The "Celtic" Pantheon(s)

I felt inspired to write something like this again, because it’s been a while.

Celtic is an umbrella term for a variety of cultures, languages, and religions. It does not describe a single culture or pantheon. The word originally springs up from Hellenic Keltoi, a name applied by the Greeks to the invaders from Gaul who settled in Eastern Europe. While the word celt- does exist in the Gaulish language, it was not used to describe whole peoples, rather simply served as an element in personal names. It’s meaning is something similar to “warrior”, implying that the Greeks heard “we are warriors” and assumed it was the name for an entire people. In modern times, the word Celtic is used as an umbrella term for a variety of nations and cultures who all speak languages that fall into the same language family. However, their religions, and their cultures, are distinct from one another, with only a few borrowed concepts between them.

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otterofcups  asked:

Hi Mags! I was just wondering if you had any recommendations for books and other resources on druidry. What would you say are your essentials? Thanks :)

Hello my dear, thank you for such an interesting question, and sorry it’s taken me ages to reply, a cold and not being anywhere near my laptop did not assist!

So, I’m a very bookish person and so this is going to be rather book-centric! The books I own that I associate with my Druidic practices - other than the CDs and booklets provided by the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) when I took my Bardic course - are as follows:

What Do Druids Believe? - Phillip Carr-Gomm
Anam Cara - John O'Donohue
Trees of the Goddess - Elen Sentier
Elen of the Ways – Elen Sentier
Following the Deer Trods – Elen Sentier
Horns of Power – Sonia d’Este
Celtic Rituals: An authentic guide to ancient Celtic Spirituality - Alexei Kondratiev
DruidCraft - Philip Carr-Gomm
The Druid Way – Philip Carr-Gomm
Kissing the Hag - Emma Restall Orr
Ritual: A Guide to Life, Love & Inspiration - Emma Restall Orr
The Isles of the Many Gods – Sorita d'Este & David Rankine
Finding Elen – Ed. Caroline Wise
The Old Straight Track – Alfred Watkins
Turning the Wheel – Kevan Manwaring
The Ancient Paths – Graham Robb
Ogam: The Celtic Oracle of the Trees - Paul Rhys Mountfort
Druid Magic: The Practice of Celtic Wisdom - Maya Magee Sutton & Nicholas R.Mann
Blood & Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain - Ronald Hutton  
Witches, Druids and King Arthur - Ronald Hutton
The World of the Druids - Miranda J. Green
Exploring the World of the Druids - Miranda J. Green

As you can see these are mix of books written specifically for modern day Druidry, history books looking at what Druidry might have been like at the time it was first practiced (I especially recommend the Ron Hutton ones, which are incredibly well researched and, at least to me, very readable), and quite a few other, slightly tangential, books that follow interests of mine that sprang from my foray into Druidry. Although not sold as books, I also find the companion books to my Druidcraft Tarot and Druid Plant and Animal Oracles invaluable – especially the Oracles – for understanding the importance specific flora and fauna have to the Druidic path.

I also have a shelf full of history books about the original time period which have, in the background as it were, informed my understanding of what Druidry might possibly have been like. I won’t list them all but hopefully this picture will suffice:

In respect of the books on Modern Druidry (and, in fact, in respect of all the OBOD information), I want to make it clear that I do not agree with all of it and would not never suggest that anyone accept point blank everything that is written in them. For example, whilst Emma Restall-Orr’s Kissing the Hag really helped me accept aspects about myself I had struggled with for years, there are parts of it that I reject outright, and I also have trouble with how she often comes across as if she believes hers is the only way to practice, which is simply not the case.

Likewise, Phillip Carr-Gomm, who is currently head of OBOD, is a very knowledgeable and writes very accessible books (I recommend the little “What Do Druids Believe?” book to anyone who wants to get a fast but accurate feel for Druidry as practiced by OBOD) he is working within his own paradigm and subscribes to quite a lot of Wiccan law. His book Druidcraft combines Wiccan Witchcraft with Druidry and is a very interesting read, although again, I’ve taken from it only what sits comfortably with me.

The Old Straight Track by Alfred Watkins, whilst not actually related to Druidry directly, is tied into the land and to understanding its magic. Likewise the books on Elen of the Ways, Trees of the Goddess, Ogham and the Gods of the British Isles were bought as I sought to find more of the magic in the earth, to some degree or other, and they have formed a part of my overall understanding of how I fit in the world and how I interact with the earth.

And now I’ve wandered off from the original question quite a lot. Apologies! I have a tendency to waffle, and that tendency this is not something I’m good at curbing. Anyway, you specifically asked what my essential druidic reference was:

Well, the thing I refer to most isn’t either a book or a website, but a small poster that OBOD sent to me when I enquired about how they worked. It was the thing that made me think their approach to Druidry was one I could work with and it says the following:

Druidry … encourages us to love widely and deeply.

It fosters: Love of the Land, the Earth, the Wild – reverence for Nature.

Love of Peace – Druids were traditionally peace-makers and still are: each ceremony begins with Peace to the Quarters, there is a Druid’s peace prayer, and Druids plant Peace Groves.

Love of Beauty – The Druid Path cultivates the Bard, the Artist Within, and fosters creativity

Love of Justice – Druids were judges, and law-makers. Traditionally Druids are interested in restorative, not punitive, justice.

Love of Story and Myth – Druidry recognises and uses the power of mythology and stories.

Love of History and reverence for the Ancestors – Druidry recognises the forming power of the past

Love of Trees – Druids today plant trees and Sacred Groves and study treelore.

Love of Stones – Druids today build stone circles, collect stones and work with crystals.

Love of Truth – Druid Philosophy is a quest for Wisdom.

Love of Animals – Druidry sees animals as sacred, and teaches sacred animal lore.

Love of the Body – Druidry sees the body and sexuality as sacred.

Love of the Sun, Moon, Stars and Sky – Druid Starlore, embodied in the old stories and the stone circles, teaches a love for the Universe.

Love of each other – Druidry fosters the magic of relationships, of community.

Love of Life – Druidry encourages celebration and full commitment to life – it is not a spirituality that wants us to escape from life.

This pretty much covers how I want to fit in the world and is also written openly enough to allow me to interpret the words in a way that suits me best – for example the Love of the Body line means, to me, that I need to take care of myself and keep myself healthy and that all sexualities are sacred and to be included in my understanding of the world. When I needed it most, OBOD’s type of Druidry gave me a framework to think around and to build my own personal spirituality and craft on, which is why it remains a huge part of my life.

If you do read any of the books above, I hope you find them interesting and useful. If you don’t, apologies! Regardless, come and tell me what you think of them – I love to chat about what I’ve read.