For the last 40 years I have been involved with one form or another of esoteric practice and for the last 20 years or so I’ve been deeply involved in all things Celtic and with the practice of modern Druidry. It was never my intention to be out in the public eye teaching these practices, as they are simply my own interpretations. But while sharing them with friends and others around warm fires under starry skies I was encouraged by many to offer them to a wider audience. I resisted for a long time, but eventually decided to offer an introductory workshop to see what sort of response I received. It sold out.
The wider emergence of a recognition that there is a need to reawaken a native Celtic spirituality based on both good scholarship and interpretation of ancient texts is exciting and heartening to me. To understand – as best we ever can with our modern mindset – the secrets and mysteries encoded in the ancient myths that have survived means seeing beyond the purely academic by drawing on the poetic and ethereal quality of the Celtic mindset. It means stepping outside the fully logical and linear and moving into a place that some are now calling the Celtic dreamtime. That word is deeply embedded in the Australian Aboriginal worldview and is acknowledged as such; yet it also seems to give us a glimpse of how our pagan Celtic ancestors viewed their own environment.
The inspiration behind my involvement in the Celtic way is to create something rooted deep in the past as evidenced by the ancient texts, yet at the same time wholly modern and relevant to the difficult times in which we find ourselves. Wonderful initiatives such as Dadeni, and scholars like Sharon Paice MacLeod, Sharon Blackie and Lorna Smithers, as well as ‘British Bards’ such as the wonderful and charismatic Andrew Steed and others are taking a similar message out to a wider public. These are increasing awareness of the relevance of these texts beyond that which modern Druidic organisations such as OBOD are able to reach, appealing to those who do not feel a connection to modern Druidry.
My own offering may be less grand compared to those mentioned above – and I prefer it that way. It is based on that 40 years of esoteric study and 20 years of studying Celtic texts, myth and story I mentioned at the beginning of this post. You see, it’s clear to me there was a form of what we would now describe as ‘shamanic practice’ either still in use, or at least remembered, when the ancient oral stories were finally written down. But the written evidence suggests that practice was very different to any surviving continuous shamanic tradition, and it’s ways would often be utterly incompatible with modern society. So to reawaken the ancient shamanic traditions of these islands we need to combine an understanding of the ancient Celtic worldview and cosmology with modern shamanic practice that owes much to Michael Harner’s core Shamanism as well as certain unbroken indigenous practices that seem to work well with the spirits of these lands. It doesn’t seek to copy others practices yet is inspired by them, and fully acknowledges their influence.
To discover more do please take a look at my website at mistdancer.org.uk.