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A Spirituality for the Earth 

The pre-Christian world of the Celts was animate and ensouled. The land was viewed as the Great Goddess, whose breasts flowed with the rivers that fertilized the Earth. The Celts dwelt in clearings in the forest, where they learned the secret language of the trees. They knew how to shape-shift into birds and animals in order to understand the wisdom and power of stag, boar, hawk and salmon.

At the coming of Christianity, the Celts continued to view the world with love and respect since it was a divine creation of God. The first monastery in Ireland resembled the old tribal villages: small farmsteads in forest clearings. Hermit and anchorite led ascetic lives in caves or even trees and wrote exquisite poems of praise for the gifts of Nature. It’s the real world – the one that’s all around us, yet so often lost sight of amid the concrete and asphalt that enclose most of our modern lives. When we return to the embrace of the natural world, this ancient and satisfying relationship with our original parent -- and with our brothers and sisters of the animal, plant and mineral kingdoms – brings an end to loneliness and fosters a sense of inner peace. 

Protect native forests everywhere.

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An Invitation to the Dance 

The Celts viewed life as a continuous cycle of birth-death-rebirth, for they understood that everything moved in a spiral, from the growth of a snail’s shell to the whirling galaxies above. The changing seasons announced the steps of the yearly dance, and were welcomed with feast-days and merrymaking to acknowledge and give thanks for the ever-turning cycle. But awareness of life as an unfolding spiral is something that, sadly, we have lost today.  In the modern world, progress is seen as a linear upward march. If we do not consistently improve and achieve, we think there is something wrong. Through celebrating the changing tides of the sacred Celtic year, we can gracefully take each step of the dance, as we are led joyfully along by what Fionn McCumhaill once called, “the music of what happens.” Instead of grimly struggling towards distant goals, we learn to enjoy the journey, appreciating each moment as it unfolds in beauty. We know that we are truly part of the splendid universal design of the cosmos. 

Celebrate the Celtic festivals, and each month, do a simple ritual with family, friends or by yourself.

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Everyday spirituality

Until quite recently, ordinary farming and fishing families in Celtic countries still lived every day in close communion with the Divine. Woven through their lives was a complex and beautiful tapestry of daily and seasonal prayers, rituals and ceremonies. Whether sowing seed, spinning wool or milking cows, these country dwellers carried out every task in the spirit of prayer, despite the poverty and hardships of subsistence living. Although they prayed to Christian saints and angels, these figures thinly veil the pagan gods and goddesses whose names they once bore. And these invisible protectors were not merely to be found in church on Sundays, or in a heavenly beyond, but attended everyday life in kitchen, field and barn. The lives of these people dovetailed into an integration of community, earth and spirit, in a way that we, in our fragmented and alienating society, can scarcely imagine. A return to integrating spirit into our daily lives – whether rising in the morning, doing our work, making meals, retiring at night – calms us down, fills us with gratitude, reverence and awe, helps us remember who we are. 

Carmina Gadelica: A Collection of Old Scottish prayers, blessings and invocations.
 
 
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