As part of my Dedicant Program studies for ADF, I’m supposed to keep a journal documenting things like my daily ritual and meditative practices. As time wears on, I find that not only can it be difficult to keep up the practice of journaling, it is especially difficult at times to maintain the routine of a daily ritual. This got me to thinking about an article I read years ago on the Imbas website; “Takin’ It All Home: Translating Our Ritual Structure to Personal Space” by Kami Landy. So I went back and read the article again to remind myself of how Celtic spirituality can be woven into my daily life, even when it seems I don’t have time. Infused with thankfulness, connection, and meditative awareness, the mundane activities of daily life take on new meaning. Life is the ritual.
Here are some of my ideas for daily Celtic spirituality inspired by Landy’s article:
Just as so many modern Hindu worshipers do today, so too did the ancient druids start their day with ritual bathing. For Hindus, the sacred river is the Ganges. For the druids, there were many sacred rivers. The founding goddess of the Celts is Danu, Ancestral Mother and river goddess. Not all of us can bathe in a river every morning, but most of us shower daily. Why not consider the water coming from the shower as sacred? All the water that is on the planet has always been here, it just keeps circulating around the globe. That water was once a part of the sacred Danube river (and the Ganges, for that matter). The daily shower is the perfect time to connect to and worship Danu (and/or other water-related deities). I begin by cupping my hands under the stream of water and saying something like this: “Danu, mo bandia, Ancient Mother, Ancient River, Waters of Life… may your flowing waters cleanse my body and soul for the ritual of life…”
Another way of viewing sacred water in a Celtic context is the concept of the Sacred Well. (Put in a drain strainer so that you can occasionally place a piece of silver in the drain as offering without it getting lost or causing a clog.)
Tree: the Sacred Center
For Celtic Pagans, the Bilé, or world tree, is symbolic of our connection between the upper and lower realms; the center of sacred space. Symbolically, it holds our worlds together. (I also consider the imagery of the tree as representative of a Curnunnos-type deity, but your mileage may vary.) Landy recommends touching a representation of the Bilé (a chimney or center wall of the house) as a meditative reconnection. I would also add that a tree figurine or other representation on your personal shrine would also work, and on the go, a tree pendant necklace. In your daily rounds, do you walk by a tree? Simply reaching out and briefly touching a tree can be very grounding; a physical trigger as well as an acknowledgement of the sacredness of the tree itself. You could also rub a pinch of red ochre or ground grains on the tree as offering, when you have time.
Landy speaks of the pilot light of the water heater, stove burner, etc. being representative of the home’s sacred flame. But what if you live in a home that is all-electric, and no fireplace to smoor? I like her idea of lighting a small candle while cooking, and putting some kind of symbol like a sun-face or Brigit’s cross above it. This gave me the idea of considering the stove-top itself an altar to Brigit and putting a symbol of her on the wall above it. But I don’t light a candle when I cook; I consider electricity her Divine Spark in modern form. When beginning cooking, I touch her image in reverence and smudge on a little ground grain or red ochre.
Landy’s paragraph about the Earth Mother is spot on. Everywhere is Her altar and our worship of Her is in our actions; our sustainable lifestyles of recycling, conserving resources, non-consumerism. To this I would add that simply bending down to touch the Earth in reverence can be one of your most powerful spiritual acts of the day.
The Three Kindreds
The Three Kindreds are: Deities, Nature Spirits, and Ancestors. Worship of certain deities is included in the above water (well), tree, and fire reverence ideas. I also like Landy’s idea of using pictures to remind one of the Kindreds. These could be anointed with red ochre or some other sacred substance in a way similar to Hindu worship.
For honoring the Nature Spirits, I think that her idea of using a bird feeder as offering receptacle for them is pure genius. In many cases, even an apartment dweller could do this. To what she has suggested on this, I have nothing more to add. Her ideas on Ancestor reverence is well put also. My Ancestor shrine is in the dining area where I eat everyday, so it is easy to remember to honor them, but Landy’s article gives me ideas on how to enhance that shrine through use of scent and items held dear to the Beloved Dead. Little things like this serve to help one remember and revere the Ancestors.
Many of these ideas can even be adapted to use when traveling. I especially like the idea of using pictures (not neccesarily as part of a shrine) to worship the Kindreds; this idea too, could be portable in the form of homemade picture prayer cards kept in a wallet or purse, or one could use charms on a bracelet. A lot of what Landy’s article is about is setting up a home environment in which spiritual practice becomes second nature. We do have time for “ritual” when it’s many little things woven into our lives.