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Fideal
July 23rd, 2004, 12:06 AM
Who here is a Celtic Reconstructionist? I noticed very few threads on this in the 'paths' forum, so I've decided to start one!

Which of branch of Celtic Reconstruction do you practice (irish, scottish, manx, welsh, ect.)? Do you have a patron god, or one god you feel closer to than most? If so, who? How did you get into reconstruction, was it personal interest, divine intervention, ect.? Have any memorable/humorous encounters to share? Any favorite folktales or myths?

Hopefully this isn't an excessive amount of questions :bigredblu I just like hearing other peoples stories!

Cradoc
July 23rd, 2004, 12:31 AM
I have not yet choosen a path but I do have Celtic ancestry (Scotland). I have heard very little about this path and it sounds interesting, indeed. If you have any advice or reading/learning material, it would be greatly appreciated. Anything that may help me choose a path.

Thanks

Fideal
July 23rd, 2004, 12:35 AM
I have not yet choosen a path but I do have Celtic ancestry (Scotland). I have heard very little about this path and it sounds interesting, indeed. If you have any advice or reading/learning material, it would be greatly appreciated. Anything that may help me choose a path.

Thanks


One of the best books I've read on the subject is The Apple Branch, by A. Kondratiev. I don't know much about scottish mythology, but the Carmina Gadelica, compiled by Alexander Carmichael has christo-paganish folklore, invocations and prayers in it.

The poem/ballad/legend Tam Lin is from Scotland, and available online at Tam-Lin.Org, along with speculation and information about the background of the poem, which gives some insight on the way the scottish people thought and believed.

Sibylle
July 23rd, 2004, 05:23 AM
I second that, Kondratiev's book is a great place to start! I'm drawn to celtic in general myself, but I haven't figured out yet which part in particular. The thing is that what most people today view as "Celtic" is actually just the late Celtic cultures, in what is today Britain and Ireland. I'm pretty sure I'm of Celtic ancestry, but I'm from continental Europe (Germany, to be exact), and I'm currently starting to explore the Celtic culture in Germany and Austria (like the so-called Hallstatt culture near Salzburg), where I currently live.

Fideal, what is your approach? (yeah, I'm curious too ;) )

mothwench
July 23rd, 2004, 05:42 AM
i try to practise (i'm still in the studying putting it all together phase) what i call eclectic reconstructionism, and celtic is among the mix. some scottish (concentrating around fyfe) and some continental european (southern germany) to be more exact.
though to be honest at the moment i'm concentrating more on the norse and germanic peoples of northern germany and england. the celts are on the back burner for the moment, but still very much a part of my path. :)

Morr
July 23rd, 2004, 05:55 AM
I'm sort of in an "in between" place with my spirituality, but im very drawn to Celtic Reconstructionism, especially Irish.

mucgwyrt
July 23rd, 2004, 06:39 AM
i try to practise (i'm still in the studying putting it all together phase) what i call eclectic reconstructionism, and celtic is among the mix. some scottish (concentrating around fyfe) and some continental european (southern germany) to be more exact.
though to be honest at the moment i'm concentrating more on the norse and germanic peoples of northern germany and england. the celts are on the back burner for the moment, but still very much a part of my path. :)
After all, why would you want to study the celts when you can study the anglo-saxons?! :heybaby:

mothwench
July 23rd, 2004, 06:41 AM
After all, why would you want to study the celts when you can study the anglo-saxons?! :heybaby:
:fishsmack: hehe, it's the kilts, baby. ;)

mucgwyrt
July 23rd, 2004, 06:54 AM
:rotfl: you are so right!

Seren_
July 23rd, 2004, 10:41 AM
:fishsmack: hehe, it's the kilts, baby. ;)

:lol: Which is why I married a Scotsman. Wuff.

Folktales:

Carmina Gadelica, Book One (http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/gaidhlig/corpus/Carmina/)

Hopefully they'll put the other books on one day....

Fideal
July 23rd, 2004, 10:58 AM
:fishsmack: hehe, it's the kilts, baby. ;)

mmm kilts! :T

I guess I should answer my own question, yes? Allright then! I'm an Irish Reconstructionist (though I'm mostly Welsh, I was just sort of 'tagged' by the Irish gods early). The closest thing to a patron god I have at the moment is Manannan Mac Lir, who I plan on dedicating myself to in the very near future.

I've had a few interesting encounters with Manannan, one of my favorites being during my Beltaine celebration. I was out in the woods, and during the ritual part, I was giving offering to some specific gods, and (I swear-the whole time I was outside it was nothing but sunny and hot!) there is a huge thunderclap! I looked up to see just one, small black cloud floating around above me, and crackling with lightening. It was then that I realized I'd forgotton to mention Manannan, so I figured it was his form of a friendly reminder! :lol: I've also had a lot of weird situations with waterfowl...

Sibylle
July 23rd, 2004, 11:16 AM
I've had a few interesting encounters with Manannan, one of my favorites being during my Beltaine celebration. I was out in the woods, and during the ritual part, I was giving offering to some specific gods, and (I swear-the whole time I was outside it was nothing but sunny and hot!) there is a huge thunderclap! I looked up to see just one, small black cloud floating around above me, and crackling with lightening. It was then that I realized I'd forgotton to mention Manannan, so I figured it was his form of a friendly reminder! :lol: I've also had a lot of weird situations with waterfowl...
LOL! That sounds... interesting. Manannan MacLir is not one to omit!

And I agree, kilts ARE... well, sort of... :mmm:

Morag Elasaid Ni Dhomhnaill
July 23rd, 2004, 12:37 PM
Scottish Recon here. I tend to focus my practices to those that were in vogue when the Dal Riadans were forming their kingdom in and around Argyll and the Hebrides. I don't really have a patron deity, though I used to work with Nehelennia (who is actually Germanic) a lot before I realized that I would be happier as a recon.

As for books, The Apple Branch as mentioned is great, though it is a little to pan-Celtic for my taste, and the rituals have too much of a Wiccan flavor for me. I highly reccomend however the Silver Branch by F. Marian MacNeill, all four volumes, and of course any Scottish Recon should read the Carmina Gadelica.

Oh, and I have a Scottish Recon thread somewhere further down the page that I've been meaning to work on (shuddup Macha :razz: ) that has a huge list of recommended books and websites.

And macha, we all know the Scots are a vast improvement on your marauding Anglo-Saxons. :fishsmack

flikyflikerson
August 1st, 2004, 04:31 PM
Herro ^_^

I'm an aspiring Celtic Reconstructionist, focusing on the Irish gods (a natural choice I feel, being Irish myself) - I am rather confused as to the nature of the gods and godesses however - is Danu the mother goddess of ordinary mortals as well as the Tuatha de Danann? Should I be using the stories of the Tuatha De Danann as a means to finding the nature of the Irish gods? Are Danu and Bíle the 'highest ranking' gods? (if you know what I mean by that) ... Also, what about the discrepencies in descriptions of the Tuatha de Danann in some old texts? - some say they were worshipped as gods, other say they were just repsected and renowned for their many talents and wonderous feats...

Just lookin' for some advice from those older & wiser than I.

As for the my patron gods... I do find myself rather drawn to Lugh for some reason. Very odd. And to the Morrigan - even odder still. I am trying to learn as much as I can about them through reading any and every myth/legend I can get my sticky hands on.



Slán leo ^^
- Fliky.

Seren_
August 1st, 2004, 06:12 PM
I'm an aspiring Celtic Reconstructionist, focusing on the Irish gods (a natural choice I feel, being Irish myself) - I am rather confused as to the nature of the gods and godesses however - is Danu the mother goddess of ordinary mortals as well as the Tuatha de Danann? Should I be using the stories of the Tuatha De Danann as a means to finding the nature of the Irish gods? Are Danu and Bíle the 'highest ranking' gods? (if you know what I mean by that) ... Also, what about the discrepencies in descriptions of the Tuatha de Danann in some old texts? - some say they were worshipped as gods, other say they were just repsected and renowned for their many talents and wonderous feats...


You might find this article of use (and the website in general for info on Celtic Reconstruction):

Danu and Bile (http://www.imbas.org/articles/danu_bile.html)

It's quite dense, but don't be put off...

My own take on the subject (and I might be out on a limb, here) is that there aren't necessarily "a mother and father goddess of them all" kind of structure with the Irish pantheon. The idea seems to me to be more an assumption of modern scholars and antiquarians based on Classical gods that has been applied to the Irish gods, whether it's actually there or not. If you get me. There is certainly a hierarchy implied from the mythology, but as you can see, it's quite muddled.

Which leads me on to your next question...Myths are an excellent way of getting an idea of the nature of the gods you're interested in, or the gods in general. But especially with Irish myths there are a few problems with the tales as they've been transmitted to us today:

First off, they were written down by Christian monks a long time after Christianity became the dominant religion of Ireland. This means that:

A. There is a long time between "Pagan times" and the time they were recorded for elements of the story to change, get lost, added to, or plain misunderstood.

B. Certain elements may have been changed deliberately, to either tone down the pagan elements, or make it more Christian etc, or changed/lost purely through misunderstanding of the content. One obvious example is that a lot of the more explicit content seems to have been "edited". Politics of the time they were recorded in may have been a factor as well.

Also, you have to remember that with the Tuatha De Danaan, they began life as one of the six invading peoples of Ireland, according to the Lebor Gabala (Book of Invasions). The confusion you're probably finding here is that yes, they are likely to have been gods at some point - like the Dagda's name means "the Good God" for example (indicating that he was at least regarded as having been a god by the time he made it onto paper), and they certainly all display divine qualities.

However, as the story goes the Tuatha fought with another invading people, the Milesians, whom they lost to. The Milesians agreed to split Ireland with the Tuatha De Danaan, and from that day they were given everything below ground in Ireland, whereas the Milesians got everything above ground, and became the Irish people. From this time on the Tuatha De Danaan become more like faeries than gods, and were popularly regarded as being faeries rather than "Old Gods" by the Irish people in medieval times (and even today). They became the sidhe, Shining Ones, who lived in the ancient burial mounds and hills of Ireland, sometimes benevolent, sometimes malevolent to the people.

This idea also fits in with the Christian viewpoint - not gods, thankyou, because there's only one God. So the monks writing down the stories might have played down their divine aspects because these would have been rather uncomfortable for a monotheist. Basically, the stories and lore about the Tuatha evolved.


As for the my patron gods... I do find myself rather drawn to Lugh for some reason. Very odd. And to the Morrigan - even odder still. I am trying to learn as much as I can about them through reading any and every myth/legend I can get my sticky hands on.


An excellent starting point is the Battle of Mag Tuired, available at Sacred-texts:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/cmt/cmteng.htm

The Morrigan also plays a pivotal role in some of the Ulster Cycle tales, like the Battle Raid of Cooley (Tain Bo Cuailgne), and Lugh is (a) father of the Ulster hero Cu Chulainn.

Imbas also has articles on them (although I have to say there are some points I disagree with):
Lugh (http://www.imbas.org/articles/lugus.html)
The Morrigan (http://www.imbas.org/articles/morrigan.html)

Morag Elasaid Ni Dhomhnaill
August 1st, 2004, 07:27 PM
An excellent starting point is the Battle of Mag Tuired, available at Sacred-texts:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/cmt/cmteng.htm

The Morrigan also plays a pivotal role in some of the Ulster Cycle tales, like the Battle Raid of Cooley (Tain Bo Cuailgne), and Lugh is (a) father of the Ulster hero Cu Chulainn.

Imbas also has articles on them (although I have to say there are some points I disagree with):
Lugh (http://www.imbas.org/articles/lugus.html)
The Morrigan (http://www.imbas.org/articles/morrigan.html)

So what points do you disagree with Seren? I thought the article on Lugh in particular was quite good. And I think that the article on The Morrígan could have been a little more in depth.

flikyflikerson
August 1st, 2004, 09:20 PM
Thank you very much for that most excellent reply - That Danu and Bile page was v. informative.

...Regarding the Milesians and the Tuatha De Danann... If the Milesians are the very people that would have revered the Tuatha De Danann as Gods but are shown in stories to be another 'invading people' who split Ireland in two with the Tuatha De Danann...is this some sort of 'material world, spirit world' metaphor, or do you reckon it's a Christianisation of events - sort of showing the old Gods as being 'lesser'?

Hehe...as for the Sidhe...To this day I remember my brother sitting on his bed with an elder branch and mysteriously asking my cousin and myself to hold it for ten seconds. I refused, knowing his wicked ways well, but my cousin, always up for a challenge, stepped forward and grasped the branch.

When we asked him why he had gotten her to do this, he told her he had taken the branch from a fairy fort. My cousin promptly burst into hyterical tears and we spent the day in fear that she had been 'cursed by the fairies' - Up to the point where she made me sleep in her bed in case they put thorns in it - I, personally doubting that they could be so easily fooled, agreed to do so and slept quite soundly.

Older brothers can be evil creatures at times ^^

Seren_
August 2nd, 2004, 02:30 PM
So what points do you disagree with Seren? I thought the article on Lugh in particular was quite good. And I think that the article on The Morrígan could have been a little more in depth.

Actually, yes, the Lugh article was good, although I can think of more bits to add. Like why the Tuatha De Danaan have two gods that are many-skilled - Lugh and the Dagda.

With the Morrigan, it's more a couple of points that could have been made a bit more clear, I think. The author says: "The origins of the Morrígan seem to reach directly back to the megalithic cult of the Mothers. The Mothers (Matrones, Idises, Dísir, etc.) usually appeared as triple goddesses and their cult was expressed through both battle ecstasy and regenerative ecstasy."

I'm not aware of any megalithic representation of a "cult of the mothers" having existed in Ireland, and in other Celtic countries it seems to have been largely influenced by the Romans...in portrayal, if not the concept. Either way, there's not much proof that it reaches back to megalithic Ireland, so it's existence shouldn't be automatically assumed as fact, is all.

Another point is the Mothers seem to have been just that...not hag-like or warlike. Hags don't seem to have figured in the portrayal of the continental "Triple" Matrones. I'm not sure there's much evidence to link them with the Morrigan at all, really.

Seren_
August 2nd, 2004, 02:53 PM
...Regarding the Milesians and the Tuatha De Danann... If the Milesians are the very people that would have revered the Tuatha De Danann as Gods but are shown in stories to be another 'invading people' who split Ireland in two with the Tuatha De Danann...is this some sort of 'material world, spirit world' metaphor, or do you reckon it's a Christianisation of events - sort of showing the old Gods as being 'lesser'?

That's one way of looking at it, yes. If you look at the structure and content of the Book of Invasions, you can see quite a few Christian overtones...A flood that wipes out an entire people except one man who survived in a cave and apparently lives to this day (to record everything that happens). Someone called Bartholemew (not a very Irish name...). And if I recall, the Milesians came from Spain having been exiled from Egypt (very Moses-esque), linking them to the men of the Bible even more (genealogy being very important to the Irish).

On the one hand, these could be additions to a tale in order to reconcile the pagan elements into a more Christian framework. On the other, the Biblical overtones could be entirely accidental and we're reading too much into it, or they've been played up by the writers. Or something in between...

Another point is that the Irish are a very superstitious bunch (as in Scotland). Belief in the Tuatha, or the sidhe, was very strong, and so they wouldn't want to disrespect them. By the medieval times they might not have been gods anymore, but they still had power, so as you say they would have very much ruled the "spirit world". They were only ever demoted to a certain extent, in some ways.

Am I making any sense.... :kooky:


When we asked him why he had gotten her to do this, he told her he had taken the branch from a fairy fort. My cousin promptly burst into hyterical tears and we spent the day in fear that she had been 'cursed by the fairies' - Up to the point where she made me sleep in her bed in case they put thorns in it - I, personally doubting that they could be so easily fooled, agreed to do so and slept quite soundly.

Older brothers can be evil creatures at times ^^

:lol:

Kern
August 3rd, 2004, 06:46 PM
You might find this article of use (and the website in general for info on Celtic Reconstruction):

Danu and Bile (http://www.imbas.org/articles/danu_bile.html)

It's quite dense, but don't be put off...

My own take on the subject (and I might be out on a limb, here) is that there aren't necessarily "a mother and father goddess of them all" kind of structure with the Irish pantheon. The idea seems to me to be more an assumption of modern scholars and antiquarians based on Classical gods that has been applied to the Irish gods, whether it's actually there or not. If you get me. There is certainly a hierarchy implied from the mythology, but as you can see, it's quite muddled.

Which leads me on to your next question...Myths are an excellent way of getting an idea of the nature of the gods you're interested in, or the gods in general. But especially with Irish myths there are a few problems with the tales as they've been transmitted to us today:

First off, they were written down by Christian monks a long time after Christianity became the dominant religion of Ireland. This means that:

A. There is a long time between "Pagan times" and the time they were recorded for elements of the story to change, get lost, added to, or plain misunderstood.

B. Certain elements may have been changed deliberately, to either tone down the pagan elements, or make it more Christian etc, or changed/lost purely through misunderstanding of the content. One obvious example is that a lot of the more explicit content seems to have been "edited". Politics of the time they were recorded in may have been a factor as well.

Also, you have to remember that with the Tuatha De Danaan, they began life as one of the six invading peoples of Ireland, according to the Lebor Gabala (Book of Invasions). The confusion you're probably finding here is that yes, they are likely to have been gods at some point - like the Dagda's name means "the Good God" for example (indicating that he was at least regarded as having been a god by the time he made it onto paper), and they certainly all display divine qualities.

However, as the story goes the Tuatha fought with another invading people, the Milesians, whom they lost to. The Milesians agreed to split Ireland with the Tuatha De Danaan, and from that day they were given everything below ground in Ireland, whereas the Milesians got everything above ground, and became the Irish people. From this time on the Tuatha De Danaan become more like faeries than gods, and were popularly regarded as being faeries rather than "Old Gods" by the Irish people in medieval times (and even today). They became the sidhe, Shining Ones, who lived in the ancient burial mounds and hills of Ireland, sometimes benevolent, sometimes malevolent to the people.

This idea also fits in with the Christian viewpoint - not gods, thankyou, because there's only one God. So the monks writing down the stories might have played down their divine aspects because these would have been rather uncomfortable for a monotheist. Basically, the stories and lore about the Tuatha evolved.



An excellent starting point is the Battle of Mag Tuired, available at Sacred-texts:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/cmt/cmteng.htm

The Morrigan also plays a pivotal role in some of the Ulster Cycle tales, like the Battle Raid of Cooley (Tain Bo Cuailgne), and Lugh is (a) father of the Ulster hero Cu Chulainn.

Imbas also has articles on them (although I have to say there are some points I disagree with):
Lugh (http://www.imbas.org/articles/lugus.html)
The Morrigan (http://www.imbas.org/articles/morrigan.html)
I read all that and the links you gave..man I am still confused...Who did the Celts view as Mother earth and father sky? I have been drawn to Cernnunos for awhile and to mother earth and was just wondering. Also if Danu was the great mother then why did Bride get more attention?

Fideal
August 3rd, 2004, 07:16 PM
I read all that and the links you gave..man I am still confused...Who did the Celts view as Mother earth and father sky?


There really isn't an archetypal 'mother earth/father sky' in any celtic mythos. There isn't just some mythology *template* you can apply to every culture.

Seren_
August 4th, 2004, 05:43 AM
I read all that and the links you gave..man I am still confused...Who did the Celts view as Mother earth and father sky?

As Fideal said, they didn't, really.

A lot of anthrolpologists (for example) might look at the cultures of Europe and see a lot of similarities between the roles of gods. So the Greek Zeus and Norse Odin become "thunder gods", the Irish Dagda becomes an "earth god" or "father god", and the Morrigan and Athena become "battle goddesses", say.

None of these labels really describe what they really are; they're useful in a wider context, to compare them all maybe. But personally, when you're looking at the culture the gods exist in as well, the labels become fairly useless - in academic sense, anyway. A lot of people (like me) don't use them anymore. It saved me a hell of a lot of confusion.


I have been drawn to Cernnunos for awhile and to mother earth and was just wondering. Also if Danu was the great mother then why did Bride get more attention?

Bride was so popular by accident of survival? She was made into a Christian saint (or something like that), the others weren't.

Morag Elasaid Ni Dhomhnaill
August 4th, 2004, 07:34 AM
Bride was so popular by accident of survival? She was made into a Christian saint (or something like that), the others weren't.

I don't know that I would agree with that. Brighìd was made into a saint because of her popularity, not the other way around. They couldn't eradicate her worship, so they brought her into the Church in the form of a saint. Also, she was not the only deity who made it into the Christian church "wearing saint's clothing." Lugh has long been perceived to be embodied as Saint Michael, Danu/Anu has often been said to have become Saint Anne, which might explain the vast popularity of this Saint in Brittany.

Kern
August 4th, 2004, 07:56 AM
So you guys are saying that As a people the Celts did not beleive in just one mother earth figure and didnt believe in just one dominent male figure.
I have read this before,and that they actually believed in triads. :hmmmmm:

Morag Elasaid Ni Dhomhnaill
August 4th, 2004, 09:00 AM
Well some of their deities formed triplicities, but not all of them and it appears that this was usually in the case of goddesses not the gods. Brighid was a triple goddess (poetry/divination, healing, and smithcraft). The Morrigan as well. And Eriu, Banba and Fodla (sorry I think I spelled that last one wrong) were a triplicity of sovereignty goddesses.

Seren_
August 4th, 2004, 12:53 PM
I don't know that I would agree with that. Brighìd was made into a saint because of her popularity, not the other way around.

Yes, which is kind of what I meant - she'd have to be popular in the first place to make it into sainthood, and I think the fact that she is a fairly well-rounded kind of goddess/saint helped. She had something to offer everyone. But...

Historically, her enduring popularity had a lot to do with politics, as well as people just liking her. One of the most important centres associated with her, Kildare, had a very good PR machine for their patron saint, and produced the earliest known hagiography (biography of a saint, if you like), by Cogitosus - The Life of Saint Brigid, dating to around the seventh century (which incidentally mentions nothing about her sacred flame the nuns kept for her).

Aside from being devoted to the saint's life, the political undertone is one which is telling the world why she's so great - all the miracles she performed etc. The side effect is that it makes Kildare itself a big tourist attraction - people want to go on pilgrimmage there, to say hi to the great saint and all that. And of course being associated with a powerful saint boosts the monastery's power too, which in turn boosts the saint's etc. And conveniently enough, Kildare was vying for power with Armagh, who had St Patrick on their side, and a good PR machine too. Unfortunately, Kildare eventually lost the struggle, but remained important nonetheless; her association as Mary's wet nurse and Jesus' foster-mother must have helped.

Anyway, if she hadn't been involved in such politics, would she have been so enduring or popular later on?

Arg. History hat off. Must stop studying so much. :hrmm:

Kern
August 5th, 2004, 08:50 AM
Well some of their deities formed triplicities, but not all of them and it appears that this was usually in the case of goddesses not the gods. Brighid was a triple goddess (poetry/divination, healing, and smithcraft). The Morrigan as well. And Eriu, Banba and Fodla (sorry I think I spelled that last one wrong) were a triplicity of sovereignty goddesses.
Thats what I thought.Thanks. :drinking:

Ceffyl
August 26th, 2004, 01:40 PM
I'm sort of in an "in between" place with my spirituality, but im very drawn to Celtic Reconstructionism, especially Irish.

My personal practises are not strictly reconstructionist. I seek to understand how the people long ago lived and believed, and then adapt what fits to a modern context. My practises are informed and inspired by an undersanding of how various deities were honored in context of the historical period.

So kinda, as mothwench said, a type of eclectic reconstructionist. (Great term, btw!)

Blessings,

Ceffyl