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Interview with Tony Taylor
By Christopher 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:
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:
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?
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: 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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