Do You Have a Celtic Soul Part II

Kimberly Schneider

This is the second in a series of articles (read part I) by Kimberly Schneider, M.Ed., J.D., LPC, one of the facilitators for our upcoming Celtic Soul Experience on March 7-8.

Kimberly has studied, taught and written about Celtic spirituality for decades. She facilitates classes, retreats and ceremonies at sacred spaces in the United States and Ireland, helping modern seekers find fresh relevance in the wisdom of the ancient Celts. Visit Kimberly's website.

Visit our event website, Together in Faith Series, for information about our Celtic concert and retreat and to buy tickets.

 


 

Do you have a Celtic Soul?

In a previous article, we explored the question “Who were the Celts?” and began to look at some elements of Celtic Spirituality. As the Celtic Soul Experience concert and retreat at the Motherhouse approaches this spring (March 7-8), we’ll celebrate by continuing to ponder the Celts and how their worldview might bring us closer to God today. 

Here are some more features of Celtic Spirituality:

Nearness of the Otherworld. The Divine was all around, so one never knew where or when a direct encounter with the sacred, or with other realms, might occur. The Otherworld was right next to the material world, and inhabitants of one could and did cross over to the other.

Fluidity of Time and Space. The Celts celebrated their perception of a fluid  reality in their affinity for “betweenness” or thresholds—times, places and things that were not wholly one thing or another. Celtic stories are filled with shape-shifting druids and people who wander into a meadow or wood and wind up in the land of fairy. The most sacred times in the Celtic world are between or liminal times: dawn and twilight (when it is neither night nor day) and the four major festivals when one season surrenders to the next: Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh. At these sacred times, the Celts believed the veil between the worlds was thinnest.

Appreciation of Women’s Leadership and Gifts. While not perfectly egalitarian, Celtic tribes allowed women to own and inherit property, divorce their husbands, and hold positions of spiritual authority. The acknowledgement that the Divine expressed itself in female and male forms meant that in the early Celtic Christian church, women preached, performed miracles, heard confessions and also taught and governed both women and men. Naturally, the acknowledgement of the Divine presence in women as well as men led to scholarly and religious collaboration between the sexes, and perhaps not coincidentally, collaboration between lay and religious people.

Beauty, whether experienced in nature or people, music, poetry or art, was sacred to the Celts as an expression of the Divine. An extension of this appreciation for beauty could be found in the Celtic love of the spoken and written word. Storytelling was sacred as a way of connecting with the ancestors and the history of the people. A bard who had received the highest level of training was equal in rank to a king. 

Eros was a form of spiritual power that connected people to each other. Sexual and non-sexual expressions of this connection each had value. Kinship and community were revered, and to have an anam cara or soul friend was considered essential to living a full life. 

Underlying all of Celtic spirituality is an understanding that nothing exists without its opposite, and so there is little point in denigrating one form of experience or way of being as “bad” or “less than,” when one could never understand the “good” or desired” experiences or ways of being without relationship to its opposite.

The Celts reveled in the mystery of a soul inhabiting a body and the Celtic passion for life extended equally to celebration and grief, solitude and community, silence and music, the ordinary and extraordinary—because the Divine ran through it all.

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