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From the President
My response to a Blog or
I read many blogs and other Internet materials. Recently, I came across some comments from a person who is not a member of the Henge. This person wrote that Keltrian Druids “…made their rituals more elaborate, added more steps, and created an elaborate system of rituals tools.” This person also expressed concern that we have become an initiatory tradition with closed rituals rather than open, public observances. Here are my thoughts on the subject.
Certain ritual tools are optional and not necessary to accomplish the goal. Two examples of this are the patens for the chalices and an altar plate. I will say, though, that patens are useful for keeping bugs out of the chalices when you are outside. That being said, some tools from the list in the Book of Ritual may be omitted; however, some people choose elaborate tools as a way to better honor the Triads. Substitutions are also fine. The list in our book refers to using cauldrons for the Triads, but any appropriate container will do as long as it will safely do the job and is reserved for ritual use only. Other tools have alternates, for example, if you do not have, or cannot use a sickle, the celebrant may use a cupped hand or crooked finger just as well. The tools do not need to be extravagant nor numerous. This is up to the individual to choose. Over the years, items have been added to the list because we found them useful. All that is needed are the basic commonsense items to do the job. Our list is merely a guideline.
Yes, the construction of the Keltrian ritual space is a bit more complex than I recall ADF rituals were twenty-five years ago; however, we have solid historical and theological reasons for this. Keltrian ritual is simple at its core and, I believe, quite elegant. It serves the main purpose of honoring the Ancestors, revering the Spirits of Nature and worshipping the Gods and Goddesses of our tribe. Nothing more; nothing less. Some elements of Keltrian ritual are optional. For example, a Grove may or may not elect to do a “Grove’s Choice”. “Devotionals” are rare, so this step is frequently skipped. As long as the basic elements that make a ritual Keltrian are observed, celebrants have leeway as to what they include. Prior knowledge of the ritual format is not required; all steps are announced as the ritual proceeds, which may make the outline appear long.
The idea that Keltrian rituals are closed and not open to the public is not accurate. The “Great Eight” Feasts, the monthly Mistletoe Rite and special Feasts such as the Feast of Remembrance and the Feast of Age are all open to non-initiates and guests. Some groups can and do perform public rituals where all comers are welcome. On the other hand, not all Grove leaders can afford to have their religious practices be public knowledge. Some members who work in conservative situations run the risk of losing their livelihood. Therefore, most Groves host rituals in private spaces, usually someone’s home. It’s understandable that candidates are generally screened before invited. In my case, I meet prospective attendees in a public place if I haven’t previously met them. If all goes well at the meeting, as it usually does, an invitation is forthcoming. A recommendation by someone I trust is usually enough to extend an invitation. So most Keltrian rituals are open to the public. An interested person just has to look a little harder, and dig a little deeper to find one. To my mind, this is not necessarily a bad thing.
And yes, Keltrian Druidism is initiatory. However, this is not to be confused with “exclusionary”. As described above, the majority of celebrations are open to those who wish to attend albeit at the discretion of the Grove leader(s). As with other religious organizations, not everyone who attends a service is expected to be a member of the clergy. Dedicated people may choose to work towards initiation, and pursue the clerical path, but it is not a requirement for participation in the seasonal celebrations, nor the Mistletoe Rite, which is a healing ritual. Certainly, a basic understanding of the pantheon and some basic ritual etiquette is helpful if someone chooses to celebrate on a regular basis. This is the case for the observances of any religion.
Our correspondence course is offered for those who are interested in a deeper knowledge of our practices and theology, but it isn’t required for participation, and initiation at completion is not assured. This course also guides the students through an analysis of their own precepts, which is an interesting exercise in itself. Some folks stay on with us, while others carry their knowledge to another path with our blessings.
At a glance, Keltrian practice may seem complicated and exclusionary, but it really isn’t.
Tony Taylor, President,
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