Introducing the Celts
There is nothing so truly hidden, but what you
Many Western people are both fascinated and repelled by
the archetypes and paradoxes of the Celts. The romantic heroes, who lived
in a time of discomfort, disease and danger. The strong warriors, who
collected heads as war trophies. The wise druids, who used sacred groves
for feasts and sacrifices.
The religion of the Celts is THE quintessential
Western religion, predating by 500 years the Middle Eastern religions
from which Judaic, Christian and Moslem religions emerged. Today, we
must willingly suspend our disbelief to imagine shapeshifters moving
into and out of animal bodies, wise dragons, magical
cauldrons and severed talking heads.
You may be far removed from your roots. You are removed
from the Celts not only in time, but in your involvement with life. Many
of us are like aliens on our own planet, unable to survive without our
modern artifacts. Have you ever stalked your food in the forest, with a
hungry family depending on your hunting skills? Have you ever depended
on your garden crops? Have you ever helped a woman birth a child?
When did you last repel slavers or headhunters? Your ancestors would
understand the Celts. Can you?
Imagine that the seasons are a gift from the gods, and
that a special midwinter feast rejuvenates the sun. Imagine that the
spirits of trees need gifts. Imagine making love below a sacred plant
that never grows on the ground, to ensure healthy babies. Imagine
celebrating each new Spring with symbols of fertility for the benefit of
Traces remain. Have you attended a Christmas feast?
Have you decorated an evergreen tree at the winter solstice? Have you
kissed under a sprig of sky-planted mistletoe? Have you given and
received eggs and rabbits at the Spring Equinox? These Celtic rituals
have been sanitized until little remains but stories for children.
These stories originated in searches for power.
In every culture people find ways to transcend conventional reality.
In your civilized high-speed manner you may use civilized high-speed drugs,
and your city streets are home for the homeless results. Yet the
"altered states" of Celtic tribes were never entertainment,
nor ways to escape a boring life, but to find healing or
"magical" powers, or useful enlightenment.
If magical powers benefited a Celtic community, the
practitioner was honored and revered by the community as a key for
the community's survival. If the magical powers were only for the
benefit of the user, the Celts distrusted and avoided such people.
Before the Romans introduced the Greek alphabet, we
know little of written Celtic languages. Perhaps Ogham, a code of
simple rune-like lines, preceded the use of the Greek alphabet,
represented the silent finger signals used by hunters and warriors. The
old stones are mostly silent. The Celts are known from archaeological
studies, classical writers and folklore, which offer tantalizing clues
to the beliefs of this once "world power".
Although the "Dark Ages" are dark, there are
glimmers of light from both ends of the time tunnel. And now, Celtic
Path workshops offer experiential journeys into Celtic knowledge -
recreating Celtic skills through interactive study and self-exploration.
Celtic Dawn & Celtic Twilight
The first references to the Celts are by the Greeks:
the geographer Hecataeus (about 500 BC), speaks of the cities Nyrax and
Massalia in the lands of the Keltoi. Hellanicus (about 500 BC) describes
the Celts as practicing justice and righteousness and the historian
Herodotus mentions the Keltoi tribe living around the Danube River around 450 BC.
Aristotle wrote that the Celts were from "beyond Spain",
and Ephorus (about 350 BC) describes the Celts as "having the same
customs as the Greeks" and being on the friendliest terms with them.
Plato called the Celts "drunken and combative" and
called the Celts "barbaric" (Celts sacked the Greek
city of Delphi in 273 BC). The Celts were often described as tall and
fair, warlike and masterful. Caesar lists the Western Celtic tribes as
the Belgae in the north and east, the Celtae in the center and the
Aquitani in the west and south of Europe.
Primarily traders and warriors, the Celts exploded
from their Central European homeland in the fifth and fourth centuries
before Christ, and conquered Bronze-Age Europe. The Celts (Galatae
in Greek - see Paul's Letter to the Galatians) were old allies of the
Greeks. Celtic chiefs made covenants with Alexander the Great, swearing
a Celtic oath "If we break this agreement may the sky fall on us and
crush us, may the earth gape open and swallow us, may the sea burst out
and overwhelm us".
Compare this to the "Book of Leinster",
1000 years later, where the Ulster heroes declare "Heaven is above
us, and earth beneath us, and the sea is around us. Unless the sky shall fall
with its showers of stars on the ground where we are camped, or unless
the earth shall be rent with an earthquake, or unless the waves of the
blue sea come over the forests of the living world, we shall not give
ground". The elements of nature and of magic were part of
everyday Celtic life.
The druids and bards filled many roles in the Celtic
world. They were the priests, diplomats and judges of a complex culture,
and were profoundly respected, both by the Celts and by the ancient
Greek and Roman historians. Celtic philosophy became the medieval code
of chivalry, and is deeply embedded in modern Western cultures.
However, the flames of Celtic culture dwindled following many invasions,
and were nearly extinguished by the Christian church. Although the
Celtic Church was a synthesis of Christian beliefs with the elder
religion, and although it kept Christianity alive during the Dark Ages, the later
Roman Church showed little tolerance. The Celtic Church was disbanded.
Old Celtic techniques were labeled sorcery, and
practitioners were stripped of dignity and power. They were feared and
persecuted by the Roman Church. Practitioners were called wise-ards, and
later wizards. Honorable wise-craft became illegal witch-craft. Roman
Church missionaries replaced the traditional roles of the bards and
druids. Celtic customs survived longer in rural areas of Wales, Ireland
and Scotland but gradually faded into myth and folklore.
But we're still here - and we're coming back!
In prehistoric times, the Welsh island of Anglesey
was a centre of mystical training. Although the Romans destroyed
the Druid centers long ago, the mystery and wisdom of Anglesey remains,
hidden in the sacred sites and in the lineage of local people.
We can teach you Celtic skills, either in courses on
Anglesey (near Llandonna - home of the infamous Llandonna Witches). Our courses
usually include tours of Anglesey's sacred places, including a night inside a
prehistoric Neolithic burial chamber.
Celtic training is not for the faint-hearted. We provide
training for adults who are willing and eager to break through their blocks to
experience the incredible realms of the Celts. This training will have
particular significance for people with Celtic roots!
- Celtic World: A two day workshop introducing
Celtic worlds and philosophy
- Path of Merlin: A two day workshop exploring
the life and skills of Merlin
- Celtic Cross: A two day workshop exploring the
- Holy Grail: A two day workshop to find YOUR
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