Celtic Magick.

The History of Celtic Magick  
   Celtic witchcraft has as its basis a strong sense of spirituality and a love of the earth. Central to this love are the Goddesses and Gids, who play a strong role in Celtic worship. The Celtric religion recognises two main deities; the Earth Mother Goddess and the Horned God. But Celtic Wiccans also worship many othre minor deities who each represent specific qualities important to Celtic individuals. Celtic worshippers celebrate the same Sabbaths, perform rituals and magic, and have a strong faith in their spirituality, just like any member of the Craft. The main differences between Celtic witchcraft and other forms of the Craft is that with Celts, magic is everywhere. Magic is woven into their jewellery, their tattoos and all their artwork and everyday items such asclothing and cutlery.     The Druids are the religious leaders of the Celtic people,the wise and magical priestd and priestesses whose special blend of wisdom and magic provided a powerful role model for all the Celtic people. The Druidic priesthood was orginally all-female, which male initiates only becoming accepted after many years.     According to Laurie Cabot, Druidesses were divided into three levels, or classes: the highest class were celibate and lived in convents, and were eventually assimilated into Christianity as nuns. The other two levels could be married and lived either with their husbands, or in the temples. With the onset of Christianity these wise women were called witches.     Spirituality is of primary import to Celtis, and their devotion to the earth, their goddesses and gods and the effeort which they put into their worship is proof of their highly spiritual nature. Although the names of the deities worshipped and the titles of the SAbbats may be different to other Pagan practices, despite the regional dialects which occur in the Celtic rituals, there are strong similarities between Celtic witchcraft and Wicca practiced elsewhere on the globe.  
Faerie Magick    
Despite the interest in the Celts, there is a great deal of confusion as to who the Celtic people actually were, and where they came from. DJ Conway in her book Celtic Magic explains that the Celts were not only inhabitants of Wales Ireland and Scotland, as is commonly thought, but resided in much of Western Europe. They were a strongly spiritual, artistic and creative people, with a distinctive artwork, orginal alphabet (the Ogham) and a deep respect for faeries, elves, pixies and gnomes.     One need not be of Celtic heritage to practice Celtic magic. Each person who is interested in Paganism will follow a basic set of guidelines, but will adapt the rituals and spells to suit her/himself. One aspect which sets Celtic magic apart from others is their respect for the "little people": faeries, elves and gnomes, whom the Celts called "Good Neighbours" and treated with honour. Much of the Celtic magic calls for the assistance of their Good Neighbours, with those who were familiar often using the little folks' fairy circles of mushrooms found in fields, rather than casting their own magic circle. However the Celts realised that it is very important to use another's circle with respect, and with permission, they are aware that you should never encroach upon another's magic.   The Warrior Goddess   
  The Celts were unique in the level of power they attributed to their female Gods. Warrior  Goddesses were relatively common, and it was  not unusual for Celtic women to fight alongside the male warriors during wartime. Subsequently, women were highly regarded in the Celtic community, with children taking their mother's name, and daughters inheriting the mother's property upon her death.     Celtic magic is rooted strongly in the four natural elements: earth, air,fire and water, with many spells and rituals corresponding to at least one of these elements. As in all Wiccan magic, each of the elements is associated with a colour, and with certain powers. For the Celts the colours were North, black; South, white; East, red and West, grey. The Celts also placed a great deal of faith in stones and plants and in their ability to heal. Therefore any practitioner of Celtic magic would be well versed in plants and herbal medicine.     Ritualsinterwined the use of colours, stones, incense and elements representing the natural elements, which are all extremely powerful tools in Celtic magic.   Magickal Lives   
  With the Celts, magic was a common part of everyday life, completely accepted and never questioned. In order to practice Celtic magic one needs to suspend disbelief, turn around the conventional ideas and accept magic into your life. Magic becomes s natural as breathing, sleeping and smiling : a completely normal part of life. As one becomes more familiar with magic, the more accepting one becomes, until there's not even a second thought about the magic in one's life.     The White Moon Goddess and the Honrned God are the two deities which personify nature for the Celts, and while the Celts, like Wiccans, believe that all Gods and Goddesses are one God united, is is these two which are the most prominent. Celts worship the triple Goddess: the deity recognised as the maiden, mother, crone. The maiden is Anu, the mother Badb and the crone Ceridwen: each representing woman at three important phases of her llife cycle.    Just as the lunar calendar is important to all witches, it plays a strong role in the Celtic lifestyle. The thirteen lunar months in the Celtic calendar are all named after certain plants and trees. The new year for the Celts starts the day after Samhain (on November 1, its origins being in the Northern hemisphere). Nights were counted, not days, and feasts, rituals and celebrations were always based around the moon. The Celtic day began at midnight.     The Celts were an extremely spiritual people, so when Christian leaders looked down upon their magical tradition, the Celts moved underground: or more specifically to the nearest forest. The Celts were not a sexually repressed people, sexuality was encouraged, and women with children were paid a higher dowery than virgins to become wives - so much was fertility prized. Beltane was considered a most auspicious festivals were often held during this time. 
  Celtic Rituals     In Celtic witchcraft, rituals honour the essential elements of earth, air, fire and water, and the deities that personify them. Rituals are held in honour of the seasons, the Sabbats and to celebrate auspicious moments in pagan history. Numbers are extremely important to the Celts, with three, five, seven, nine and thirteen holding special significance. Therefore it is auspicious to repeat rituals or affirmations a specific number of times.     Ritual is vital for Celtic magic. The wearing of ceremonial robes, the burning of incense and candles, and the tools on the ceremonial altar - all play an important role in setting the scene for magic. Magic is an oft overused term, but those in the Craft know that it works. With spellcraft one can practice and see the results of magic, constantly gaining strength with each day that passes.     Candle magic was greatly favoured by the Celts, although they preferred tallow lamps and bonfires using specific woods to modern candles we use today. Candle rituals are specific to the individual, but there are a few simple rules to follow unless the ritual specifies otherwise. To perform a spell to increase or obtain, burn during a waxing moon (the period leading up to the full moon). To decrease or remove, burn during a waning moon (the period after the full moon).     Use candles of a specific colour relevant to your spell. Anoint the candle with incense or oil, working from bottom to top for a spell to increase or from top to bottom for a spell to remove. You may also wish to etch words, such s your desires or the name of the deity to whom you are appealing, along the side of the candle to strengthen the purpose of the spell. When performing a ritual with a candle, unless otherwise stipulated, allow the candle to burn out to the end.   Celtic Spellcraft     Spellwork is best created for yourself. While it is possible to follow a spell written by another, it is best to adapt the spell to suit your own purposes. Often the words may change slightly, or you may wish to address another deity. Specific colours may feel right to you, or you may wish to alter the number of repetitions in a chant depending on the outcome you desire. While tradition is worthy, adaptability is common sense.     Most importantly, a spell must only be performed if it for the good of all concerned - never ask for a wish to be fulfilled if it is not in the interest of all. For example, you do not wish to become rich only as a result of compensation received after an accident. You do not wish to have someone fall in love with you if it will cause hardship for another. So long as magic is for the good of all, good magic will be returned to you threefold. Do as ye will and harm ye none. Blessed be.     Celtic magic is a strong and powerful tradition, and one worthy of more than a casual glance. It may not be the religion for you, but it may help to strengthen your existing beliefs, or offer a viable alternative for your future.

Resources Celtic Myth and Magick by McCoy



Celtic Goddesses

. Arianrhod
Another Welsh Goddess, whose name means "Silver Wheel" or "Silver Circle". Like Blodeuwedd, Arianrhod is part of the Welsh Triple Goddess, as the mother aspect. She ruled over the stars, the moon and the sky, and she lived in an astral palace called Caer Arianrhod (also known as the constellation Corona Borealis). This palace was the destination of the souls of the dead, between incarnations. She lived there with her husband, Nwyvre, who is known today by name only.

She was the daughter of Don (who was the Welsh version of the Goddess Danu, though Don was sometimes depicted as a God as well as a Goddess).

Arianrhod had 2 sons, Llew Llaw Gyffes and Dylan. The myth of their birth states that she became pregnant (and immediately gave birth) during a virginity test where she stepped over the staff of her brother, Gwydion. The implication is that her sons were born from either rape or an incestuous affair.

As a result, she banished Dylan to the sea and cursed Llew with 3 curses. One of those was that he would never take a human wife. That led to the story of Blodeuwedd, told above. Her brother Gwydion raised Llew and together they tricked Arianrhod into releasing him from the other 2 curses as well

Though these myths don't reflect her attributes, she is associated with cosmic time and tides, fate, life and death, fertility and the power of the moon.

 She was a Welsh Goddess, whose name translates to "Face of Flowers". An apt name since she was indeed made from flowers. She was created by Math and Gwydion, as a bride for Llew Llaw Gyffes. He had been cursed by his mother, Arianrhod, to never take a human wife. She was made from the blossoms of the oak, broom, meadowsweet and primrose.

Blodeuwedd was not faithful to Llew Llaw, and took a lover named Goronwy who plotted with her to kill her husband. Llew could only be killed under a very particular and unlikely set of circumstances: neither by day nor night, indoors nor outdoors, riding nor walking, clothed nor naked, nor by any weapon lawfully made. She tricked him into revealing how this riddle could be solved, and Goronwy sprung from hiding and killed him. Blodeuwedd was punished by being transformed into an owl.

For the Welsh, Blodeuwedd was the maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess. Some say her personality is more of the dark Crone, but she is still typically considered the Maiden. She represents flowers and plants, new beginnings, lunar magick and wisdom. Blodeuwedd displays a contradiction in her nature, being created for love with flowers, but yet being capable of deceit and murder.

Brigid was so loved by the Celtic people that she was worshipped all through the land, including Ireland, Wales and farther into Europe as well. Her name was spelled many ways: Brigit, Brighid, Brigit, or simply Brid (pronounced Bride or Bridey). She was the daughter of the Dagda, and wife to Bres, an agricultural God who was also the Fomorian king of the Tuatha de Danann for a time. Unfortunately, he was not fit to rule and was quickly deposed.

She had a sacred temple at Kildare, where 19 priestesses tended a holy flame that was never extinguished. The flame represented Brigid, as the Goddess of fire and forge. She ruled over smithcraft and other arts, poetry, divination, animals and livestock, healing and physicians. Because she is associated with 3 distinctive and unrelated fields (smithcraft, healing, poetry), Brigid is sometimes considered a form of triple Goddess. Imbolc Sabbat is particularly sacred to Brigid, as her feast day.

As Christianity swept over the Celtic lands, the people loved Brigid too much to let her go. She was converted into a Catholic saint (St. Brigid) and her temple became a Catholic convent, tended by nuns. The flame was put out in the 18th century by Bishops who became angry at the all-female convent, because they wouldn't allow men within its walls. In 1993, the flame was relit by the Brigidine sisters of Ireland.

Though closely related to the Morrigan, Caillech is not actually a specific Goddess. Rather she is more of a generalized concept of a Crone goddess. Strangely, she does not have any corresponding Goddesses in the role of maiden or mother. She seems to stand alone, and is not directly referred to in any Celtic myth. The word means 'hag' or 'veiled one'.

Some historians think that Caillech is just an adaptation of the Hindu goddess, Kali.

Danu Danu (also called Anu, Dana, or Anann) was the great Earth Goddess who ruled over fertility, prosperity, cattle and health. At Midsummer, great balefires were lit in the hills in her honour. She was mother to other Gods as well as the Tuatha de Danann (whose name means "children of Danu"). To the Welsh, she was called Don and had strong connections with the sea. She represents motherhood, fertility, beginnings, and the cycles of all things.

Even though she had strong mothering qualities, she was considered to be the maiden aspect of the Irish triple Goddess, with Badb (the mother) and Macha (the crone). Danu was both mother and daughter to the Dagda, who was the great father God of the Celts. Her husband is sometimes recorded as Belenus, the God of fire and sun.

Among the Celtic lands, Danu was mainly worshipped in what is now Ireland. As a testament to her fertility, there are two hills still called today, the Breasts of Anu. The Don river and the Danube river in Europe may both have been named for Danu as well. She may also be connected with the Greek / Roman Goddess, Diana.

Though she was the great Mother Goddess, there have been no surviving myths involving her, leaving many gaps in the details about her personality.

Morrigan Now we come to one of the more complex and often misunderstood Celtic Deities, the Morrigan (or the Morrigu). Sometimes she is a single Goddess, and sometimes she is referred to as 3 individual Goddesses. With Arianrhod and Blodeuwedd, the Morrigan is the Crone phase of the Welsh Triple Goddess. As she is part of a larger trio, and yet a trio within herself, the Morrigan is the ultimate Triple Goddess.

She was one of the Tuatha de Danann, and helped them win several key battles, particularly the Second Battle of Mag Tuired. She caused confusion and disorganization among the ranks of the Fomorians. The Morrigan played a key role in many other myths surrounding the Tuatha de Danann. Once a year (on October 31st), she meets with the Dagda on the banks of a river. Their mating brings prosperity and fertility to the land each year.

When viewed as three separate Goddesses, the Morrigan is made up of Badb (Vulture or Fury), Macha (Crow or Battle) and Nemain (Frenzy or Venomous). "Morrigan" is translated to mean Phantom Queen or Queen of the Demons. The details of the three are often blurred and their qualities overlap. Some sources describe Macha as a separate Deity altogether, making the trio of the Morrigan to be Badb, Nemain and Fea (Hateful). Some sources make all 5 Goddesses to simply be related but independent sisters.

Whether she is one or three, the Morrigan is a battle Goddess and closely tied to fate, death and warfare. According to myth, she is seen washing clothes in a nearby river before a battle, the warriors whose clothes she washed would die the next day. She influenced the battle with magick, but the Morrigan was not a warrior who fought on the battle-field. Her animal symbol is the crow, or raven.

Her role as witch is mirrored in the Arthurian legend, as the character Morgan le Fey.

As mentioned earlier, Rhiannon is a Goddess that is tied closely to Epona. Though also associated with horses, Rhiannon had more qualities than just protectress of animals. She was a moon Goddess, and rode a white horse so fast that no man could catch her.

She had been promised for marriage to an older man, but she refused and chose a mortal prince named Pwyll. After she married him, there was fighting among her people and the family of her original suitor. To end the conflict, she left the enchanted land of the Fey to be with the man she loved.

They had a son who was kidnapped, but the blame fell on Rhiannon as she was framed by the maidservants who had fallen asleep instead of watching the boy. She was sentenced to 7 years of carrying visitors to the castle from the outer gate on her own back, while announcing her crime. Rhiannon bore this with grace and dignity until her son was returned and she was cleared of the crime. Humility and forgiveness are two of Rhianonn's greatest traits.

Like several other Celtic Deities, Rhiannon can be seen in the Arthurian legends as Vivianne, the Lady of the Lake.