Merry Meet! Blessed Greetings from the land of the Celts, home of the old gods and realm of all things magickal! My little piece of Summer Land.
Some of you may know me, as I lived in South Africa for 26 years. I moved back to my homeland in 2006, at a calling from the Goddess. You see, I follow the Celtic path of Wicca and I realised, in order for me to grow spiritually, I needed to be closer to my birthplace. This is where my roots are and while it has been a rocky journey, it has also been an interesting one.
Now, that’s better, I have just lit a fire and I’m brewing a pot of Ginger tea. So while it brews, and I’m listening to Enya’s The Celts, let us come back to All Things Celtic.
I suppose the first thing that needs to be clarified, is, who were the Celts?
They were an ancient race of people, who lived in Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England as well as France and even some parts of Spain. Most of their history has vanished from this world, as they were not a people who wrote. Theirs was a vocal tradition. With tales told and handed down generation to generation. Many of the old beliefs and superstitions actually stem from some of these tales. Their Gods and Goddess’ were mighty people, seen to have human traits. Although, they were often seen as giants, their presence was larger than life!
Some of the more modern Celtic tales, we know well – Arthur and the sword Excalibur, Merlin, Tristan and Isolde. But most of the Celtic tales have been lost to history, with only a few of them reaching us in the twenty first century.
There were three main groups of Celts, with the Tuatha De Danann, the Fomorians and the Manannan (representing Irish Celtic Mythology) and the four branches of the Mabinogi, representing the Welsh and British Celtic Mythology. Then, there were the Gauls in France and Spain. Less is known about the British Mythology as this land was conquered by the Romans and mostly converted to Christianity. The Irish were lucky enough to keep most of their Mythological History alive and even have a Saint named after one of the old Goddess’, St Bridget or, Brighid (there are many spellings and pronunciations of the name, of the Bright One of the Flame!).
Wheel of the Year
Litha – Midsummer
Oberon: Through the house give glimmering light,
By the dead and drowsy fire;
Every elf and fairy sprite
Hop as light as bird from brier;
And this ditty, after me,
Sing and dance it trippingly.
Titania: First rehearse your song by rote,
To each word a warbling note;
Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
Will we sing, and bless this place.
William Shakespeare – From A Midsummer Nights Dream.
The Wheel of the year is the turning of the year. In the Celtic Wiccan tradition, as with most Pagan belief systems, there are eight Sabbats or ritual days, which mark specific times of the year. Without going into too much detail, Litha, or Midsummer (celebrated on the longest day of the year, which in the Northern Hemisphere is 21st June / Southern, 21st December), is probably one of the best times to see the Faery Folk!
Have you been blessed to see the Sidhe?
I was truly blessed this Litha past, to see them come to life. We had just drummed down the sun on the eve of Midsummer at Thornborough Henge, in North Yorkshire and were heading back to our camp in the wooded northern Henge. Our route took us along an overgrown path of wild hedgerows, filled with blackthorn, hawthorn, elder and brambles. Once we were alongside the wood and the light was fading, that twilight time of half light, the Sidhe (pronounced She) began to move out of the woods and across the road in front of us. I was walking with Marcus, the High Priest of the Kith of the Earthen Star, a Pagan group from York and surrounds that I occasionally am blessed to work with.
It was truly magickal! So many of them, who obviously reside in this magickal place that is little known. Off they merrily went into the fields and villages around, to cavort and enjoy this most magickal of nights to them! The little people were magickally moving through our world. It is a strange sight to see and Hollywood does not manage to portray this as it really is. They move so quickly, as their energy resonates at a higher frequency which is why it is so difficult to see them and why most of us don’t see them. Their world exists alongside ours. When you have been using magick, meditation, working with energy or fasting, you stand more of chance of being able to view them.
They moved in groups and sped across the road; blurs of energy – on horseback, walking, running and flying. Brightly coloured, yet cloaked and hidden at the same time. It’s as if there is a strobe light and you only get to see them in short bursts of vision, when the light flashes on. Ideally, you need to unfocus your eyes and allow them to see nothing and everything (a meditation technique often used in Buddhist and Yogic Meditations, known as Tratak).
Thornborough is a group of three henge’s that are laid out to resemble Orion’s belt. They are thought to have been constructed in the early Neolithic period and pre-date the Pyramids. I have been there often and the energy is phenomenal! I have camped in the Northern Henge , which is wooded, on a Samhain Eve (but that is a tale for another edition!). On this night, in June, 2009, we were a small band of pagans, camping out to celebrate Litha or Midsummer – the longest day of the year. This is traditionally a time when the Faery folk cross from their world, into ours, to party and make merry. As Thornborough is an ancient Henge site, I believe that it is a doorway for them to travel through.
We worked with the Oak and Holly Kings, we sang around the fire (which I lovingly tended as High Priestess and Keeper of the Fire). It was a cathartic process for me. I had just that morning, broken up with my partner, so this was medicine for the soul. An all night vigil, to see in the Sun King at Sunrise….
During the night, which is very short in these northern climes, I had an experience, as so often happens in these woods! I had ventured out to find a bush and found I was lost. Sensing the presence of the other side close to me, I suddenly felt very, very alone! I looked around desperately! I had three torches with me, as this was the darkest time of the night. I could see the campfire in the distance; it seemed so far! I couldn’t move. I was being watched!!!! I began to panic! How could I loose my way? I know this wood so well. It felt as if I was walking through mud, time seemed different and the camp fire seemed to be retreating in the distance.
There has always been a part of me that has wanted to leave this world of humans and travel into other realms, be that returning to Summerland itself or crossing over into one of the many other worlds that co-exist with ours. However, I realised at this point, that I quite like our beautiful world and my journey was not yet over here! I breathed deeply of the night air, calming myself and allowing myself to become heavier and grounded. The camp fire grew closer, I saw a familiar branch on a tree and then, the path I needed to take was revealed to me. The Sidhe had let me go, allowing me to come back to my true realm.
As you read this, Litha, or Midsummer will have moved away from you. The wheel will be turning towards the three autumn Sabbats – Lughnassad being the first on or around the 1st or 2nd August. This is a time to celebrate the first harvest – traditionally with fresh baked bread. It is also a perfect time to connect with the Sidhe! I have included a wonderful autumn meditation for you to try. For you to truly see and commune with the Faery Folk, ideally, you need to spend more time in nature, getting to know and understand the seasons.
The Autumn Faerie Meditation
Begin your meditation by looking around and finding a pretty spot in nature. Try sitting beneath a tree, or perching on a nice sunny park bench. Try sitting in the backyard, comfortably on the green grass. Lean your back against a friendly tree or sit up straight and tall. Keep your hands cupped and lay them across your lap with the palms up. Close your eyes and slow your breathing down. Imagine that there is a colorful circle of fall leaves sprinkled around you. When you feel that you have centered yourself and are calm, open your eyes and look around you. What do you notice in nature? Let your mind drift and pay attention to phrases and thoughts that pop up. If you find keeping your eyes open to be a distraction, then close them and let your mind drift…
Picture that an industrious and nimble autumn Faery has perched on your shoulder. Curiously, it looks you over and whispers in your ear that you are being way too serious. Hello, it teases you; you’re still trying too hard. It playfully raps a tiny knuckle along your head as if checking to see if you have any brains in there. You can hear the tiny costume of colorful leaves the autumn Faery is wearing rustle as it whispers something rude in your ear to make you smile.
Look around you… In a lighting change of mood, it now whispers seriously into your ear. See the bounty of the earth? Do you acknowledge the autumn rains for the blessings that they truly are? This water helps nourish the plants as they prepare to gather strength before going dormant for the year. Can you feel the fiery energy of the sun and see the bold and bright colours of all of nature? Can you smell the changes coming, as the autumn breeze playfully tosses falling leaves across the grass?
The Faery pauses and then finally asks you, Nature has its own clever plan for the cycles and seasons. Are you thankful during this time of bounty for you connection to the magick of nature? Do you accept these gifts freely?
Answer that you will accept these blessings and now, in your mind’s eye, shift your attention to the Faery. How does it appear to you? Is it male of female? Pay attention and see what else it may have to say. After a time, the Faery reminds you to return to the physical plane, to be thankful for the bounty of the earth, and to not linger too long in this astral plane. Remember to thank the Faery as it bustles off to prepare for the coming winter.
Now shift your concentration away from the Faery and back to yourself. See yourself sitting there, relaxed and comfortably surrounded by nature. Count your heartbeats for a few moments and focus on your breathing again. Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it for a count of four, and then slowly blow it out through your mouth. Open your eyes and look in the immediate area around you. You will probably find a token from the Faery. This may be a smooth pebble or interesting little rock, a fallen leaf, an acorn, or a pretty twig. Pick up the natural souvenir and tuck it into your pocket. Remember to thank the Faery for the gift and be thankful for all the blessings, both great and small, that are in your life.
* * * * * *
The Celts, as mentioned before, were a mighty race of people. They worshipped the earth, the seas and rivers and the skies and gave thanks to all of nature on a daily basis. For them to do this, they worshipped different Goddess’ and Gods. These magnificent being represented different things to them and each held different attributes.
Goddess of the Hour
Anu and the River Goddess’.
Water is vital to life. Our bodies are 80% water. We need water to survive. Water feeds the earth, enabling all of nature to grow. Water can also be destructive, killing thousands in Tsunami’s, eroding the land and turning to ice. The Celtic people recognised this and worshipped different water Goddess’. As water is a feminine element, it is representative of the West, and works with the emotions, perhaps stirring things up within us that we have tried to ignore. It is the conveyor of the dead across to Summer Land, as well as bringing us into this world through the birthing process.
The Celts revered water and respected it, offering gifts and sacrifices to rivers, wells, lakes and even oceans. Water’s season is autumn, so now is a good time to come into contact with this element, sit by a river or stream, take a long soak in a bubble bath or, if you are lucky, a walk along a sea shore – this will help you to re-connect with the element, as well as the Goddess herself. She may come to you in any form, perhaps revealing herself little by little, as and when you are ready to meet her.
I see her with flowing red hair, draped in flowing, swirling blue garments, as she beckons you to the waters edge. Be careful not to be too enchanted by her!
One of her forms was Anu. She has many names and many faces. The name Anu, stems from Danu, possibly the earliest of the Celtic Goddess’ – her name means “The Flowing One”. If you would like to connect with Anu, begin by revering the ground that you walk on – literally! Perhaps you may want to locate an environmental group working with rivers and the preservation of natural beauty. When you are out in nature, notice how the soil, the landscape, hills and the rivers or bodies of water all have their own spirit. Their own personality even. When it rains, stand outside in it, let it soak you. Perhaps catch some rain in a bowl or bottle some sea water to use in your rituals. Note how the different water helps you to connect with different Water Goddess’. Note how it makes you feel and any emotions that it stirs within you.
Don’t forget that water has its own Little People too! The Mer-people and the Undines – there’s a whole other magickal world beneath the surface!
Other ways to honour the Celtic Goddess Anu, include practicing water conservation, drinking plenty of water daily, going swimming or placing a small fountain in your home or garden.
Don’t forget to offer a coin or two when you make your wish!
Magic of the Celtic Gods and Goddesses – Carl McColman and Kathryn Hinds – New Page Books
Celtic Fairy Tales – Collected by Joseph Jacobs – Siena
Celtic Myths and Legends – Charles Squire – Siena
Celtic Wise Woman – Dilys Gater – Capall Bann
Fairies, An Anthology of Verse And Prose – LB
Excerpts from Debi’s as yet untitled book.