Celtic neopaganism

Celtic neopaganism refers to any type of modern paganism or contemporary pagan movements based on the ancient Celtic religion.

The triple spiral is one of the main symbols of Celtic Reconstructionism[1]


Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism

Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism (CR) is an umbrella term for Polytheistic Reconstructionist traditions which are based in one of the specific cultures of the Celtic-speaking peoples (such as Gaelic Polytheists or Welsh or Gaulish Reconstructionists).[4] Celtic Reconstructionists strive to practice a historically accurate and authentic tradition, based on the folklore and living traditions in the Celtic Nations and the diaspora as well as primary sources in the Celtic languages.[5][6] They reject the eclecticism and cultural appropriation of the broader Neopagan community.[7]

Celtic Neoshamanism

Celtic Neoshamanism is a modern spiritual tradition that combines elements from Celtic myth and legend with Michael Harner's core shamanism.[8] Proponents of Celtic Shamanism believe that its practices allow a deeper spiritual connection to those with a northern European heritage.[9] Authors such as Jenny Blain have argued that "Celtic Shamanism" is a "construction" and an "ahistoric concept."[10]

Celtic Wicca

Celtic Wicca is a modern tradition of Wicca that incorporates some elements of Celtic mythology.[11][12][13] It employs the same basic theology, rituals and beliefs as most other forms of Wicca.[11][12] Celtic Wiccans use the names of Celtic deities, mythological figures, and seasonal festivals within a Wiccan ritual structure and belief system,[11][14] rather than a historically Celtic one.[13][15]


Neo-Druidism is a form of modern spirituality or religion that generally promotes harmony and worship of nature. Many forms of modern Druidism are Neopagan religions, whereas others are instead seen as philosophies that are not necessarily religious in nature.[16][17] Arising from the 18th century Romanticist movement in England, which glorified the ancient Celtic peoples of the Iron Age, the early Neo-druids aimed to imitate the Iron Age Celtic priests who were also known as druids. At the time, little accurate information was known about these ancient priests, and the modern druidic movement has no actual connection to them, despite some claims to the contrary made by modern druids.[18]

See also


  1. ^ Bonewits, Isaac (2006) Bonewits's Essential Guide to Druidism. New York, Kensington Publishing Group ISBN 0-8065-2710-2. p.132: [Among Celtic Reconstructionists] "...An Thríbhís Mhòr (the great triple spiral) came into common use to refer to the three realms." Also p. 134: [On CRs] "Using Celtic symbols such as triskeles and spirals"
  2. ^ Matthews, John O. (1991). Taliesin: Shamanism and the Bardic Mysteries in Britain and Ireland. Aquarian Press. ISBN 1-85538-109-5.
  3. ^ "Druids Recognised; Daily Mail Angry", Fortean Times, FT269
  4. ^ NicDhàna, Kathryn Price; Erynn Rowan Laurie; C. Lee Vermeers; Kym Lambert ní Dhoireann; et al. (August 2007). The CR FAQ — An Introduction to Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism (first ed.). River House Publishing. pp. 24–25. ISBN 978-0-615-15800-6.
  5. ^ Gallagher, Eugene V.; Ashcraft, W. Michael (2006). Introduction to new and alternative religions in America. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 178. ISBN 0-275-98713-2.
  6. ^ Kennedy, Michael (November 2002). Gaelic Nova Scotia: An Economic, Cultural, and Social Impact Study. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: Nova Scotia Museum Publications. pp. 12, 13. ISBN 0-88871-774-1.: "In developing their own concept of Druidry, no reference was made by the [romantic] revivalists to the native spiritual and intellectual traditions of living Celtic communities — particularly to bards and priests who would have been the closest modern inheritors of any modern druidic tradition, slight as it may have been." ... "Although the [romantic "druidic" revival] movement has continued to grow ... it is still almost entirely absent from areas in which Celtic languages are actually spoken and in which Celtic traditions have been most faithfully handed down to the present day. As Prof. Donald Meek has pointed out, this process of romanticism and cultural redefinition is actually greatly assisted by ignorance of the minority group’s language." ... "The major reason that they tend to offer such a confused and contradictory picture of the “inherent” nature of Celts or Celtic culture is that they generally make no reference to existing Celtic communities, to living Celtic cultures, or to the best available Celtic scholarship. In fact, attempts to suggest that these should be the first sources of authority for the interpretation and representation of Celtic culture are often met with skepticism and even open hostility."
  7. ^ NicDhàna, Kathryn et al (2007) pp.74-75
  8. ^ Bowman, Marion (2001). Contemporary Celtic Spirituality in. New directions in Celtic studies. Aquarian Press. p. 97. ISBN 0859895874.
  9. ^ Conway, Deanna J (1994) By Oak, Ash and Thorn: Celtic Shamanism. ISBN 1-56718-166-X p.4
  10. ^ Blain, Jenny (2001) "Shamans, Stones, Authenticity and Appropriation: Contestations of Invention and Meaning". In R.J. Wallis and K. Lymer (eds.) New Approaches to the Archaeology of Art, Religion and Folklore: A Permeability of Boundaries? Oxford: BAR. pp.50,52. "The charge of appropriation, in turn, deals in concepts such as ancestry, cultural knowledge, respect, and profit, i.e. commercial gain. Such charges have been documented by a variety of writers, with reference to ‘borrowings’ from Siberian shamanism – through anthropological accounts – and more directly from Indigenous peoples of North and South America. Let us look again at MacEowan’s ‘Celtic Shamanism’ and further investigate the construction of this ahistoric concept. ... Inventing a ‘Celtic Shamanism’"
  11. ^ a b c McColman, Carl (2003). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Celtic Wisdom. Alpha Press. pp. 50–51. ISBN 0-02-864417-4.
  12. ^ a b Raeburn, Jane, Celtic Wicca: Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century (2001), ISBN 0806522291
  13. ^ a b Hutton, Ronald (2001) The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft. ISBN 0-19-285449-6
  14. ^ Grimassi, Rave (2000). Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft. Llewellyn. ISBN 978-1567182576.
  15. ^ Greer, John Michael, and Gordon Cooper (Summer 1998) "The Red God: Woodcraft and the Origins of Wicca". Gnosis Magazine, Issn. #48: Witchcraft & Paganism
  16. ^ Harvey, Graham (2007) Listening People, Speaking Earth: Contemporary Paganism (second edition). London: Hurst & Company. ISBN 978-1-85065-272-4. p.17
  17. ^ Orr, Emma Restall (2000) Druidry. Hammersmith, London: Thorsons. ISBN 978-0-00-710336-2. p.7.
  18. ^ "The Druids Archived 2012-12-23 at Archive.today", The British Museum. "Modern Druids have no direct connection to the Druids of the Iron Age. Many of our popular ideas about the Druids are based on the misunderstandings and misconceptions of scholars 200 years ago. These ideas have been superseded by later study and discoveries."

Further reading

  • Adler, Margot (1979) Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today.
  • Bonewits, Isaac (2006) Bonewits's Essential Guide to Druidism. New York, Kensington Publishing Group ISBN 0-8065-2710-2 Chapter 9: "Celtic Reconstructionists and other Nondruidic Druids".
  • Kondratiev, Alexei (1998) The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual. San Francisco, Collins. ISBN 1-898256-42-X (1st edition), ISBN 0-806-52502-9 (2nd edition) [also reprinted without revision under the title Celtic Rituals].
  • McColman, Carl (2003) The Complete Idiot's Guide to Celtic Wisdom. Alpha Press ISBN 0-02-864417-4.
  • NicDhàna, Kathryn Price; Erynn Rowan Laurie, C. Lee Vermeers, Kym Lambert ní Dhoireann, et al. (2007) The CR FAQ – An Introduction to Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism. River House Publishing. ISBN 978-0-6151-5800-6.

External links

Ancient Celtic religion

Ancient Celtic religion, commonly known as Celtic paganism, comprises the religious beliefs and practices adhered to by the Iron Age people of Western Europe now known as the Celts, roughly between 500 BC and 500 AD, spanning the La Tène period and the Roman era, and in the case of the Insular Celts the British and Irish Iron Age. Very little is known with any certainty about the subject, and apart from documented names that are thought to be of deities, the only detailed contemporary accounts are by hostile and probably not-well-informed Roman writers.

Celtic paganism was one of a larger group of Iron Age polytheistic religions of the Indo-European family. It comprised a large degree of variation both geographically and chronologically, although "behind this variety, broad structural similarities can be detected" allowing there to be "a basic religious homogeneity" among the Celtic peoples.The Celtic pantheon consists of numerous recorded theonyms, both from Greco-Roman ethnography and from epigraphy. Among the most prominent ones are Teutatis, Taranis and Lugus. Figures from medieval Irish mythology have also been interpreted as iterations of earlier pre-Christian Insular deities in the study of comparative mythology.

According to Greek and Roman accounts, in Gaul, Britain and Ireland, there was a priestly caste of "magico-religious specialists" known as the druids, although very little is definitely known about them. Following the Roman Empire's conquest of Gaul (58–51 BC) and southern Britannia (43 AD), Celtic religious practices began to display elements of Romanisation, resulting in a syncretic Gallo-Roman culture with its own religious traditions with its own large set of deities, such as Cernunnos, Artio, Telesphorus, etc.

In Roman Britain this lost at least some ground to Christianity by the time the Romans left in 410, and in the next century began to be replaced by the pagan Anglo-Saxon religion over much of the country. Christianity had resumed missionary activity by the later 5th and the 6th centuries, also in Ireland, and the Celtic population was gradually Christianized supplanting the earlier religious traditions. However, polytheistic traditions left a legacy in many of the Celtic nations, influenced later mythology, and served as the basis for a new religious movement, Celtic Neopaganism, in the 20th century.

Association for Consciousness Exploration

The Association for Consciousness Exploration LLC (ACE) is an American organization based in Northeastern Ohio which produces events, books, and recorded media in the fields of "magic, mind-sciences, alternative lifestyles, comparative religion/spirituality, entertainment, holistic healing, and related subjects."

Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism

Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism (also Celtic Reconstructionism or CR) is a polytheistic reconstructionist approach to Celtic neopaganism, emphasising historical accuracy over eclecticism such as is found in many forms of Neo-druidism. It is an effort to reconstruct and revive, in a modern Celtic cultural context, pre-Christian Celtic religions.

Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism originated in discussions among amateur scholars and Neopagans in the mid-1980s, and evolved into an independent tradition by the early 1990s.

Currently, "Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism" (CR) is an umbrella term, with a number of recognized sub-traditions or denominations.

Celtic Wicca

Celtic Wicca is a modern tradition of Wicca that incorporates some elements of Celtic mythology. It employs the same basic theology, rituals and beliefs as most other forms of Wicca. Celtic Wiccans use the names of Celtic deities, mythological figures, and seasonal festivals within a Wiccan ritual structure and belief system, rather than a traditional or historically Celtic one.

Celtic metal

Celtic metal is a subgenre of folk metal that developed in the 1990s in Ireland. As the name suggests, the genre is a fusion of heavy metal and Celtic rock. The early pioneers of the genre were the Irish bands Cruachan, Primordial and Waylander. The genre has since expanded beyond Irish shores and is known to be performed today by bands from numerous other countries.

Celtic religion

Celtic religion may refer to:

Ancient Celtic polytheism


Celtic Christianity

Celtic Catholic Church

Celtic Orthodox Church

Celtic Rite

Celtic Neopaganism

Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism

Celtic Wicca



Celticism may refer to:

a word or linguistic property adapted from a Celtic language (c.f. Anglicism, Germanism)

List of English words of Celtic origin

List of English words of Scottish Gaelic origin

Irish words used in the English language

List of English words of Irish origin

List of English words of Welsh origin



political Pan-Celticism

the ideology of Lega Nord which culturally identifies with the Celtic people

the Romanticist Celtic revival (c.f. Orientalism)

Celts (modern), a modern Celtic identity that has emerged in Western Europe since the 18th century

Celtism also known as Celtic Neopaganism

Celticisation, the historic process of conquering and assimilating by the ancient Celts

The name of a CD released in 2011 by Robert Marr

Dun Ailline Druid Brotherhood

The Dun Ailline Druid Brotherhood (also known as Dun Ailline or HDDA, Hermandad Druida Dun Ailline in Spanish) is a pagan organization for followers of the Celtic Neopaganism based on Spain in 2010, which supports the practice of a type of Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism called Druidism, centered on the Celtic culture of Ireland, and whose principal deities are known as the Tuatha Dé Danann. Its members consider themselves practitioners of a European native religion and they call themselves creidim, a concept of Irish origin.

In Spain, the Dun Ailline Druidic Brotherhood is legally registered under the number and Irish name 2854-SG/A – Traidisiún na Beannach Fia Mór – Irish Reconstructionist Druid Tradition, being one of the first neopagan religions legally recognized in Spain, traditionally a Catholic country, with other organizations like the Fintan Druidic Order and the Celtiberic Wicca, among others.

Ellen Evert Hopman

Ellen Evert Hopman (born July 31, 1952, in Salzburg, Austria) is an author of both fiction and non-fiction, an herbalist, a lay homeopath, a lecturer, and a Mental Health Counselor who lives and works in Western Massachusetts. She is the author of several books and audio tapes on Paganism and Druidry, and three novels. She is a certified writing teacher with Amherst Writers and Artists and a multiple recipient of the Golden Oak Award. She was formerly a Professor of Wortcunning at the Grey School of Wizardry, where she taught herbalism, Celtic Neopaganism, Celtic history and Celtic lore. She is a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild and a member of the Grey Council of Mages and Sages. She has taught Druidry and herbalism in the United States, Scotland, Ireland and Canada, and has been a speaker and workshop leader at numerous Neopagan and New Age events, and a subject of articles in The New York Times.

Faery Wicca

Faery Wicca, or Fairy Wicca, is any tradition of modern Wicca that places an emphasis on the Fae (goblins, elves, faeries, sprites, etc.), their lore, and their relation to the natural world.

"Faery Wicca" also refer to a specific tradition of Wicca, recently founded by author Kisma Stepanich. Adherents of Stepanich's Faery Wicca claim that it recovers the traditions of the Tuatha De Danaan, the mythological precursors to the Celtic people; however, this is disputed by those familiar with ancient Celtic polytheism and mythology. Stepanich's Faery Wicca draws liberally on some degree of Irish mythology, from the author's interpretation of Celtic history, legend, pseudohistory, imagination, and a variety of non-Celtic sources.Faery Wicca is not related to the late Victor Anderson's Feri Tradition of witchcraft, which is sometimes also spelled Faery or Fairy, nor is it directly related to the gay men's group, the Radical Faeries. Though Faery Wicca may draw inspiration from some of the customs practiced among the ancient and modern Celts, it shares more with other modern Wiccan traditions than with the "Fairy Faith" as it is known in traditional Gaelic cultures.

Handfasting (Neopaganism)

Handfasting is a rural folkloric and neopagan custom, initially found in western European countries, in which a couple hold a commitment ceremony. The commitment may be seen as temporary and secular, or of a longer, spiritual variety, depending on the context.

List of religions and spiritual traditions

While religion is hard to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who defined it as a

[…] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic."

A critique of Geertz's model by Talal Asad categorized religion as "an anthropological category." Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviours, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural) or religious texts. Certain religions also have a sacred language often used in liturgical services. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, rituals, rites, ceremonies, worship, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, invocation, mediumship, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religious beliefs have also been used to explain parapsychological phenomena such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and reincarnation, along with many other paranormal and supernatural experiences.Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths. One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.

Neopaganism in German-speaking Europe

Since its emergence in the 1970s, Neopaganism (Neuheidentum) in German-speaking Europe has diversified into a wide array of traditions, particularly during the New Age boom of the 1980s.

Schmid (2006) distinguishes four main currents:

Celtic Neopaganism/Neo-Druidism

Germanic neopaganism/Ásatrú



Omnia (band)

Omnia is a self-described "neoceltic pagan folk" band based in the Netherlands and whose members over the years have had Irish, Dutch, Cornish, Belgian, Indonesian and Persian backgrounds. Their music takes on the form of various cultural routes, from places around the world such as Ireland, England, Cornwall and Iran.

They sing in English, French, Irish, Breton, Finnish, German, Dutch, Swedish, Latin, and Hindi, and play Celtic harp, mouth harp, hurdy-gurdy, bodhrán, guitar, bouzouki, didgeridoo, flutes of all kinds, bagpipes, various drums and percussion instruments.

Religion in Austria

Christianity is the predominant religion in Austria. At the 2001 census, 73.6% of the country's population was Catholic. As of 2018, the number of Catholics has dropped to 56.9% of the population, according to data provided by the Austrian Catholic Church itself. There is a much smaller group of Evangelicals, totalling about 4.7% of the population in 2001, shrunk to 3.3% in 2018. Since 2001, these two historically dominant religious groups in Austria recorded losses in the number of adherents. The Catholic Church reported an absolute drop of 15.7%, the Evangelical Lutheran and Evangelical Reformed churches of 1.3%. In relative numbers the losses of the smaller Evangelical churches account for 33.7%, compared to Catholic losses which account for 21.9%, since their maximum in 1971.

In contrast, due to immigration, the number of Muslims in Austria has increased in recent years, with 4.2% of the population calling themselves Muslim in 2001, up to around 5% to 6.2% in 2010, and to 7.9% in 2016 - represented especially by immigrants from Turkey and the Balkans. Eastern Orthodox churches have also grown rapidly (up to 8.8% of the population) in recent years, mainly due to immigration of Serbs from the former Yugoslavia and Romanians. There are also minor communities of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jews, and other religions in Austria.


Rhiannon is a major figure in the Mabinogi, the medieval Welsh story collection. She appears mainly in the First Branch of the Mabinogi, and again in the Third Branch. She is a strong minded Otherworld woman, who chooses Pwyll, prince of Dyfed (west Wales), as her consort, in preference to another man to whom she has already been betrothed. She is intelligent, politically strategic, beautiful, and famed for her wealth and generosity. With Pwyll she has a son, the hero Pryderi, who later inherits the lordship of Dyfed. She endures tragedy when her newborn child is abducted, and she is accused of infanticide. As a widow she marries Manawydan of the British royal family, and has further adventures involving enchantments.

Like some other figures of British/Welsh literary tradition, Rhiannon may be a reflex of an earlier Celtic deity. Her name appears to derive from the reconstructed Brittonic form *Rīgantonā, a derivative of *rīgan- "queen". In the First Branch of the Mabinogi, Rhiannon is strongly associated with horses, and so is her son Pryderi. She is often considered to be related to the Gaulish horse goddess Epona. She and her son are often depicted as mare and foal. Like Epona, she sometimes sits on her horse in a calm, stoic way. While this connection with Epona is generally accepted among scholars of the Mabinogi and Celtic studies, Ronald Hutton, a general historian, is skeptical.

Ross Nichols

Philip Peter Ross Nichols (28 June 1902 – 30 April 1975) was a Cambridge academic and published poet, artist and historian, who founded the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids in 1964. He wrote prolifically on the subjects of Druidism and Celtic mythology.

Spirituality of Avalon

The spirituality of Avalon is a spiritual concept postulated in Marion Zimmer Bradley's novel The Mists of Avalon and other novels of the so-called Avalon series. Albeit a product of fantasy fiction, set in a fictitious British past (partly on the titular Isle of Avalon), this spiritual path draws on modern paganism, such as Wicca, druidry and what is generally known as Goddess worship or Goddess spirituality/religion.Religious aspects of the Avalon series are discussed in The Spirituality of Avalon: The Religion of the Great Goddess in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Avalon Cycle (2010) by J.S. Morgane, a book-length study of "the religion of the Great Mother as portrayed in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Avalon books. By looking at the literary and archaeological background of the ancient, Neolithic, Celtic, Roman and Arthurian traditions the novels are set in, a close reading of the texts gives the reader the possibility to engage with the concept of the Goddess within the religion created in the Avalon cycle."

Sun cross

A sun cross, solar cross, or wheel cross is a solar symbol consisting of an equilateral cross inside a circle.

The design is frequently found in the symbolism of prehistoric cultures, particularly during the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods of European prehistory. The symbol's ubiquity and apparent importance in prehistoric religion have given rise to its interpretation as a solar symbol, whence the modern English term "sun cross" (a calque of German: Sonnenkreuz).

The same symbol is in use as a modern astronomical symbol representing the Earth rather than the Sun.

The symbol can be depicted using Unicode as U+1F728 🜨 ALCHEMICAL SYMBOL FOR VERDIGRIS. The characters U+2295 ⊕ CIRCLED PLUS and U+2A01 ⨁ N-ARY CIRCLED PLUS OPERATOR are similar in appearance but represent mathematical operators.

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