Author: Tony Taylor
Keltrian Druidism was founded in 1985 by members of Ár nDra”ocht Féin who were looking for a Celtic-specific path. In doing so, they built an organization, The Henge of Keltria, and a tradition honoring our ancestors, revering the spirits of nature, and worshipping the Gods and Goddesses of our Celtic heritage. The tradition uses a very specific formula in its ritual form. Those people who regularly practice Keltrian style ritual and who define themselves as Keltrian Druids are following the tradition regardless of their membership within The Henge of Keltria. There are Groves and Study Groups in several states.
Keltrian Druids have developed thirteen statements which encompass their values and world view. They are as follows:
1. WE BELIEVE IN DIVINITY as it is manifest in the Celtic pantheons and that polytheism, pantheism, panentheism, animism, and pan-polytheism are all valid theistic perceptions of the Pantheon.
2. WE BELIEVE THAT NATURE IS THE EMBODIMENT OF THE GODS.
3. WE BELIEVE THAT NATURAL LAW REFLECTS THE WILL OF THE GODS.
4. WE BELIEVE THAT ALL LIFE IS SACRED and should be neither harmed nor taken without deliberation or regard.
5. WE BELIEVE IN THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SPIRIT.
6. WE BELIEVE THAT OUR PURPOSE IS TO GAIN WISDOM THROUGH EXPERIENCE, and that we may undergo several incarnations to facilitate the variety of experience necessary to gain wisdom.
7. WE BELIEVE THAT LEARNING IS AN ONGOING PROCESS, and should be encouraged at all ages.
8. WE BELIEVE THAT MORALITY IS A MATTER OF PERSONAL CONVICTION BASED UPON SELF RESPECT AND RESPECT FOR OTHERS.
9. WE BELIEVE THAT EVIL IS NOT A MATTER OF INHERITANCE BUT OF INTENT; therefore, actions are not in themselves evil. Rather, it is through the intent behind actions that evil manifests.
10. WE BELIEVE IN THE RELATIVE NATURE OF ALL THINGS, nothing is absolute, and all things, even the Gods, have their dark sides.
11. WE BELIEVE THAT EVERY INDIVIDUAL HAS THE RIGHT TO PURSUE KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM THROUGH HIS/HER CHOSEN PATH.
12. WE BELIEVE IN HONORING THE GODS THROUGH THE CYCLICAL CELEBRATIONS OF OUR CELTIC ANCESTORS.
13. WE BELIEVE IN A LIVING RELIGION able to adapt to a changing environment; therefore we recognize that our beliefs may undergo change as our tradition grows.
Besides the thirteen beliefs, there are the three foundations which are to:
1. Honor the Ancestors
2. Revere the Nature Spirits
3. Worship the Gods and Goddesses of our Celtic Tribe
All religious activities of Keltrian Druids should be directed to support one of those three foundations.
Organization of Groups
Groups are organized into Groves. Keltrian Groves must abide by the Henge beliefs, ethics, bylaws and religious methodology. Chartered Groves apply to the Henge of Keltria Board of Trustees and are granted charter pursuant to a recommendation of the Council of Elders. There are differing terms for a Grove based upon the achievement level of the Grove Leader.
Groups who are just beginning may register themselves as Study Groups. Study Groups may be practicing Keltrian Druidism and have all the appearances of being a Grove but have not formally gone through the Chartering process.
Finally, there are many individuals who are practicing Keltrian Druid Ritual in a solitary environment. They may meet with one or more other individuals on occasion and may appear to be study groups but have not registered themselves as such.
We celebrate 8 Feasts (holidays) throughout the year. These holidays originally come from two separate cultures. The solstices and equinoxes, which celebrate the cycle of the sun, came from one culture, and the ‘cross-quarters,’ which mark the agricultural and pastoral seasons of the Earth, came from another. The feasts are:
The Feast of Death (Samhain – Nov. 1),
The Feast of Rebirth (Winter Solstice)
The Feast of Stirring (Imbolc – Feb. 2)
The Feast of Flowing (Spring Equinox)
The Feast of Greening (Beltaine – May 1)
The Feast of Ripening (Summer Solstice)
The Feast of First Harvest (Lughnasadh – Aug. 1)
The Feast of Second Harvest (Fall Equinox)
In our rites, we relate the cycle of the year to the cycle of our lives. We choose a specific God and Goddess (Patron and Matron) to honor at each rite.These deities represent a different aspect of our lives, from youth to vitality to old age, wisdom, and finally death. As the year gets older, the Patron and Matron age as well.
Standards of Conduct
Members of The Henge of Keltria are bound by the by-laws of the organization which includes a set of ethical requirements. These ethical rules are similar to most Neopagan organizations and include the following:
1. Shall not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, national origin, sex, or sexual preference.
2. Shall not espouse or engage in the practice of blood sacrifice.
3. Shall not participate in the torture, mutilation, enslavement, or abuse (physical or emotional) of any sentient creature.
4. Clergy are expected to be honest, to abide by the law, respect the rights and privacy of others, to maintain a professional profile, and to respect certain sexual taboos placed upon virtually all professionals in our society, rules which have been instituted for the protection of the client.
Ways of Worship
Since we consider ourselves a nature religion, the ideal place for our rituals is outdoors, preferably in the woods or another place away from cities and ‘civilization’. This is not always practical, especially during winter, so we worship wherever it is convenient. The purpose of our rituals is to celebrate the Divine and have communion with the Gods and each other. We do this mainly through meditation, prayer and invocation of the Gods, Ancestors and Nature Spirits.
Most of our rituals are done around a sacred fire (or sacred candles for indoor rituals). Our rituals involve the participation of everyone in attendance. We distribute the ritual functions among several people, rather than have everything done by a priest and priestess. Our rituals also involve the participants through a good deal of singing and dancing.
In addition to the eight Feasts, we celebrate two lunar rites. They are called the Mistletoe Rite and the Vervain Rite. The ancient Druids collected mistletoe on the 6th night of the moon (roughly just before the first quarter). Since mistletoe was known as ‘all heal,’ one of the themes of this rite is healing. This theme extends to healing of our community, through a sharing of food and drink at the rite. The Sun and Moon are in a position of equilibrium at this time, so we also see this as a time of balance. This is when we seek to find balance in our lives.
Our other lunar rite is the Vervain Rite. The time of this rite was also chosen from classical descriptions of ancient Druidic practices. It was written that vervain was gathered when neither sun nor moon were in the sky. This occurs sometime during each night, except when the moon is full. We generally celebrate this around the 3rd quarter. This gives ample time for the rite during the evening hours. It also places this rite opposite the Mistletoe Rite in the lunar cycle. Vervain is said to be of aid in working magic. Thus, the Vervain Rite is our time for working magic. The purpose of magic in a Druidic sense is more like prayer. We work magic to help effect change in our lives. Druidic magic may involve contemplation, meditation, ritual or ecstatic dance.
Reading and Other References
The Henge of Keltria Book of Ritual (http://www.keltria.org)
The Henge – An Introduction to Keltrian Druidism (http://www.keltria.org/membersh.htm)
What is The Henge of Keltria and What is Neopagan Druidism (http://www.keltria.org/druidq3.htm)
The By-Laws of The Henge of Keltria (http://www.keltria.org/Bylaws.htm)
For further information, contact The Henge of Keltria via its web site: http://www.keltria.org.