Celtic Reconstructionism, also refered to as CR or "Celtic Recon," may sometimes also be called Celtic Revivalism, Celtic Restorationism, Celtic Polytheism, Celtic Paganism, Celtic Recon, Gaelic Reconstructionism*, Gaelic Traditionalist*, as well as other names. CR is a socio-religious movement which attempts to recapture the culture of the ancient Celt and/or Gael. The movement involves both social and religious structure because they were one in the same during ancient times. Although it takes many of its ideas from Celtic culture, Wicca is not part of CR and visa versa, as some may think. CR can be considered "pagan" in the old sense meaning "country dweller" or "not Christian," especially since most groups concentrate on the height of the Celtic age when Celts were indeed "pagan." This site will further explain CR and offer valuable links to other sources of information.
"Celtic Reconstructionism," CR, and other names, is a socio-religious movement that works towards reviving and reconstructing the polytheistic and animistic beliefs and society of the ancient Celtic peoples of the pre-Christianized Celtic era. Followers of CR do not claim to be a direct unbroken line to these times. It is in fact a more modern movement that basis it's ideals on historical fact and does not "fill in the blanks" with pieces of other cultures. Many people confuse the ideals and practices of CRs with other pagan groups of today, however, these other groups and CR are remarkably different. CRs are most concerned with knowledge, honor, and many other Celtic ideals that will be elaborated upon. Other pagan groups see CRs as too bookish, as they are intesely concerned with the social history of the Celts and do not spend all their time on the specifically religious.
For all intensive purposes, we are going to use the term CR or Celtic Paganism as a blanket term for Celtic Revivalism, Celtic Restorationism, Celtic Polytheism, etc. as they all generally have the same goal in mind, but have a slightly different ideas about its composure.
What do you mean by Celtic?
The Celtic nations include Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Galicia, and Brittany (formerly Gaul). Gaelic nations only include the Q-Celtic speaking nations of Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man.
What do you mean by socio-religious?
For many cultures past and present, religious and social values were inseperable. One was based of the other. This was the case for the ancient Celts. Laws and ideals were made for both religious and social reasonings.
What does polytheism and animism mean?
Polytheism; pol·y·the·ism (pl-th-zm, pl-thz-m) n. The worship of or belief in more than one god.
Animism; an·i·mism (n-mzm) n. 1) The belief in the existence of individual spirits that inhabit natural objects and phenomena. 2) The belief in the existence of spiritual beings that are separable or separate from bodies. 3) The hypothesis holding that an immaterial force animates the universe.
What are some ancient Celtic Ideals that CRs follow?
The Celts had a stong connection with nature; they respected the land they lived on. They did what they could to help the land survive and thus the land helped them survive. The Celts were avid hunters and enjoyed wild cattle, boar, fowl, and fish. They would always pay homage to their deities before taking from the land. The Celts also held honor, loyalty, and justice dear, and although the many Celtic tribe were not united they followed many of the same laws and principles. The Brehon Laws, which were written down between the 7th and 10th centuries, are beleived to origionated from these laws that the ancient Celts followed. Community was of great importance to the Celts. It was the foundation for there very being. Much emphasis was placed on the family and the hearth. Preserving tribal life was essential to supporing their social and spiritual freedom. They beleived a person's worth was judged by how much they helped the community as a whole prosper. There was no room for slackers in this type of society; you reaped what you earned. In effect, the support of the community or tribe would provide the individual the ability to grow as an individual. Individuals who were unable to support the community or tribe had to rely on the care of their family. Family itself is part of community and to the Celts it was essential for the family to grow both quality and quantity. Hospitality was and still is a major trait in Celtic life. The Celts would welcome anyone to their feasting table and deal with the business of finding out who they were later. Even today in Gaelic countries many people welcome you into their homes without knowing you.
What was the Social Structure of the ancient Celtic society and CR?
The Celts had a tribal structure. Each tribe had a king or chief and both men and women could rule. There were af ew levels of "importance" based on your profession, not your wealth. The highest in regard were the warriors and the priests, or Druids. Warriors protected the society and were vital to the survival of their culture; not to mention the Celts had a love of war so much that they often hired themselves out to other cultures. The Druids were their connection to their religion and law. The Celts beleived that anyone could commune with the deities, not just the Druids. The Druids were more like advisors, they were the judges, doctors, and scientists for the Celts as well as priests. They also had their aristocracy, but these people were not held as in high regard as we do today in America. The Celts also had craftsmen, farmers, etc.
What is the Cosmology and Religion like?
The basic cosmology of the religion is based on three realms, three worlds, and three types of deities. The three realms are the Upper Realm (the realm of the Sky), the Middle Realm (the realm of the Earth), and the Lower Realm (the realm of the Sea); all equally important. The three worlds are This World (ralated to the land & middle realm), the Otherworld (related to the Sky and the Upper Realm), and the Underworld (related to the Sea and Lower Realm). This world is quite obviously where the mortals reside.
The three types of deities the Celts valued were their Regional deities (these were the spirits of the land), their tribal deities (these were the deities the tribe paid homage to), and their personal deities (deities that were special to the individual). The also believed in ancestral spirits. It is important to note how the Celts viewed their deities. These deities were not infallable and the had human emotions, needs, and desires. They were multifunctional; they were not know as the "god of love" or the "goddess or beauty." While some deities were known for more specific traits, they were not categorized by function. The Celts did not pray to the universal diety of wealthy when they wanted items of value, they prayed to their tribal or regional deity. Deities were also completely iindividual from other deities; one deity was not the same as another. The Celts recognized that other cultures had their own deities and they were not the same as their own. For example, Daghdha was not the same entity as Zeus although they are both the male leaders of their pantheons.
Much like other world religions, the Celts tought their lessons through stories. The mysteries of the universe wer tought through these lessons to teach us about nature, ourselves, and the universe. These stories often take the form of riddles, songs, or poems and sometimes reading between the lines is neccessary. They are not, however, meant to be taken literally. These lessons are to help us move on from one level to the next.
What required to be a CR?
Although many followers are of Celtic or Gaelic descent, it is not a requirement. Like the Celts, CRs welcome anyone who share the same ideals and beliefs. All that is required is some kind of serious emotional connection to the Celts, share the same ideals, beliefs, have a strong desire for knowledge, and and interest in the betterment or your tribe or community.