For a while I’ve been sharing with you now and again about my thoughts on Celtic Paganism, my process of sorting out the traditions and coming to my own conclusions. And it has been quite a process. At times I feel like I’ve been going around in circles. There has been a lot of changes and growth taking place in the Celtic Reconstructionist community since I first learned of it circa 2000 or 2001. There are many groups that have hived off of CR that no longer want to be associated with the name Reconstructionist. (I guess the name implies that the culture is dead and lost- not entirely true, no not at all…some say “revivalist” may be a better term…) I’ve been reading about many of these traditions, trying to figure out which one is the best match for what I believe (and perhaps even more importantly, the kind of rituals I want to do). I guess I’ve been trying to find a label for myself, and a community within that label. I’ve been asking questions on CR message boards and the conversations that have resulted from that has been very helpful. Many of these Celtic/Gaelic polytheistic groups have websites that I have been exploring.
One things I look for is if they have rituals or ritual outlines posted on their site. Seeing what their rituals are like is the main way that I can tell if I’m going to be on the same wavelength with them. I really like the rituals I’ve seen on Gaol Naofa’s website (their name means “sacred kinship or affinity”.) They consider themselves Gaelic Polytheists. I really admire the simplicity and authenticity of their rituals. They are close to the style of CR ritual I was using about a decade ago. I plan on using the Gaol Naofa website for guidance and inspiration, but I don’t really expect to find or establish a group like them locally. At least not anytime soon. (But I’ll write more on the whole Celtic community dilemma later, perhaps.) My focus for now is my family, building family traditions and having family rituals.
What do I want to get out of a ritual? What is the purpose, and what do I want to hand down to my children? For seasonal ritual- the ones celebrating the Celtic feast days, I want to celebrate and commemorate! I want to feel that deeper connection to the deities, ancestors, and nature spirits. Looking back to all the rituals I’ve taken part in, I remember one ritual act that symbolizes that connection the most; offering– tossing an offering cake into the fire. Simple words of prayer, simple acts of offering, feasting with loved ones, following the ancient customs- these are my ingredients! Imagine if you will, a picnic table at a park with a barbeque grill. With that setting in mind, here is my outline:
~We start with a Three Realms blessing.
~A sacred fire is lit.
~We call to call to the Three (gods, nature spirits, and ancestors- ADF calls them the “Kindred Three”) and also call the names of specific deities/spirits we are honoring for that particular ritual. We make small offerings of oats or bread into the fire for each.
~Here we state the purpose of the ritual.
~Now we make more offerings- this is considered the main offering– a portion of our ritual feast.
~Next is a time for personal prayers or any seasonal customs that this may be a good time for.
~We make toasts and libations as a gesture of our gratitude and commence with our feast!
And when we are ready to put our fire, pack up our picnic basket and head home, we sing;
“As it was, as it is, as it evermore shall be”.