Pennsylvania time is:
Celtic Spirituality: Who, What, How, and Why
©Wintergrove Covenant 1999-2001
Thank you for your interest in our pages.|
As you peruse the pages, there will be questions about our faith and paths that you will have. Some of those, we've attempted to explain here, before you begin, such as who, and what we are, and what it is that we believe.
Some of the more essential facets of pagan paths are set forward as well.
Please remember that these are not hard and fast rules for living a pagan life, merely comments, allowed to hold the importance that you lend them.
In each faith or sect, there are an essential set of beliefs, if you will, or operating procedures.
Christianity for example, has the Bible, Judaism has its Torah, while sects of Celtic spirituality, or paganism, if you prefer, have their own set of standards, some using the Wiccan or Norse Rede, or the the Charge of the Goddess.
WinterGrove Covenant as a practicing coven has as well its own set of bylaws and Articles of Faith and although we are not members of groups such as the COG, or more formal organizations due in part to their membership criteria,(( not intrinsically wrong, simply we do not have the ability geographically to access their members, leaving us unable to participate.) we utilize some of the same standards.
Most pagans do standardize in Karmic and Threefold laws.
Each also has its set of myths. Those things which are spoken of it which are true, or untrue, dependent upon the viewpoint and knowledge of the speaker.
I hope that your answers are found here.
I'm certain that they will not be, since often I can't answer the questions in my own heart and mind without further explorations.
Please contact us at any time. We will be happy to point you to someone with more knowledge than we, who can perhaps offer satisfaction in your search.
What Is Celtic Spirituality?
- First and certainly most important, Celtic spirituality falls under the umbrella, of paganism. The term most often heard will be Wicca, which is erroneous in that it is but an aspect, or sect, of the overall. Paganism, Witchcraft, Druidism, and other faiths which follow nontraditional, for lack of a better term, teachings are now legally sanctioned religions in the United States.
Although it is not generally known, Wicca and Witchcraft, and in actuality, Paganism itself, were recognized in 1985, with a supreme court battle.
In 1985 Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina and Representative Robert Walker of our own state of Pennsylvania, both members of the United States Congress, introduced measures in both Congressional Houses which would have denied tax-exempt status to witchcraft and Neo-pagan groups.
Both bills failed, largely in credit to the ACLU,
The Covenant of the Goddess, and the Church and School of Wicca.
The bill was initiated by Helms when he learned from then Secretary of the Treasury James Baker that Wicca groups, who "espouse a system of beliefs, rituals and practices derived in part from pre-Christian Celtic and Welsh traditions" which they might label as `witchcraft'" did have tax-exempt status. Also, Baker stated, that any group that is sincere in its beliefs, does not break the law and conforms to "clearly defined public policy" can qualify for tax exemption.
While most pagan churches and neopagan groups do not apply for tax exempt status, it did not therefore appear to mean a great deal to the pagan community, however, the legislation made its way to congress amid an introduction from a legislative assistant operating with Walker, who stated "If a person is praying for horrible things and sticking pins into voodoo dolls, that is not the kind of religion that should be supported by a tax exemption."
The bill being defeated with the statement that
Pagan paths are protected under the 1st Amendment paved the way for Wicca, and other Celtic spirituality paths and faiths to make their way into mainstream society.
Following the defeat, the United States Armed Forces added sections pertaining to the practice of Wicca and Witchcraft. The handbook
lists the religion as Wicca, which is one of the modern nomenclatures
of the faith.
- Witchcraft, Druidism, by any other name Celtic spirituality, is undoubtably the most persecuted faith in the world, with the longest standing tradition of that persecution.
Unfortunately that persecution continues to dog the practitioners of that faith and path today, and will do so for days to come.
The reasons for this, in my opinion are threefold.
Firstly People tend to fear and discriminate what they do not understand or know, unless they are of an extremely open mind. Which leads to the Second reason.
Wicca and Witchcraft, by virtue simply of the name, and those other faiths which wish to be the only faith, has been persecuted into hiding.
Those things which are hidden, are assumed to be covert, things which are wrong or against the laws of society, and so the persecution escalated, and in some cases does today.
Thirdly The male domination of a society, will frown upon any faith and path that worships, or recognizes a female deity.
The society which has been taught from the time of cutting teeth, to do so on a single entity, will decry and fear a society that maintains a pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, instead of a single God, such as is, sadly, the societal norm.
Which in turn leads to more hidden practice. necessitated in some cases, to protect our homes, children, jobs, or lives, and sometimes born of the mistaken idealism that it is best, or somehow more sacred to allow a cycle of myth and misunderstanding to continue.
That cycle has to be broken.
- Witchcraft and Paganism is more perhaps than a faith or path. It is a way of life, difficult in most circumstances to separate the life from the faith.
Wiccan, Pagan, Neopagan, are all terms used to catch all in a faith umbrella of sorts.
Wiccans and Pagans are your friends, your neighbors, doctors, lawyers, nurses, firefighters, emt's, cooks, pharmacists, even children in your own sons preschool.
Much as there are Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and a large number of other paths recognized as Christianity, so there are different sects, or paths, if you will, in Paganism.
These are Druidism, Wicca, Christio-Wiccan, Pecti Wita, Gardnerian Wica, Dianic Wicca, Tuatha Da Dannan, and so many more too numerous to mention.
In nearly all of the pagan traditions there is worship of the male and female aspect. The Dual nature of the universe is recognized, with the balance necesary, much as it is in nature itself.
Unity with the Earth, representative of the Goddess, is encouraged, recognition of self as part of a whole, rather than as owner or guardian of the divine whole or universe.
Paganism I suppose as a whole is impossible to define, largely because of the vast array of beliefs it encompasses. To attempt it, it could be called a faith based on what is seen, as well as what is unseen, a reverence for the turning of the tides, the changing of the seasons, that there is life, and awareness in all nature both on earth, as well as the universe.
It is an inherent respect for all of that life, as well as a love of the changes that the Earth engenders.
Most Pagan spiritualists believe in some type of threefold law, karmic law, as well as reincarnation, but this too is subject to interpretation.
Paganism, for the most part assigns deities to each aspect of life, a pantheon, or group of deities, while the Christian faith recognises a single entity, assigning it such symbolism as the cross, statues of the Virgin, and the Creche.
Frankly, there are some further differences, however, factually, we are not so different from that faith, or any other, were we and they to explore our likenesses.
It's Legal, But isn't it Evil?
- Again, subject to interpretation. No matter your faith or path, what you believe or disbelieve, there will always be someone out there who deems that evil. To the fundamental Christian, more than one deity, or aspect of deities is evil. To the fundamental Muslim, Christians are evil, and their God, the Devil incarnate.
In a free thinking, tolerant society, the simple fact is this. In all walks of life, there are good, and not so good people. Faith plays a part, perhaps, but it is not the faith, or belief that makes evil.
Paganism, Wicca, Druidism, are faiths that are older than the Cross of Jesus. They are faiths of honor for life, and respect for the world around us.
Nearly all aspects of Wica, or Wicca, will be found in some text, or rede, the credo, "And it harm none".
Druids too, hold with their own version of this credo, expressed "You must heal not hurt" and "Truth in our hands, strength in our hearts, consistency in our tongues"
This is something the serious pagan takes to heart, believes, and tries to live.
Such societies as this somehow seem to me to be less evil than businesses I have dealt with.
Do you really do magick?
- For all intents and purposes, the answer would be, in most cases, yes. BUT
And there is always a but isn't there. Magik, or spells, as they are more commonly termed, are in this case, a focus of the universal and group energies, which are used to obtain a specific thing, or bring about a specific purpose.
The common myth of a Witch casting a love spell is not reality in those cases of serious practitioners because of the threefold law, as well as the Witches Rede, which states clearly, "and it harm none".
Spell is to Pagan what prayer is to Christian. Little more or less.
Using tools, intent, potions or natural means, a magik is used in a rite or ceremony most commonly within the protective circle, which is tantamount to the altar sanctity of the Christian Church. In other words, it is the same as a prayer in Sunday School.
How Did They Learn?
- There are as many ways to learn, as there are Traditions, and people who claim to know them explicitly.
Some people are born to the path, and are raised as pagans, after being part of a dedication rite at birth.
Some convert, and simply state themselves to be witches, using the title, often mistakenly.
Most, entering with serious intent, whether solitary or as part of a coven or sect will hold a dedication ceremony, or rite, and after waiting the traditional year and a day, during which they learn, meditate and explore, will then choose a path to follow.
A bit of caution is in order here.
When you choose a teacher or mentor, use care. There are many novices using the title HP, who will seek to teach, for their own glory, as much, if not more, than that of the God or Goddess.
Most people will tell you to not permit yourself to be taught by anyone who is not an initiate of a proper coven, or has explored a path for varied numbers of years.
Those are not rules I adhere to for several reasons.
- One of the best mentors I ever had was a solitary practitioner. She blew the socks off those who were initiated and claimed to know more by virtue of that initiation and a sheet of paper showing me their initiation into a coven.
- A solitary is no less a true pagan than any others
- The newest follower has things to say that can teach about life and faith.Those are things I cannot afford to miss hearing.
A few simple rules will help you to be a bit more choosy as to whom you entrust your faith.
- Do try to find someone with a broad knowledge base. New practitioners can be helpful study partners, but not full guides or mentors. If they are wise new practitioners they will know this.
- Be wary of people who claim to know all, or to be fully versed. Noone ever is.
- Be wary of those who do not study, furthering knowledge, or answering the questions of the heart and spirit. Contrary to what seems to be, questioning of our innermost feelings is a good thing.
- Anyone who uses the words "right" and "wrong" with regard to your path or faith, is not someone who can teach you .
- Noone has the absolute answers for you. There are no absolutes. Question, explore, study, and question more
Why Does Wintergrove Not Teach?
- Please don't ask. I am NOT now, nor will I be qualified for some time to teach those of you who have asked.
I am acting Priestess, because I was asked to lead the circles.
There are too many things I don't know, too many questions I still have after years of study and exploration. We will study with you. Wintergrove Coven will point you to those who know more than we, to the right web site, or the right guide, or include you in a study group, as a partner, NOT as a student. It is not my right to attempt to guide you, when I'm still finding my own way.
There are several other ways to learn, among these web sites, remarkable books, by equally remarkable authors, or chat rooms, and instructors on the web or in the world. Some of these are listed below for ease of use
If paganism is truly calling you, the right guide, and teacher will come for you.
Until then explore all the resources you can find, and if you find this is your life, solitary practice has much to recommend it.
Brightest Blessings to those of you who came seeking. It is our sincere wish that you find your path, and a light to guide you.