World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism

Article Id: WHEBN0001975701
Reproduction Date:

Title: Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Celtic neopaganism, Neo-Druidism, Dun Ailline Druid Brotherhood, Paganism, Modern paganism
Collection: Celtic Neopaganism, Neopagan Traditions, Polytheism
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism

The triple spiral is one of the main symbols of Celtic Reconstructionism[1]

Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism (also Celtic Reconstructionism or CR) is a polytheistic reconstructionist approach to Celtic neopaganism, emphasising historical accuracy over eclecticism such as is found in many forms of Neo-druidism. It is an effort to reconstruct and revive, in a modern Celtic cultural context, pre-Christian Celtic religions.

Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism originated in discussions among amateur scholars and Neopagans in the mid-1980s, and evolved into an independent tradition by the early 1990s. Currently, "Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism" (CR) is an umbrella term, with a number of recognized sub-traditions or denominations.[2]


  • Origins 1
  • Practices 2
  • Movement's labels 3
    • Overall tradition 3.1
      • Gaelic traditionalism 3.1.1
    • Sub-traditions 3.2
      • Pàganachd / Págánacht 3.2.1
      • Senistrognata 3.2.2
    • Others 3.3
  • Celtic Reconstructionism and Neo-druidism 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
    • Celtic Reconstructionism 7.1
    • Celtic polytheism and folklore 7.2
  • External links 8


As modern paganism grew in scope and cultural visibility, some Americans of European heritage saw the pre-Christian religions of their ancestors as being worthy of revival, and the study of mythology and folklore as a way to accomplish this.[3] While most Neodruid groups of the period were primarily interested in "revitalizing the spirit of what they believe was the religious practice of pre-Roman Britain", the Celtic Reconstructionists (CRs) focused on only "reconstructing what can be known from the extant historical record."[4]

Many of the people who eventually established CR were involved in modern pagan groups in the 1970s and 1980s.[5] Much dialogue in the 1980s took place at workshops and discussions at pagan festivals and gatherings, as well as in the pages of pagan publications.[5] This period, and these groups, are referred to in retrospect as "Proto-CR".[5][6] Later, with the establishment of the Internet in the late 1980s and early 1990s, many of these groups and individuals came together online. This began a period of increased communication, and led to the growth of the movement.[5][7]

The first appearance in print of the term "Celtic Reconstructionist", used to describe a specific religious movement and not just a style of Celtic studies, was by Kym Lambert ní Dhoireann in the Spring, 1992 issue of Harvest Magazine.[8][9] Ní Dhoireann credits Kathryn Price NicDhàna with originating the term “Celtic Reconstructionist”;[10] however, NicDhàna credits her early use of the term to a simple extrapolation of Margot Adler's use of the term "Pagan reconstructionists" in the original, 1979 edition of Drawing Down the Moon.[11] Though Adler devotes space to a handful of Reconstructionist traditions, none of those mentioned are specifically Celtic.[12] In chapter eleven, while describing his Neo-druidic group, New Reformed Druids of North America (NRDNA), Isaac Bonewits uses the phrase "Eclectic Reconstructionist."[13] Eventually, this pairing of terms became oxymoronic; in the pagan/polytheist communities, reconstructionist had now come to mean traditions that specifically exclude eclecticism.[6][10][14][15]

With the growth of the Internet during the 1990s, hundreds of individuals and groups gradually joined the discussions online and in print, and the movement became more of an umbrella group, with a number of recognized sub-traditions.[7]


While the ancient Celtic religions were largely subsumed by Christianity,[16] many religious traditions have survived in the form of folklore, mythology, songs, and prayers.[6][17][18] Many folkloric practices never completely died out, and some Celtic Reconstructionists (CRs) claim to have survivals of Irish, Scottish or Welsh folkloric customs in their families of origin.[6][17][18]

  • CAORANN: Celts Against Oppression, Racism and Neo-Nazism
  • Pàganachd / Págánacht: Home of the CR FAQ and other CR resources
  • Gaol Naofa: A Gaelic Polytheist organisation
  • Celtoi: A CR organisation based in Germany
Online portals
  • The CR FAQ - An Introduction to Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism: Written by a collective of long-term members of the CR community and representatives of diverse CR sub-traditions — including some of the founders of the tradition — the FAQ is only the second document to present a consensus view that speaks for more than one group's vision.
  • Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism: The much-briefer consensus tradition statement from 2003. Contains unclear bits that were later cleared up in the FAQ, but a much quicker read than the FAQ.
  • What we mean by Celtic Reconstructionism: Statement from Imbas
  • FAQ RC – Uma Introdução ao Paganismo Reconstrucionista Celta - Portuguese translation of The CR FAQ.
  • Tairis - Collection of articles on Celtic Reconstructionism with a focus on Gaelic Polytheism
  • Land, Sea & Sky, edited by Shae Clancy and Francine Nicholson. Online anthology generally centered around Celtic mythology and Celtic Reconstructionism

External links

  • Davidson, H.R. Ellis (1988) Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions. Syracuse, Syracuse University Press. ISBN 0-8156-2441-7
  • Epstein, Angelique Gulermovich (1998) War Goddess: The Morrígan and Her Germano-Celtic Counterparts. Los Angeles, University of California
  • Lincoln, Bruce (1991) Death, War, and Sacrifice: Studies in Ideology and Practice. Chicago, University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-48200-6

Comparative European

  • Campbell, John Gregorson (1900, 1902, 2005) The Gaelic Otherworld. Edited by Ronald Black. Edinburgh, Birlinn Ltd. ISBN 1-84158-207-7
  • Carmichael, Alexander (1992) Carmina Gadelica: Hymns and Incantations (with illustrative notes on wards, rites, and customs dying and obsolete/ orally collected in the highlands and islands of Scotland by Alexander Carmichael). Hudson, NY, Lindisfarne. ISBN 0-940262-50-9
  • Clark, Rosalind (1991) The Great Queens: Irish Goddesses from the Morrigan to Cathleen ni Houlihan. Savage, MD, Barnes and Noble Books. ISBN 0-389-20928-7
  • Danaher, Kevin (1972) The Year in Ireland. Dublin, Mercier. ISBN 1-85635-093-2
  • Dillon, Myles (1994) Early Irish Literature. Dublin, Four Courts Press. ISBN 1-85182-177-5
  • Gray, Elizabeth A (1982) Cath Maige Tuired: The 2nd Battle of Mag Tuired. Dublin, Irish Texts Society
  • McNeill, F. Marian (1959). The Silver Bough, Vol. 1-4. Glasgow, William MacLellan
  • Nagy, Joseph Falaky (1985) The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in Gaelic Narrative Tradition. Berkely, University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-05284-6
  • Patterson, Nerys Thomas (1994) Cattle Lords and Clansmen: The Social Structure of Early Ireland. Notre Dame, IN, University of Notre Dame Press (2nd edition) ISBN 0-268-00800-0
  • Power, Patrick C. (1976) Sex and Marriage in Ancient Ireland. Dublin, Mercier
  • Smyth, Daragh (1988, 1996) A Guide to Irish Mythology. Dublin, Irish Academic Press

Gaelic (Irish and Scottish)

  • Evans Wentz, W. Y. (1966, 1990) The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries. Gerrards Cross, Colin Smythe Humanities Press ISBN 0-901072-51-6
  • MacCana, Proinsias (1970) Celtic Mythology. Middlesex, Hamlyn. ISBN 0-600-00647-6
  • MacKillop, James (1998) A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. Oxford, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280120-1
  • Rees, Alwyn and Brinley (1961) Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales. New York, Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27039-2
  • Sjoestedt, Marie-Louise (1982) Gods and Heroes of the Celts. Translated by Myles Dillon, Berkeley, CA, Turtle Island Foundation. ISBN 0-913666-52-1

General Celtic

Celtic Reconstructionists rely on primary mythological texts, as well as surviving folklore, for the basis of their religious practices. No list can completely cover all the recommended works, but this is a small sample of sources used.

Celtic polytheism and folklore

  • Adler, Margot (1979) Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today
  • Bonewits, Isaac (2006) Bonewits's Essential Guide to Druidism. New York, Kensington Publishing Group ISBN 0-8065-2710-2 Chapter 9: "Celtic Reconstructionists and other Nondruidic Druids"
  • Fairgrove, Rowan (1994) What we don't know about the ancient Celts. Originally printed in The Pomegranate, 2. Now available online
  • Kondratiev, Alexei (1998) The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual. San Francisco, Collins. ISBN 1-898256-42-X (1st edition), ISBN 0-8065-2502-9 (2nd edition). (Also reprinted without revision under the title Celtic Rituals.)
  • Laurie, Erynn Rowan (1995) A Circle of Stones: Journeys and Meditations for Modern Celts. Chicago, Eschaton. ISBN 1-57353-106-5
  • Laurie, Erynn Rowan (2007) Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom. Megalithica Books. ISBN 1-905713-02-9
  • McColman, Carl (2003) The Complete Idiot's Guide to Celtic Wisdom. Alpha Press ISBN 0-02-864417-4
  • NicDhàna, Kathryn Price; Erynn Rowan Laurie, C. Lee Vermeers, Kym Lambert ní Dhoireann, et al. (2007) The CR FAQ — An Introduction to Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism. River House Publishing. ISBN 978-0-615-15800-6
  • Nusca, Andrew (March 12–18, 2008). "Reconstructing Ireland at Home".  
  • Telesco, Patricia [editor] (2005) Which Witch is Which? Franklin Lakes, NJ, New Page Books / The Career Press ISBN 1-56414-754-1, p. 85-9: "Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism"

Celtic Reconstructionism

Further reading

  1. ^ Bonewits, Isaac (2006) Bonewits's Essential Guide to Druidism. New York, Kensington Publishing Group ISBN 0-8065-2710-2. p.132: [Among Celtic Reconstructionists] "...An Thríbhís Mhòr (the great triple spiral) came into common use to refer to the three realms." Also p. 134: [On CRs] "Using Celtic symbols such as triskeles and spirals"
  2. ^ a b c d e f Bonewits (2006) p.137: "There are, by the way, groups of people who call themselves "Gaelic Traditionalists" who have a great deal in common with the Celtic Recons. Some of these GTs started off as CRs, but consider themselves different for some reason or another (usually political). Others are Catholics looking to restore old (but Christian) Gaelic customs. ... The key with understanding these terms, or others such as Celtic Restorationism, Neo-Celtism, Senistrognata, Seandagnatha, Ildiachas/Iol-Diadhachas, etc. is to find out what each person using them intends them to mean."
  3. ^ Adler, Margot (1986). Drawing down the moon: witches, Druids, goddess-worshippers, and other pagans in America today. Boston: Beacon Press. p. 233.  
  4. ^ a b c Gallagher, Eugene V.; Ashcraft, W. Michael (2006). Introduction to new and alternative religions in America. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 178.  
  5. ^ a b c d NicDhàna, Kathryn Price; Erynn Rowan Laurie; C. Lee Vermeers; Kym Lambert ní Dhoireann; et al. (August 2007). The CR FAQ — An Introduction to Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism (first ed.). River House Publishing. pp. 19–20.  
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Varn, C. Derick (December 2006). "An Interview with Kathryn Price NicDhàna: Celtic Reconstructionism". The Green Triangle. Archived from the original on 2008-01-21. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  7. ^ a b Bonewits (2006) p.131, "The Celtic Reconstructionist (CR) movement among neopagans began in the 1980s, with discussions among amateur scholars in the pages of neopagan publications or on the computer bulletin board systems of the pre-Internet days. In the early 1990s, the term began to be used for those interested in seriously researching and recreating authentic Celtic beliefs and practices for modern Pagans."
  8. ^ Lambert, Kym [K.L. ní Dhoireann] (1992) "Celtic God/Goddess Names", Harvest, Southboro, MA, Vol. 12, No. 4, Spring Equinox 1992, pp. 11-12. First use of "Celtic Reconstructionist" as tradition name.
  9. ^ Lambert, Kym [K.L. ní Dhoireann] (1992) Book Reviews, Bio Blurbs, Harvest, Southboro, MA, Vol. 12, No. 5, Beltane 1992, pp. 6,8. Continued use of "Celtic Reconstructionist" and "Celtic Reconstructionism". Use of term continued in succeeding issues for full publication run of magazine.
  10. ^ a b c d Varn, C. D. (February 2007). "An Interview with Kym Lambert". The Green Triangle. Archived from the original on 2008-01-21. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  11. ^ Theatana, Kathryn [K.P. NicDhàna] (1992) "More on Names", Harvest, Southboro, MA, Vol. 12, No. 3, Imbolc 1992, pp. 11-12. On need to reconstruct traditions of ancestral [Celtic] deities and avoid cultural appropriation.
  12. ^ Adler, Margot (1979) Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today. Boston, Beacon Press ISBN 0-8070-3237-9. Chapter 9: Religions from the Past—The Pagan Reconstructionists.
  13. ^ Adler (1979) Chapter 11: Religions of Paradox and Play, p.303, Bonewits on New Reformed Druids of North America (NRDNA) as "Eclectic Reconstructionist".
  14. ^ McColman (2003) p.51: "Such reconstructionists are attempting, through both spiritual and scholarly means, to create as purely Celtic a spirituality as possible."
  15. ^ NicDhàna et al. [August 2007] pp.20
  16. ^ Sjoestedt, Marie-Louise (2000) [1949]. Celtic Gods and Heroes. Dover Publications. p. 3.  
  17. ^ a b Danaher, Kevin (1972). The Year in Ireland. Dublin, Ireland: Mercier Press. pp. 11, 12.  
  18. ^ a b Nagy, Joseph Falaky (1985). The wisdom of the outlaw: the boyhood deeds of Finn in Gaelic narrative tradition. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 2.  
  19. ^ McColman (2003) p.51: "Many Celtic reconstructionists stress the importance of learning a Celtic language, like Irish or Welsh,"
  20. ^ a b NicDhàna et al. [August 2007] pp.21-23, 27, 28
  21. ^ Kirkey, Jason (2009). The Salmon in the Spring: The Ecology of Celtic Spirituality. San Francisco: Hiraeth Press. p. 20.  
  22. ^ Kennedy, Michael (November 2002). Gaelic Nova Scotia: An Economic, Cultural, and Social Impact Study. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: Nova Scotia Museum Publications. pp. 12, 13.  : "In developing their own concept of Druidry, no reference was made by the [romantic] revivalists to the native spiritual and intellectual traditions of living Celtic communities — particularly to bards and priests who would have been the closest modern inheritors of any modern druidic tradition, slight as it may have been." ... "Although the [romantic "druidic" revival] movement has continued to grow ... it is still almost entirely absent from areas in which Celtic languages are actually spoken and in which Celtic traditions have been most faithfully handed down to the present day. As Prof. Donald Meek has pointed out, this process of romanticism and cultural redefinition is actually greatly assisted by ignorance of the minority group’s language." ... "The major reason that they tend to offer such a confused and contradictory picture of the “inherent” nature of Celts or Celtic culture is that they generally make no reference to existing Celtic communities, to living Celtic cultures, or to the best available Celtic scholarship. In fact, attempts to suggest that these should be the first sources of authority for the interpretation and representation of Celtic culture are often met with skepticism and even open hostility."
  23. ^ a b Nusca, Andrew (March 12–18, 2008). "Reconstructing Ireland at Home".  
  24. ^ a b NicDhàna, Kathryn; Raven nic Rhóisín (October 2007). "I Stand with Tara: A Celtic Reconstructionist (Págánacht) ritual for the protection of the sacred center: the Tara-Skryne Valley in Ireland.". agus Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  25. ^ Bittarello, Maria Beatrice, "Reading Texts, Watching Texts: Mythopoesis on Neopagan Websites" in: Llewellyn, Dawn; Sawyer, Deborah F. (2008) "Reading Spiritualities: Constructing and Representing the Sacred". Aldershot: Ashgate ISBN 978-0-7546-6329-4. p. 191: "Among traditions that recognise themselves as Neopagan or Pagans are (Neo) Druids, (Neo) Shamans, Wiccans, Odinists (also called Heathenists or Asatru), Hellenic, Roman and Celtic Reconstructionists. Such complex phenomenon is characterized by the absence of normative sacred texts and a hierarchy that controls authoritative sources and by a stress on personal research and choice."
  26. ^ McColman, Carl (2003) Complete Idiot's Guide to Celtic Wisdom. Alpha Press ISBN 0-02-864417-4. p.12: "Some groups have gone even further, trying to use archaeology, religious history, comparative mythology, and even the study of non-Celtic Indo-European religions in an effort to create a well-researched and scholarly "reconstruction" of the ancient Celts."
  27. ^ Davy, Barbara Jane (2007) "Introduction to pagan studies". Rowman Altamira ISBN 0-7591-0818-8. p.97: "Some pagans embrace the idea of a pan-European Celtic culture, but some practice regionally specific reconstructionist traditions."
  28. ^ NicDhàna et al. [August 2007] pp.65, 84
  29. ^ a b c d e f Erynn Rowan Laurie, Aedh Rua O'Morrighu, John Machate, Kathryn Price Theatana, Kym Lambert ní Dhoireann, "Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism", in: Telesco, Patricia [editor] (2005) Which Witch is Which? Franklin Lakes, New Jersey: New Page Books / The Career Press, ISBN 1-56414-754-1, pp. 85-9.
  30. ^ Bowman, Marion, "Cardiac Celts: Images of the Celts in Paganism" in: Harvey, Graham; Hardman, Charlotte (1996) Paganism today. London: Thorsons, ISBN 0-7225-3233-4, p. 244: "There are differences in and outlooks between reconstructors, whose priority is to piece together as exact a picture of the Celtic past as possible, and revivalists, whose main concern is not so much to replicate as to reinvigorate."
  31. ^ Littlefield, Christine (November 8, 2005). "Rekindling an Ancient Faith". Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas). Retrieved 2010-05-17. 
  32. ^ a b Bonewits, Isaac (2006) Bonewits's Essential Guide to Druidism. New York, Kensington Publishing Group ISBN 0-8065-2710-2. p.132
  33. ^ NicDhàna et al. [August 2007] pp.52
  34. ^ NicDhàna et al. [August 2007] pp.118
  35. ^ "A to Z of Halloween". Limerick Leader (Limerick, Ireland). October 29, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-01. 
  36. ^ Mac Mathúna, Liam (1999) "Irish Perceptions of the Cosmos" Celtica vol. 23 (1999), pp.174-187
  37. ^ NicDhàna et al. [August 2007] pp.84-87, 96, 137
  38. ^ McColman (2003) p.51: "While Celtic shamanism and Celtic Wicca are popular, not all people interested in finding a nature-based expression of Celtic spirituality feel comfortable with these multicultural forms of spirituality. A small but dedicated group of people, mostly neopagans, have formed a vibrant community in recent years devoted to reconstructing ancient Celtic pagan spirituality for the modern world."
  39. ^ Darcie (1992) "Book Review", Harvest, Southboro, MA, Vol. 12, No. 5, Beltane 1992, p. 8. Use of term by another writer: "I showed the Appendix to a Celtic reconstructionist friend..."
  40. ^ Hinds, Kathryn (1992) "Letters", Harvest, Southboro, MA, Vol. 12, No. 6, Summer 1992, p. 11. Use of term by a letter writer: "I am very curious about Kym Lambert's experiences, and I hope she will write more about her path of Celtic reconstructionism."
  41. ^ Lambert, Kym [K.L. ní Dhoireann] (1992) "Reviewers' Biographies", Harvest, Southboro, MA, Vol. 12, No. 8, Fall/Autumn Equinox 1992, p. 10. Use of term in bio blurb: "Kym Lambert practicing Celtic Reconstructionism..."
  42. ^ a b c d NicDhàna, Kathryn Price; Erynn Rowan Laurie; C. Lee Vermeers; Kym Lambert ní Dhoireann; et al. (August 2007) [2007]. The CR FAQ — An Introduction to Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism (first ed.). River House Publishing. pp. 134–6.  
  43. ^ "Pàganachd/Págánacht". / 2006. Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  44. ^ "Imbas". 2004. Retrieved 2004-06-16.  In an alt.pagan post, "Senistrognata", dated 18 March 2000, Danielle Ni Dhighe announced that "Senistrognata [...] is the term which our membership have democratically chosen to replace Celtic Reconstructionism/Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism", stating that the word is reconstructed "Old Celtic" with a meaning of "ancestral customs" (c.f. forn sed as a parallel term used in Germanic neopaganism).
  45. ^ a b Bonewits, Isaac (2006) Bonewits's Essential Guide to Druidism. New York, Kensington Publishing Group ISBN 0-8065-2710-2. p.137
  46. ^ NicDhàna et al. [August 2007] p.177
  47. ^ Bonewits (2006) Chapter 9, "Solitary Druids and Celtic Reconstructionists" pp.128-140.
  48. ^ MacKillop, James (1998). Dictionary of Celtic mythology. Oxford University Press. p. 151.  
  49. ^ Bonewits (2006) p.135: "But because the word druid is used by so many people for so many different purposes, Celtic Recons, even those who get called druids by their own communities, are reluctant to use the title for fear that others will equate them with folks they consider flakes, frauds or fools."
  50. ^ Greer, John Michael (2003) The New Encyclopedia of the Occult. St. Paul, Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN 1-56718-336-0, pp. 139, 140, 410.



See also

Terminological differences exist as well, especially in terms of what druid means. Some Neo-druid groups call anyone with an interest in Celtic spirituality a "druid", and refer to the practice of any Celtic-inspired spirituality as "druidry", while reconstructionist groups usually use the older[48] definition, seeing "druid" as a culturally-specific office that requires decades of training and experience, which is only attained by a small number of practitioners, and which must be conferred and confirmed by the community the druid serves.[49][50]

However, some Neo-druid groups (notably, Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF), the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD), and the Henge of Keltria) adopted similar methodologies of reconstruction, at least some of the time. ADF, in particular, has long used reconstructionist techniques, but the group has been criticized for their pan-Indo-European scope, which may result in non-Celtic combinations such as "Vedic druids" and "Roman druids".[47]

Though there has been cross-pollination between Neo-druid and Celtic Reconstructionist groups, and there is significant crossover of membership between the two movements, the two have largely differing goals and methodologies in their approach to Celtic religious forms.[4] Reconstructionists tend to place high priority on historical authenticity and traditional practice. Some Neo-druids tend to prefer a modern Pagan, eclectic approach, focusing on "the spirit of what they believe was the religious practice of pre-Roman Britain".

Celtic Reconstructionism and Neo-druidism

  • The Irish word for 'polytheism', ildiachas, is in use by at least one group on the West Coast of the US as Ildiachas Atógtha ('Reconstructed Polytheism').[45][46]


In 2000, IMBAS, A Celtic Reconstructionist organisation based in [44][45]


Some Gaelic-oriented groups have used the Scottish Gaelic, Pàganachd('Paganism, Heathenism')[29] or the Irish version, Págánacht.[24][43] One Gaelic Polytheist group on the East Coast of the US has used a modification of the Gaelic term as Pàganachd Bhandia ('Paganism of Goddesses').[6][29]

Pàganachd / Págánacht

While Celtic Reconstructionism was the earliest term in use and still remains the most widespread, as the movement progressed other names for a Celtic Reconstructionist approach were also popularized, with varying degrees of success.[2] Some CR groups have looked to the individual Celtic languages for a more culturally specific name for the tradition, or for their branch of the tradition.[2]


Some groups that take a Celtic Reconstructionist approach to ancient Gaelic polytheism call themselves "Gaelic Traditionalists".[2] Preservation of the living traditions in modern Gaelic (and other modern Celtic) communities has always been a priority in Celtic Reconstructionism.[42] However, according to The CR FAQ there has been some controversy around the use of the term "Gaelic Traditionalists" by groups outside of the Gaeltacht and Gàidhealtachd areas of Ireland, Scotland and Nova Scotia.[42] In the opinion of Isaac Bonewits this is partly because "Gaelic Traditionalists" is a term used almost exclusively by Celtic Christians.[2] As Kym Lambert ní Dhoireann put it, "Gaelic Traditionalists" means "those living and raised in the living cultures and [who] are keeping their culture, language and music alive, not any of the American polytheistic groups that have been using it lately."[10] The CR FAQ states that due to those in the Gaelic-speaking areas having a prior claim to the term, most Reconstructionists have been uncomfortable with the choice of other Reconstructionists to call themselves "Traditionalists",[42] a sentiment which Bonewits echoes.[2] According to the authors of the The CR FAQ, while the disagreement over terminology has at times led to heated discussion, the polytheistic “traditionalists” and “reconstructionists” are taking the same approach to their religion, and there are generally good relations between the founders of both movements.[42]

Gaelic traditionalism

NicDhàna and ní Dhoireann have stated that they coined the term "Celtic Reconstructionist / Celtic Reconstructionism (CR)" specifically to distinguish their practices and beliefs from those of eclectic traditions like Wicca and the Neo-druidism of the time.[6][10][38] With ní Dhoireann’s popularization of Celtic Reconstructionism in the neopagan press and then the use of the term by these individuals and others on the Internet, “Celtic Reconstructionism” began to be adopted as the name for this developing spiritual tradition.[39][40][41]

Overall tradition

Movement's labels

The ancient Irish swore their oaths by the "Three Realms" - Land, Sea and Sky.[36] Based on this precedent, reconstructed Gaelic ritual structures acknowledge the Land, Sea and Sky, with the fire of inspiration as a central force that unites the realms.[29] Many Celtic Reconstructionists maintain altars and shrines to their patron spirits and deities, often choosing to place them at outdoor, natural locations such as wells, streams, and special trees.[37] Some CRs practice divination; ogham is a favored method, as are folkloric customs such as the taking of omens from the shapes of clouds or the behavior of birds and animals.[29]

Celtic Reconstructionists believe it is important to lay aside elements of ancient Celtic cultures which they consider inappropriate practices in a modern society.[33] CRs attempt to find ethical ways of integrating historical findings and research with the activities of daily life.[32] Many CRs view each act of daily life as a form of ritual, accompanying daily acts of purification and protection with traditional prayers and songs from sources such as the Scottish Gaelic Carmina Gadelica or manuscript collections of ancient Irish or Welsh poetry.[29] Celebratory, community rituals are usually based on community festivals as recorded in folklore collections by authors such as F. Marian McNeill, Kevin Danaher or John Gregorson Campbell. These celebrations often involve bonfires, dances, songs, divination and children's games.[6] More formal or mystical rituals are often based on traditional techniques of interacting with the Otherworld,[34] such as the act of making offerings of food, drink and art to the spirits of the land, ancestral spirits, and the Celtic deities. CRs give offerings to the spirits throughout the year, but at Samhain, more elaborate offerings are made to specific deities and ancestors.[35]

While CRs strive to revive the religious practices of historical Celtic peoples as accurately as possible,[4][30] they acknowledge that some aspects of their religious practice are reconstructions.[31] Celtic Reconstructionists state that their practices are based on cultural survivals, augmented with the study of early Celtic beliefs found in texts and the work of scholars and archaeologists. Feedback from scholars and experienced practitioners is sought before a new practice is accepted as a valid part of a reconstructed tradition.[32]

Like many other modern pagan traditions, Celtic Reconstructionism has no sacred texts and so personal research is stressed.[25] In order to more fully reconstruct pre-Christian Celtic religions, many CRs study archaeology, historical manuscripts, and comparative religion, primarily of Celtic cultures, but sometimes other European cultures, as well.[26] Celtic Reconstructionists are not pan-Celtic in practice,[27] but rather immerse themselves in a particular Celtic culture, such as Gaelic, Welsh or Gaulish.[28] According to Kathryn Price NicDhàna, CRs believe that while it is helpful to study a wide variety of Celtic cultures as an aid to religious reconstruction, and to have a broad understanding of religion in general, in practice these cultures are not lumped together.[6] In addition to cultural preservation and scholarly research Celtic Reconstructionists believe that mystical, ecstatic practices are a necessary balance to scholarship, and that this balance is a vital component of any Celtic Reconstructionist tradition.[29]


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.