My Take on Celtic Spirituality

If you have read either of my novels, you know that I weave the themes of this blog with stories of fictional characters experiencing thin places in modern day Ireland. My intent is not only to engage and entertain but also to lift up ideas that I believe have relevance for our lives today.

In Celtic Spirit A Wee Journey to the Heart of It All, I have the tour guide Dorrie share her understanding of Celtic spirituality with the bus group. As you can guess, her views are mine. Guest bloggers will offer their interpretations later in the series and I always welcome your comments.  Let’s start, however, with Dorrie (excerpted from Chapter Two):

“Yesterday, at the Cliffs you were introduced to the importance of Nature in Celtic spirituality. As many of you know, the Celtic calendar is based on the seasons of the year and the elements. The cycle of day, of month, of year were at the heart of the direct experience of ancient peoples everywhere. In Celtic tradition, it is still a fundamental aspect of consciousness…

“Today, I would like to lift up four more aspects of Celtic spirituality that will be demonstrated in the sites we visit. So, together, the five I have identified are:

  • The Beauty and Power of Nature at the center of our interconnected lives.

  • A sense of direct experience of Spirit enhanced by visible and accessible places of sacred ritual.

  • The co-existence of truths and worldviews honored side by side with others.

  • The continued presence of the Divine Feminine.

  • The celebration of Mystery and Wonder.

“You’ll see that Celtic spirituality is layered, like striations in rock formations that hold and leave visible the story of geologic time.

“All of this is extremely well, oops, no pun intended, illustrated at Brigid’s Well, our first stop of the day. This ancient site is in Lisconnor and is one of the best known of the sacred wells here in Ireland.

“Brigid, the precursor to Brigit, had many names and forms: she was a key figure in the very ancient culture of this place when the Great Mother was central to the lives of the people. She became the Celtic Triple Goddess, Brede, particularly revered here in Ireland. She was seen as the goddess of water, serpents, and fire; fertility, creativity, and inspiration; mothers, poets, and metal workers; fire, light, and healing. Notice, everything is in threes.

“Brigid was such a key figure to pre-Christian Celtic Ireland that in the fifth century, she either reappeared or was reconfigured to be St. Brigit. St. Brigit is the nun who founded the first cloister, in Kildare. In some legends, she is at St. Patrick’s right hand. In another, she is in confrontation with him. In yet another, she is at Mother Mary’s side for the birth of Jesus. She and St. Patrick are the Holiest of Saints here in Ireland.

“Over time, the Celtic celebration of Imbolc and the Christian Candlemas merged. This is St. Brigit’s Day on the Roman Catholic calendar. On it, the Catholic rite of the Purification of Mary follows a tradition of both Jews and early Christians to wait six weeks after a birth to cleanse the new mother before allowing her back into temple or church. This, of course, fits with Brigid’s role.

“So, many paths lead us to Brigid as a sacred figure who protects and heals, particularly women and children.

And Brigit or Brede is just one example of how early Celtic Christianity blended the wisdom of the Ancient Ones with the teachings of Jesus. Our picture for this week is from Brigit’s Well in Kildare.

I hope that you will join me in exploring this topic more in future blogs. Do feel free to comment.