Paths and all in need of succour, tolerance and friendship. Further, it encourages us to really listen for the heartbeat of the Divine which we then recognise in both ourselves and everyone else.

This brings us to the third point in this spiritual triad, perhaps the most important, which informs and colours the other two so deeply, and which effects the whole fabric of Celtic belief. The primal Celtic way of seeing the world is that the domains of seen and unseen realities are not separated or locked off from each other. Rather, these domains of energy and information are interrelated interfused. Furthermore, Divine Life permeates every thing about us, animate and inanimate. Not just humanity, or animals or plants even, but the rocks, the water; each breath of air that we breath, each molecule of clay that our houses stand upon or are built from … the plastic coating of our various appliances .. the pulses of electricity that run through our cables.

Certain places; boulders, trees, hills, streams,have always held special energies for humanity as a whole, not simply the Celtic sector, but the Divine perceived in these areas of spiritual abundance can also be traced to and through everything. As Celtic spirituality is rooted in a deep love of life, and that life is seen to emanate from everything. It offers the profound view of the world as sacred, rooted in hard physical experience, not just conceptualisation. For authentic spiritual practice requires a practical spiritual framework. This is based on fostering an empowered spiritual cosmos within the human being which seeks to support the emergent spiritual reality that frequently lies dormant within each of us.

At the end of the day, no form of spirituality worth its salt is going to provide you with all the answers in a neat little package. This is especially true of the Celtic world; others may share their wisdom and experience, but after all the talking is done, you have to go out yourself and learn, experience, come into contact with both your inner self and all the living realities surrounding you. Celtic Spirituality actively encourages and supports this. The Path lies before you . . . !

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