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The Henge of Keltria

Henge Happenings
Issue #84
Samhain 2009

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Henge Happenings

  Issue 84

From the President
From the Vice-President

The Bard’s Path
Ancestors, Heroism & Weapons
by Karl Schlotterbeck
Eidolon by Jenne Micale
Celtic Necromancy: Consulting the
Ancestors
by Shawn Frix

The Seer’s Path
Sweetgum: The Sticker-ball Tree
by Jenne Micale
Comfrey by Nione
A Reminder for Veterans

The Druid’s Path
Interview with Tony Taylor
by Christopher Blackwell
On being Keltrian by NiBhrigid
From the Internet

Reviews
The Druidry Handbook
Drawing Down the Spirits

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Interview with Tony Taylor

[Christopher Blackwell interviewed Tony Taylor for the AltePhoto of Christopher Blackwellrnative Religions Educational Network (AREN). That interview was initially published in Lammas 2009 issue of ACTION: The official newsletter for Alternate Religions Educational Network. The interview is reprinted here by permission of Mr. Blackwell.]

In the process of interviewing one set of Druids, I heard about another group, The Henge of Keltria. I got in touch with them and asked for an interview. Tony Taylor, one of the founders offered me a bit of time out of his busy schedule.

Christopher: How long have you been a Druid and how did you come to the path?

Tony: As a small child I grew up without religious direction. In the sixties, I searched for a religion that suited my sensibilities. Finally, in the seventies, I found Druidism. In fact, due to a sympathetic chaplain in the Navy, “Druid” was on my dog-tags.

In that expansion of Druid identity my wife at that time, and I contacted Isaac Bonewits. We, along with others, encouraged him to initiate a Druidic organization. When Isaac began Ár nDraíocht Féin, we were early members, initiated, and subsequently began one of the early groves.

Christopher: So what caused The Henge of Keltria to be formed and when? Was there something you felt was not being done in other traditions of the time?

Tony: A number of issues frustrated us at the time. Quarterly publications were months late. By that time, I had been publishing several newsletters, including “Wodenwood,” which started as a Minnesota Mensa Pagan, Occult, Witchcraft Special Interest Group newsletter. Deadlines are important and being late is unprofessional.

More importantly, ADF initiations degraded to after-the-fact declarations of Druidic Initiations. A small group of us made a list of the issues and taped them to Isaac’s van door at a Pagan Spirit Gathering. (Memory tells me this was 1985.) They were numbered one through 12 with an ellipse and the thirteenth one was numbered 95. This was in the spirit of Martin Luther and his 95 theses nailed to the Church door in 1517.

The bottom line was that we wanted to see some changes and improvements. Over the ensuing year, few of the changes were implemented. Issues that were key to us included meaningful initiations, and the ability to have private rituals and the inclusion of oath-bound material. The Henge of Keltria was born out of these.

Christopher: What are some of the core beliefs of your tradition?

Tony: The Henge of Keltria officially describes 12 key beliefs. They are:

    1. We believe in Divinity as it is manifest in the Pantheon. There are several valid theistic perceptions of this Pantheon.
    2. We believe that nature is the embodiment of the Gods and Goddesses.
    3. We believe that Natural Law reflects the will of the Gods and Goddesses.
    4. We believe that all life is sacred and should neither be harmed nor taken without deliberation or regard.
    5. We believe in the immortality of the spirit.
    6. We believe that our purpose is to gain wisdom through experience.
    7. We believe that learning is an ongoing process and should be fostered at all ages.
    8. We believe that morality should be a matter of personal conviction based upon self respect and respect for others.
    9. We believe that evil is not a matter of inheritance but of intent, therefore actions are not in themselves evil. Rather, it is through the intent behind actions that evil can manifest.
    10. We believe in the relative nature of all things, that nothing is absolute, and that all things, even the Gods and Goddesses, have their dark sides.
    11. We believe that individuals have the right to pursue knowledge and wisdom through his or her chosen path.
    12. We believe in a living religion able to adapt to a changing environment. We recognize that our beliefs may undergo change as our tradition grows.

Christopher: What are the Three Foundations?

Tony: Great question. At its core, the practice of Keltrian Druidism honors the Ancestors, reveres the Nature Spirits, and worships the Gods and Goddesses of our Tribe. Other practices not relating to those three concepts are auxiliary. These are the foundations to the practice and tradition.

Christopher: What holidays do you celebrate? Are there any lunar rights?

Tony: We celebrate eight regular feasts throughout the year. The solstices and equinoxes, which celebrate the cycle of the sun, and the `cross-quarters,’ which mark the agricultural and pastoral seasons of the Earth. The feasts are:

    • Feast of Rebirth - Winter Solstice
    • Feast of Awakening - February 2nd (Imbolc)
    • Feast of Flowing - Spring Equinox Feast of Flowering
    • Feast of Flowering - May 1st (Beltaine)
    • Feast of Fruiting - Summer Solstice Feast of Harvest
    • Feast of First Harvest - August 2nd (Lughnasadh)
    • Feast of Second Harvest - Fall Equinox
    • Feast of Death - November 1st (Samhain)

We also celebrate two lunar rites, which are the Mistletoe Rite, and the Vervain Rite. The ancient Druids collected mistletoe on the 6th night of the moon, which takes place at roughly the first quarter. The sun and moon are in a position of equilibrium at this time, so we see this as a time of balance. This is when we seek to find balance in our lives. Since mistletoe was known as `all heal,’ the theme of this rite is healing. We work to heal of our community, through sharing food and drink at the rite. We also address individual issues and concerns.

Our other lunar rite is the Vervain Rite. The time of this rite is also chosen from classical descriptions of ancient Druidic practices. The custom was to gather vervain when neither sun nor moon were in the sky. Although this occurs sometime during each night, except when the moon is full, we generally celebrate this around the 3rd quarter. Since moonrise occurs later, there is ample time for the rite during the evening hours. It also places this rite opposite the Mistletoe Rite in the lunar cycle. The convention is that vervain aids in working magic. Thus, the Vervain Rite is our time for working magic and is restricted to only initiate participation.

Christopher: How far has your tradition spread and what are your hopes for the future?
Tony: We have members of the Henge from Maine to California, from the state of Washington to Florida, and internationally in Canada, Europe, and Africa. It is common for us to receive communication from people describing how meaningful they find the Keltrian philosophies and ritual observances. It is my hope that we will grow to provide more support for new practitioners as well as encouragement for those who have been with us for years. Providing initiation for folks who have earned it is also high on my list.

The Henge of Keltria is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt church and is currently working on stringent requirements for ordination. I want to see that process accepted in the ecumenical community.
Christopher: Where can our readers find out more about your traditions, events and publications?
Tony: Certainly, the Henge of Keltria web site is the place to begin, http://www.keltria.org. You can learn a lot about the organization there. We also provide an extensive reading list. In addition, you can order a Book of Ritual and a Henge Introduction book online. Both resources can help a seeker understand the fundamentals of the tradition.

Christopher: Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know or understand?

Tony: Keltrian Druidism certainly isn’t for everyone. However, if you are looking for a way honor your Ancestors, revere the Spirits of Nature worship the Gods and Goddesses from within a Celtic framework, Keltrian Druidism might be for you.

 

 

 

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