The Equinox and the Celt

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As part of training in the ADF dedicant program (here on out referred to as the DP), I am required to perform or attend (and journal about) eight High Day rituals over the coarse of the year. Now these “High Days” are of course, the eight seasonal holidays commonly celebrated in the Neopagan community. As I have pretty much gone back to my old Celtic Reconstructionist viewpoint, this supposedly poses somewhat of a problem for me; I’ve been thinking what do I do for the “non-Celtic” High Days to fulfill this dedicant program?

If I were still attending the local ADF grove, I would simply attend whatever ritual they were presenting, and although it might not hold significance for me, I would simply be there as a celebrant in the community. After I left the grove and contemplated how I was going to fulfill theses DP requirements, I thought that perhaps I should do (solitary and/or family) German/Norse rites for the solstices and equinoxes to honor the German part of my ancestry. However, now that an opportunity for this is coming up (Spring Equinox), I’m just not “feeling it”. That is to say, I’m realizing that a connection is just not there for me for the Norse/German deities. I have a long term deep connection with my Irish deities. It feels like enough to me. I was contemplating what I should do so I looked over the DP requirements again and I was reminded that only four of the High Days need be ADF style to fulfill the requirements. Hmmm, so I could attend/perform any kind of Neopagan ritual for the “non-Celtic” holidays, journal about it, and call it a day. There is an open (Wiccan-style) ritual for the equinox that I was going to attend anyway as a celebrant and friend and “dial down“ the aspects of it that I don‘t like (as one of my friends would put it). So this time around, my solution is easy.

But all this got me to thinking… what would I do for the Spring Equinox if I weren’t in the DP (and if there wasn’t an annual Spring Equinox rite in the community)? Isn’t there something universal about the equinoxes and solstices? All the CR materials I’ve read says that there isn‘t any evidence that any branch of the Celtic tradition gave the date of the equinoxes and solstices any ritual significance. Back when I first learned of this, I was pretty shocked, to tell you the truth. How could the Celts not have commemorated these astronomical dates? The best explanation I have heard for this is that it isn’t completely dark at sunset, it isn’t completely light at sunrise… so it is with the year; the longest night, longest day, as well as times of equal night and day, are not immediately felt as a shift in the seasons. The equinoxes and solstices are like centers and starting points and the Celtic tendency seems to have always been to locate things of sacredness not at centers, but at borders, margins, or peripheries, in liminal points.

Still yet, I kept thinking about the megalithic structures built in Celtic lands that line up with the sunrise on solstices and equinoxes. Most CR Pagans will readily tell you that these structures pre-dated the Celts and there is no evidence that the Celts appropriated their use…

However, I just recently found out that new technology using DNA evidence is showing that there was a continuity of population from the times in which the megaliths were built on up through to the Bronze Age, and probably the Iron Age, in Ireland. There was no “coming of the Celts” to Ireland- neither archaeology nor genetics supports it. They were there the whole time. Did the ancient Irish continue to use the solstice and equinox aligned megaliths up into the Bronze age? If not, what happened? And if so, why is there no written record of it, and there is of the other holidays? Is there precedent for celebrating eight “High Days” in a Celtic context after all?

Clearly I am going to have to rethink a lot of things…

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