THE GAOL NAOFA FAQ

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Published by An Chuallacht Ghaol Naofa.
www.gaolnaofa.com
Published November 2012.
Third edition.
!date 11 "une 201#.
Co!yright $ 200%& 2012& 201# Treasa N' Chonchobhair& Annie (oughlin& )athryn Price
Nic*h+na& and Tom,s -lannabhra.
All .ights .eserved.
Published in /cotland.
0riginal ty!ogra!hy and interior layout by Aestas *esigns.
/!ecial than1s to P2l 3acAmhlaoibh& /1y *avis& .ichard 4ounds& and 4randon /weeney for
the initial read5through and feedbac1& and to 6saac *avis and Tom (eigh for language
assistance.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may
be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or
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"isclaimer
The following -A7s s!ea1 only of Gaol Naofa and our lifeway of Gaelic
8.econstructionist9 Polytheism
1
:not for the entirety of Celtic .econstructionism
or other traditions of Gaelic Polytheism. ;hile we have in a way modeled this
after The CR FAQ& a lot of our <uestions are !hrased differently& are written for
those with a s!ecifically Gaelic focus& and=or have different answers than in The
CR FAQ.
2
1 0r& as we in Gaol Naofa refer to our tradition> 0ur Gaelic Polytheist (ifeway 8GP(9? in G+idhlig& Ar Dòigh-Beatha Ioma-
Dhiahach !h"ihealach& and Gaeilge& @r nD#igh Bheatha Iliach i$ !aelach. Gaol Naofa has coined this term to better
describe our s!ecific tradition and beliefs& as !racticed by the members of Gaol Naofa. This is !artly in order to
distinguish ourselves from other Gaelic Polytheist grou!s& but also to em!hasise our commitment to our s!irituality as a
wa% of life. Although admittedly a bit of a mouthful& we feel the !hrase s!ea1s to the heart of Gaol NaofaAs !hiloso!hy and
community.
2 The C. -A7 is a broad5based& consensus document& written by re!resentatives from different Celtic .econstructionist
traditions& some of which only had the core& basic !rinci!les in common? in it& a diverse grou! of !eo!le managed to
arrive at answers the grou! could all li&e with. Thus& in !laces the authors had to go with the lowest5common5
denominator answer& and in others a Bsome see it this way& others see it that wayB a!!roach. As Gaol Naofa has a s!ecific
tradition of Gaelic Polytheism& we have the luCury of being able to be more s!ecific and unified about our beliefs in this
-A7.
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#able of $ontents
Disclaimer........................................................................................................................3
Table of Contents............................................................................................................4
Organisational Matters................................................................................................10
;hat is Gaol NaofaD...............................................................................................................10
6s Gaol Naofa a religious or cultural organisationD...........................................................10
6s Gaol Naofa a Neo!agan organisationD............................................................................11
Eow is Gaol Naofa coordinatedD..........................................................................................12
Are you *emocrats& .e!ublicans& /ocialists& or NationalistsD.........................................12
*oes Gaol Naofa host !ublic rituals or other eventsD.......................................................12
*oes Gaol Naofa charter or s!onsor grou!sD.....................................................................12
6s Gaol Naofa F018c98G9 certifiedD..........................................................................................1G
*oes Gaol Naofa offer any courses in Gaelic PolytheismD...............................................1G
*oes Gaol Naofa offer mentoringD.......................................................................................1G
*oes Gaol Naofa offer classes in any of the Gaelic languagesD.......................................1#
;hat is Gaol NaofaAs o!inion on Neo!agan and=or New Age conventions& festivals&
and gatheringsD.......................................................................................................................1#
;hat about writing for New Age and Neo!agan !ublications and !ressesD................1H
;here does Gaol Naofa stand on racism& o!!ression& and Neo5NaIismD.....................1H
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Membership Questions...............................................................................................18
;ho can Join Gaol NaofaD.....................................................................................................1K
*o 6 need to be of Gaelic descent to Join Gaol NaofaD.......................................................1K
*o 6 need to be a certain age to Join Gaol NaofaD..............................................................1L
*o 6 need to have any !rior eC!erience in Gaelic Polytheism to JoinD *o 6 need to have
studied for so longD .ead so many boo1sD.........................................................................1L
*oes my !olitical affiliation matterD....................................................................................1L
Can 6 remain in& or Join& other organisations whilst being a member of Gaol NaofaD. 20
General Questions........................................................................................................
;hat is Gaelic Polytheism 8GP9D..........................................................................................22
;hat is Gaelic .econstructionist Polytheism 8G.P9D........................................................22
;hat is the !oint of .econstructionD...................................................................................2G
Eow do Celtic .econstructionism and GP=G.P differD....................................................2G
6s Gaelic Polytheism an ancient traditionD..........................................................................2#
;hat is the living Gaelic cultural continuumD...................................................................2#
6f Gaelic Polytheism is a reconstruction of !re5Christian beliefs& why does the cultural
continuum matterD 6snAt it ChristianD...................................................................................2F
Eow do Gaelic Polytheists decide what as!ects of Gaelic culture to 1ee! and discardD
....................................................................................................................................................2F
;hat are your ethicsD.............................................................................................................2H
6s learning any of the Gaelic languages a re<uirement for Gaelic PolytheismD.............2H
;hat is Gaelic loreD ;here can 6 find itD.............................................................................2%
;hat boo1s do you recommendD.........................................................................................2K
;hat sort of boo1s should 6 avoidD......................................................................................2L
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Theological Questions.................................................................................................30
/o Gaelic Polytheists have no Bcreation mythBD..................................................................G0
(and& /ea and /1yD ;hatAs that all aboutD..........................................................................GG
;hat is the 0therworldD........................................................................................................GG
;hat is a worldviewD ;hy do 6 need to ado!t a Gaelic worldview in order to !ractice
Gaelic PolytheismD..................................................................................................................G#
6s Gaelic Polytheism dualisticD..............................................................................................GH
6s Gaelic Polytheism a nature5based religionD....................................................................GK
6s Gaelic Polytheism ethnic5basedD......................................................................................GK
;hat is the holy=central teCt of Gaelic PolytheismD...........................................................GL
*o you really believe in those mythsD.................................................................................GL
/ome of the Gaelic mythos has misogynistic undertones. *oes this mean Gaelic
Polytheism is seCistD...............................................................................................................#0
;ho do Gaelic Polytheists worshi!D....................................................................................#1
;ho are the *M ocus An5*MD.................................................................................................#2
*o you believe your gods are the Btrue godsBD...................................................................##
;hat about matron and !atron deities& do you guys have thoseD..................................##
;hat is the fairy5faithD...........................................................................................................#F
Are the -omoiri demonic forces or entitiesD.......................................................................#H
;hat is PGD Eow much PG is acce!table in Gaelic PolytheismD..............................#H
;hen it comes to the !olytheistic as!ects that need to be reconstructed in GP=G.P&
how im!ortant is Proto56N and 6N mythologyD...................................................................#%
*o 6 need to study Oedic mythology in order to !ractice Gaelic PolytheismD..............#%
*oes Gaelic Polytheism borrow from other religions or culturesD..................................#K
*o Gaelic Polytheists have any sacred symbolsD ;hat symbols do you reJectD...........#K
*oes Gaelic Polytheism have clergyD...................................................................................#L
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/o you guys donAt refer to yourselves as *ruidsD..............................................................#L
!itual an" #ractice Questions....................................................................................$1
Eow does one become a Gaelic PolytheistD ;here does one beginD..............................F1
Eow do Gaelic Polytheists worshi!D...................................................................................F1
;hat are considered acce!table offeringsD.........................................................................FG
*oes Gaelic Polytheism include ritual sacrificeD................................................................F#
;hat festivals=holidays do Gaelic Polytheists celebrateD.................................................FF
;hat about the solstices and e<uinoCes& do you celebrate thoseD...................................FH
*o you celebrate secular cultural holidays as well as religious onesD............................F%
6s Gaelic Polytheism something that can be !racticed in urban and suburban areasD. F%
Eow involved=immersed in Gaelic culture should one beD.............................................FK
Eow im!ortant is tradition to Gaelic PolytheistsD.............................................................FK
;ho are the NldersD................................................................................................................H0
Eow im!ortant is family and community within Gaelic PolytheismD...........................HG
Eow are these family grou!s organiIedD............................................................................H#
/o you donAt allow room for solitariesD...............................................................................H#
Eow can 6 include my child=children in my !racticeD.......................................................HF
*o 6 have to have children to be a Gaelic PolytheistD........................................................HH
Are there any different !aths within Gaelic PolytheismD.................................................H%
6s magic an acce!table !ractice in Gaelic PolytheismD......................................................HL
*o 6 need to !ractice fol1 magic or divination in order to be a Gaelic PolytheistD.......HL
;hat is flametendingD *oes Gaol Naofa have a flametending orderD...........................%0
*o 6 have to tend a flame in order to honour 4rigidD........................................................%1
;here does Gaol Naofa stand on male flametendingD.....................................................%1
6snAt o!!osing male flametenders a subJugation and hatred of men& or members of the
(G4T communityD..................................................................................................................%2
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;hat are Gaol NaofaAs feelings about the !artici!ation of transwomen in
flametending ritualsD..............................................................................................................%#
;hat about the 4iddy 4oysD *o festivals that include cross5dressing !rovide a basis
for male flametendersD...........................................................................................................%#
;hat is cultural a!!ro!riationD Eow can 6 avoid itD........................................................%F
6 live in America 8or Canada9? is it o1ay to a!!roach local s!irits in the ways of Native
!eo!lesD....................................................................................................................................%H
*o you allow room for syncretismD.....................................................................................%%
*o you allow room for eclecticismD.....................................................................................%L
;hat about 6nterfaith wor1D.................................................................................................K0
Misconceptions.............................................................................................................8
There are !eo!le besides Gaol Naofa who call themselves BGaelic PolytheistsB. *oes
everyone who calls themselves GP or G.P have the same beliefs and !ractices as Gaol
NaofaD.......................................................................................................................................K2
6snAt Gaelic Polytheism Just the same thing as *ruidismD ;hat about the Avalonian
traditionsD.................................................................................................................................K2
Are you all BCeltic /hamansBD...............................................................................................K#
6snAt ;itchcraft the same thing as fol15magicD *oesnAt that mean you call yourself
;itchesD....................................................................................................................................KF
4ut hasnAt the meaning of ;itchcraft changedD.................................................................K%
*o Gaelic Polytheists 1ee! a B4oo1 of /hadowsBD.............................................................KK
6s there a list of corres!ondences somewhere to aid me in ritualD..................................KK
*o Gaelic Polytheists cast circles& or invo1e elements and <uarters during ritualsD....KL
*o you guys wear !entagrams or !entaclesD.....................................................................L0
6 was in a ;iccan coven for three years and too1 my third degree so 6 am an Nlder
now............................................................................................................................................L0
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6Am fifty now. 6Am an Nlder......................................................................................................L0
*o you celebrate the festivals in the same way as other Neo!agansD............................L1
*o Gaelic Polytheists follow the BCeltic Tree CalendarBD.................................................L1
Pou worshi! a /un God and 3oon Goddess rightD 3aiden& 3other& CroneD ;hereAs
that Eorned God fellaD...........................................................................................................L1
4ut wait Q doesnAt Gaelic mythology mention tri!le goddessesD..................................L2
*o you use the gods for s!ells and suchD............................................................................LG
%ppen"i&' Gluais (Glossar)*......................................................................................+4
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&rganisational 'atters
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
-hat is Gaol .aofa/
Gaol Naofa
G
is an 6rish !hrase that roughly translates to Bsacred 1inshi!=affinity.B As an
organisation we are committed to the !ractice and further advancement of our Gaelic Polytheist
(ifeway 8Ar Dòigh-Beatha Ioma-Dhiahach !h"ihealach = ,r nD#igh Bheatha Iliach i$ !aelach9& and
to the !reservation and !rotection of the Gaelic cultural continuum as a whole. The !ur!ose of
Gaol Naofa is to ta1e an active role in the !reservation and revitalisation of the !re5Christian&
earth5based s!iritual traditions of our Gaelic ancestors. ;e do this by gathering !eo!le together
and creating an environment for the eCchange of resources& information& research and ideas& and
by !roviding a medium for the !ro!agation of 1nowledge. ;e are dedicated to !reserving the
earth5based cultural traditions that survive& and& through careful scholarshi! and collaboration&
reconstructing the ways that have been fragmented or fallen into disuse.
Gaol NaofaAs vision is the !ractice and !reservation of our Gaelic Polytheist (ifeway
8GP(9& in the conteCt of modern life and in strict accommodation with history and tradition& and
to affirm our ancestral traditions as a fulfilling way of life for Gaelic !eo!le.
0s Gaol .aofa a religious or cultural organisation/
4oth. As our religious beliefs and !ractices are rooted in a cultural conteCt we believe that
religion and culture are ineCtricably intertwined& !ermeating our everyday life and eCistence.
4ecause of this& Gaol Naofa believes that cultural !reservation& conservation and education are
G Gaol Naofa is !ronounced G;NN( NNN5fah. The full name of our organisation is An Ch-allacht !haol .aofa 8BThe
Community of /acred )inshi!B9. Abbreviations fre<uently used> Gaol Naofa 8GN9. Gaelic Polytheism 8GP9. Gaelic
.econstructionist Polytheism 8G.P9. The latter two are often used interchangeably though& strictly s!ea1ing& our modern
!ractices usually contain at least some degree of reconstruction.
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vital elements of our organisationAs outloo1 and remit& in addition to !roviding s!iritual su!!ort
and community.
Preservation is therefore at the heart and soul of Gaol Naofa> the !reservation of Gaelic
languages& sacred sites& tradition 8both oral and written9& ethics& and the entire Gaelic cultural
continuum from loss& misre!resentation& or damage. ;e view cultural conservation as a sacred
duty and encourage all of our members to su!!ort these aims as well. -or eCam!le& many of us
su!!orted the cam!aign against the Tara5/1ryne 3G develo!ment in 6reland& as well as cam!aign
against the hydro5electric !lan that threatened the Tigh na Caillich shrine in /cotland& and
su!!ort charities and organisations that !romote language !reservation and education.
1ee also> 0rgani$ational 1atter$2 B3here oe$ !aol .aofa
$tan on raci$m4 o55re$$ion4 an .eo-.a6i$m7B
0s Gaol .aofa a .eopagan organisation/
Although Gaol Naofa is a modern !olytheist organisation& we do not feel that the
BNeo!aganB label is re!resentative of our beliefs or !ractices and do not identify with it in any
meaningful way beyond ac1nowledging the role reconstruction has& of necessity& !layed in the
revival of our lifeway.
BNeo!aganB was initially defined as B3odern Pagan&B and when that was the sole
definition& yes& it fit all !ractitioners of modern& earth5honouring& non5Abrahamic religions R
including us. 4ut over the decades the term has come to include a number of additional
meanings& such as an eclectic& ;iccan or Neo5;iccan a!!roach to religion& as well as eC!licit
su!!ort for cultural a!!ro!riation.
#
/ince none of these additional meanings a!!ly to us& we feel
we must now reJect the label outright in order to distance ourselves from !ractices we consider to
be harmful and offensive to indigenous cultures and their ancestral beliefs.
;e have the utmost res!ect for all !aths and !ers!ectives& but find more commonality
# B*efinition of neo5!aganism in Nnglish> neo!aganism R noun R AA modern religious movement that see1s to incor!orate
beliefs or ritual !ractices from traditions outside the main world religions& es!ecially those of !re5Christian Nuro!e and
North America. Neo!aganism is a highly varied miCture of ancient and modern elements& in which nature worshi!
8influenced by modern environmentalism9 often !lays a maJor role. 0ther influences include shamanism& magical and
occult traditions& and radical feminist criti<ues of Christianity.B 0Cford *ictionaries& accessed H=H=1#.
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with the outloo1 and attitudes of those who follow and !reserve other& Narth5honouring ancestral
traditions outside of Neo!aganism. 0ur belief is that we must be rooted in our own culture and
traditional ways and not steal from& nor denigrate& the ceremonies or traditions of other cultures.
1ee also> 0rgani$ational 1atter$2 3hat i$ !aol .aofa8$ o5inion on .eo5agan an9or .ew Age
con&ention$4 fe$ti&al$ an gathering$7
and !eneral Q-e$tion$2 3hat i$ the li&ing !aelic c-lt-ral contin--m7
2o3 is Gaol .aofa coor"inate"/
Gaol Naofa was founded in 200% by Tom,s -lannabhra and from 200LR201# was
administered by Treasa N' Chonchobhair. As of "anuary 201#& Gaol Naofa is currently
administered by Annie (oughlin with the assistance of a Council of volunteers& Nlders& and allies
residing in the /& /cotland& Canada& and 6reland who willingly commit their time and energy to
sustaining and advancing the organisation& Gaelic Polytheism& and Gaelic culture. Gaol Naofa
su!!orts and interacts with its members and advisers on an individual and collective basis.
%re )ou Democrats4 !epublicans4 1ocialists4 or .ationalists/
Gaol Naofa does not !romote or associate itself with any !olitical !arty& ideology& or
faction? in short& Gaol Naofa is an a!olitical organisation.
Does Gaol .aofa host public rituals or other e5ents/
3embers are welcome to host free !ublic events 8cultural gatherings& rituals& wor1sho!s&
etc.9 under the banner of Gaol Naofa& but only after first contacting the Council with a fully
detailed descri!tion of the event and the !ro!osed !resentation& and receiving written a!!roval
to do so. -or more information& !lease contact us at gaol.naofaSgmail.com.
1ee also> 0rgani$ational 1atter$2 B3hat i$ !aol .aofa8$ o5inion on .eo5agan
an9or .ew Age con&ention$4 fe$ti&al$4 an gathering$7B
Does Gaol .aofa charter or sponsor groups/
;e do not dis!ense local charters or s!onsor grou!s at this time. ;hile some Gaol Naofa
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membershi!s are of households and eCtended families& being a member of an in5!erson grou! is
not a re<uirement.
0s Gaol .aofa $01(c*(3* certifie"/
Gaol Naofa is not currently wor1ing to receive F018c98G9 status& nor to incor!orate itself as
a non5!rofit religious organisation.
Does Gaol .aofa offer an) courses in Gaelic #ol)theism/
Gaol Naofa has no !lans to ever create anything li1e a corres!ondence course in Gaelic
Polytheism a1in to The 0rder of 4ards& 0vates and *ruids 8040*9& @r n*ra'ocht -Min 8A*-9&
New 0rder of *ruids 8N0*9& or other organisations that might offer similar 1inds of courses for
their own traditions. ;e view Gaelic Polytheism not as a course one !asses:but a wa% of life. 6t is
something that you !ut your entire being into& not Just a few hours of your time on the wee1ends.
3embers are encouraged to use our Pahoo mailing list& -aceboo1& and=or web forum as a
!lace to as1 <uestions and discuss any subJect or issues that might arise during the course of their
studies and !ractice.
1ee also> 0rgani$ational 1atter$2 BDoe$ !aol .aofa offer mentoring7B
Does Gaol .aofa offer mentoring/
0f sorts. ;e believe the most hel!ful 1ind of mentoring ta1es !lace through bonds of
mutual affection and su!!ort:through community& fellowshi!& discussion& and guidance:not
formal courses or class wor1. 3entoring within Gaol Naofa ta1es !lace initially through getting
to 1now us via our Pahoogrou! and other web forums& and may lead to dee!er relationshi!s via
the !hone and in5!erson meetings. 3embers are also free to email us !rivately to discuss
anything they do not feel comfortable sharing to the entire grou!. 0ur core members have bonds
of family with one another& and our eCtended families are interconnected? some of us have chosen
where we live and arranged our !riorities so that we can share our daily lives with one another.
Collectively& the Council has over L0 years of eC!erience and study in the Gaelic traditions and
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living dias!ora& and our circle of advisors includes elders in their K0s as well as those from living
traditions.
1ee also> !eneral Q-e$tion$2 B3ho are the :ler$7B
Does Gaol .aofa offer classes in an) of the Gaelic languages/
;e are not at this time offering formal Gaelic language classes 8whether 6rish TGaeilgeU&
/cottish TG+idhligU& or 3anC TGaelgU9. All the Council members are language students with
varying degrees of study under our belts& yet at this time none of us are fluent or certified as
teachers. As we are dedicated to !reserving the Gaelic languages in their entirety 8rather than Just
learning a few terms for matters s!iritual9& we feel it best serves our ancestors and descendents for
learners to ac<uire the languages in a solid manner& from fluent and eC!erienced teachers 8and
native s!ea1ers& where !ossible9. ;hat we can do is answer any <uestions on language to the best
of our ability& hel! out with !honetics and sim!le translations& and !rovide a list of resources to
aid your own study. *e!ending on where you live& we may also be able to direct you to our
colleagues& friends and advisors who are <ualified to teach full courses. As a community of
learners& we can also share our !rogress informally among ourselves.
1ee also> !eneral Q-e$tion$2 BI$ learning an% of the !aelic
lang-age$ a re;-irement for !aelic <ol%thei$m7B
-hat is Gaol .aofa6s opinion on .eopagan an"7or .e3 %ge con5entions4
festi5als4 an" gatherings/
Gaol Naofa firmly believes that our allies matter& and that everyone is 1nown by the
com!any they choose to 1ee!. ;ith this in mind& we would not encourage anyone to attend
events such as this& sim!ly for the fact that the maJority of them are breeding grounds for
teachings and rituals that are nothing more than racist a!!ro!riations of other cultures:not Just
Gaelic cultures and tradition& but those of our allies as well.
F
;e believe that a !erson cannot
F The New Age 3ovement is characterised by !ay to !ray and Bif it feels good 8to me9& do it.B .arely does this movement
ac1nowledge any source of authority outside of the individual ego=self. This contrasts with traditional& community5based
structures that !rioritise the community over the individual& and include systems of chec1s5and5balances on ceremonial
!eo!le. The New Age is a consumerist and ca!italist system that is destroying traditional cultures. 6f one is loo1ing for
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claim to su!!ort 6ndigenous struggles and traditional& living cultures& and then ha!!ily hel! line
the !oc1ets of eC!loiters:not unless they want to be viewed as deceitful and du!licitous within
the community.
;e would also add that another !roblem with many of these 1inds of events is that there
is often:unfortunately:a dar1 underbelly of eC!loitation. Oulnerable !eo!le might !ay good
money to attend a convention or gathering& loo1ing for guidance and fellowshi!& only to find that
they are being fed ignorance and massaging the egos of wannabe BNlders&B but only after having
bought into it hoo1& line and sin1er and wasting a lot of time and money in the !rocess.
;ith these issues in mind& we would generally not encourage members to attend events
li1e this. A common argument for acce!ting a gig as a s!ea1er at a dodgy event is that some
!eo!le convince themselves that they can !rovide a legitimate alternative to the eC!loiters. Gaol
Naofa does not agree with this. ltimately& we do not believe that one should have to !ay to !ray&
and this is essentially what these gatherings or conventions are. -rom this !oint of view alone we
consider attending these events as su!!orting something that we find dee!ly wrong& but to
attend as a s!ea1er is tantamount to condoning and encouraging !ay5to5!ray racist a!!ro!riators
and eC!loiters.
Not all Neo!agan events are frowned u!on& however& but we still offer cautions. 6f the
roster at a free& o!en event li1e Pagan Pride *ay loo1s fairly neutral& or a miCed bag where there
is a reasonable amount of sane !eo!le& we believe itAs 0) to table and !rovide a <uiet alternative.
H
4ut tabling at a Pagan Pride *ay is not the same as !utting oneself on the roster with eC!loiters
and selling eC!eriences that should ha!!en in community& not among strangers who have !aid
for the eC!erience.
networ1ing o!!ortunities& Gaelic or Celtic cultural festivals& or interfaith events run by non5eC!loitative& traditional
s!iritual !eo!le& are a more a!!ro!riate !lace to find allies.
H Though if one wants to do so as a re!resentative of Gaol Naofa& we would as1 you to let us 1now first? we can !rovide a
variety of handouts or fliers for you to !rint and ta1e along.
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-hat about 3riting for .e3 %ge an" .eopagan publications an" presses/
4asically& the same criteria as above 8B3hat i$ !aol .aofa8$ o5inion on .eo5agan an9or .ew
Age con&ention$4 fe$ti&al$4 an gathering$7=9. 6n some cases the best choice is to show u! and offer
an alternative !ers!ective& even at the ris1 of being briefly in the com!any of those who write
misinformation? in others itAs not worth it if your !artici!ation will directly or indirectly lead to
the !romotion of eC!loiters. Authors who submit to anthologies usually have no say in who else
will a!!ear in the boo1? the editor and !ublisher control that& and often will not inform individual
authors of who else is being included in the collection. 6n these cases we sim!ly advise members
to use their best Judgement> 6f a !ublisher or editor has routinely !ublished gross misinformation&
a!!ro!riated or eC!loitative materials& we would of course avoid having anything to do with
them. 6f a !ublication regularly features a!!ro!riators and eC!loiters& and advertisements for
!ay5to5!ray and ina!!ro!riate merchandise& it is of course best to steer clear. /ometimes it ta1es
longer to find a !ublisher for <uality material& or self5!ublishing becomes the best o!tion. ;e
encourage the writers among us to !ursue their craft& and can offer su!!ort in navigating the
sometimes frustrating and difficult world of !ublishing.
-here "oes Gaol .aofa stan" on racism4 oppression4 an" .eo8.a9ism/
-or !eo!le of 6rish& /cottish& or 3anC heritage& Gaelic Polytheism !rovides a framewor1
for understanding and eC!eriencing the world that is rooted in the wisdom& customs& thought&
traditions& ethics and character that formed the worldview of our Gaelic forebears. This
worldview and s!irituality still lives in the traditional music& lore& and customs of the living
Gaelic cultures& and it is our lifeAs wor1 to !reserve& !rotect& and revive these ways. That being
said& one does not need to be of Gaelic heritage in order to !artici!ate in Gaelic Polytheism. 0ur
community is about culture& not blood <uantum.
;e res!ect the ways of other& Narth5honouring ancestral traditions& and our friends and
allies who !reserve those ways of life for their !eo!les. 0ur belief is that we must be rooted in our
own culture and traditional ways and not steal from& nor denigrate& the ceremonies or traditions
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of other cultures.
3any of the Gaol Naofa Council members also hold council seats with an activist and
!reservation organisation called $(&)(, or, $elts (gainst &ppression, )acism and eo*
a+ism.
%
As such& Gaol Naofa:by eCtension:ta1es a firm stance against o!!ression&
discrimination& racism& seCism& bigotry& ignorance& intolerance& misre!resentation& the destruction
of sacred sites& media biasing& and the s!read of white su!remacy in any culture.
1ee also> Rit-al an <ractice Q-e$tion$2 B3hat are %o-r ethic$7B
% /ee> htt!>==www.bandia.net=caorann=
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'embership ,uestions
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
-ho can :oin Gaol .aofa/
Anyone who shares our goals and is in accordance with our !rinci!les. 3embershi! and
!artici!ation in Gaol Naofa is not dictated by race& ability or disability& gender& blood line& income&
social status& martial status& seCual orientation& nationality& or !olitical orientation. The only things
we discriminate against are racism& white su!remacy and !rivilege& hubris& bullying& cultural
a!!ro!riation& B!ay to !ray&B eclecticism& seCism& homo!hobia& fascism& NaIism& misogyny&
disres!ectful attitudes toward tradition 8of any culture9& non5historical syncretism& lying&
soc1!u!!eting and other dishonourable behaviours. These have absolutely no !lace in Gaol
Naofa.
Do 0 nee" to be of Gaelic "escent to :oin Gaol .aofa/
No. 7uestions of ethnicity or cultural heritage are not included on the membershi!
a!!lication and are irrelevant to the membershi! !rocess altogether. Peo!le of Gaelic heritage are
more li1ely to be drawn to Gaelic Polytheism& and more li1ely to have Gaelic cultural survivals in
their families of origin& but having Gaelic ancestry is not a re<uirement to !artici!ate in Gaelic
Polytheism or to Join Gaol Naofa. ;hile we maintain that Gaelic Polytheism is an ethnic tradition
rooted in the culture& worldview& values& and character of the Gaelic !eo!les& we believe a sincere
desire to ado!t the Gaelic culture and worldview& to !artici!ate in the Gaelic communities& and to
honour the D> oc-$ An-D> 8/engo'delc T0ld 6rishU& BGods and n5GodsB9 are the only necessary
!rere<uisites.
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Do 0 nee" to be a certain age to :oin Gaol .aofa/
To Join as an inde!endent adult you will need to be at least eighteen years of age. Pounger
members of our community are of course welcome to !artici!ate in Gaelic Polytheist activities in
their families and local communities& and may be included as a !art of a family membershi!.
K
;e
encourage youth with an interest in Gaol Naofa to discuss it with their !arents& or other adult
members of their eCtended families& to see if their !arents or guardians may share an interest in
our community.
Do 0 nee" to ha5e an) prior e&perience in Gaelic #ol)theism to :oin/ Do 0 nee" to
ha5e stu"ie" for so long/ !ea" so man) boo;s/
No& you do not need to have studied for ?-number of years or read ?-number of boo1s.
Eowever& we would a!!reciate your desire to Join& and learn& to be sincere and serious. -or those
new to a s!iritual !ath or to a Gaelic Polytheist lifeway& there will 8and must9 be a !eriod of
learning. ;hile to become fluent and eC!ert in Polytheistic .econstructionism does demand
study and immersion 8and this has led to the misconce!tion among some that we are solely about
research9& the most im!ortant thing is that we li&e our beliefs. ;hile you may not have much
eC!erience in Gaelic Polytheism& you will at least need to 1now& understand& and see1 to observe
what it is !rior to Joining Gaol Naofa. This can be accom!lished by reading this entire -A7. 6f you
understand and agree with what is written in this -A7& then thereAs a good chance that Gaol
Naofa is the right community for you.
Does m) political affiliation matter/
No. Gaol Naofa does not dictate membersA !olitical ideology. That being said& if your
!olitical ideology includes racism& white su!remacy and !rivilege& cultural a!!ro!riation& seCism&
homo!hobia& fascism& NaIism& and=or misogyny& we would !lease as1 you not to Join.
K Provided the !arents or adults of that membershi! give consent for minors to Join.
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Can 0 remain in4 or :oin4 other organisations 3hilst being a member of Gaol
.aofa/
Pes& but with caveats. ;e do not mind dual membershi!s to other organisations as long as
the member remains true to the !rinci!les of Gaol Naofa. ;e understand that face5to5face
reconstructionist community might be hard to come by for some Gaelic Polytheists& and if there
are no Gaol Naofa households in your area you might also Join a local organisation in order to
have face5to5face cultural and s!iritual community. Eowever& we would suggest that you not
regularly !artici!ate in ritual or ceremony that has a liturgy& theology& and cosmology drastically
different to Gaelic Polytheism.
L
This means that holding a dual membershi! to a religious
organisation that is significantly different to our Gaelic Polytheist (ifeway 8i.e.& /hinto& ;icca&
Einduism& Eeathenry& 4uddhism& Eellenismos& )emeticism& .eligio .omana& Christianity...9 is
not recommended. ;hyD 4ecause while being a res!ectful& occasional guest at another cultureAs
observances is acce!table& trying to !ractice multi!le lifeways at the same time can lead to
confusion and serious internal conflict. As !rotocols for interacting with the s!irits can vary
greatly between cultures& trying to combine these ways can lead to serious& if unintentional&
offences against the s!irits that will have very real conse<uences in your life. 4elief informs
actions? belief is what gives actions their meaning& resonance& and !ower. 6f you have fully !laced
your being within the Gaelic worldview& then dedicating oneself to another religion alongside GP
is basically im!ossible? such dual membershi! would re<uire setting aside one religious
worldview for another& undermining any dedication to either religion.
10
6t suggests that your
heart and mind are not in the same !lace and that you com!artmentaliIe yourself. This is not how
we in Gaol Naofa see the Gaelic worldview and Gaelic Polytheist (ifeway.
Eowever& we very much encourage you 8and your family=community9 to be a !art of
cultural organisations such as An Comunn G+idhealach& An Comunn G+idhealach
Ameireaganach& Cumann (Vthchleas Gael& Comhaltas Ceolt2ir' Wireann& Comunn na G+idhlig&
L e.g.& Partici!ating in ritual with theology and !ractices that have no origin in Gaelic tradition. 6n some reconstructionist
grou!s& different groves may have different Bhearth cultures&B meaning their focus of grou! worshi! is not necessarily
Celtic& let alone Gaelic in focus.
10 This differs from syncretism which is unifying of two or more worldviews to create a uni<ue one.
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Cumann Carad na Gaeilge& The North American 3anC Association& The Celtic (eague& and other
Gaelic societies& organisations and associations.
1ee also> Rit-al an <ractice Q-e$tion$> BDo %o- allow room for $%ncreti$m7B
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General ,uestions
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-hat is Gaelic #ol)theism (G#*/
To begin to understand what Gaelic Polytheism 8GP9 is& it is first necessary to define a few
1ey terms. !aelic is a subset of the larger Celtic language grou!ing? it refers s!ecifically to the
Goidelic5s!ea1ing !eo!les and their descendants who inhabit 6reland& /cotland& and the 6sle of
3an. <ol%thei$m combines the Gree1 words 5ol% 8AmanyA9 and theo$ 8AgodA9& thus referring to the
worshi! of many goddesses& gods& and s!irits. Gaelic Polytheism is the reverence of the Gaelic
deities& ancestors& and s!irits of nature& as defined by historical record and the living& cultural
continuum.
-hat is Gaelic !econstructionist #ol)theism (G!#*/
Recon$tr-ctioni$m& in the !olytheistic sense& is an animistic& religious and cultural
movement that attem!ts to revive !re5Christian religions within a contem!orary conteCt. To
accom!lish this we loo1 to sources such as archaeological and historical records& surviving
!rayers and !oetry& material from early literary and mythological traditions& and surviving fol1
customs and beliefs. .econstructionist religions base their !ractice on what is 1nown of actual
historical and cultural !ractices& and try to revive our ancestors ways that fell into disuse with the
advent of Christianity. ;hen we !ut this all together& Gaelic .econstructionist Polytheism is thus
the modern !olytheistic& animistic& religious& and cultural revitaliIation of the !re5Christian
s!iritual customs and culture of the Gaelic !eo!les.
6n Gaelic thought& there is no distinction between the s!iritual and secular:the two are
interwoven to form reality. Nvery moment of every day is imbued with the sacred. Therefore
Gaelic .econstructionist Polytheism 8usually referred to in Gaol Naofa as sim!ly BGaelic
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PolytheismB9 is not something that is Just B!racticed&B but li&e. As Gaol Naofa defines it& Gaelic
Polytheism is a lifestyle where one lives each day in traditional Gaelic thought& values&
s!irituality& ethics& and culture. ;hile Gaol Naofa has res!ect for other traditions and
!ers!ectives& our tradition of Gaelic Polytheism is not eclectic& New Age& Bmagic1B5oriented or
culturally5a!!ro!riated. ;e do not align ourselves with the broader Neo!agan or Neo5druidic
communities& and we are committed to guarding the traditions and culture of our community.
1ee also> 0rgani$ational 1atter$2 =I$ !aol .aofa a .eo5agan organi$ation7=
-hat is the point of !econstruction/
;hile Celtic Christianity !rovides a fulfilling and meaningful life for many of our
relatives& we do not feel drawn to Christianity. ;e have been called by the s!irits of the earth& the
voices of our distant ancestors and the s!iritual forces that gave sha!e and meaning to their lives&
and now ours as well.
To Gaol Naofa& Gaelic Polytheism is a s!iritual eC!ression of the Gaelic !eo!les as it
originates directly from our collective eC!erience of the world. 6t is an essential& core !art of who
we are& who we were& and who we will be? it is an intrinsic and dee!ly meaningful as!ect of our
ancestral heritage that would be shameful to lose or disregard. ;e find this connection with our
ancestors and the s!irits of the land to be liberating& motivating& ins!iring& and s!iritually
fulfilling. 6t is !erfectly meaningful and relevant to us today.
2o3 "o Celtic !econstructionism an" G#7G!# "iffer/
Celtic .econstructionism 8C.9 is an umbrella under which various subsets are sheltered.
There are Celtic .econstructionists from other branches& who follow the ways of their ;elsh
ancestors& or the ways of the Celts from Continental Nuro!e. Gaelic Polytheism is the branch of
C. that focuses s!ecifically on the Gaelic lands& !eo!les& and their traditions and beliefs. The
Gaelic lands are 6reland& /cotland& and the 6sle of 3an& though there are also smaller communities
that have maintained some of these ways in the dias!ora.
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0s Gaelic #ol)theism an ancient tra"ition/
Pes and No. Gaelic Polytheism is the lifeway of our ancestors& revived and& when
necessary& reconstructed to the best of our ability. ;hile the Gaelic languages and cultures have
survived& we have had to revive and even reconstruct some of their !olytheistic ways. This is why
the most accurate terms for us include A.econstructionistA in the name& even though we often
shorten it out of convenience.
Gaol Naofa is a modern organisation based on the ancient ways and the living cultural
continuum of the Gaelic !eo!les& combined with scholarshi! and intuition to create what we
believe !re5Christian !olytheistic Gaelic religion would be li1e today had it been allowed to
continue undeterred by Christianity. ;hile some others wish to !retend that no reconstruction or
revival has ha!!ened& there is no such thing as an elaborate& undamaged& com!lete& Celtic
!olytheistic religion that has been !racticed continually since !re5Christian times& and anyone
trying to say different is !eddling sna1e oil.
-hat is the li5ing Gaelic cultural continuum/
The Gaelic cultural continuum is the living culture& as!ects of which have survived intact.
The Gaelic cultures twist and twine from the ancient days right down to today> @ei$iAn$ of
traditional music in !ubs& ancient tales told to children in our native tongue& festival !rocessions
and !arades& visits to holy wells& and mil1 in saucers on the windowsill& these and so many more
are customs that eCisted alongside Christianity& or that ado!ted only a thin veneer of Christianity&
and still survive today.
11
Gaelic cultures are not BdeadB cultures& 1nown only by their ancient
artefacts? they have grown& rooted in their !ast& nurtured by tradition& legend& lore& and language.
0f course they change& influenced by other cultures and social changes through the years& but
there is also a bright cord in the centre& !assed from generation to generation& connecting us to
our ancestors.
11 /ee for eCam!le> X Gioll,in& AThe -airy 4elief and 0fficial .eligionA& in Narv,eI 8Nd.9& The !oo <eo5le2 .ew Fair%lore
:$$a%$& 1LL%.
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0f Gaelic #ol)theism is a reconstruction of pre8Christian beliefs4 3h) "oes the
cultural continuum matter/ 0sn6t it Christian/
The cultural continuum matters because Celtic .econstructionism and Gaelic Polytheism
do not focus eCclusively on any one e!och. Gaelic Polytheism is not an anachronistic but a li&ing
one. As such we loo1 at the living cultural continuum rather than solely at the 6ron Age to inform
our way of life. The traditions and source material we see1 to !reserve s!an centuries& from early
6rish literature li1e BeCor !aCDla Erenn to modern fol1 rituals that have survived for generations.
A great deal of the Gaelic !re5Christian !olytheistic beliefs and !ractices were subsumed
by Celtic Christianity and !reserved by it. As such& Gaelic Polytheists usually have a good
relationshi! with Celtic Christians because we have a lot in common. Gaol Naofa believes there
needs to be humility and res!ect towards the living Gaelic cultures& and we give no toleration to
!eo!le who ignore the living cultures in favour of romanticiIed fantasies 8or even worse& !eo!le
who insult the living cultures o!enly9.
2o3 "o Gaelic #ol)theists "eci"e 3hat aspects of Gaelic culture to ;eep an"
"iscar"/
0ur first goal is to reconstruct and revive what we believe the !re5Christian !olytheistic
religion of the Gaels would have loo1ed li1e if Christianity hadnAt subsumed it. As such& tradition
and culture are u!held as much as can be but since we are not the /ociety for Creative
Anachronism 8/CA9 and do not wish to fully recreate the 6ron Age in todayAs world& things will
need to be ada!ted to fit our lives today and our contem!orary ethical& social& and legal
structures. Eead5hunting is right out and& for the most !art& so are 6ron Age caste systems&
12
and
12 /ome eCtended families and larger communities may im!lement some degree of the ancient tribal structures for grou!s.
Eowever& there is no )ing 8RF9 or Eigh )ing 8Ar RF9 of Gaelic Polytheism and our numbers are far too small for anyone
to claim they are in a tAath& which was the siIe of a nation. B6t is also offensive to the living Celtic cultures to attem!t to
radically redefine what these terms and titles already mean& and as we are involved in the living Celtic cultures& it would
not even occur to us to do something so offensive. ;hile we may strive toward the better ideals of tribalism& community
and collectivism& we do not believe it is our !lace to claim a region of the country as our BterritoryB and attem!t 8or
!retend9 to rule over it in any way. 6t is our desire instead to interact with the s!irits of the land& the ancestors and the
deities in a res!ectful way& and to coeCist !eacefully and constructively with our human neighbors& no matter their
bac1ground or religion.B : Nic*h+na et al& The CR FAQ& 200%& ! F25FG.
2) of 98 www.gaolnaofa.com
The 4rehon (aws 8or your !articular inter!retation of them9 should not su!ersede the laws of
your country.
-hat are )our ethics/
Gaelic Polytheists do not have an established set of ethics or creeds& but rather we share a
common set of cultural values& !rinci!les& and standards based heavily in the ancient heroic
values as well as the standards of common decency& mutual res!ect and interde!endence with
which we were raised. Among these values are hos!itality& self5res!onsibility& res!ect for self and
others& courage& 1indness& loyalty& honesty& duty& and Justice. ;e believe in a strong bond between
the individual and their family and community& and the res!onsibility of the community as a
whole to u!hold our values and hold our members accountable for their behaviour. ;e believe in
su!!orting and contributing to our communities to the best of our ability so that we may !ros!er
and live in health and harmony.
N<ual rights& living as free !eo!le without tyranny& and fair treatment of all individuals
without regard to their race& gender& seCual orientation& religion& or social standing are among our
dee!ly cherished !rinci!les. And while we honour our warriors& we do not condone those u!on
that !ath 8or any !ath9 who wish to use bullying& abuse& trolling& lying or disres!ect as a means of
communication:whether online or in !erson. ;e believe the !eo!le of Gaelic Polytheism should
see1 to dis!lay eCcellence and honour in all conditions& and refuse to acce!t mediocrity&
falsehood& or other shameful behaviours.
0s learning an) of the Gaelic languages a re<uirement for Gaelic #ol)theism/
Not re<uired& but em!hatically recommended. ;hyD 4ecause language is the medium
through which a culture is best eC!ressed and understood& and so any serious endeavour to
understand the Gaelic cultural traditions should include some study of a Gaelic language 8even if
fluency is not a !ossibility9. As Gaol Naofa considers itself not only a s!iritual organisation but a
cultural one as well:dedicated to !reserving our cultural heritage:we strongly encourage the
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study& learning& and use of the Gaelic languages as they are an intrinsic and vital as!ect of our
culture.
That being said& Gaol Naofa fully believes that some !aths within our Gaelic Polytheist
(ifeway 8Dòigh-Beatha Ioma-Dhiahach !h"ihealach=D#igh Bheatha Iliach i$ !aelach9 do indeed call
for language fluency? among them& filiecht=filiheach& raoF and $r-ith. Nlders and those with
im!ortant liminal roles in the community should be able to converse with the s!irits in their own
language& as well as be able to listen and understand them in return.
1ee also> 0rgani$ational 1atter$2 BDoe$ !aol .aofa offer cla$$e$ in an% of the !aelic lang-age$7B
and Rit-al an <ractice Q-e$tion$> BAre there an% ifferent 5ath$ within !aelic <ol%thei$m7B
-hat is Gaelic lore/ -here can 0 fin" it/
0ur lore is the body of traditional 1nowledge of the Gaelic !eo!les and consists of
mythology& fol1tales& conventional beliefs& fol15history& !oetry& and songs. To 1now the lore is to
1now something about the Gaelic ethos& for it embodies and transmits a worldview& values&
beliefs& and !rinci!les. The lore stimulates the mind and the soul& aiding one to recogniIe the
truths of humanity and s!irituality revealed through the eC!eriences of the Gaels. 6t is said that
Bthe lore of the !ast sustains a man&B
1G
and this is true& for the lore is an inheritance from
generations of our ancestors and relatives& !assed down to us to im!art meaning& value and
ins!iration in our lives and the lives of our descendants.
As reconstructionists& we must study and eCamine a variety of sources to understand&
ado!t and 8in cases where the older s!iritual traditions have fallen into disuse9 restore the
!olytheistic Gaelic traditions of our ancestors. To do this re<uires loo1ing at the native
language8s9& law tracts& social organisation and mores& fol15customs and beliefs& mythology and
native lore& art& archaeological records& and the cultural continuum.
A great deal of the lore can be found online through !laces li1e Google 4oo1s& /cribd& and
the 6nternet Archive? there are also websites li1e Tobar an *ualchais and CN(T 8a useful and more
com!lete list of resources can be found on our website9. *onAt forget resources li1e your local
1G Carey& AThe 4oo1 of 6nvasion&A The Celtic Geroic Age& 2000& !2%1.
2+ of 98 www.gaolnaofa.com
library& university libraries& and the 6nter5(ibrary (oan as well. /ome academic articles on the lore
can be found freely available for download through Google /cholar and "/T0.& both of which are
valuable resources to the reconstructionist.
-hat boo;s "o )ou recommen"/
Eere you will find an entire boo1 list but a few authors would be )evin *anaher& /Man X
/Villebh,in& AleCander Carmichael& -. 3arian 3cNeill& .onald 4lac1& "ohn )och& 4ernhard 3aier&
Nerys Patterson& 3aire 3acNeill& Proinsias 3ac Cana& and A.;. 3oore.
Gaol Naofa encourages its members to read as widely as !ossible in order to gain a broad
understanding of different !ers!ectives and subJects. There are an awful lot of boo1s to choose
from& however& and we understand that it can be difficult for the beginner to 1now where to start&
and where is best to invest their time and money. The !ros!ect of a large reading list can be
daunting& and there are many boo1s on many different subJects that can hel! inform your
!ractices:from the lore to the festival calendar& to straight forward histories. /ome of them may
be more a!!ealing to you than others& so our advice would be to start with what interests you and
ta1e it from there.
/ome boo1s are more hel!ful than others& and the names listed above have been chosen
with this in mind as some of the most hel!ful authors that we thin1 the beginner will find
!articularly useful. ;hatever you end u! reading& we would offer a few more bits of advice> "ust
because a boo1 or author comes highly recommended& that doesnAt mean theyAre not without their
!roblems. 6n !articular& some of the boo1s that are the most hel!ful to Gaelic Polytheists are u! to
a hundred years or so old now& and the reader should bear in mind that research techni<ues&
attitudes and a!!roaches have changed during that time. .ead with a critical eye& and donAt ta1e
anything at face value. And ultimately& if youAre not sure about something& you can always as1
other members.
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-hat sort of boo;s shoul" 0 a5oi"/
Pretty much anything !ublished by occult and New Age !resses li1e (lewellyn& New Page
4oo1s& Ca!all 4ann& .ed ;heel=;eiser and others will contain misleading and mista1en BfactsB
s1ewed through the lens of ;icca and other eclectic brands of Neo!agan and New Age thought&
1#
usually tainted by racist& a!!ro!riative 8and sim!ly inaccurate9 BCore /hamanismB=BCeltic
/hamanismB or Just sheer fantasy. These things will sim!ly mislead those loo1ing for the ways of
our ancestors and& if ado!ted and !assed off as Gaelic or Celtic& contribute to cultural genocide.
0f course& you are welcome to read whatever you li1e& and reading boo1s li1e these will
hel! in learning to discern fantasy from fact. This is Just serving as a warning that the maJority of
authors !ublished by occult and New Age !ublishers 8or are self5!ublished in that genre9 are
1nown for !er!etuating fallacies and romanticism about the Celts.
1F
1# i.e.& 3odern conce!ts or !ractices li1e the 3aiden53other5Crone tri!le goddess& horned god& four elements and Binvo1ing
the directions&B casting circles and invo1ing deities& etc& all of which have nothing to do with Gaelic cultures.
1F /ee> Nic*h+na et al& BEow do you !ic1 which authors to believeD&B The CR FAQ& 200%& ! G1.
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#heological ,uestions
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
1o Gaelic #ol)theists ha5e no =creation m)th=/
Not eCactly. 4ut& itAs com!licated...
6t would be more accurate to say that there is no single& unified Gaelic creation myth as
those from other cultures might eC!ect to find one> There is no Gaelic myth that survives today
that tells us how the fundamental basics of the world came to be:how all matter first came into
being& how the gods came to eCist& or where human souls originate. -or the Gaels& there is no B6n
the beginning...B? there is no e<uivalent of the Christian 4ibleAs Genesis& or the Norse
Ginnungaga!.
1H
6nstead& what we find is a world where the basic substance of matter and
individual souls seem to have always eCisted& but it is a world that is in the continual !rocess of
being sha!ed and moulded as the deities& s!irits and ancestors leave their mar1 on the land. 0ur
creation stories tell us how a certain feature of the !hysical world was created:a mountain& a
loch& a river& a !lain& and the rest of the landsca!e that surrounded our ancestors and surrounds
us now.
-rom our !oint of view a creation myth isnAt Just a story about how the world came into
being? a creation myth tells us how a culture views the world about them:how it was made&
where it came from& and how the !eo!le& gods& s!irits& and the lands& seas and s1ies all fit into
that view. 6n /cotland and 6reland we have s!irit women li1e the Cailleach and 4oann who create
the mountains& rivers and lochs. 0ften this ha!!ens by accident& through !ersonal sacrifice and
hardshi!& and through interfacing with the dangerous !owers of the 0therworld. As anyone
attending a birth can attest& giving birth to someone:bringing !hysical matter into this world
1H /ee> )ing "ames& The Gol% BiCle> A4oo1 of Genesis&A or the Norse myth of Ginnungaga!& where the first s!ar1s of life were
created by the meeting of the ice of Niflheim and the fire of 3us!ellheim 8/ee> /norri /turlson& The !%lfaginning9.
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and a s!irit across from the other side:is not usually easy& !leasant or !retty.
1%
The same is true
for the land. A certain amount of blea1 humour is !resent in the tales of these s!irit women and
the hard but necessary creative wor1 they do& and it is a ty!e of !aradoCical reverence and
humour which we embrace.
6n loo1ing for these creation myths& we can loo1 at the Din$hencha$ 8APlace5name (oreA9&
and there are also numerous local creation stories in both 6reland and /cotland that remain a !art
of !o!ular lore today. The Din$hencha$ describes the origins of the river 4oyne and /hannon& for
eCam!le&
1K
while the local legends in /cotland tell us how (och Awe&
1L
various mountain ranges&
roc1 formations and other 1inds of distinctive features came about.
20
;e should also mention the
BeCor !aCDla Erenn 8AThe 4oo1 of 6nvasionsA9& but strictly s!ea1ing this is an origin legend& not a
creation myth.
21
The (GN has been deliberately set in a Christian framewor1:starting with the
Genesis story:which means that it does try to behave li1e a creation myth& but since it is not
something that reflects a !re5Christian conce!t of creation& the overtly Christian beginning has to
be considered inauthentic 8in terms of loo1ing for !re5Christian beliefs9. This doesnAt ma1e the
whole tale unhel!ful& however? li1e the localised legends& it does show us how 6reland was
sha!ed in stages& with each successive wave of settlers leaving their own mar1 on the landsca!e.
22
0ur view of these many creation stories may seem to be a little at odds with some other
inter!retations you might be familiar with. /ome academics and reconstructionists have gone in
search of what a Gaelic creation myth might have loo1ed li1e& and the search generally begins
with assuming that a Gaelic creation myth would be very similar to the creation myths of our
6ndo5Nuro!ean cousins. This is the first !lace one runs into !roblems& as the Gaels are only
1% 6t also hurts li1e a bugger& may re<uire stitching& and often results in stretchmar1s.
1K Gwynn& The 1etrical Din$hencha$ Hol-me III& 1L0H& !2%5GL 84oand 6 and 669? /to1es& AThe Prose Tales from the .ennes
*indshenchas&A in Re&-e Celti;-e Hol-me IH& 1KL#& !G1F5G1H=!2KH52L% 8/inann 6 and 669? "oynt& AThe -ate of /inannA in
1i$cellan% <re$ente to J-no 1e%er& 1L12& !1L2.
1L Grant& 1%th4 Traition an @tor% from 3e$tern Arg%ll& 1L2F& !L? "ohn Gregorson Cam!bell& AThe /har!5;itted ;ifeA in The
@cotti$h Gi$torical Re&iew Hol-me III& 1L1F& !#1H.
20 e.g.& Cam!bell& Tale$ of the 3e$t Gighlan$ Hol-me II& 1KL0& !1#% 8Tale YYY6O9? Eugh 3iller& @cene$ an Begen$ of the .orth
of @cotlan& 1LGF& !G0.
21 /ee> Carey& The Iri$h .ational 0rigin-Begen2 @%nthetic <$e-ohi$tor%& 1LL#.
22 An accessible version of the BeCor !aCDla can be found online here.
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!artially related to the 6ndo5Nuro!ean neighbours? the Celtic tribes who came to 6reland& /cotland
and the 6sle of 3an from the Nuro!ean mainland were considered 6ndo5Nuro!ean& but the
indigenous !eo!le they found there& and intermarried with& were not 6ndo5Nuro!eans.
2G
This
accounts for many of the differences between 6nsular Celtic and Continental Celtic cultures&
2#
and
it is in dealing with the subJect of creation in !articular that we feel such cultural differences are
im!ortant to consider.
2F
0ne of the biggest differences is that our Gaelic creation stories are based
in a different conce!tion of time& matter and s!irit& and instead of /1y Gods ta1ing the most active
role& we find Goddesses of the (andsca!e who are the !rimary creative forces. ;hile there are
certainly some surviving elements in our stories that might relate to 6ndo5Nuro!ean creation
motifs 8such as dismemberment or creation from death& for eCam!le9& the creation stories that we
have already mentioned really are significantly different from anything you might find in other
cultures.
As a result& we feel that our creation myths should be loo1ed at on their own terms& first
and foremost& and not through the blurry lens of 6ndo5Nuro!ean generalisations. 6n doing so& we
see that the stories embody beliefs about the s!irits who sha!e the land& and our role in this
!rocess as humans who can also sha!e matter and influence s!irit. 3atter& and our bodies& have a
beginning and end& but the s!irit that animates both is eternal. Creation is an ongoing cycle.
;e should !robably note that there are a few contem!orary authors 8including some who
self5identify as reconstructionists9 who have each written what they are calling BThe
.econstructed Celtic Creation 3ythB 8or variations thereof9. The eCam!les of these that we have
seen& however& are not reconstructions& they are con$tr-ction$:literary inventions that miC and
2G *illon& :arl% Iri$h Biterat-re& 1LL#& !Ci.
2# The differences between B6nsularB and BContinentalB Celts are !rimarily rooted in language& with B6nsular CelticB
languages encom!assing both Goidelic 8i.e.& Gaelic9 and 4rythonic 8i.e.& ;elsh& Cornish& Cumbric& 4reton and !ossibly
Pictish9& while Continental Celtic languages include Celtiberian and Gaulish languages. 6n cultural terms& however& the
differences in geogra!hy affected the way the different linguistic=cultural grou!s subsisted 8!rimarily !astoral in 6reland&
for eCam!le9& lived 8the 1ind of building materials and housing needed to accommodate different 1inds of weather9& and
interacted with other !eo!les or tribes& and so on. 0utside cultural influences 8!articularly the .omans and Gree1s9 also
had an effect on how cultures evolved or eC!ressed themselves& leading to some significant differences between 6nsular
and Continental Celtic cultures.
2F The many local creation myths tend to get overloo1ed in this a!!roach as well.
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match elements from the creation stories of several non5Celtic cultures into something that& to us&
bears no resemblance to our traditional lore. 6n our o!inion& these constructions are not very
hel!ful& and if these authors understood what reconstructionism is& they would not misre!resent
Celtic cultures in this way& and they would not misuse the word& Breconstructed&B when they mean
Binvented.B ;hile these things may be interesting as creative inter!retations& and !erha!s even
useful eCercises for the individual on a !ersonal level& if someone says something is the Celtic
Creation 3yth& or claims it is traditional in any way& chec1 their sources. There are multi!le Celtic
cultures& and no creation story that would ever a!!ly to them all.
>an"4 1ea an" 1;)/ -hat6s that all about/
The !re5Christian Gaels viewed the world in the form of Three .ealms:land& sea& and s1y
8in /engo'delc:(and> talam? /ea> m-ir? /1y> nem9. This tri!artite view is mentioned in some of the
earliest Gaelic sources& and continues into the !resent day in traditional !rayers and blessings.
-rom the TDin to the Carmina !aelica& the Gaels swear their oaths by& and as1 for the blessings of&
the (and& /ea and /1y. The Three .ealms are intrinsic to a Gaelic Polytheist worldview and
!ractice.
2H
-hat is the Other3orl"/
The 0therworld 8Gaeilge& An @aol :ile9 is the realm of the s!irits& which is generally not
visible to humans under normal circumstances& eCce!t by those with the Bsight.B The lore tells us
that the 0therworld is accessed through the $i5mounds& under la1es& below the sea and land&
through sudden mists and biIarre changes in the weather. Eumans may stumble into the
2H This tri!artite view differs from that of most modern Neo!agan traditions:and some non5Celtic traditional cultures as
well:which structure their ceremonies on the model of four elements and in four directions. /ome Neo5druidic
traditions that include Gaelic influences also incor!orate the three realms& but how they are inter!reted and a!!roached
in ritual can differ. *es!ite using a name 8Bdruid&B or in Gaeilge& raoF9 from the Celtic languages& which Gaelic Polytheists
reserve for only the most learned members of our societies& most modern druid orders are eclectic& and incor!orate
elements from numerous cultures. *onAt blame us& we didnAt have any say in what they call themselves. The Classical
elements are a often fundamental !art of how formal ritual is carried out among ;iccans and Neo5druids:as !art of
circle casting in ;icca& ceremonial magic& and in !aths that are derivative of either two. These ways are foreign to a Gaelic
a!!roach.
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0therworld by accident& or the 0therworld may intrude u!on this one when least eC!ected.
Those who see1 entry to the 0therworld donAt necessarily find it& or they donAt find it in the way
they eC!ected. Nncounters with the 0therworld usually ta1e !lace at areas of boundary or
liminality such as the sea shore& territory or !ro!erty lines& and where BcivilisedB territory ends
and the chaos of nature begins. There& in the 0therworld& the conce!tion of time is <uite different
and it is inverted from the time here? what may seem li1e a few moments in the 0therworld may
be many years here& and while it may be s!ring in this world& it is autumn there. 6n the
0therworld there eCist many different !lains and islands where 0therwordly inhabitants dwell
8e.g.& Tech D-inn& an assembly !lace for the dead& and TFr na nKg where there is eternal youth and
feasting among the deities and heroic ancestors9. "ust as there is no segregation of the sacred and
secular& there is no firm segregation of this world and the 0therworld:the two are entwined to
form the fabric of reality& and each influences the other.
-hat is a 3orl"5ie3/ -h) "o 0 nee" to a"opt a Gaelic 3orl"5ie3 in or"er to
practice Gaelic #ol)theism/
A worldview is the lens through which we see and eC!erience the world around us& and it
can inform how we act and how we inter!ret other !eo!leAs actions. Nvery culture has a
worldview& and this defines what that culture might see as being right or wrong& offensive or
inoffensive& and it also !rovides the basis for how that culture a!!roaches its own s!irituality. As
Gaelic Polytheists& it is only natural to ado!t& or continue to maintain&
2%
a worldview that is based
in the culture our belief system is based in.
-or those raised in modern& non5traditional societies without a s!iritual u!bringing 8and
even sometimes with9& your worldview might usually consist of modernist views on life and
thought. 3odernism usually com!rised of a demoted view of the natural world& family&
community& tradition& and s!irituality& with an elevated view of materialism& !ower& autonomy&
2% /ome members of the Gaol Naofa community grew u! in large& eCtended& rural families that maintained our values of
community& interde!endence and res!ect for the elders. Eowever& we ac1nowledge that this is no longer the norm in
mainstream society. 6n general& we tend to assume that those reading this -A7 are more li1ely to be coming to our
community from a more mainstream bac1ground so will need to ado!t these values if they were not raised with them.
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consumerism and commercialism. Nearly everyone raised in a modern society has some degree of
a modernist worldview and so an adJustment of how one views nature& family and community&
tradition& and s!irituality needs to ta1e !lace in order to !ractice Gaelic Polytheism.
The ado!tion of a different worldview changes how you regard the world around you&
and for those raised outside of an Narth5honouring culture that !rioritises the eCtended family
and community& it may be an uncomfortable transition& involving an initial result of culture shoc1.
Eowever& if you are not already there& this transition in worldview is necessary in order to truly
a!!reciate and eC!erience a Gaelic Polytheist way of life. 6t is im!ortant to understand this !oint&
so it bears re!eating> Gaelic Polytheism is a wa% of life& not a se!arate !art of ourselves that shuts
off once our seasonal celebrations and rituals are over.
To a Gaelic Polytheist& everyday life is full of sim!le ritual and !rayer& and observing and
u!holding traditions that are dee!ly ingrained in the Gaelic worldview. This can affect how we
behave throughout the day& as we act according to the traditions and beliefs that inform 8and are
informed by9 our worldview. -or eCam!le& as Gaelic Polytheists we observe and u!hold the
conce!t of ei$eal and withershins R or tAathal R in their cultural definitions as connected to
movements of the sun&
2K
and as such we see ei$eal as an aus!icious and favourable direction to go
about& while a tAathal direction is inaus!icious and even indicative of ill intent. Eow we stir the
!ot& swee! the floor& mow the lawn& !ass something around a grou!...all these things are
observed in a ei$eal manner as a matter of habit because our worldview tells us that this is right
and good.
This is a seemingly sim!le and even trivial eCam!le& but it is something that can affect a lot
of oneAs actions each day& and it is something that gradually becomes second nature as one
becomes accustomed to this new worldview. -or those of us who have come from a Neo!agan
bac1ground in !articular& ado!ting a Gaelic Polytheist !ractice can mean having to BunlearnB
certain beliefs and attitudes that are common in many of the mainstream Neo!agan traditions&
and this is because there are some !revailing attitudes found in mainstream Neo!aganism:
2K ei$eal 8/engo'delc& Asunwise? aus!icious? right5hand? favourableA9 and tAathal 8/engo'delc& Alefthandwise? ill5s!ed? against
the sun? withershinsA9. *efinitions from e*6(.
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which we might say are the result of such a modernist worldview that weAve already mentioned:
that are at odds with our own worldview and values. 6n !articular& this includes the tendency and
mentality to !ractice what feel$ right versus what i$ right according to tradition.
6t is common in many mainstream Neo!agan traditions to find that traditional& cultural
conce!ts have been ta1en out of their original conteCts& and so:staying with the directions as an
eCam!le:in some Neo!agan traditions such as ;itchcraft and ;icca we find that the conce!t of
ei$eal and tAathal movements have been miss!elled and altered to inform actions at certain
!hases of the moon instead of referring to movements with or against the sun.
2L
As a result of this&
it can ta1e !eo!le coming from that bac1ground <uite a while to get to gri!s a Gaelic worldview
and leave behind the Neo!agan lens that traditional conce!ts are often viewed through& in order
to reach a !lace where they can sense what is and isnAt in harmony with Gaelic tradition.
A large !art of this !rocess of learning and ado!ting a new worldview and !ractice
involves loo1ing to the community for su!!ort and hel! in learning what is and is not com!atible
with a Gaelic worldview. (earning to be a !art of a community can be one of the biggest changes
to get used to> ;hen one comes into Gaelic Polytheism one sto!s thin1ing about what is sim!ly
good for the self& and one must also thin1 about how individual actions reflect on the community
as a whole. As a community& those with more eC!erience can be loo1ed to as having 1nowledge
and wisdom that can be shared with the less eC!erienced& who are willing to learn and listen. 6t is
essential to listen to oneAs Nlders in the tradition? even after many years of dee! eC!erience& we
must still rely on our Nlders and !eers to give us feedbac1 and 1ee! us on trac1? we must be
accountable to one another in community. 0therwise& our community cannot thrive.
0s Gaelic #ol)theism "ualistic/
No. There is no evidence to su!!ort that the ancient Gaels believed the world was a stage
for an e!ic battle between two o!!osing forces:one good and one evil. That is Just not !art of
2L As seen in AThe ;iccan .edeA by *oreen Oaliente> B*eosil go by waCing moon& /ing and dance the ;itchesA .une?
;iddershins go by waning moon& Chant ye then a baleful tune...B -arrar& A 3itche$8 BiCle2 The Com5lete 3itche$8 GanCooL&
1LK%& !11512.
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our worldview. The D> 8/engo'delc T0ld 6rishU& BGodsB9 behave li1e humans in the sense that they
are ca!able of being both constructive and destructive& and they may also be seen as neutral or
un!redictable. ;hile some deities or mythological figures may have a bit of a tric1ster side to
them& and may have different goals in mind than you might& this does not ma1e them evil. There
is no big& !ersonified evil out to get us in Gaelic Polytheism.
G0
;hile we ac1nowledge that there are differences between men and women& and a
continuum of gender eC!ression& Gaelic Polytheism does not see Bgender !olarityB as !articularly
relevant to our worldview& nor do we eC!ect deities or s!irits to automatically eCist in boy=girl
!airs.
G1
0ur lore shows the world to be more com!leC and nuanced in these matters and& li1e
humans& the deities and s!irits have a variety of relationshi!s and associations.
6n the Gaelic worldview& however& there does eCist a com!lementary relationshi! between
nature and time? a !er!etual interaction and interchange between $amh 8summer& day& light& order&
this world& and the !hysical and active9 and geamh 8winter& night& dar1ness& chaos& the !rimordial&
the 0therworld& and ins!iration9. As the night !recedes the day& and as the winter !recedes the
summer& so too does geamh !recede $amh and $amh emanate from geamh. ;ithout one we could
not have the other? the two are not Just com!lementary& but interact with each other continuously
:the day turning into night& the seasons changing in a succession of order& bringing growth and
light& and then dar1ness and rest. Eowever& we do not assign genders or moral values to these
!henomena.
6t is this interaction between $amh and geamh that forms the essence of nature and the
eCistence of the entities it encom!asses. This relationshi! can also be seen in the dividing of the
year between An Cailleach 8geamh9 and 4rigid 8$amh9 in /cotland& or @ine 8$amh9 and Grian
8geamh9 in 6reland. The 1inshi! between $amh and geamh is the only duality found in Gaelic
G0 That said& not all s!irits are good and friendly& Just as not all humans have your best interests at heart. There is danger in
the world& and there are dangers inherent in some 1inds of wor1 with the s!irit realm& so eCercising caution and good
Judgement is necessary when dealing with the s!irits.
G1 This is in contrast to ;icca& and ;iccan5influenced grou!s& who see the !olarity between male and female:Bgod and
goddess&B B(ord and (adyB:as the foundation of their cosmology& theology& and a!!roach to ritual.
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Polytheism.
G2
0s Gaelic #ol)theism a nature8base" religion/
The natural world !lays a very im!ortant role in our !ractices& and so in many ways we
might say that we are indeed a nature5based religion. The world is inhabited with s!iritual
entities that hold influence over the functions and !rocesses of the natural world& and the D>
8/engo'delc T0ld 6rishU& BGodsB9 often eC!ress themselves through natural !henomena. 0ur lore
stresses that the observance and res!ect of nature fosters wisdom& and so we value a healthy
relationshi! with the land and its s!irits& and living in accordance with nature as ways of
fostering health& wisdom and !ros!erity.
Nature is a !owerful force& and we honour and res!ect it not Just in our daily !ractices but
also in our festival calendar. Nach <uarter day celebrates the beginning of a season& and so we
observe the cycle of life day in& day out& and year by year as well. 0ur !ractices reflect the rhythm
of nature& and ac1nowledge our !art in it& no matter where we might be. 4y observing nature and
its cycles& we gain a better understanding of the nature of the divine& and our own nature as well.
0s Gaelic #ol)theism ethnic8base"/
Gaelic Polytheism is an ethnic& community5based tradition rooted in the culture&
worldview& values& and character of the Gaelic !eo!les. Eowever& cultural commitment and
fluency are not governed or defined by blood. ;e believe all that is re<uired to !artici!ate in the
Gaelic Polytheist community is a sincere commitment to Gaelic culture and worldview& and the
honouring of the D> oc-$ An-D> 8/engo'delc T0ld 6rishU& BGods and n5GodsB9.
GG
G2 An Cailleach is the Eag& who in addition to being a creator& is sometimes a !ersonification of ;inter. 4rigid is the
goddess of !oetry& healing and smithcraft& and her festival heralds the coming of /!ring. @ine is a deity of light& !leasure
and abundance& celebrated at 3idsummer. Grian is her sister& whose name means Bsun&B and is associated with the
wea1er& white sun of ;inter.
GG 3ore s!ecifically& the deities& ancestors& and s!irits of nature.
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-hat is the hol)7central te&t of Gaelic #ol)theism/
Gaelic Polytheism has no holy or central teCt !er se? nothing li1e the Gol% BiCle& al-Q-r8an&
or Torah& at least. The transmission of early Gaelic culture was com!letely oral& so what informs
our !ractice is mythology& recorded fol1 traditions& archaeology& fol1 music& legal teCts& and the
surviving oral lore and customs& rather than one central teCt. Gaelic Polytheism is an ortho!raCy
as well as a faith&
G#
and as such we !lace as much em!hasis on ethical and liturgical conduct as we
do on the s!ecifics of belief 8i.e.& a right way of doing things rather than a right way of thin1ing
and believing9. ;hile shared belief is central for many of us in Gaelic Polytheism& !utting those
beliefs into correct !ractice:!ractice that is true to the sources while allowing for regional and
family variations:is also a !rimary obJective. 0ne way this manifests is that our eCtended
families may attend cultural events together that for some of us are dee!ly s!iritual& but for others
are sim!ly a fun sing5along or seasonal celebration. As a community& Gaol Naofa welcomes those
for whom GP is a dee!& s!iritual <uest& as well as those who may not be as s!iritually5inclined or
religious but who share a commitment to !reserving the languages& songs& tales& and other
as!ects of Gaelic cultures with their family and friends.
Do )ou reall) belie5e in those m)ths/
As literal inter!retations of historyD Not eCactly. ;hile some of the tales contain fragments
of actual history& for the most !art the myths are valuable to us because they embody s!iritual
truths eC!ressed through meta!hors& allegory& and symbology. They hel! us to understand the
deities and s!irits& moral standards& nature& and our cosmos. Though in some cases thinly 8or
heavily9 Christianised& the myths also contain clues to !re5Christian attitudes and beliefs that can
be useful to us when reconstruction is called for.
G# B;hile orthodoCies ma1e use of codified beliefs& in the form of canoniIed scri!ture& and ritualism more narrowly centres
on the strict adherence to !rescribed rites or rituals& ortho!raCic religions are focused on issues of family& cultural
integrity& the transmission of tradition& sacrificial offerings& concerns of !urity& ethical systems& and the enforcement
thereof.B 7uoted from htt!>==en.wi1i!edia.org=wi1i=0rtho!raCy 8accessed 2K A!ril 20119
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1ome of the Gaelic m)thos has misog)nistic un"ertones. Does this mean Gaelic
#ol)theism is se&ist/
0ur traditional Gaelic myths contain a number of strong female figures:3edb& 3acha&
and Nmer to name Just a few:and the eCistence of these females 8along with their 4rythonic
cousin 7ueen 4oudicca and the relative lac1 of 1nowledge about the !ossibly5matrilineal Picts9&
has led to much wishful thin1ing& and many odd& outrageous& and Just5!lain5wrong claims being
made over the years. *es!ite what the de!ressingly large body of romanticised and eCaggerated
modern literature thatAs out there will tell you& the Celts 8whether Gaelic& Pictish or Gaulish9 were
!atriarchal& not matriarchal. And while !re5Christian and early Christian Gaelic women enJoyed
certain freedoms and !owers that were unheard of by their contem!oraries in other cultures& their
society was not even what we could call egalitarian. To say that women had it better than those of
other cultures of the time does not mean they had it goo.
The fact remains that by our modern standards& women were limited in many different
ways in early medieval Gaelic society& and the arrival of Christianity and its rise to !ower only
served to further restrict the few rights that women had. The medieval Christian Church was
eCtremely misogynistic in its attitudes and outloo1& and it is im!ortant to remember that many of
the myths that have survived u! until today were first written down by the mon1s of that same
misogynistic Church. Their misogyny is <uite evident in many of their inter!retations of the
myths as we have them today& and we 1now this because there are some glim!ses here and there
in different manuscri!ts and oral versions of tales 8as they have been co!ied and reco!ied over
time by different scribes9& which show Just a few of these eCam!les of overtly misogynistic
elements being added in.
GF
Additionally& some of the tales where a BheroB behaves in a
disres!ectful manner towards a woman or goddess were !robably not intended as eCam!les of
good behaviour& but rather as satire& and as an eCam!le of the dire conse<uences that could result
from such offences.
GH
;hatever the reason for all of this& Just because some of our ancient mythos
GF /ee for eCam!le> /essle& A3isogyny and 3edb> A!!roaching 3edb with -eminist Criticism&A Mliia& 1LL#& !1GF51GK.
GH Pes& weAre loo1ing at you& *og 4oy> B-ran1 0AConnor suggested that the earliest layer of the story& incom!letely !reserved
in the ro$c !assages& constitutes the remains of an ancient ironic anti5feminist !oem.B )insella& The TDin& 1LHL& !. Cii.
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dis!lays elements of misogyny& it does not mean that seCism is an acce!table !art of Gaelic
Polytheist communities today? itAs not.
0ur ancestors were not infallible. ;hile we endeavour to be as traditional as !ossible in
our lifeway& we sim!ly will not !er!etuate what we see as the mista1es of our ancestors& and Just
as we consider such things as slavery and human sacrifice to be bad ideas& misogyny is another
one for the list of things that we will not continue& condone& !romote& or a!!rove of.
-ho "o Gaelic #ol)theists 3orship/
To begin& Bworshi!B may not be the best term for how we interact with the s!irits and
deities. 0ur relationshi!s with the s!irits are based on the traditions of 1inshi!& hos!itality& and
clientshi!. The terms Bhonour&B Brevere&B Bcommunicate withB and Bres!ectB are much more
accurate descri!tors. As Bhard !olytheistsB we honour multi!le goddesses and gods& and view
each as se!arate and distinct deities& with their own !ersonalities& histories& and !references. The
D> 8/engo'delc& BGodsB9 we honour are those traditionally revered by the Gaelic !eo!les before
the arrival of Christianity. These can include divinities from the races of the Tuatha *M *anann&
-ir 4olg& 3ilesians& and -omoiri. Also revered are our ancestors
G%
and the s!irits that !ervade the
natural world.
GK
Gaol Naofa refers to this triune of s!irit beings as .a TrF .aomh 8Gaeilge9& An TrN
.aomh 8G+idhlig9& or On Tree .oo 8Gaelg9& BThe /acred Three&B
GL
who may also be referred to as the
D> oc-$ An-D> 8/engo'delc9& the BGods and n5Gods.B
#0
G% Gaeilge& $in$ear? /engoidelc& $in$er? G+idhlig& $inn$earan? Gaelg& $henna%ragh%n.
GK Gaeilge& ao$ $F or aoine $Fhe? /engo'delc& ae$ $Fhe? G+idhlig& aoine $Nth? Gaelg& ferri$h%n. Eowever& for those in the
dias!ora& the nature s!irits may be very different from those in the Gaelic lands. -or more on this& see> Theological
Q-e$tion$> B3hat i$ the fair% faith7=
GL 0ur ins!iration for this !hrase comes from the !revalence of triads in the Gaelic lore& and the use of the !hrase 8though
with an archaic s!elling& or !erha!s a s!elling uni<ue to Carmichael9 in the Carmina !aelica 8-or eCam!le& in A/maladh
an TeineA TCG K#U& BThe first !eat is laid down in the name of the God of (ife& the second in the name of the God of Peace&
the third in the name of the God of Grace. ...in the name of the Three of (ight. ...An Tri n-mh R The sacred ThreeB9. Gaol
NaofaAs use of the !hrase to a!!ly to sacred triads in addition to this !articular Bthree of lightB is& as far as we 1now& a
modern ada!tation based on these !recedents.
#0 /ee Theological Q-e$tion$> B3ho are the D> oc-$ An-D>7= and /to1es and /trachan& The$a-r-$ <aleohiCernic-$& 1L01& !2LF?
Carey& A/cMl Tu,in 3eic ChairillA& in )och and Carey& The Celtic Geroic Age& 1LLF& !212? The TDin? X Cr2in'n& Narl% 1eie&al
Irelan (//-12//& 1LLF& !GG.
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-ho are the "- ocus (n*"-/
The D> oc-$ An-D> are the BGods and n5Gods.B This !hrase comes from some of the
oldest sources we have in the early 6rish literature&
#1
though it is something of an ambiguous term.
As yet& there is no definitive consensus amongst Gaelic Polytheists as to how the An-D>& the n5
Gods& are inter!reted& but we do agree that they are the s!irit beings who are not deities. 4eyond
that& it can get a bit com!licated.
0f the D> 8BGodsB9 the Tuatha *M *anann are !erha!s the best 1nown grou! of deities& but
while many might see them as Bthe deities of the 6rish !antheon&B the lore is not that sim!le.
(oo1ing to the sources we might also include as gods the members of various tribes or BracesB
that& in the lore& are said to have invaded 6reland& or who were !ossibly indigenous to 6reland
before the arrival of the Tuatha *M. These might include members of the tribes of the -ir 4olg& the
-omoiri&
#2
and the 3ilesians 8the ancestors of the Gaels9& as well as the Tuatha *M *anann. 3any
of the beings de!icted as deities or !owerful s!irits are included amongst these !eo!les:such as
the 3ilesian *onn& the -omorian 4alor& and the Cailleach& whose name is not found in the main
body of the myths at all.
#G
As such& while many Gaelic Polytheists honour those D> of the more
renowned Tuatha *M *anann& in our !ractices we also honour some of the lesser51nown Gaelic
s!irits and deities& who donAt fit into a neat and tidy idea of an B6rish !antheon.B
This is where the An-D> come in. Gaol Naofa ac1nowledges that the lore is not always
#1 6bid.
#2 /ome Celtic Christian teCts also include the !eo!le of Parthol2n and Cessair& but both of these are clearly 4iblical in
origin. As !olytheists& we arenAt interested in including characters from the BiCle& who may have no relevance whatsoever
to the s!irits of the Gaelic lands. Cessair is described as Bthe granddaughter of Noah&B while Parthol2n is the Gaelic
rendering of 4artholemew& the name !robably being chosen because its Eebrew meaning has something to do with the
sea. An older:now lost:version of The BooL of In&a$ion$ lists 4anba in !lace of Cessair& which ma1es more sense from a
!olytheistic !oint of view? the first settler of 6reland was 6reland herself. /ee Carey& The Iri$h .ational 0rigin-Begen2
@%nthetic <$e-ohi$tor%& 1LL#.
#G /ee Gear2id X CrualaoichAs The BooL of the Cailleach. The word BCailleachB itself 8AveiledA9 is from a (atin word& so it
couldnAt be considered to be a !re5Christian name for a deity. /ome might see Cailleach as a title rather than a name& for a
goddess=s!irit5woman or grou! of goddesses=s!irit5women who are widely associated with creating local mountains&
lochs& and all 1inds of other geogra!hical features in the landsca!e& as well as being associated with the weather
8!articularly storms9 and the sea& fish& and deer. ;hile we cannot 1now for certain& as the Cailleach tales are often about
sovereignty and the creation of the land& itAs !robably reasonable to assume that the s!irits described as Cailleachan had
other names before a loan5word for them became !o!ular.
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consistent when describing how the s!irits are seen or act over time& and we feel that many s!irit
beings sim!ly cannot be !laced into neat& solid categories. The s!irits are !owerful and numerous
:there are many different 1inds of s!irits& and li1e the gods they can affect our lives in many
different ways. Amongst them there are the ae$ $Fe:the B!eo!le of the moundsB:who we might
also address as the aoine $Nth 8G+idhlig> the B!eo!le of !eaceB9& or .a Daoine 1aith 8Gaeilge> BThe
Good Peo!leB9. ;hile they can be seen in some ways as the gods in a different guise& demoted by
Christianity& they can also include the nature s!irits who !o!ulate the land and its features& our
homes and surrounding regions. They may be hostile or benevolent or neither& but li1e hos!itable
neighbours we eCtend our 1indness towards them to create !eace with them& and in an attem!t to
live in harmony with the forces and beings of the land that we inhabit.
##
3any different ty!es of s!irits have been referred to as ae$ $Fe and according to Gaelic oral
tradition& sometimes we might see our ancestors as living amongst them as well.
#F
The $inn$ear 8BancestorsB9& our cherished dead and heroic ancestors& are those who gave us
life or greatly influenced=sha!ed our lives& whether by blood or of friendshi!& and they grace and
guard our lines today. 4y honouring and remembering our ancestors& we not only 1ee! alive their
being and !resence& but we honour and remember who we are as individuals and as
communities& which is how we illuminate the future.
Considering all of this:the com!leCities and overla!s only touched on here:some Gaelic
Polytheists inter!ret the D> oc-$ An-D> to refer to the gods& s!irits and ancestors as a whole.
0thers may include only the gods and s!irits amongst the D> oc-$ An-D>& and address all three:
the gods& ancestors and the s!irits of nature:as .a TrF .aomh& BThe /acred Three.B /ome of us
!refer this threefold view:.a TrF .aomh 8or the G+idhlig and Gaelg e<uivalents noted above9:
to the D> oc-$ An-D> a!!roach& es!ecially when it comes to ada!ting the conce!t of the D> oc-$
## Gaelic Polytheists who are in the dias!ora must also consider the needs and nature of the s!irits in their own area as well.
;hile some s!irits travelled to new lands with the Gaelic emigrants& Gaelic Polytheists in the dias!ora must also consider
their own localities:see the <uestion below& B3hat i$ the fair% faith7B for more on this.
#F ntimely deaths are sometimes attributed to the individual being Bta1enB by the aoine $Nth. *onn& in !articular has such a
re!utation:see (ogan& The 0l !o$2 The Fact$ aCo-t Iri$h Fairie$& 1LK1& !G#5GF? X *uinn& 3here Three @tream$ 1eet2 Celtic
@5irit-alit%& 2000& !H%.
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An-D> into modern Gaelic languages. 6n modern 6rish we can render the !hrase as D>ithe ag-$ An-
D>ithe& but for Gaelic Polytheists who focus on a G+idhlig !ractice it is not necessarily such a
sim!le !hrase to ada!t. 6n G+idhlig the gods are the Diathan& but articulating the conce!t of the
n5Gods is more difficult& because the G+idhlig negative !refiC would be neo-Diathan& and can
im!ly a malevolent nature that doesnAt necessarily gel with how we see the An-D>.
1ee also> Theological Q-e$tion$> B3hat i$ the fair% faith7B
Do )ou belie5e )our go"s are the =true go"s=/
They are the true gods for us& yes& but Gaol Naofa is not interested in !roselytisation.
Gaelic Polytheism is not the right !ath for everyone and as such we have no interest in converting
!eo!le from other faiths to ours. ;e also have no intention of belittling other !eo!leAs gods and
s!irits& or claiming their gods and s!irits donAt eCist. As Bhard !olytheists&B we believe all deities
eCist and are distinct from each other. ;e sim!ly choose:or are called:to devote ourselves only
those of the !re5Christian Gaels.
-hat about matron an" patron "eities4 "o )ou gu)s ha5e those/
/ome Gaelic Polytheists may be called to follow a certain goddess or god& but these are not
necessarily the same as matron=!atron deities in the wider Neo!agan community. 3ost Gaelic
Polytheists feel that the goddess or god chooses us instead of it being a deliberate choice from us&
although we do believe that we have the choice to res!ond to that calling 8although we would
add that ignoring a deity is generally considered to be a .eally 4ad 6dea...9. Eowever& having a
matron or !atron is not necessary or even desirable to everyone& and many of us develo! a
relationshi! with a number of deities and do not feel the need to formally dedicate ourselves to
any of them.
-or some Gaelic Polytheists& res!onding to the call of a !articular god or goddess serves as
a core !art of their !ractice and being. 6f you are see1ing to become oathbound to a !articular
deity& !lease 1now that is it not something done lightly. 6t should only ta1e !lace after time has
been s!ent getting to 1now them& you understand what they may as1 of you& and a connection
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has indeed been made. 6t is also very hel!ful to get to 1now others who are sworn to that deity&
both for guidance and to observe for yourself what 1ind of eC!eriences a variety of !eo!le have
had with this arrangement.
-hat is the fair)8faith/
The creieamh $F& or fairy5faith& is a living and still evolving way of interaction with the
s!irit world& which survives in 6reland& /cotland& the 6sle of 3an 8and to some eCtent in the
dias!ora9. 6t is a strand of belief and daily !ractice which is often observed but little tal1ed about
or admitted to. ;hat was once an acce!ted !art of life:the closeness between this world and the
0therworld& and the influences that the aoine $Nth 8G+idhlig& A!eo!le of !eaceA9 have on our world
and even our lives:is not now as wides!read& but it is still an influence in some !laces& and in
some families.
The creieamh $F !rovides us with a rich vein of information about the worldview of the
Gaels and their beliefs& !ractices and lore. ;hat we see !reserved in this lore can tell us not Just
about the deities& with whom the fairies& or aoine $Nth& can be said to have become conflated
with&
#H
but also how they were:and are:worshi!!ed& honoured& and a!!roached 8or avoided as
the case may be9.
6n the dias!ora& the !ractice of the creieamh $F can get a bit more com!leC. /ome s!irits
travelled to new lands with humans& and others did not. 6n some areas& usually those with a
similar climate to the Gaelic lands and a long history of Gaelic families in the area& the s!irits may
res!ond <uite well to a Gaelic a!!roach. 4ut this is not always the case. Those of us who currently
live outside the Gaelic lands may find that the nature s!irits where we live are not only not
Gaelic& but they may even disagree with a Gaelic a!!roach to ceremony and ta1e an active disli1e
to the offerings and style of ceremony that are traditional in the Gaelic lands. Therefore we cannot
refer to all the nature s!irits in the dias!ora as ae$ $Fe or aoine $Nth. Those who live in a land
where the nature s!irits are not Gaelic& and not ha!!y with Gaelic a!!roaches& may find their
#H .onald 4lac1& in !articular& has a good discussion about this in the introduction to The !aelic 0therworl.
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!ractice connected less to the land 8and wind u! doing ceremony indoors9 or they may find their
!ractice altered. /ome of us have relocated& or avoided relocation& !recisely so the s!irits will be
ha!!y with us as Gaels.
#%
%re the ?omoiri "emonic forces or entities/
No. The -omoiri are the chaotic and untamed as!ects of nature? they are historically
somewhat o!!osed to the Tuatha *M *anann 8whose nature is usually more civilised and
ordered9& but they are not rival enemies who share great enmity for each other& des!ite having
engaged in battle with one another. /ome boo1s refer to the -omoiri as demonic& sinister& evil& and
malevolent but we believe they are no more evil than a tornado& earth<ua1e& hurricane& or
tsunami is evil.
The -omoiri can be wild& tem!estuous& !rimal and feral:but not demonic. (i1e the
!hysical world& the world of the s!irits is not blac1 and white:it is com!leC& multicoloured&
shifting and changeable. The Tuatha *M *anann intermarried with the -omoiri and (ugh himself
is half5-omoiri. ;e do not believe the Tuatha *M would have married demonic beings& and we
would also !oint out that the Tuatha *M *anann and the -omoiri eventually made !eace with
each other? once the Tuatha *M defeated the -omoiri at the Battle of 1ag T-re& the -omoiri did not
cause any more trouble in 6reland.
#K
Gaelic Polytheists often ma1e treaties of !eace and non5interference with these ty!es of
s!irits& ac1nowledging them and treating them with 1indness so they do not interfere in our lives
or ceremonies.
1ee also> Theological Q-e$tion$2 =I$ !aelic <ol%thei$m -ali$tic7=
-hat is @#G/ 2o3 much @#G is acceptable in Gaelic #ol)theism/
nverified Personal Gnosis 8PG9 is 1nowledge that someone believes has been received
#% -or more on this& see )6((P0AN*NATP0.
#K /ee NliIabeth GrayAs translation of Cath 1aige T-ire. After this battle& the Tuatha *M live in !eace until the 3ilesians
arrive.
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from the deities& ancestors& and=or s!irits& via dreams& visions& or very strong intuition& but which
is not eC!licitly contained within the 1nown lore. PG is acce!table within Gaol Naofa as long as
it does not contradict the 1nown lore& and as long as it is !resented to the community as modern
PG& not obJective fact or ancient belief. 6t is im!ortant to remember that while PG is a
necessary !art of !ractice& it can be of limited value or relevance beyond oneAs own !ersonal
eC!erience. Eaving a system of chec1s5and5balances is crucial in using PG in oneAs !ractice as it
hel!s 1ee! one grounded and certain that one is actually receiving information from the s!irits&
and not our imaginations.
-hen it comes to the pol)theistic aspects that nee" to be reconstructe" in
G#7G!#4 ho3 important is #roto80A an" 0A m)tholog)/
A familiarity with Proto56ndo5Nuro!ean 8P6N9 and 6ndo5Nuro!ean 86N9 mythology can be
hel!ful in com!arative studies& but those mythologies do not dictate Gaelic beliefs. /im!ly
because the Gaels are considered to be !art of the larger grou!ing of 6ndo5Nuro!eans does not
ma1e us the same culture. -or eCam!le& in some 6N cultures sovereignty comes from a s1y father&
and yet in Gaelic belief it comes from the local land goddess. There is evidence of maJor variations
in belief among the various cultures considered to be 6ndo5Nuro!ean. /ince there are definitely
differences& one needs to be cautious and not fall into the tra! of assuming& Bwell if it ha55ene in
other I: c-lt-re$4 it m-$t ha&e ha55ene in !aelic c-lt-re.B
Do 0 nee" to stu") Be"ic m)tholog) in or"er to practice Gaelic #ol)theism/
No. 6n fact you donAt nee to study Oedic 8Eindu9 mythology to !ractice any branch of
Celtic .econstructionism. Eowever& some newcomers 8and even seasoned !ractitioners9 get this
im!ression due to some Celtic .econstructionists who:!ossibly due to the influence of the .ees
brothers with their boo1 Celtic Geritage:a!!ear to believe that Oedic mythology somehow fills in
the blan1s of Celtic mythology. This is sim!ly not true.
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Does Gaelic #ol)theism borro3 from other religions or cultures/
Absolutely not. ;hile it may be !ossible that Gaelic Polytheism has some commonalities
with other 6ndo5Nuro!ean religions and cultures& and some natural influences from invaders& we
do not under any circumstances !artici!ate in cultural or religious a!!ro!riation.
1ee also> Rit-al an <ractice2 =Do %o- allow room for $%ncreti$m7=
Do Gaelic #ol)theists ha5e an) sacre" s)mbols/ -hat s)mbols "o )ou re:ect/
There are a number of symbols that Gaelic Polytheists see as sacred& or at least culturally
meaningful& and these can include tris1eles& tris1elions& tri!le s!irals& 1notwor1& Pictish mar1ings&
ogham lettering& claddaghs& the cro$ CrFe& -ionnAs ;indow 8f>ige fin9& any mar1ings on megaliths
li1e Newgrange& figures such as the statues on 4oa 6sland& /heela na Gigs& and other symbols
found in ancient or even medieval Celtic art. /ome of these symbols might not be s!ecifically
from the Celtic era& such as the megalithic symbols at Newgrange in 6reland 8which& being from
a!!roCimately G200 4C& the /tone Age& are considered !re5Celtic9& but nevertheless they can be
said to form an im!ortant !art of 6relandZs s!iritual heritage and identity& and are 1nown to have
been im!ortant sites to the 6ron Age Gaels as well. As such& symbols li1e this resonate with
contem!orary Gaelic Polytheists as well.
/ometimes& however& symbols that might be seen as sacred or cultural to us have been co5
o!ted by racist organisations& such as the use of the blac1 clover 8with or without the blue stri!e9
by the Aryan 4rotherhood. ;e reJect using symbols li1e this in order to avoid any intimation of
1inshi! or a!!roval with such organisations& whose views we find to be totally abhorrent.
0ther symbols that Gaelic Polytheists and Gaol Naofa reJect are those that have no
relevance to our religious beliefs or cultural focus. These include symbols li1e !entagrams&
!entacles& elven or fairy stars& the three rays of Awen& the Eorned God& Grecian labyrinths& and
other non5Gaelic and non5Celtic symbols. ;hile these may be common to ;iccan& Neo5druid or
other Neo!agan traditions& they do not eC!ress anything to do with Gaelic Polytheism.
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Does Gaelic #ol)theism ha5e clerg)/
Neither Gaelic Polytheism as a whole nor Gaol Naofa in !articular have a !rofessionally
ordained clergy. 0ur ceremonial !eo!le are ty!ically community Nlders and=or heads of
households. 3ost of our rites are fairly sim!le& observed within oneAs eCtended family and in5
!erson community. Cultural observances may be led by anyone who is a res!ected community
leader& but more mystical ceremonies are usually only led by those with eCtensive training&
eC!erience& and a !roven talent for wor1 with the s!irits. As we donAt have a large number of
!eo!le who can be considered Nlders in our communities& we often !rovide chec1s and balances
by leading im!ortant rites as a team.
0ur community Nlders !reserve and !ass on our traditions& and !rovide s!iritual and
secular guidance. ;hile Gaol Naofa as a community and networ1 has members and advisors who
we loo1 to for leadershi! and guidance in these matters& we also believe that we as individuals are
ca!able of observing !ersonal religious rites& communing directly with the divine& and ta1ing
res!onsibility for our own s!iritual welfare. That said& this is a tradition based in community and
eCtended family 8whether of origin or choice9. -or those who do not have an in5!erson
community and cannot travel to meet with us& we will do what we can to !rovide a networ1 via
our online and !hone !resence& and trust that in time even those who are geogra!hically isolated
will manage to develo! or find their way to an in5!erson community.
1ee also> Rit-al an <ractice Q-e$tion$2 =3ho are the :ler$7=
1o )ou gu)s "on6t refer to )oursel5es as Drui"s/
No. Not every Gaelic Polytheist has an interest in being a scholar& lore 1ee!er& learning to
lead ceremony& or serving as a B!riestB or B!riestessB for a community 8and all the other things
involved in being a traditional druid9. nli1e some grou!s& our definition of a druid is fairly
narrow in that we see a druid 8raoF9 as being someone who serves as a res!ected and valued
leader in an in5!erson community& and who has trained for decades to be worthy of this role.
/ince we are a culturally5s!ecific community& we believe this community should also be s!ecific>
that is& a druid is one who is serving a Gaelic Polytheist community. To us& a Bsolitary druidB is an
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oCymoron.
As it is& very few !eo!le have the training& study or a siIable enough in5!erson community
that they can serve in order to be recogniIed as a druid. 4eing recognised as a druid by others:
s!ecifically& an eC!erienced community who 1now the standards that must be achieved to be
worthy of the title:rather than sim!ly calling oneself a druid& is an im!ortant distinction we
would also ma1e. ;e view !lacing the title onto oneself to be disres!ectful to our ancestors and
counter!roductive to the ty!e of <uality we are trying to reestablish for our descendants? it is said
that the raoF went through twenty years of study:learning from Nlders in community and
demonstrating their s1ill through daily !ractice:to even begin to be worthy of the title? as such it
is not something to be thrown around lightly or ta1en u! arbitrarily.
1ee also> 1i$conce5tion$> BI$n8t !aelic <ol%thei$m P-$t the $ame thing a$ Dr-ir%7
3hat aCo-t the A&alonian traition$7B
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)itual and .ractice ,uestions
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
2o3 "oes one become a Gaelic #ol)theist/ -here "oes one begin/
;e believe that to begin a Gaelic Polytheistic !ractice one must sim!ly have a sincere
desire to ado!t the Gaelic worldview and culture& and harbour a willingness to res!ect and
embrace the traditions and !rinci!les of the Gaelic ancestors and the living community. There is
no initiation& ba!tism& or s!ecial oath re<uired. That being said& Gaelic Polytheism is a !rocess:
not an instantaneous change. 6t re<uires !atience& as well as a strong desire to learn.
(earning the basic lore& and how to ma1e sim!le !rayers and offerings to the Gaelic s!irits&
are usually the best way to start as they serve as a way to introduce yourself and your family to
the D> oc-$ An-D> 8BGods and n5GodsB9 and can be done without eCtensive !rior study 8save for
referring to a list of traditionally suitable offerings9.
1ee also> Rit-al an <ractice Q-e$tion$> B3hat are con$iere acce5taCle offering$7B
2o3 "o Gaelic #ol)theists 3orship/
.ather than worshi! in the bent51nee& grovelling sense the word might usually conJure u!&
Gaelic Polytheists might ty!ically !refer the word BhonourB to describe what we do. Aside from
being a word that is far less loaded in its im!lications& BhonourB is a word that we as Gaelic
Polytheists see as a fundamental virtue& and so it is !erha!s the more a!t word to use.
The 0ld 6rish word for Bmorality&B C>$tat-& has its root in the word C>$& meaning Bhabit&
usual !rocedure& !ractice& manner& or way&B
#L
and in this sense we might say that it is through
observing the a!!ro!riate customs and traditions that we do honour to our gods& s!irits and
ancestors& as well as our community. This is why Gaelic Polytheism is what we would describe as
#L /ee e*6(.
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a lifeway&
F0
because we see our !ath as being rooted in the cultural and religious eC!ressions of
our beliefs. 6n other words& what we do& how we live and how we behave& are ultimately rooted in
our relationshi! with the D> oc-$ An-D>. (iving with honour& as well as doing honour& is therefore
eCtremely im!ortant to us& not Just to the gods& s!irits and ancestors& in our religious rites& but in
all the actions of our everyday lives as well.
At the most basic level& our daily lives are !unctuated by sim!le !rayers and devotions&
which form the underlying rhythm of our day. These daily !ractices are com!limented by
observances at festivals and other occasions& from maJor rites of !assage to sim!ly greeting the
new moon or sun& ma1ing offerings to the s!irits for the safety of our families in the face of a
storm& accom!anying our household tas1s with traditional words of blessing& and so on. 6n
addition to !rayer& offerings form a maJor focus for how we honour and communicate with the
D> oc-$ An-D>& and in order to !rovide a focus for these devotions a shrine or altar is often
maintained in or outside the home 8or both9. These shrines can be used for all 1inds of devotions&
or else individual shrines to !articular deities& s!irits or ancestors can be maintained if it is felt to
be more a!!ro!riate. ltimately& however& we do not consider !ermanent& !hysical shrines as a
necessary focus? they are sim!ly something that we feel can enrich our !ractice.
6t is through these ritual observances& however elaborate or sim!le they may be& that we
honour and are in communion with the D> oc-$ An-D>. .ituals& ceremonies and general rites of
honour tend to be centred in the household& eCtended family and community&
F1
and these may be
observed in addition to our own !ersonal& individual devotions. Grou! rituals are often
!erformed outdoors or at the family shrine& and are facilitated by a community Nlder or the head
F0 And s!ecifically& to members of Gaol Naofa& our Gaelic Polytheist (ifeway 8Dòigh-Beatha Ioma-Dhiahach !h"ihealach =
D#igh Bheatha Iliach i$ !aelach9.
F1 ;e use the word BfamilyB loosely& not necessarily constrained by blood5ties? family is what you ma1e it. 6n !ractice some
Gaelic Polytheists may tem!orarily find themselves without in5!erson community& and while Gaol Naofa strongly
encourages !ractice within in5!erson grou!s& we also recognise the difficulties that some face in finding or forming one in
their area. 4ecause of this& Gaol Naofa offers a !ealach Qr 8New 3oon9 ritual for all members of the organisation to
!artici!ate in if they wish& as well as long5distance connections via the 6nternet and !hone. ;e feel that being able to
!erform rituals as others do& at the same time& is one way to hel! new members begin to connect with our community&
even if they have not yet managed to Join with others in !erson. Though Gaol Naofa is still a small organisation& one of
our !riorities is hel!ing !eo!le find or form solid connections with others& as eCtended family and community.
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of the household. 6n our rites and rituals& we invite the D> oc-$ An-D> to attend and we give to
them our hos!itality. /inging& dancing& the !laying of music& the reciting and finding of !oetry&
listening to the s!irits& storytelling& !rayer& and sharing food with one another are often fre<uent
com!onents.
;hile some s!ecifics of our rituals may vary from one household or community to
another& there are underlying common !rinci!les that inform what we do& which are rooted
within the a!!ro!riate cultural conteCt. ;ithout these roots we believe that rituals and
observances would be meaningless and em!ty& and hardly Justifying the label of BGaelicB
Polytheism. 6t is through our rituals and acts of devotion& as well as correct social observances&
that we maintain a balanced and !ro!er relationshi! with the D> oc-$ An-D>.
;e live& we !ray& we ma1e our offerings and devotions...we sing& and 1now that the gods&
s!irits and ancestors are with us.
-hat are consi"ere" acceptable offerings/
-ol1lore& and the living traditions of the creieamh $F& note offerings of foods li1e mil1&
cheese& butter& caudle& !orridge& beer& bannoc1s& oatca1es and other ba1ed goods 8e.g.& CairFn-
Creac9& eggs& meat& salt& and food from a meal set aside on a s!ecial !late for the s!irits or deities
being honoured. 0ther traditional offerings include flowers and rushes& sheaves of corn 8as in
grain& not maiIe9& metalwor1 and Jewellery& wooden obJects or structures& clooties& coins& !ins&
buttons& nails& art wor1s or handicrafts& music& !oetry and gestures of hos!itality. Particular s!irits
and deities are 1nown to have their !references& which are in many cases recorded and in other
cases 1nown through our !ersonal eC!eriences ma1ing offerings over the years.
F2
0ur community
celebrations also have !articular festival foods that are traditional for seasonal feasts and
ceremonies.
F2 ;hen we figure out things through eC!erience& however& itAs im!ortant to note if itAs a modern tradition& such as offering
coffee or chocolate to s!irits whoAve shown interest in these things.
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Does Gaelic #ol)theism inclu"e ritual sacrifice/
6t can& but we need to discuss what we mean by Bsacrifice.B B/acrificeB can mean different
things to different !eo!le& so in some ways the answer de!ends on how you define it. A broad
definition of the word sees an%thing offered to the gods in an act of devotion or !ro!itiation as a
form of sacrifice& which would mean that Gaelic Polytheist !ractice involves a lot of ritual
sacrifice. A much narrower definition of BsacrificeB would be the act of 1illing a living being
during the act of offering? this would mean animal sacrifice or& to our very distant Celtic
ancestors& human sacrifice. -or our !ur!oses& though& it may also include the destruction of
inanimate obJects as !art of their being sacrificed:a !ractice that is fre<uently found in Celtic
sacrifice& the Gaels included.
FG
3ost Gaelic Polytheists do not engage in ritual sacrifice of animals. 6n contrast to offerings&
which are made regularly and fre<uently& the sacrifice of livestoc1 is something that might only
be done at es!ecially im!ortant times when offering something beyond the ordinary is seen as
necessary or desirable. 6t would be fair to say that the sacrifice of inanimate obJects is the most
common form of ritual sacrifice for Gaelic Polytheists& and these can include things li1e Jewellery
or other items of value 8sentimental value included9& and !oetry& wor1s of !rose& or !ersonally
crafted items made s!ecially for sacrifice.
3ost of our historical eCam!les of animal sacrifice are from times and !laces where most
!eo!le were farmers& or hunter5gatherers& and 1illing a chic1en& deer& fish or cattle to feed the
!eo!le was a regular !art of life. The only difference from modern small5scale farming is that
!rayer and ceremony is involved in the !rocess.
/ome rural& farming Gaelic Polytheists may choose to ta1e !art in animal sacrifice& but it is
a !ersonal choice and it is not:by any means:something that should be considered a
re<uirement of Gaelic Polytheist !ractice. Gaol Naofa believes that the decision to !erform animal
sacrifice is not one that should be ta1en lightly& and is something that must be done humanely&
with dee! res!ect& and in a traditional manner. 6f you do decide to !erform animal sacrifice as
FG Aldhouse5Green& D%ing for the !o$2 G-man @acrifice in Iron Age an Roman :-ro5e& 2001& !22.
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!art of your !ractices& it is im!ortant that you 1now what you are doing& and that you consult the
laws and ordinances of the country& state& or district you live in. 6t may not be legal to 1ee!
livestoc1 where you live. There may also be laws that govern the humane 1illing of animals.
Considering the !racticalities of all this& it is fair to say that the small minority of Gaelic
Polytheists who do !erform animal sacrifice tend to live in rural areas& with wor1ing farms& and
the sacrifice of livestoc1 is !art of their normal lifestyle of !roviding meat for their families and
communities.
Gaol Naofa would stress that under no circumstances should Gaelic Polytheists be forced&
or feel !ressured& to ta1e !art in animal sacrifice if they are uneasy with it. 0nly food animals
who are regularly consumed and sold for consum!tion 8i.e.& no dogs& cats& etc.9 and are within the
laws 8i.e.& no !rotected s!ecies or any migratory birds9 are to be sacrificed. ;e are sure this goes
without saying but human sacrifice is not& we re!eat not& a !art of modern Gaelic Polytheism.
-hat festi5als7holi"a)s "o Gaelic #ol)theists celebrate/
All Gaelic Polytheists celebrate the four <uarter days>
• 1amain 8/engo'delc9? OCche 1hamhna or 1amhain 8Gaeilge9? 1amhainn 8G+idhlig9? 1auin
8Gaelg9 : 0ctober G1=November 1? the end of summer& the beginning of winter? a time to
honour ancestors and other dead? a !rimordial time when the 0therworld is most active.
• Oimelc 8/engo'delc9? >D ?hEile FrC"e or 0mbolc 8Gaeilge9? >G ?hHill FrIgh"e 8G+idhlig9?
>aa6l Freeshe) 8Gaelg9 : -ebruary 1? Bthe feast day of 4r'deB? a celebration closely
associated with the hearth& home and family? the stirrings of summer 8or s!ring9.
• Cetsamain 8/engo'delc9? >D Fealtaine 8Gaeilge9? Fealltainn 8G+idhlig9? >aa Foal")n
8Gaelg9 : 3ay 1? the end of winter& the start of summer? a time when the 0therworld is
!articularly active again? a time for !urification.
• >ugnasa" 8/engo'delc9? >D >Jnasa 8Gaeilge9? >Knastal 8G+idhlig9? >aa >uan)s 8Gaelg9 :
August 1? a harvest festival instituted by (ugh in honour of his foster5mother Tailtiu who
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died whilst clearing the land for cultivation? celebrating the first fruits.
These <uarter days are occasions for family and community feasting and celebration&
which are im!ortant for strengthening the secular and s!iritual bonds that sustain cohesion and
stability& and activities often include story5telling& the recitation of !oetry& com!etitive s!orts& and
$ei$iAn$ or c>ilih$.
F#
/ome Gaelic Polytheists may also choose to celebrate the smaller local
festivals such as (+ na Cailliche 8/cotland=3arch 2F9& 3idsummer 86reland and 6sle of 3an9& (+
-h[ill 3\cheil 8/cotland=/e!tember 2L9& An ClabhsVr 86reland9& Pn 3heillea 86sle of 3an9&
3idwinter or Pule& and (, an *reoil'n 86reland and 6sle of 3an=*ecember 2H9.
Ealloween& Christmas& and New PearAs Nve 80'che Chinn 4hliana=Eogmanay=0ie
Eouney9 can also be celebrated& as well as festivals that celebrate the Gaelic nations and Gaelic
culture& li1e (, -hMile Padr,ig 8/t. Patric1As *ay=3arch 1%9& (atha Naomh Anndra 8/t. AndrewAs
*ay=November G09& 4urns Night 8"anuary 2F9 and (aa Tinvaal 8Tynwald *ay="uly F9. 4asically&
the festival calendar is& in the end& u! to the !ractitioner and=or their family or community.
-hat about the solstices an" e<uino&es4 "o )ou celebrate those/
/ome of the smaller local festivals coincide with& or ha!!en close to& a solstice or e<uinoC.
The celebration of these local festivals is left entirely u! to the individual& household or grou!&
and so some Gaelic Polytheists may include festival observances on or around some or all of these
dates. They are not celebrated Ceca-$e these lesser festival fall on& or near& a solstice or e<uinoC& but
because of their cultural and s!iritual significance to the individuals or grou!s who choose to
observe them.
1ee also> Rit-al an <ractice Q-e$tion$> B3hat fe$ti&al$9holia%$
o !aelic <ol%thei$t$ celeCrate7B
F# A c>ilih:or cRilih in G+idhlig 8/cots Gaelic9:is a formal or informal meeting of family and friends where stories and
tales are told& songs are sung& and dancing is had.
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Do )ou celebrate secular cultural holi"a)s as 3ell as religious ones/
That is left u! to the discretion of !ractitioner& but yes some do. Celebrating secular
holidays li1e this can be seen as an o!!ortunity to enrich our own traditions& or those of our
household or family& and they also !rovide the o!!ortunity to celebrate the Gaelic cultures and
nations as well. A traditional dinner of haggis& nee!s anA tatties followed by an evening of
storytelling and !oetry is a good way to celebrate 4urnsA Night& which is still widely observed in
/cotland today& while the green beer and obnoCious !inching of those who donAt wear green
might be forsa1en in favor of similar celebrations for (, -hMile Padr,ig 8/t. Patric1As *ay9& this
time focusing on 6rish culture. /ince /t. Patric1As *ay is so !o!ular in the dias!ora:es!ecially in
the /:it can be a time for Gaelic Polytheists to honour and remember the suffering of our 6rish
ancestors 8those of us who have them9& who went through so much to find a life and a living away
from their homelands.
;hile these secular holidays are not a !art of our religious calendar& some of them can
have s!iritual overtones& es!ecially the winter festivals li1e Eogmanay 8New PearAs Nve in
/cotland9 and New PearAs *ay. They are not holidays of Gaelic origin& but nonetheless they have
become entrenched in /cottish culture and are still widely observed today. -or Gaelic Polytheists&
the New Pear can be a time to sain the house& leave out offerings and !erform divinations to see
what the coming year might bring.
1ee also> Rit-al an <ractice Q-e$tion$> B3hat fe$ti&al$9holia%$
o !aelic <ol%thei$t$ celeCrate7B
0s Gaelic #ol)theism something that can be practice" in urban an" suburban
areas/
Absolutely. Pou donAt need to live in the country in order to !ractice Gaelic Polytheism. 6tAs
true that some Gaelic Polytheists reside in rural areas& and many of our beliefs are rooted in our
eC!erience of the land where we live& but the maJority of modern !eo!le tend to be located in
cities and suburbs. Nach locale offers its own !ros and cons 8those in cities usually have more
access to cultural events& for instance9. Eowever& s!irits reside everywhere& even amongst the
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concrete and steel. ;e encourage rural and urban members of our communities to !ractice
hos!itality and hel! one another with !laces to stay so the rural fol1s can have access to events in
the city and the urban fol1s can get out under the stars.
2o3 in5ol5e"7immerse" in Gaelic culture shoul" one be/
As much as !ossible. 6n Gaol Naofa& to be culturally immersed means that oneAs whole
being and concentration are focused on Gaelic culture. As most of us are in the dias!ora we
understand this is harder to accom!lish& but it is not im!ossible. A good many of us are devoted
to and involved in the living Gaelic cultures through the !reservation of native languages& !oetry&
literature& traditional music& and sacred sites& as well as through the coo1ing of traditional foods&
learning of householder customs& and attendance of Gaelic festivals and c>ilih$. There is a huge
middle ground between living in an eCtended& Gaelic5s!ea1ing family in the !aeltachtaF
FF
or
!"ihealtachan
FH
and being a Neo!agan who only reads boo1s. 6tAs about doing oneAs best to
understand and ado!t the mindset:based on real eC!osure to& and !artici!ation in& the living
cultures& rather than fantasies based solely on the oldest manuscri!ts& seen through Neo!agan
eC!ectations.
1ee also> Theological Q-e$tion$> B3hat i$ a worl&iew7
3h% o I nee to ao5t a !aelic worl&iew in orer to 5ractice !aelic <ol%thei$m7B
2o3 important is tra"ition to Gaelic #ol)theists/
4y observing tradition& we honour our ancestors and the s!irits who guided them. ;e root
ourselves in the land and in right relationshi! with the s!irits& the deities& and one another.
;ithin Gaol Naofa& tradition and ancient wisdom always ta1e !recedence& eCce!t in cases that
would result in brea1ing the Just laws of oneAs community.
F%
Any modern ada!tions& innovations&
FF Gaeilge s!ea1ing areas located in 6reland 8!arts of *onegal& 3eath& 3ayo& Galway& )erry& Cor1 and ;aterford9& Northern
6reland 8!arts of 4elfast and *erry9 and Canada 8Nrinsville& 0ntario9.
FH G+idhlig s!ea1ing areas located in /cotland 8Eighlands and 6slands9 and Canada 8Ca!e 4reton& Glengarry& Prince
Ndward 6sland& and Newfoundland9.
F% /ee the bit about how ta1ing the heads of oneAs worthy enemies in battle is right out.
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re5inter!retations& or reconstructions must be rooted in history and tradition& and anything that is
not wholly traditional needs to be o!enly ac1nowledged as such.
-or instance& we may choose to Bbac15engineerB !rayers& charms and !oetry recorded in
the Christian era to a !olytheistic version> Carefully and with full consideration for the !ur!ose of
the !iece& an understanding of the !oetic structures& and the roles of the !articular s!irits& a
healing charm to /aint 4rigid may be easily ada!ted to !etition the goddess 4rigid. A !rayer for
!rotection& addressed to saint 3ichael& may be ada!ted into a !iece for one of the warrior deities&
again& with very little changed as some of the saints were direct ada!tations of the deities who
!receded them. ;hile we cannot 1now for certain& in some cases it does seem that we are sim!ly
!utting !rayers bac1 to what they may have been before Christianity was overlaid onto our
Native traditions. ;hen we do this we always footnote with the original version& so !eo!le can
chec1 our inter!retation and be aware of any changes. ;e donAt use the !rayers that have
obviously been written from a more recent& Christian !ers!ective. .ather& we loo1 to the !ieces
that seem to have been written from a more !olytheistic& nature5revering !ers!ective on the
world& whether the original version was by someone who considered themselves a Gaelic
Polytheist or a Gaelic Christian.
FK
;hen at all !ossible& we donAt bac15engineer at all& and 1ee!
things in their original forms.
Another eCam!le of modernisation would be choosing to use modern household materials
to ma1e certain items at the festivals as !art of our celebrations:such as using the local variety of
reeds or willow for the cro$ BrFe& or a household im!lement other than a butter churn for the
Crie#g. /imilarly& while yellow turni!s 8rutabaga or swede de!ending on where youAre from9 are
the traditional vegetable of choice for ma1ing lanterns on 0'che /hamhna& there is nothing wrong
with o!ting for white turni!s or even !otatoes to carve& since these are also attested to in tradition
8and slightly easier on the wrist...9. /ince !um!1ins are an established !art of dias!oran tradition
they are not necessarily considered ina!!ro!riate to use& but generally s!ea1ing Gaelic
Polytheists will !refer to u!hold the traditions as authentically as !ossible. ltimately& modern
FK /ome of the early& Celtic Christian !ers!ectives were almost indistinguishable from the !olytheism that !receded them.
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materials are an acce!table ada!tation to the traditions mentioned here because they are in
1ee!ing with how the traditions have evolved within the Gaelic cultures themselves.
;here we are forced to ada!t to modern circumstances 8not many of us have a churn dash
handy these days& to ma1e our Crie#g with...9 we first loo1 to how the traditions might have
evolved within the culture. ;here we donAt have any modern !oints of references& loo1ing to
other cultures and a!!ro!riating bits and !ieces from here or there to Bfill in the ga!sB is not
acce!table !ractice? ta1ing a ritual from another culture and sim!ly ada!ting it to our own
circumstances is not only cultural a!!ro!riation&
FL
it is totally disregarding our own cultural
history and heritage. 6nstead& what we must do is loo1 at the sources and !ut what survives into
!ractice in our lives. 0ver time& with dee!ening eC!erience and fluency& we may be ins!ired to
carefully build u!on these things in the s!irit of the surviving cultural ceremonies& !rayers& songs
and charms.
This wor1 can be time5consuming and slow& and !atience and dee! commitment are
re<uired. 4ut that is what we are dedicated to. 3a1ing u! entirely new traditions or rituals&
without any regard for the cultural roots of our !ractice is not Gaelic or reconstructionist.
Necessity may be the mother of invention& but invention for inventionAs sa1e or because itAs ea$ier&
without regard for tradition& history& and !recedence& is not in 1ee!ing with Gaelic Polytheist
!rinci!les.
-ho are the Al"ers/
Nlders in a traditional& Gaelic society can be said to re!resent the !innacle of their
!articular niche:as community historians& storytellers& !oets or musicians:and can be seen as
the culmination of many years of learning and eC!erience. They hold a vast body of 1nowledge in
their minds& which they are ca!able of commanding at will& and are viewed with great res!ect
within their communities.
H0
6n traditional terms we might see them as forming a !arallel with the
roles of druids& sages& and the fili of !re5Christian times& since the /engo'delc word for elder&
FL /ee Rit-al an <ractice Q-e$tion$> B3hat i$ c-lt-ral a55ro5riation7 Gow can I a&oi it7B
H0 Glassie& <a$$ing the Time Ball%menone2 C-lt-re an Gi$tor% of an Ml$ter Comm-nit%& 1LK2& !12%? !1#G.
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$r-ith& also carries with it connotations of Brevered? venerable&B as well as Bsage&B
H1
and so
underscores the sacred role and duties of the role& as well as the vast amounts of 1nowledge and
eC!erience re<uired in order to fulfill it. Nlders also served similar roles to that of the druids&
sages& and fili? through tales and song& Nlders im!art wisdom and moral guidance to those who
have gathered to listen& and they might sometimes be seen ta1ing a leading role in the seasonal&
!ublic festivities that the whole community engaged in&
H2
as well as more !rivate ceremonial
occasions 8such as those associated with birth& death and marriage9.
HG
-or Gaol Naofa& an Nlder is someone who:through age& eC!erience and eCam!le:is
honoured and esteemed by the community& and is ca!able of offering advice& 1nowledge and
guidance when necessary. Ta1ing our cues from traditional Gaelic society& we see Nlders as being
dedicated to collecting& !reserving and im!arting cultural wisdom in order to hel! ma1e sure that
everyone in the community remains rooted in that worldview that we as Gaelic Polytheists are
dedicated to&
H#
and as such not everyone is ever going to be eligible to claim the status of an Nlder
8and& !erha!s not everyone would necessarily want to ta1e on such a role9. 6t is not a status that is
automatically conferred on someone because of their age& or because they have achieved a certain
amount of study or !ractical eC!erience. 6nstead& it is a role that is conferred on an individual by
their community& in recognition of having already acted in& and fulfilled& such a role successfully&
by virtue of their 1nowledge& eC!ertise& and ca!ability.
As a reconstructionist community& Gaol NaofaAs situation in terms of Nlders is more
H1 /ee e*6(.
H2 NCam!les include the offerings to /hony on the 6sle of (ewis& /cotland& where Bthe oldest man of the seaB was tas1ed with
wading out into the waves in order to ma1ing an offering to /hony on behalf of everyone assembled for the rite? at
4ealtaine fires in 6reland where the oldest woman !resent would go around the bonfire sunwise& three times& in order Bto
ensure a year without sic1nessB for the whole community. /ee 4lac1& The !aelic 0therworl& 200F& !FL05FL1& and Nvans&
Iri$h FolL 3a%$& 1LF%& !2%#52%F.
HG NCam!les here include the ma1ing of a s!ecial !unch for weddings in /cotland& the ma1ing 8and reci!e9 of which was
given to the elders of the village. ;hen the !unch had been declared good amongst the elders& it was then used to drin1
to the health and blessings of the newlyweds. 6n 6reland& $5>ic>irF 8!rofessional matchma1ers9 were often elderly
gentlemen 8though sometimes women9 with a re!utation for good Judgement& di!lomacy& and the ability to stri1e a good
bargain& who acted on behalf of a ho!eful bride or bridegroom to secure a fitting and worthy s!ouse. /ee Gregor& .ote$ on
the FolL-Bore of the .orth-:a$t of @cotlan& 1KK1& !L#5LF? X /Villeabh,in& Iri$h FolL C-$tom an Belief& 1LH%& !#H? *anaher& In
Irelan Bong Ago& 1LH2& !1F%51FK.
H# Glassie& <a$$ing the Time Ball%menone2 C-lt-re an Gi$tor% of an Ml$ter Comm-nit%& 1LK2& !HG.
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com!leC:and at times& difficult:when com!ared with cultures who have never had their !re5
Christian s!iritual traditions so damaged. 6n this modern era& what we generally seem to have are
three things that can ma1e u! an elder or Nlder& and sometimes we can only fill a !osition that
needs an Nlder by having a few !eo!le who fit each of these categories collaborate to bring a
fuller !icture to the community>
• The most obvious Nlders are our elderly !eo!le 8Grand!arents and Great5Grand!arents9
who grew u! with some degree of tradition. 6deally& they s!ea1 a Gaelic language and
1now a significant number of songs and tales. 3ore often& the elderly members of our
eCtended families only remember a few customs& songs and tales& and only a few words
and !hrases in the language. They may have been raised with some Bfairy faithB=creieamh
$F customs& but !robably not as com!lete !olytheists. 3any of our elderly relatives were
raised Christian or without any formal religion at all. An elderly relative with only a small
degree of inherited cultural traditions is a ty!e of elder& and deserving of our res!ect and
attention& even if they donAt have the full& cultural and ceremonial Nlder status of the
former.
• ;e have our friends& members and allies who are cultural wor1ers& who may or may not
be elderly& but who are fluent in the languages and have vast 1nowledge of the songs and
traditions& though they may not be !racticing !olytheists. These are our Bculture5bearersB
and deserve our highest res!ect& no matter their age.
• ;e have our members who are middle5aged and retirement5aged who have inherited
s!iritual gifts and been immersed in s!iritual wor1 and community since they were very
young. Eaving not been born into a thoroughly !olytheistic lifeway& these members of our
community have s!ent decades studying& learning through eC!erience& fulfilling
leadershi! roles in community& and wor1ing to restore the foundations of Gaelic
Polytheism for the generations to come.
;e also have the chec1s5and5balances of eCtended family& and a circle and networ1 of
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friends and relatives who ma1e u! the community we are accountable to. ;e 1now that without
consensus& teamwor1& the chec1s5and5balances !rovided by true !eers& and the feedbac1 only
found by living in community& even Nlders can ma1e mista1es. No one stands outside the circle?
all are accountable.
3ost modern GP grou!s are luc1y if they get one !erson from each of these categories
who& by wor1ing together as a team& can ma1e a go of it. Gaol Naofa has been luc1y in this area&
and we dee!ly value our members and networ1 of advisers who fulfil the role of Nlders in our
community.
1ee also> 1i$conce5tion$> BI wa$ in a 3iccan co&en for three %ear$ an tooL m% thir
egree $o I am an :ler now.B an" 1i$conce5tion$> BI8m fift% now. I8m an :ler.B
2o3 important is famil) an" communit) 3ithin Gaelic #ol)theism/
-amily:in all its diverse and eCtended forms:is the most im!ortant and fundamental
unit of Gaelic Polytheism and of society in general& and our eCtended families 8of birth or choice9
deserve loyalty& duty& honour& and concern. As honour and mutual res!ect are core values for our
communities& families and communities must also hold their members accountable for their
actions. (oyalty to our 1in and allies& and !rotection of our communities& demands that we do not
acce!t unethical or abusive behaviour& even 8and es!ecially9 from our own.
Community ensures the !reservation and continuation of our cultural& historic& and
s!iritual heritage& and it is the medium through which such things are eC!ressed. A Gaelic
community is rooted firmly within the cultural institutions& traditions& religion& values& and
conce!tions of the Gaelic !eo!le. Culture is honoured as that which !rovides not only cohesion
but collective strength and coo!eration& and it is that which bestows our identity and that which
defines us. Community ensures the !reservation and continuation of our cultural& historic& and
s!iritual heritage& and it is the medium through which such things are eC!ressed.
;hile we believe that good community can be found through online corres!ondence& we
do thin1 in5!erson communities are crucial for those who want or !lan to lead ceremony. There
are some things about wor1ing with s!irits and s!iritual energies that are very hard to learn on
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oneAs own& and sometimes not safe to wor1 with on oneAs own. Thus& in5!erson community is
safer and better.
2o3 are these famil) groups organi9e"/
Gaelic Polytheists who worshi! as a family 8or as a grou! of families& or an eCtended
family of close friends9 may decide to form their own fellowshi!s called 1indreds& households&
hearths& or their bilingual e<uivalents. A common name for such family5based grou!s is the lFon-tF
or fine. These grou!s are autonomous and tend to be more !rivate in their affairs? one is usually
invited to Join rather than !etitioning for membershi!. ;hile these grou!s may be !rivate&
members may be very active in the !ublic s!here or greater community. These finte will often
have their own traditions& rites& and a!!roaches that they share as an eCtended family. A house5
head& usually the man or woman of the household or !erha!s an elder& leads or facilitates the
familyAs religious activities such as the householdAs daily or wee1ly devotions and the observance
of the seasonal celebrations.
1o )ou "on6t allo3 room for solitaries/
Pes we do. ;hile Gaol Naofa is very much focused on community and eCtended family&
and we encourage !eo!le to !rioritise these things in their lives& we recognise that there are also
members who are forced into solitary !ractice due to geogra!hical isolation& or because their
family and friends do not share their beliefs or ideals. /ometimes an individual may !refer to
eC!ress their s!irituality in an individual manner and that is acce!table& though we do encourage
them to connect with the broader GP community for mental health reasons. As discussed above&
there are some activities that are not a!!ro!riate to do in isolation. .ight now there are very few
Gaelic Polytheist grou!s bigger than a family. ;hile we have the living cultures and some of us
have fol1loric survivals in our families of origin& as a s!iritual lifeway& contem!orary GP is still
becoming established.
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2o3 can 0 inclu"e m) chil"7chil"ren in m) practice/
As the foundations of our Gaelic Polytheist (ifeway 8Ar Dòigh-Beatha Ioma-Dhiahach
!h"ihealach = @r nD#igh Bheatha Iliach i$ !aelach9 are built on eCtended& multi5generational family
and community& we encourage you to include your children in our s!iritual and cultural
traditions. As a cultural tradition& Gaelic Polytheism is very child5friendly. /ome of our traditions
even survive most strongly in childrenAs culture:being remembered as games and su!erstitions
even when they had fallen into disuse among most adults. ;hile younger children are not
usually interested in the more solemn as!ects of religious !ractice that demand a great deal of
concentration 8silent vigils& long !rayers or eCtended meditations9 they can easily be included in
cultural traditions li1e childrenAs divination games and rhymes& the ma1ing of sim!le offerings to
the 1inder s!irits who are fond of children& as well as storytelling& singing& and learning
traditional music and dance. Nncouraging your children to learn a Gaelic language is an eCcellent
thing you can do for cultural !reservation. Children !ic1 u! language easier than do adults& and
multilingual children are not only a gift to our community and our communityAs future& but
language ac<uisition will hel! them have strong& fleCible minds that will serve them well in all
as!ects of their lives.
There are <uite a few festival traditions which traditionally include children& often in
!rominent roles> the girlsA !rocession and decorating the Crie#g at 6mbolc& the biddy boys&
mumming& C-achaillF t-F 8Bstraw5boysB9& choosing the 3ay 7ueen& etc. .ites of !assage were
im!ortant to our ancestors& and can be revived now with coming of age ceremonies such as the
!resenting of first arms& and reaching the age where a youth can tend the all5night bonfires and
bring in the 3ay with the other young adults.
Pounger children often enJoy hel!ing out with crafting and can be included in ma1ing
festive decorations& the cro$ BrFe at 6mbolc and the carving of turni!s at /amhain& for eCam!le.
Coo1ing and ba1ing is also something that many children enJoy hel!ing out with& so they can be
involved in the festive !re!arations as well. These !re!arations can include churning your own
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butter together and encouraging your children to call for the lum!s to come&
HF
ma1ing cheese
8such as crowdie9& and all 1inds of traditional ba1ed goods that are !o!ular festive treats. As
story5telling and song is a large !art of festivals and Gaelic tradition& telling your children stories
and teaching them sim!le songs can also serve as an eCcellent way to include them& as can ma1ing
offerings together. ;e believe children learn by eCam!le& in community& and should be included
in all activities that are a!!ro!riate for their level of ability and understanding.
(i1e adults& some 1ids are more sensitive to the s!irits and more interested in ceremony
than others. ;e are a community that values the sight&
HH
and those who have inherited it. ;e
1now that life in mainstream& materialistic culture can be very difficult for the s!iritually gifted.
Therefore we must ta1e res!onsibility for noticing which children carry these gifts& who have an
a!titude for ceremonial wor1& and ma1e sure they receive the su!!ort and guidance they need.
Do 0 ha5e to ha5e chil"ren to be a Gaelic #ol)theist/
0f course not. ;hile we value our eCtended families and the neCt generations& there is no
re<uirement to give birth to or ado!t anyone to be a member of our community. /ome of us in the
Gaol Naofa community have young children& others have grown children and grandchildren& and
some of us serve the younger generations and the cultural continuum through teaching&
mentoring& and being aunties and uncles to the children in our eCtended families. 0ur ancestorsA
communities included !eo!le who were sworn to religious duties that too1 !recedence over
giving birth and raising babies& as well as !eo!le who fostered in the children of relatives and
community members to teach them a trade or s1ill. ;hile those who have never raised children of
their own are usually in the minority com!ared to householders& they also hold a valued and
sacred !lace in the eCtended family and community.
HF The Carmina !aelica includes some butter churning rhymes& and you can find 6rish eCam!les in )evin *anaherAs The Oear
in Irelan. There are also websites where you can listen to them being sung& such as here.
HH An " $heallah 8G+idhlig9> Bthe two sightsB? often referred to as Bsecond sight.B Tradition dictates this is a gift !eo!le are
born with& not something they learn.
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%re there an) "ifferent paths 3ithin Gaelic #ol)theism/
Absolutely. Gaelic Polytheistic !ractice !resents itself in various forms& and these can often
overla! one another since the !ractice of one !ath might include the study or inclusion of another.
Gaelic Polytheists are not eC!ected to choose a !articular !ath& but might find that their !ractices
naturally fall under one or more of the following sub5headings& which can form useful
terminology in describing your own focus and interests when tal1ing to others>
• 2earth;eeper> -ocuses on the house& the family& the hearth& and all the householding
and=or homesteading activities that lie within. Can include learning !rayers and songs that
accom!any daily tas1s& and leading household rituals for eCtended family.
• 2ealer> 6ncludes the !ractice of traditional fol1 magic and fol1 healing to aid family and
community? can also include midwifery and !rofessionals who serve the community with
advanced medical s1ills.
• %rtisan> 6ncludes things li1e metalsmithing and Jewellery& weaving and dyeing& 1nitting&
or woodwor1ing& as well as music:whether !laying and=or singing.
• M)stic> 6ncludes !aths and gifts li1e filiecht 8Gaeilge& B!oetry? divinationB9& filiheach
8G+idhlig& B!oetryB9& an " $heallah 8G+idhlig& Bthe two sightsB
H%
9& fDihea#ireacht 8Gaeilge&
B!ro!hecy? divinationB9? f"i$neach 8G+idhlig& BforetellingB9? Cean fea$a 8Gaeilge& Bwise
womanB9& fer-oCCee=Cen-oCCee 8Gaelg& Bwise5man=womanB9& etcetera.
• -arrior> -ocuses on things li1e traditional Gaelic martial arts and self5defence& self5
disci!line& and being ready and willing to lay oneAs life on the line to defend the
community. (i1e the Fianna this !ath might include things li1e !oetry as well. Public
service:whether in the actual military or through occu!ations li1e law enforcement&
firefighters& N3As& search and rescue& etcetera:would fall under this focus as well.
• !itual7Ceremonial 1pecialist> /tudying to s!ecialise in ceremonial wor1 is a sort of !ath&
but not com!letely& as often itAs more traditional for ceremonies to be led by the head of the
H% Note> tradition dictates this is a gift !eo!le are born with& not something they learn.
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household& and for community celebrations to be led by a team of officiants& !referably
Nlders. Eowever& focusing oneAs study& !ractice and a!!renticeshi! on ritual forms& and
dedicating oneAs life to ceremonial wor1& is certainly a calling. (i1e the wor1 of the mystic&
it calls for certain inborn gifts& of both s!iritual and !sychic nature as well as good social
s1ills for wor1ing with grou!s. ;e would stress& however& all the things we have said
about the chec1s5and5balances in community& and leading a well5rounded life. Ceremonial
s!ecialists also need a grounding in a !rofession& to be res!ected by their communities&
and if they do eventually lead ceremonies they must be chosen for the role& and subJect to
all of the chec1s5and5balances we have em!hasised in this -A7. *ifferent ceremonial roles
have different names in the Gaelic languages& and are variable for the ty!e of ceremonies
the !erson carries.
• DraoC> 3ore a hard5earned title to as!ire to than one !articular !ath. Though some
modern commentators only refer to the raoFthe as ceremonial leaders& in reality they were
the educated& !rofessional class& and included scholars& medical !rofessionals& and others
who were the ancient e<uivalents of those who hold advanced doctorate degrees in the
relevant fields. 6ndeed& some of the old !oetic grades and titles for raoFthe are still used for
university !rofessors in !resent5day 6reland. ;or1ing towards becoming a raoF includes a
great deal of study& and a lifetime commitment to ac<uiring& maintaining& and teaching the
lore. 6t does not necessarily demand the inborn gifts of the mystic and ceremonial leader&
but !eo!le often eC!ect these things from those who are wor1ing to earn the title. At the
!resent time we do not believe anyone <ualifies for the full tile of raoF or druid 8according
to how we define the word9& though we do not discount the !ossibility of individuals
being able to have such a title conferred on them at some !oint in the future. nli1e the
other !aths listed here& one can endeavour to achieve such a status as raoF& but it is not a
title that is claimed? rather it is conferred on the individual by the Nlders and other long5
term& eC!erienced members of the living community.
• 1ruith 8/engo'delc& Belder? sageB9> (i1e raoF& this is not a !ath that can be chosen& but
rather a title that can be earned over decades of contributing !ositively to the community&
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serving as a !ositive role model& and demonstrating that one !ossesses wisdom and
1nowledge of language& custom& song and tales& and the trusted !osition of a ceremonial
leader and=or advisor in the community.
• Ceremonial Tea Ma;er> a1a <rie$t9e$$ of the Coffee& <-r&e%or of the @cone$. 0h& 0)& we made
this bit u!. 4ut seriously& not everyone involved in our Gaol Naofa community is
dedicated to serious religious !ractice. 3ost of us have some members of our eCtended
families and circles of friends who share an interest in Gaelic culture& and who attend
cultural events with us& but donAt necessarily want to !ray or do religious ceremonies. ;e
also have members and allies who& while ha!!y to !artici!ate in religious observances& are
more comfortable in a su!!ort role. ;hether these members of our community serve
mostly through hearth1ee!er and hos!itality tas1s& 1ee!ing us all fed and warm& or
!erforming bac1u! in other ways& we honour and value their !artici!ation&
com!anionshi! and in!ut. ;ithout them& we couldnAt do what we do.
1ee also> Rit-al an <ractice Q-e$tion$> B3ho are the :ler$7B4 Theological Q-e$tion$> B@o %o- g-%$
on8t refer to %o-r$el&e$ a$ Dr-i$7B an" !eneral Q-e$tion$> BI$ learning an% of the !aelic lang-age$
a re;-irement for !aelic <ol%thei$m7B
0s magic an acceptable practice in Gaelic #ol)theism/
Traditional Gaelic fol15magic is most certainly welcomed? however& New Age& eclectic
Neo!agan& and other non5Gaelic conce!ts and !ractices li1e Ceremonial 3agic& 0ccultism&
;itchcraft& ;icca:and its numerous sub5traditions:are most certainly not a !art of Gaelic
Polytheism nor Gaol Naofa.
1ee also> 1i$conce5tion$> BI$n8t 3itchcraft the $ame thing a$ folL-magic7
Doe$n8t that mean %o- call %o-r$elf 3itche$7B
Do 0 nee" to practice fol; magic or "i5ination in or"er to be a Gaelic #ol)theist/
No& many Gaelic Polytheists live their lives Just fine without delving into the mystical side
of our traditions& and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. -ol15magic and divination are
not for everyone& and if you choose not to engage in these !ractices that does not ma1e your value
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in the community any less than those who do.
-hat is flameten"ing/ Does Gaol .aofa ha5e a flameten"ing or"er/
6n medieval )ildare& 6reland& nineteen nuns dedicated their lives to tending a sacred&
cloistered flame in honour of /t. 4rigid. Nach nun too1 a turn to tend the flame for the duration of
a day& and on the twentieth day the flame was left for 4rigid herself to tend it. After that day& the
cycle would re!eat itself with each nun ta1ing a turn to tend the flame& and so on. At no !oint was
a man allowed to enter this cloister where the sacred flame was 1e!t and tended to by the nuns? to
do so might !ut that manAs very life in danger.
HK
3any !olytheists believe this !ractice to be a
remnant of a !re5Christian !ractice& much li1e the Oestal Oirgins of ancient .ome who tended a
sacred& cloistered flame in honour of Oesta& and which also had the same sti!ulations on men.
The sacred flame of 4rigid was re1indled on 6mbolc 1LLG in )ildare by 3ary Teresa Cullen
of the 4rigidine /isters and has been tended ever since at /olas 4hride. ;omen have travelled to
6reland to light candles from this flame& and over the years it has been <uietly !assed from
woman to woman& !rimarily among women sworn to 4rigid. 6n 200H& a !er!etual flame was also
lit in the town s<uare in )ildare. 3any !olytheists view tending a flame as a means to honour
4rigid& and numerous AordersA have !o!!ed u! over the years.
6n Gaol Naofa we honour multi!le manifestations of the -lame of 4rigid. 3any of us see it
as threefold:the cloistered flame& the hearth flame& and the festival flame> The cloistered flame is
for women only 8and !referably& women who are considered BvirginB by ancient 6rish standards9.
The hearth flame is usually tended by women& but is not off5limits to men if that man !re!ares
food for his household and attends to other hearth5related activities? unli1e the cloistered flame&
there are no 1nown dangers to men who ta1e on this householder& hearth1ee!er role. The third is
the festival flame& which is lit by whichever individual or grou! is a!!ro!riate for that !articular
ceremony or gathering. ;e view the flame that now burns in the town s<uare of )ildare to be a
HK Giraldus CambrensisA To5ogra5hia GiCernie 8trans. Phili! -reeman9& in )och and CareyAs The Celtic Geroic Age& 1LLF& !2H%5
2HK. /ee also !F# of this !df.
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ty!e of festival flame& as it has been lit in a !ublic situation that is not limited to women.
HL
;hile some of the women in Gaol Naofa are sworn flametenders& we are not currently
s!onsoring an official flametending order. ;hile you may find your way to an order through
your friendshi!s in Gaol Naofa& our discussion of these matters with !eo!le we do not 1now in
!erson will be very limited. 4eyond the very basic !rinci!les& discussions about flametending
ha!!en only among the women who carry this commitment in our communities.
Do 0 have to ten" a flame in or"er to honour Frigi"/
No. A lot of !eo!le seem to thin1 that flametending is the Bonly true wayB to honour or
connect with 4rigid& but this is sim!ly untrue. 6f you limit your eC!osure to her based solely on
the fact that you thin1 you nee to tend a flame& you are missing out on Just how multifaceted and
vast 4rigid is.
-here "oes Gaol .aofa stan" on male flameten"ing/
Gaol Naofa believes that female and male are both e<ual in that they are both able to
create& define& and !rove their worth& status& and value amongst their !eers& and by the fact that
there eCists in nature nothing which would su!!ort the notion that one gender is su!erior or
inferior to the other.
;hile we o!!ose any o!!ression based on gender or seCual identity& and do not subscribe
to rigid gender roles 8es!ecially in cases where it is clear such things were based only on
seCism9&
%0
we also honour our ancestorsA wisdom. ;ith such wisdom in mind& as well as what we
have confirmed through our own eC!eriences& Gaol Naofa ac1nowledges that there can be
s!iritual differences between women and men& as well as s!iritual differences between !eo!le at
different stages in life& or of different vocations. 6n ceremony& there are many basic !ractices that
are o!en to !eo!le of any gender and any age. Eowever& there are also some ceremonial roles that
HL -or more on this& see B4reath of (ife> The Tri!le -lame of 4rigidB by )athryn Price Nic*h+na and Treasa N'
Chonchobhair.
%0 ;hich is not the case with flametending.
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should only be filled by !articular ty!es of !eo!le for a ceremony to wor1 !ro!erly. Gender& age&
and fertility 8or lac1 thereof9 are Just some of the factors that can determine who is or is not
a!!ro!riate to fulfill such roles. Gaol Naofa recognises& res!ects& and is dedicated to !reserving
these sacred ceremonial roles and s!aces& and that includes the sacred role of flametending.
;e are therefore committed to maintaining this tradition of flame1ee!ing as a womenAs
rite& as both the historical and living traditions show it to be. ;e believe that while men can
worshi! 4rigid and honour her in many different ways& tending the cloistered flame as !art of an
order is a s!iritual vocation that is traditionally forbidden for men to Join& and it is with res!ect
for such tradition that we have based our views on this matter:Just li1e any other matter that
informs our !ractice. To enter the enclosure where the !er!etual flame is 1e!t is !otentially
dangerous for men.
%1
;hile the nuns of )ildare have now also lit a !ublic flame in the town
s<uare&
%2
the nuns themselves are still an all5women order. 6t is in this s!irit& in res!ecting the
living and ancient tradition of !riestesses& as well as the safety of our members& that we 1ee! this
inner circle for women only. 6n some cases men have !rovided a su!!orting role for women
flametenders& but that does not mean that they have entered the enclosure or tended the flame
themselves.
0sn6t opposing male flameten"ers a sub:ugation an" hatre" of men4 or members of
the >GFT communit)/
No. ;e do not hate men or anyone in the (G4T community& nor do we see1 to o!!ress
either. This <uestion is es!ecially silly and surreal as there are members of diverse seCual
orientations and gender eC!ressions on our Council& and !artici!ating in writing this -A7.
*isagreeing with anotherAs ta1e on tradition does not e<ual hate or o!!ression. ;hen women
gather with other women to carry on a tradition of women5only ceremonies:es!ecially when itAs
a grou! of women that includes lesbian and biseCual women:we hardly see that as being
%1 Sec. 90 From Giraldus Cambrenis' Topgraphia Hibernie
%2 ;e see this flame in the !ublic s<uare as an eCam!le of the festival or community flame. 6t is blessed by the cloistered
flame& and connected to it& yet different. ;e feel maintaining the boundaries and sanctity of the cloistered flame is !art of
what gives the community and hearth flames their !owers.
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o!!ressive to the (G4T community.
;e are not infringing on anyoneAs freedom to hold their own o!inions or beliefs& neither
are we enforcing our way on anyone. ;e do not go around threatening or badgering miCed5
gender grou!s.
%G
;e do not wish ill on those who believe men can tend the cloistered flame& or
those who are male and tend some 1ind of fire. ;eAve stated our !osition& and have no desire to
waste our energy on BflamewarsB and drama on the subJect. 6t is our calm but firm decision to
u!hold the surviving Gaelic tradition of women5only flametending. 6n this Gaol Naofa is
staunchly traditional& and as such& our only flamtenders are women& and only our women
members are involved in develo!ing material for flametenders.
%#
That being said& while we su!!ort menAs right to worshi! 4rigid in culturally a!!ro!riate
ways& and to wor1 together and=or with women who want to collaborate with them on other
traditional celebrations& we will not acce!t members who advocate for Bmale flametenders&B nor
will we tolerate our flametenders being bullied by men or those who thin1 men should be
allowed in womenAs sanctuaries against the will of the women.
Perha!s instead of attem!ting to model a grou! for men on a womenAs order& the men
need to loo1 to what the orders of mon1s at Cill *ara and other monasteries did while the nuns
tended the flame. 0ne of the things that has ha!!ened as some men have demanded to violate
tradition and insert themselves into womenAs traditions& is the actual traditions of menAs worshi!
of 4rigid have been neglected. ;e would li1e to see men researching and restoring menAs
traditions& such as the !articular ceremonies where men built the need5fire for certain festivals.
A modern a!!roach that has also been ta1en is for men to discuss how they can su!!ort
and defend womenAs s!ace& how they can !atrol the boundaries 8both !hysically and
meta!hysically9 so women can focus on this wor1& or how they can ta1e over household duties
for women who need to focus on a flametending commitment.
%F
%G The world has not eC!loded because those grou!s eCist& but we do not view these grou!s as reconstructionist or
traditional. ;e also do not ac1nowledge them as orders or flametenders.
%# And with the eC!ress understanding that the material is to be used by women only.
%F /ee B4reath of (ife> The Tri!le -lame of 4rigidB by )athryn Price Nic*h+na and Treasa N' Chonchobhair.
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-hat are Gaol .aofa6s feelings about the participation of trans3omen in
flameten"ing rituals/
;e donAt have a 1nown& historical& Gaelic !recedent for this when it comes to
flametending. 6n fact& whether there were ever !eo!le who were what we might see as
transgender or transseCual today:who eC!ressed their gender as other than that of the seC they
were assigned at birth& and who were acce!ted by the community as such:is not something we
really 1now. Any historical arguments that might be made on the matter would therefore be !ure
s!eculation& or based on the ways of non5Gaelic cultures.
%H
0ur feelings& as a welcoming community that ta1es a firm stance against bigotry&
intolerance and discrimination& are that any (G4T7 !eo!le who are in accordance with our
!rinci!les and values are of course welcome as full members of Gaol Naofa. ;e are firmly against
the o!!ression of (G4T7 !eo!le& and dedicated to !roviding safe& sacred s!ace for all the
members of our community. The Gaol Naofa Council& and Gaol Naofa as a whole& contains !eo!le
of a variety of orientations and gender eC!ressions& and we understand and a!!reciate that issues
of orientation and identification can be com!leC. ltimately& it is not for us to s!eculate on 8or
Judge9 another !ersonAs orientation or gender identity& and as such we do not feel it is the role of
the Gaol Naofa council to decide who is and isnAt a woman.
Gaol Naofa does not officially s!onsor any flametending organisation. ;e see
flametending orders as sovereign and inde!endent& and any issues of membershi! in a small&
intimate grou! li1e a flametending cill are determined by the women who run and !artici!ate in
that cill.
-hat about the Fi"") Fo)s/ Do festi5als that inclu"e cross8"ressing pro5i"e a
basis for male flameten"ers/
0ccasionally cross5dressing for a !arty or festival is not the same as being raised as& and
%H The living cultures with which we are familiar see transgender !eo!le as having sacred& ceremonial roles that are highly
res!ected& but different from those of women or men. ;hile these cross5cultural com!arisons are interesting& and could
serve as food for thought for modern inventions& we canAt assume our ancestors !racticed the same way.
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living oneAs life as& that gender. These male cross5dressing !erformances were 8and are9 grotes<ue
caricatures of women& done for BcomedicB !ur!oses& and not a sincere or res!ectful attem!t to live
oneAs life as a female.
Cross5dressing a!!ears to be a !art of (, -hMile 4r'de celebrations in !arts of the south
and west of 6reland in the form of 4iddy 4oys 8raucous young males in !arodies of womenAs garb&
confronting !eo!le in the streets9.
%%
A few Neo!agans have tried to Justify the inclusion of men in
flametending orders based on this& but here we must strongly disagree. This sort of aggressive
!arody has nothing to do with s!iritual& cloistered flametending among women. 6t sim!ly
confirms that men are indeed included in some of the community celebrations and activities
associated with (, -hMile 4r'de.
6n the Christian era& many gender5variant men have become !riests and mon1s. ;e donAt
1now as much about what !receded these Christian orders& but it would ma1e sense that gentle
men who wanted to !ursue s!iritual life together would have found one another !rior to the
Christian era. This is also very different from aggressive males in the streets !arodying women.
-hat is cultural appropriation/ 2o3 can 0 a5oi" it/
;e run across cultural a!!ro!riation a good bit in todayAs ;estern society. ;esterners
who lac1 being brought u! in a culture:save that of modernism:often search for one to ado!t
and this is not always handled well. 3ore often than not& it means that indigenous cultures are
!illaged and ra!ed for what they can offer non5cultural ;esterners. Cultural a!!ro!riation is the
deliberate:though sometimes unintentional:act of cultural ac<uisition without actually being a
member of that culture. 6t is ta1ing cultural and s!iritual !ro!erty without the !ermission of the
cultureAs Nlders& without !artici!ation in the chec1s and balances that govern healthy s!iritual
community and without even understanding the dee!er meanings and uses of this cultural
!ro!erty. 6t is a crime of ignorance& hubris& !rivilege& and disres!ect. A few eCam!les are non5
Native Neo!agans who hold sweat lodges by and for non5Natives& or smudge with sage or
%% *anaher& The Oear in Irelan& 1L%2& !2%.
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sweetgrass& or who mimic1 other Native ceremonies such as !i!e ceremony. Gaol Naofa views
cultural a!!ro!riation as cultural theft and a variety of racism.
Gaol NaofaAs relationshi! with the living Gaelic cultures differs greatly from that of
cultural theft. ;e do not remove !ieces from those cultures and use them out of conteCt or in a
foreign way. 6n a world full of !eo!le cashing in on !resenting non5Celtic ways as Celtic&
%K
Gaol
Naofa wor1s diligently on !reserving the traditions and ways of the Gaels. ;e donAt sla! a
shamroc1& 1notwor1& an Aran sweater& or tartan on something foreign and call it Gaelic&
%L
we get
involved in and give bac1 to the living Gaelic communities in various ways& and we firmly believe
in cultural sovereignty and cultural integrity.
Cultural a!!ro!riation can be avoided by being aware of what one is doing. Never ta1e
something on face value& always do your own research and find out where ideas and !ractices
originated. -or more on issues of cultural a!!ro!riation and racism& and how these things affect
our communities& !lease see the CA0.ANN website.
0 li5e in %merica (or Cana"a*L is it o;a) to approach local spirits in the 3a)s of
.ati5e peoples/
That de!ends. Are you a solid member of a traditional community of 6ndigenous !eo!le
8i.e.& a member of the family9 and able to learn from the Nlders of that NationD Are you aware of&
living with& and res!ecting& all the chec1s and balances eC!ected of !eo!le !artici!ating in the
s!iritual life of that communityD 6f so& you 1now who you are su!!osed to as1 about this& and we
strongly suggest you res!ect what they have to say about it.
6f you are not living as a contributing& trusted member of an in5!erson& land5based&
6ndigenous community& if your idea of how Native !eo!le of your area honour the s!irits is based
on things youAve read in boo1s or on the 6nternet& then we strongly urge you to tread with
caution. (isten to the s!irits& yes& but res!ect what the living humans who have maintained these
%K "ust read anything ever !ublished by (lewellyn on so5called BCelticB subJects... or better yet& donAt. /!end your money on
something better.
%L Nor do we attem!t to misre!resent tradition by bastardising it. 1ee also> Rit-al an <ractice Q-e$tion$> B3here oe$ !aol
.aofa $tan on male flametening7=
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ways& and who have lived their whole lives with these !articular s!irits& have to say about it. 6f
you were not raised traditionally in a Native community& you do not have the cultural conteCt to
understand what the s!irits of that culture are saying to you& if they are s!ea1ing to you at all? nor
do you 1now enough about those s!irits to 1now if they have your best interests at heart. 6f you
form real& mutual friendshi!s with traditional !eo!le and get to 1now members of their
6ndigenous community over a !eriod of years& maybe some of them will eventually give you
feedbac1 on what you are eC!eriencing. 4ut itAs also !ossible they will not& and if BnoB is the
answer& you need to res!ect that or the rest of us will lose res!ect for you.
/ome members of the Gaol Naofa council have Native American relatives& and the
CA0.ANN council and networ1 of advisors includes Native American and -irst Nations friends
and colleagues who are enrolled members of traditional communities.
K0
/o we are !retty
concerned that this be handled res!ectfully. 6n general& what we have learned is it is always best
to follow the ways of oneAs own ancestors& with the only eCce!tion being that itAs not a good idea
to do things for the s!irits that are offensive to the local land s!irits. ;hile anyone can !ray and
ma1e offerings based on what we have outlined in this -A7 and on the GN website& we believe
most things about ceremony need to be learned in community. 6f you are a trusted member of the
Gaol Naofa community& you will have the o!!ortunity to get some feedbac1 on these matters.
/ee B)6((P0AN*NATP0] 0r& A ;ell56ntentioned CeltAs Guide to Non5Celtic
4ioregionsB by .aven nic .h2is'n and )athryn Price Nic*h+na& which also gives some !ointers
on how to communicate with your local land s!irits and not die.
K1
Do )ou allo3 room for s)ncretism/
/ince !rehistoric times the Gaels have come into contact with many different cultures
through trade lin1s& travel or colonialism and con<uest:either directly 8through .oman traders
and Christian missionaries& for eCam!le9 or indirectly 8from the goods that traders or missionaries
from distant lands may have brought with them9& but over the centuries and millennia only a few
K0 /ee CA0.ANN 5 Celts Against 0!!ression& .acism and Neo5NaIism.
K1 htt!>==www.!aganachd.com=articles=1illyouandeatyou.html
++ of 98 www.gaolnaofa.com
of these cultures have had any lasting effect on the worldview& ceremonies and lifeways of the
Gaels.
;e res!ect our distant ancestors who& through intermarriage with other !eo!les& saw
ada!tations to their traditional lifeways ta1e !lace gradually& over many generations. ;hile we
see1 to 1ee! our !ractices as traditional as !ossible& if there is a centuries5old& established
ceremony our /cottish ancestors did for what may have originally been a Norse s!irit& for
eCam!le&
K2
we do not feel a need to root those things out and discard them.
KG
Eowever& maintaining traditional ways that we have inherited from our ancestors is
com!letely different from the modern eclecticism of the New Age or the ahistorical syncretisms of
many Neo!agan Btraditions.B 3odern& eclectic grou!s 8even some who !rofess Celtic interests9
usually consist of !eo!le who have little to no cultural connection to any of the cultures
concerned& or who sim!ly donAt care about !reserving the traditions intact. Thus they attem!t to
miC ceremonies and s!irits from a variety of unrelated cultures. This is Bsalad bar s!irituality&B the
o!!osite of Gaol NoafaAs focus and guiding !rinci!les. The matter is sometimes further confused
when some !eo!le mista1enly call their eclectic combinations syncretism.
3odern& non5historical syncretisms where assimilation is rationally !lanned and forced
are not considered acce!table or welcome within Gaol Naofa. Therefore& while established Norse&
and some 4rythonic and even .oman historical syncretisms might be acce!table to maintain&
K#
others such as B)emetic5Gaelic PolytheismB are not.
;hen we say Bnon5historicalB we are referring to those who get hy!hen ha!!y and come
u! with oCymorons li1e Eindu5C.& Celtic54uddhism& /hinto5C.& Oedic5Celts& )emetic5Gaelic&
Greco5Gaelic& or BC. ;iccanB to describe their !ath. ;hile the mainstream of the Neo!agan
community may be <uite welcoming of these things& it is ina!!ro!riate for those in
K2 -or eCam!le& Pule traditions in /cotland are Norse in origins& with a Gaelic belief miCed in. /ee> -. 3arian 3cNeillAs The
@il&er Bo-gh Hol-me III& 1LH1.
KG Though& of course& not everyone will choose to !ractice those !articular ceremonies& either. -or instance& they may live
nowhere near an ocean and never ma1e offerings to ocean s!irits& so itAs not really relevant.
K# Although generally s!ea1ing .oman and 4rythonic syncretisms would be more a!!ro!riate in a /cottish Gaelic rather
than 6rish conteCt& if they even have relevance to the Gaelic ways at this !oint in time.
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reconstructionist communities li1e Gaol Naofa.
;e would also include those who attem!t to !artici!ate dee!ly in more than one lifeway
in this. The Gaels did not set aside their beliefs on one day of the wee1 in order to !ractice
another set of beliefs? instead& from the evidence we have we see that where another culture
began to overla! with the Gaelic& beliefs or !ractices from the outside culture were either reJected
or ado!ted into a Gaelic worldview 8e.g.& some Norse !ractices and s!irits as they are found in
/cottish Gaelic culture9. -rom a reconstructionist or traditional !oint of view& then& 1ee!ing two
8or more9 different religious !ractices se!arate from each other in order to !ractice a Bdual5!athB
is not ta1ing into consideration historical !ractices or attitudes. As long as we are not as1ed to do
something that violates our !rinci!les and vows& we can be !olite guests at the ceremonies of
friends and relatives& but to try to hold differing a!!roaches in oneAs head at once can ma1e
!eo!le craIy& !revent any de!th in either !ractice& and often lead to violating cultural gea$a.
KF
/ince Gaol Naofa views Gaelic Polytheism as a lifeway& we do not believe that we can
sim!ly set aside our worldview while we !ractice ceremonies from another culture& which may
have a com!letely different mindset& worldview and ceremonial !rotocols& since we would be
effectively setting aside a very !art of our own being.
Do )ou allo3 room for eclecticism/
No. As we consider ourselves to fall under the Celtic .econstructionist umbrella& which
itself began as a reaction against the ram!ant eclecticism that is !revalent in certain !arts of the
Neo!agan community&
KH
we do not allow for eclecticism within Gaol Naofa.
;hile longstanding& historical syncretisms that have come down to us over the
generations can be rooted within the !rinci!les of Gaelic Polytheism& the same cannot be said for
eclecticism 8or modern syncretisms9.
K%
6n our eC!erience& eclectic !ractitioners are far less
KF To reiterate> ;e are tal1ing about dedicating oneself to a dual5!ath here& or non5historical syncretisms in general? not
informal !artici!ation in another religionAs rituals& such as Joining in because we have been invited to in order to su!!ort
friends& !arta1e of a hostAs hos!itality& or learn about different beliefs for educational or outreach !ur!oses& or the li1e.
KH The CR FAQ: "So you're like clec!ic "eopagans or some!hing like !ha!#B
K% /uch as the Bhy!hen5ha!!yB salad bar list in Rit-al an <ractice Q-e$tion$2 =Do %o- allow room for $%ncreti$m7=
+9 of 98 www.gaolnaofa.com
concerned with the original historical or cultural conteCt of the elements they ado!t and ada!t
into a modern eclectic !ractice& and they are often unaware of the !otential !roblems of that
a!!roach. Combining bits of ceremonies outside of their cultural conteCts is not something that is
com!atible with a culturally5rooted tradition li1e Gaelic Polytheism. 0ne of the fundamental aims
of Gaol Naofa is to revive and !reserve a s!iritual lifeway that is rooted within the surviving
Gaelic cultural continuum and s!iritually invigorated by the !olytheistic beliefs of the Gaels.
6ncor!orating elements that are devoid of these Gaelic roots:and in some cases totally
antithetical to our own beliefs and !ractices:would result in something chaotic and confused
that would no longer be rooted within Gaelic tradition. ;e view eclectic a!!roaches falsely
labelled as Gaelic or Celtic to be a threat to Gaelic cultural survival.
6n addition to these considerations& we would also add that an eclectic a!!roach carries
with it a much greater ris1 of cultural a!!ro!riation 8whether inadvertent or not9& and this is
certainly something that we aim to avoid com!letely. 6t is hard enough to master the ways of one
cultureAs ceremonies. The ceremonial Nlders of living cultures donAt claim to have mastered every
single ceremony of their own communities& therefore we see it as hubristic to thin1 that a modern
!erson could suddenly ac<uire and master the ways of multi!le cultures& and somehow combine
them& des!ite all the theological conflicts and warnings of Nlders that that is not a sound thing to
attem!t. Gaelic Polytheism is not a BmiC and match& if it feels good& do itB s!irituality& and Gaol
Naofa certainly does not advocate such an a!!roach. ;e feel we have a duty to honour and
res!ect our gods and the culture they come from& and so for us& eclecticism is not com!atible with
those aims.
1ee also> Theological Q-e$tion$2 BDoe$ !aelic <ol%thei$m Corrow from other religion$ or c-lt-re$7B
-hat about 0nterfaith 3or;/
3embers of Gaol Naofa have been honoured to re!resent Gaelic Polytheism& and Gaol
Naofa& at interfaith events& offering !rayers in the Gaelic languages& and sharing common cause
with others who follow the traditional lifeways of their res!ective cultures. 6n these settings of
mutual res!ect we can share !rayer and good wishes with those of other faiths.
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;e believe that for res!ectful interfaith wor1 to be successful& each re!resentative needs to
be thoroughly rooted in their own culture& and !ro!erly authoriIed to re!resent that culture. This
is !articularly im!ortant for any 6ndigenous re!resentation> any teaching& !rayer or ceremony
from an 6ndigenous Traditional culture must only be led by an 6ndigenous Traditional
re!resentative& and one who is a member in good standing of the community they re!resent.
There are many frauds out there& and any re!resentatives must be a!!ointed by the community
they serve& not self5a!!ointed or chosen by outsiders to that 6ndigenous culture.
6ronically& we have also come across some eclectic dabblers on the 6nternet who
misre!resent themselves as Binterfaith ministersB? as these individuals are not rooted in any
cultural tradition& clearly they are misusing BinterfaithB to mean Beclectic.B 6n Gaol Naofa& we only
use BinterfaithB to describe gatherings of mutual res!ect where all re!resentatives are well5versed
in& and <ualified to re!resent& their own cultural traditions.
/ome of our strongest alliances have been formed through interfaith dialogue and wor1ing
as allies with s!iritual !eo!le who are also committed to !reserving the traditions of their
ancestors& and their successes and struggles continue to serve as an ins!iration to us.
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'isconceptions
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
There are people besi"es Gaol .aofa 3ho call themsel5es =Gaelic #ol)theists=.
Does e5er)one 3ho calls themsel5es G# or G!# ha5e the same beliefs an"
practices as Gaol .aofa/
6n this -A7 we are only s!ea1ing for Gaol Naofa and our Gaelic Polytheist (ifeway 8 Ar
Dòigh-Beatha Ioma-Dhiahach !h"ihealach = ,r nD#igh Bheatha Iliach i$ !aelach9. As is !robably
obvious from reading this& and our other materials& we have our beliefs about what it means to be
a modern Gaelic Polytheist& and these beliefs are not necessarily shared by everyone who calls
themselves a Gaelic Polytheist. ;e understand that:from the outside:it can all be very
confusing& but we can only s!ea1 for our own community and organisation& and define ourselves.
;hat we have written here in this -A7 is not necessarily a!!licable to other grou!s& es!ecially
considering the fact that some Gaelic Polytheist grou!s& families and individuals differ greatly in
their a!!roach when com!ared to our own beliefs and !ractices.
0sn6t Gaelic #ol)theism :ust the same thing as Drui"ism/ -hat about the
%5alonian tra"itions/
No. 3odern druidry or druidism is eC!ressed in many different ways today& but none of
these contem!orary a!!roaches have much to do with Gaol NaofaAs Gaelic Polytheist worldview
or !ractice. As we believe in carrying on the language& beliefs and customs of our ancestors& we
follow the definition of BdruidB as used by our ancestors:someone who& through decades of
study and service to an in5!erson community& is one of the most 1nowledgeable and s1illed
community leaders 8such as college !rofessors& medical doctors& and our ceremonial Nlders9. 3ost
82 of 98 www.gaolnaofa.com
of the Neo5druid
KK
grou!s you find today have radically redefined the word BdruidismB to mean
any sort of Celtic5ins!ired tradition that may have little to do with any actual Celtic beliefs or
traditions& and they usually redefine the word BdruidB to mean anyone with an interest in things
Celtic 8or 6ndo5Nuro!ean9. ;hile some of these modern Neo5druidic orders may have a study
!rogram of sorts& most re<uire very little in com!arison to the traditional way of earning this title.
3ost contem!orary Neo5druid orders either have their roots in the druidic .evival of the
eighteenth century& such as The 0rder of 4ards& 0vates and *ruids 8040*9 founded in Nngland&
or else they are direct reactions against these revivalist forms& such as @r n*ra'ocht -Min 8A*-9
and The Eenge of )eltria 8an offshoot of A*-9& both founded in America.
KL
;hile some Neo5
druid grou!s em!hasise a more historically accurate a!!roach than others 8for eCam!le&
eschewing the forgeries of 6olo 3organnwg& whose wor1s have been highly ins!irational and
influential in some revivalist grou!s9& most of these Neo5druid orders are firmly situated in
mainstream Neo!agan and New Age a!!roaches to ceremony:circle casting or a close
e<uivalent& elemental invocations& and=or the attitude that it is a!!ro!riate to try to command
deities by invo1ing& dismissing& and demanding things of them. None of this is com!atible with a
Gaelic Polytheist a!!roach. -urthermore& some Neo5druid grou!s are not necessarily even Celtic
in focus& let alone Gaelic.
The Avalonian grou!s started by "henah Telyndru 8/isterhood of Avalon9& 3ara -reeman
8Avalon 3ystery /chool9 and )athy "ones are based on the ;elsh Arthurian (egends& 3arion
^immer 4radleyAs fictional novel The 1i$t$ of A&alon& and some 4rythonic elements. They are
firmly rooted in a Neo!agan a!!roach with New Age Goddess5worshi! influences& and so as
with other Neo5druid grou!s their a!!roach is at odds with our own. Not being Gaelic in focus&
neither do they have any cultural relevance to our own !ractices 8and vice versa& we would
assume9.
Considering all this& we do not consider ourselves as having anything to do with modern
Neo5druid orders or !ractices.
KK $e use !his !erm as a shor!hand !o dis!inguish be!%een modern and his!orical &orms o& druidism. See "eo'druidism.
KL 4onewits& AThe *ruid .evival in 3odern America&A in The ReCirth of Dr-ir%& 1LLH& !K05KG.
8' of 98 www.gaolnaofa.com
1ee also> Theological Q-e$tion$> B@o %o- g-%$ on8t refer to %o-r$el&e$ a$ Dr-i$7B
%re )ou all =Celtic 1hamans=/
No. None of us consider ourselves to be BCeltic /hamans&B and we see the term as
thoroughly offensive.
Gaol Naofa views BshamanB and BshamanismB as referring to the s!ecific cultural !ro!erty
of the /iberian Tungus !eo!le& and therefore these are not a!!ro!riate descri!tions for anything
in Gaelic culture. 3any anthro!ologists and academics have used 8and in some cases still use9 the
word BshamanB as a broad generalisation to describe anyone& from any culture& who !erforms
what they thin1 is a similar function as the shaman of the /iberian Tungus !eo!le. This ty!e of
over5generalisation can only ha!!en when the maJority of the diverse cultures being lum!ed
together are only BunderstoodB in the most su!erficial or blatantly inaccurate sense. The term
BshamanismB has become so over5used& in both academia and the New Age milieu& that it has
become !ractically meaningless& being misa!!lied to the diverse s!iritual ways of many different
cultures without any regard for the significance and meaning of such !ractices on their own
terms.
0ur !roblem with such labels does not sto! there& however. 6n many Neo!agan and New
Age communities the idea of the BshamanB has been !o!ularised through the influential but
dee!ly offensive wor1 of 3ichael Earner and his BCore /hamanism&B in which Earner !osits that
there is a world5wide& universal a!!roach to wor1ing with s!irits& that can be used to run
ceremonies of any culture& no matter how com!letely different those cultures may be& and no
matter how much EarnerAs a!!roach may conflict with the actual beliefs and !ractices of that
culture. This is how ina!!ro!riate labels li1e BCeltic /hamanismB have come about. Earner has
misre!resented and misa!!ro!riated a variety of !ractices from different 6ndigenous cultures
8relying heavily on gross misre!resentation of Plains 6ndiansA traditions9& with the claim that
anyone who tal1s to s!irits is therefore a Bshaman&B regardless of what the actual !ractices are in
those cultures& what they are called in that cultureAs own language& and what the role of the
ceremonial !erson is in that uni<ue culture. This& to us& is a!!ro!riative& an act of cultural
8( of 98 www.gaolnaofa.com
colonisation& and therefore racist& and we do not wish to be associated with such behaviour. ;e
believe that sort of offensive lum!ing together can lead to cultural genocide& as the actual
traditions of a community fall into disuse& and are forgotten& only to be re!laced with something
totally foreign.
;hile there are certainly mystical as!ects to Gaelic tradition which might be considered
8by the anthro!ologists or cultural outsiders who use that over5generalisation9 to be BshamanicB in
nature& this does not ma1e it in any way the same thing as /iberian shamanism& nor does it
!rovide evidence that the raoF& fianna& fili& etc. !racticed Bshamanism.B ;e view the act of
deeming anyone who tal1s to the s!irits as a BshamanB to be grossly disres!ectful to our
traditions& to the traditions of the Tungus !eo!le& and to the ceremonial !eo!le of the diverse
cultures that are misre!resented and mimic1ed by those who claim such titles without any
consideration to cultural sovereignty& basic res!ect and human decency& or the harm that cultural
a!!ro!riation does to traditional s!iritual lifeways.
L0
BCeltic /hamanismB has absolutely no !lace
in Gaol Naofa.
1ee also> Rit-al an <ractice2 B3hat i$ c-lt-ral a55ro5riation7 Gow can I a&oi it7B an"
BI li&e in America Sor CanaaTU i$ it oLa% to a55roach local $5irit$ in the wa%$ of .ati&e 5eo5le$7B
0sn6t -itchcraft the same thing as fol;8magic/ Doesn6t that mean )ou call )ourself
-itches/
No. ;ithin Gaelic tradition& BwitchcraftB refers s!ecifically to malevolent and malicious
magic that is !erformed with the intent of harming or stealing from others. This might be through
the deliberate cursing of others to cause illness& bad luc1& miscarriage or loss? the raising of storms
to destroy cro!s& harm travellers or throw shi!s off course? or even the use of magic to 1ill the
innocent& and so on.
L1
;hat most !eo!le mean when they refer to fol1 magic is the traditional
!reserve of what we would call charmers or charm setters& s1illies& wise women or wise men& and
L0 The CA0.ANN website has !lenty of resources that are well worth reading.
L1 de 4lMcourt& AThe ;itch& Eer Oictim& The nwitcher and the .esearcher> The Continued Nvidence of Traditional
;itchcraft&A in de 4lMcourt& Eutton and la -ontaine& The Atholone Gi$tor% of 3itchcraft an 1agic Hol-me *2 The Twentieth
Cent-r%& 1LLL& !1F151F2? )iec1hefer& 1agic in the 1ile Age$& 1LKL& !10=!1L#? 4lac1& The !aelic 0therworl& 200F& !1%#?
3ac)enIie& !aelic Incantation$4 Charm$4 an Ble$$ing$ of the GeCrie$& 1KLF& !F.
8) of 98 www.gaolnaofa.com
the li1e 8commonly referred to as cunning fol1 in academia9.
L2
These are the !eo!le who ma1e
charms to heal& !rotect& !rocure good weather& find love& and even to counter5act witchcraft.
6t might be argued that these are sim!ly two sides of the same coin:blac1 and white
witchcraft:but this is not a conce!t that is found in Gaelic tradition& and therefore it is not
something that a!!lies to us.
LG
As such& we do not see BwitchcraftB as an a!!ro!riate term to use
for the 1ind of fol1 magic that is most commonly !racticed in a Gaelic Polytheist conteCt. The
belief in witchcraft:in its traditional meaning:is still alive today in many !arts of /cotland&
6reland& 3an and !oc1ets of the dias!ora& and therefore it cannot be seen to be a com!limentary
or desirable label to use.
L#
4earing all this in mind& we believe that to insist on using the terms BwitchcraftB and=or
BwitchB to refer to the !ractice and !ractitioners of fol15magic:which really falls under the wor1
of the charmer or charm5setter& s1illy& wise woman or wise man:disregards the beliefs and
traditions of our ancestors& and ris1s causing offence to the living cultures today. 6t could also be
seen as a slur on the re!utations of those of us who !ractice such fol1 magic as Gaelic Polytheists&
as well as those who have gone before us 8and from whose !ractices we are able learn from
today9. There are obviously some grey areas when it comes to magic and what constitutes harm&
but in general& if your magic is not for the good of the community& and is only motivated by
selfish& dishonourable desires& then we cannot consider such !ractices to be anything other than
witchcraft& and this is not something that we consider to be a desirable or com!atible !ractice
amongst our members.
L2 /ee> *avies& AA Com!arative Pers!ective on /cottish Cunning5-ol1 and Charmers&A in Goodare 8Nd.9& The @cotti$h 3itch-
h-nt in Conte?t& 2002& !1KK? *avies& 3itchcraft an C-lt-re 1+'*-19)1& 1LLL& !21F. The term Bcunning fol1B is not generally
found in Gaelic5s!ea1ing areas& but it is a term that a!!lies to the same !ractices as those of the s1illy& wise man& or wise
woman& etc.
LG To be more s!ecific> BA;hite witchA was a term little used in !o!ular discourse& although it was commonly em!loyed by
fol1lorists and other middle5class commentators.B *avies& 3itchcraft an C-lt-re 1+'*-19)1& 1LLL& !21F. /ee also>
3ac6nnes& ATraditional 4elief in Gaelic /ociety&A in (iIanne Eenderson 8Nd.9& Fanta$tical Imagination$2 The @-5ernat-ral in
@cotti$h Gi$tor% an C-lt-re& 200L& !1L0.
L# 3ac6nnes& ATraditional 4elief in Gaelic /ociety&A in (iIanne Eenderson 8Nd.9& Fanta$tical Imagination$2 The @-5ernat-ral in
@cotti$h Gi$tor% an C-lt-re& 200L& !1KK? 4ennett& A/tories of the /u!ernatural> -rom (ocal 3emorate to /cottish (egend&A in
(iIanne Eenderson 8Nd.9& Fanta$tical Imagination$2 The @-5ernat-ral in @cotti$h Gi$tor% an C-lt-re& 200L& !%L? .oss& FolLlore
of the @cotti$h Gighlan$& 2000& !HF.
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0f course& we realise we have no control over what !eo!le call themselves or their !ractice&
and res!ect everyoneAs right to self5definition. Eowever& if:as Gaelic Polytheists:you insist on
using the labels of BwitchB and BwitchcraftB outside of their traditional conteCt& or insist on
!racticing witchcraft in its !ro!er conteCt& then we are sorry but Gaol Naofa is not the !lace for
you.
LF
Fut hasn6t the meaning of -itchcraft change"/
6n some cultural conteCts& yes. 6n mainstream !o!ular culture& and in most Neo!agan and
New Age circles& a BwitchB is sim!ly someone who !ractices fol15magic or has some degree of
!sychic s1ills. 6n some feminist circles& it may be someone who Just identifies with the women
who were murdered in the witch !ersecutions. Eowever& this is where the im!ortance of having a
Gaelic worldview comes into !lay. Gaol Naofa chooses to u!hold tradition over Neo!agan or !o!
culture ideology& or the convenience of using labels that might ma1e our conversations a little
easier in Neo!agan conteCts.
3ore often our interfaith conversations are not with Neo!agans& but with those from
traditional cultures who have never ado!ted the Neo!agan redefinition of Bwitch.B -or instance&
our Native American& -irst Nations and !olytheist African colleagues use the word the same way
it is used in traditional Gaelic cultures:to indicate an unbalanced !erson obsessed with harming
others with magic. 3any Eeathens use their own culturally a!!ro!riate labels to describe their
magical !ractices& and it is in the same s!irit that we also choose to define ourselves in terms that
are both a!!ro!riate and sensitive to our own cultural focus. As we see it& to do otherwise would
water down tradition and disres!ect it& and thatAs an offence against our ancestors that we in Gaol
Naofa would rather not commit.
LH
LF -or a thorough eCamination of this subJect& see B.owan and .ed Thread> 3agic and ;itchcraft in Gaelic
CulturesB by Annie (oughlin& Treasa N' Chonchobhair and )athryn Price Nic*h+na.
LH 6bid.
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Do Gaelic #ol)theists ;eep a =Foo; of 1ha"o3s=/
No. ;hile some families and individuals 1ee! a com!endium of traditional liturgy& others
wor1 !rimarily via oral tradition& memory and ins!iration. )ee!ing a written collection of lore& or
a !ersonal Journal with notes on ceremony& !ersonal reflections and such&
L%
can also be useful and
!ersonally meaningful& but that is not the same thing as a ;iccan B4oo1 of /hadowsB 8B4o/B9.
Although the meaning and intent of the B4o/B has changed over the years as it has been ado!ted
into some Neo!agan traditions that are ins!ired by ;icca& the name and conce!t originated with
Gerald Gardner& around the time of his first !ublishing about ;icca in the 1L#0s. The Gardnerian
B4o/B was originally intended to be a secret tome in which a coven recorded their rituals and
which was Bthen co!ied and reco!ied as it !assed& over the years& from coven leader to coven
leader.B
LK
There is no evidence that this term !re5dates Gardner. As a ;iccan term and conce!t& it
has nothing to do with Gaelic Polytheism.
0s there a list of correspon"ences some3here to ai" me in ritual/
No. ;e donAt really see that as an a!!ro!riate way to conce!tualise and teach about
tradition. ;hile those sorts of sim!listic charts of corres!ondences are common in boo1s about
B!lug and !lay&B mainstream a!!roaches to Neo!agan or New Age ritual&
LL
Gaelic Polytheist
ceremonies and traditions are based in a different mindset.
(earning which obJects are involved in ceremonies is secondary to understanding the
traditions themselves. ;hile there are certainly flora& fauna& offerings and actions which are
a!!ro!riate or ina!!ro!riate in s!ecific ceremonies&
100
there is no universal scri!t that these
L% 0)& maybe more than Just a boo1 or binder for some of us...
LK 4uc1land& The Com5lete BooL of 3itchcraft& 1LLK& !%.
LL Charts with s!ecific colours& scents& cardinal directions& god5goddess !airs that corres!ond with each festival& or that
might be deemed to be advantageous for certain Bmagic1al wor1ings&B and so on are very common in !ublic Neo5;iccan
and other Neo!agan traditions& but not in Gaelic Polytheism.
100-or instance& s!ecific ty!es of herbs and flowers that are considered to be a!!ro!riate to use for decorations 8or to go
loo1ing for9 at certain festivals:decorating the house with yellow flowers at 4ealtaine& or collecting blueberries at
(Vnasa? burning Aluc1yA woods and avoiding Aunluc1yA woods in bonfires& or bringing unluc1y woods into the house 8or
damaging them at all 5 hawthorn in !articular9& and so on... ;e might consider blac1berries or rushes to be a!!ro!riate
offerings to 3anann,n& !orridge for the *agda& and lots of buttery goods for 4rigid& but these associations are rooted in
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elements are to be !lugged into& and in general things canAt be divided u! into neat boCes li1e
that. The system is more com!leC. The ceremonies themselves vary& and a full understanding of
how and why they are done is a foundation that needs to be ac<uired& rather than miCing and
matching elements and cobbling together novel a!!roaches.
Do Gaelic #ol)theists cast circles4 or in5o;e elements an" <uarters "uring rituals/
No. Those things are !art of ;icca& Ceremonial 3agic 8C39 and their derivative grou!s&
not Gaelic Polytheism. /ome of those actions& and the assum!tions about the s!irit world they are
based u!on& are actually offensive to our gods and ancestors. BCircle castingB and Binvo1ingB came
into ;icca via Ceremonial 3agic& and are actually based on the idea that s!irits need to be walled
out& away from the magician& and Binvo1edB or commanded into a Btriangle of manifestationB
outside of the !rotective circle. This has no !lace in Gaelic !ractice& and is foreign to our
worldview 8more on this below9. /imilarly& Binvo1ing the elements and <uartersB has no !lace in
Gaelic Polytheism because the Gaelic worldview does not conce!tualise or divide the world in
that way. Those actions are reflective of an entirely different view of the s!irit world than that
held by our Gaelic ancestors and our contem!orary Gaelic Polytheist community.
101
To us& ritual can ta1e the form of sim!le !rayers and offerings& or else it can be more
formalised ceremony& but our rituals are informed by the surviving !ractices and the evidence we
can discern from traditional& historical and archaeological sources. As such& we $ain ourselves& our
loved ones& and the !laces where we live and wor1?
102
we connect with the s!irits of the land& our
ancestors& and the deities? we honour and offer gratitude to the !owers that created and sustain
our lands and our lives. ;e use traditional !rayers& songs and !oetry to connect with and
ac1nowledge the three realms in our blessings& but we do not see them as things we control or
Gaelic lore and tradition.
101 Neither do we ada!t the non5Gaelic idea of circle5casting into a BGaelicisedB conce!t:for instance& a ;iccan a!!roach
that Just swa!s in the three realms instead of the four <uarters& and so on& since these would be e<ually lac1ing in any
traditional roots& and would actually be offensive to the s!irits as we understand them.
102 @aining> /cots for Bwarding& blessing& consecrating.B *erived from the G+idhlig and Gaeilge $e-n or $ian and the
/engo'delc $>n. /ee 4lac1& The !aelic 0therworl& 200F& !1GH5%? Carmichael& Carmina !aelica Hol-me II& 1L00& !2H5G%?
3acbain& :t%mological Dictionar% of @cotti$h-!aelic& 1LLK& !G0L.
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order around. .ather than invo1e or attem!t to command the gods& we eCtend to them the
hos!itality of our homes and community through offerings of food and drin1& and a!!ro!riate
ritual actions. ;e do not see the need to create a sacred s!ace& but rather we see1 out the sacred in
the world around us& and honour this sacredness.
Do )ou gu)s 3ear pentagrams or pentacles/
No. The !entagram or !entacle is a symbol in ;icca and ;itchcraft& not Gaelic
Polytheism.
1ee also> Theological Q-e$tion$2 BDo !aelic <ol%thei$t$ ha&e an% $acre $%mCol$7
3hat $%mCol$ o %o- rePect7B
0 3as in a -iccan co5en for three )ears an" too; m) thir" "egree so 0 am an Al"er
no3.
ThatAs nice. Pou do 1now that has nothing to do with us& though& rightD
As adherents of a traditional& multi5generational lifeway& with members of our community
in their eighties and allies who are Nlders in indigenous communities& we of course reJect the
Gardnerian invention that someone with only three years of training could be considered an
BelderB of anything. Gaining a minimum level of eC!erience and learning does not ma1e one an
Nlder& or even a senior or BadvancedB member& in our community. 4ecoming an Nlder ta1es
decades 8or even a lifetime9 of training& !ractical eC!erience& and the earned res!ect of the
community. As the Neo!agan community ages& more of those grou!s are also realising itAs silly to
consider someone in their twenties or thirties an Belder.B
1ee also> Rit-al an <ractice2 B3ho are the :ler$7B
06m fift) no3. 06m an Al"er.
h& 0). -ifty isnAt all that old. /urviving a certain number of years may give one valuable
life eC!erience& but it doesnAt automatically confer ceremonial wisdom. /ome !eo!le mature into
res!ected Nlders. 0thers Just get old.
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1ee also> Rit-al an <ractice2 B3ho are the :ler$7B
Do )ou celebrate the festi5als in the same 3a) as other .eopagans/
No. ;icca and Neo5druidism may share the names of the festivals:and even !erha!s a
few customs:with the Gaels but thatAs where any similarities end.
Do Gaelic #ol)theists follo3 the =Celtic Tree Calen"ar=/
No. The idea of a Btree calendarB is a modern invention from .obert GravesA boo1 The
3hite !oe$$2 A Gi$torical !rammar of <oetic 1%th 81L#K9. The boo1 has long been an ins!iration
for many Neo!agans& and the BCeltic Tree CalendarB is Just one of the things that GravesA wor1
introduced into some modern Pagan traditions. Eowever& while the boo1 may indeed be
Bins!irational&B that doesnAt change the fact that most of it is thoroughly inaccurate in historical
and academic terms. Graves himself later a!ologised for the misinformation he had !ro!agated
by !ublishing his theories. As influential as the boo1 has been& Gaelic Polytheists are mindful of
the fact that the boo1 is full of fallacies& inaccuracies and misty5eyed romanticism about the Celts.
;hile there is indeed such a thing as crann ogham 8Btree oghamB9&
10G
and some of the sacred trees
and !lants are associated with some of the seasonal festivals& GravesA tree calendar is a wholly
modern and forced arrangement& and not an actual !art of Gaelic tradition. As such& it has no
relevance to us as Gaelic Polytheists.
Mou 3orship a 1un Go" an" Moon Go""ess right/ Mai"en4 Mother4 Crone/
-here6s that 2orne" Go" fella/
No!e no!e no!e. Absolutely not. Those things are not Gaelic. The belief in a duotheistic
/un God and 3oon Goddess 8who is usually reinter!reted in the modern& non5Gaelic structure of
B3aiden& 3other& CroneB9 is !rimarily a ;iccan conce!t& although similar beliefs can be found in
other eclectic Neo!agan and New Age grou!s such as many womenAs s!irituality circles and a
number of the Neo5druid grou!s. This is a common misconce!tion& however& as even some
10G -ound in AAuraice!t na n5WcesA in The BooL of Ball%mote.
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academics still insist on viewing Gaelic cultures through a foreign lens that results in them seeing
Bsun godsB here& there and everywhere.
10#
3any Gaelic Polytheists within Gaol Naofa do not
believe that any of the Gaelic gods could be said to be solar deities& !er se. 6t doesnAt really wor1
that way for the maJority of us. ;hile many deities are described as being BshiningB or Bbright&B or
even Bsun5faced&B this does not mean they actually are the /un. These are !oetic descri!tions and
at other times the same deity may be s!o1en of in meta!hors that mention the moon& or storms&
or gentle rain& or other forces of nature.
10F
(i1ewise& BThe Eorned God&B as some sort of all5encom!assing male half of a gendered&
duotheistic dyad& is a Neo!agan conce!t.
10H
;hile there are some references to horned figures in
Gaelic lore&
10%
there are no gods that can be said to be a BEorned God.B As such& that conce!t has
no relevance to Gaelic Polytheism. The ;iccan BEolly )ingB and B0a1 )ingB as deities who
govern the halves of the ;iccan ;heel of the Pear are also not !art of our culture.
Put sim!ly& we base our beliefs and !ractices in Gaelic tradition& and as none of these
things mentioned above can be found in Gaelic tradition& they have no bearing on what we
believe or do as Gaelic Polytheists. As a result you will not find any Gaelic Polytheists
worshi!!ing BThe (ord and (ady&B or BThe Goddess in her 3aiden& 3other or Crone as!ect.B
10K
Fut 3ait N "oesn6t Gaelic m)tholog) mention triple go""esses/
Pes it does. Eowever& these tri!le goddesses are not the same as the ;iccan conce!t of
10# And yes& weAre loo1ing at you& 3iranda Green...
10F The closest we come to having any 1ind of Bsun deityB is that the Goddess @ine and her sister& Grian 8whose name means
BsunB9 are symbolised by the Btwo sunsB of the year& and @ine is associated with a celebration held on the summer
solstice. 4ut these are associations& we donAt thin1 either of these goddesses are the sun. 1ee also> Theological Q-e$tion$2 BI$
!aelic <ol%thei$m -ali$tic7= for more on these two goddesses.
10H Though there may be other cultures who have a deity theyAd describe as a horned god& itAs not a Gaelic thing.
10% 6tAs worth noting here that thereAs an im!ortant cosmological=symbolic difference in horned and antlered. ;hile the
Gaels do have antlered figures 8e.g.& Conall Cernach& -eradach -ind -echtnach& and -urbaide -erbend in 6reland& and
0is'n and Ceannach nimhe in /cotland9 and figures closely associated with deer but not necessarily antlered 8e.g.& Cailleach&
-lidais& and /adb9& they did not have horned deities 8e.g.& goat horns as seen with the Gree1 Pan and his satyrs& the
Christian devil& or the /atanic 4a!homet9. The 6rish tale& AThe Eorned ;omenA a!!ears to be about the Cailleachan& and
may be a more recent tale that does not have a clear& 6rish language !recedent.
10K ;hile there have often been claims that these things are Celtic or Gaelic& these claims are not borne out by the evidence
and have:for the most !art:been thoroughly debun1ed already.
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3aiden& 3other& Crone. 4oth 4rigid and An 3orr'gan are tri!le goddesses& for instance& but it is
in terms of function:not sim!ly a!!earance or age:that they are tri!artite. 6t might be worth
mentioning that there are also a number of tri!le gods& such as the trF > Dno 8the Bthree gods of
s1illB9& 4rian& 6uchair and 6ucharba.
10L
Another s1illed tri!licity are Goibniu the blac1smith& (uchta
the wright& and CrMdne the silversmith& who are named together in The @econ Battle of 1ag T-ire&
and again& itAs notable that they are grou!ed together by their function& not by age or
a!!earance.
110
6n order to avoid confusion with the 3aiden53other5Crone tri!le goddess& we might refer
to them as tri!licities or tri!artite deities.
Do )ou use the go"s for spells an" such/
A loud and em!hatic no. ;hile someone viewing us through a Neo!agan lens may
confuse our use of traditional charms& incantations& runes& !rayers& and songs with modern
;itchcraft or Bmagic1&B our entire conteCt& values and a!!roach are very different from the
attitudes among most modern !eo!le who do Bs!ellwor1.B Traditional Gaelic incantations and
charms are acts of s!iritual devotion and !etition& not Bs!ells.B There is !ower and tradition
behind the words we s!ea1& and the traditional acts that accom!any them& but it has nothing to
do with the assum!tions or goals involved in ;itchcraft or Bmagic1&B and we definitely do not
attem!t to -$e the gods& for an%thing. They are not magical !ets or servants to be caJoled or
commanded.
.ather than -$e the gods& Gaelic Polytheists see1 to Lnow them and build meaningful
relationshi!s of res!ect& coo!eration and devotion. ;e do not ta1e them for granted nor do we
disres!ect or grovel before them.
10L Carey& AThe Name ATuatha *M *anann&A in Eig$e& 1LK1& !2L1.
110 Grey& Cath 1aige T-ire& line G#0? see also )och& Celtic C-lt-re2 A Gi$torical :nc%clo5eia& 200H& !1HLG51HL#.
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(ppendi/0 Gluais (Glossary)
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
(es s1de 8/engo'delc9 or (os s1 8Gaeilge9> the B!eo!le of the moundsB
(llies> !eo!le and organisations who wor1 together to !romote shared goals? those who
share our goals of cultural and s!iritual integrity. 4eing an ally goes both ways? we
su!!ort each other. /o Gaol Naofa also su!!orts our allies in !rotecting their cultural
and s!iritual sovereignty
(n d2 shealladh 8G+idhlig9> Bthe two sightsB? often referred to as Bsecond sightB
(n 3aol 4ile 8Gaeilge9> the 0therworld& the realm of the s!irits
(n #ri umh 8G+idhlig9& a #r1 aomh 8Gaeilge9& or 5n #ree oo 8Gaelg9> BThe /acred
ThreeB 5 the gods& s!irits and ancestors
(r "6igh*7eatha Ioma*"hiadhach Gh2idhealach 8G+idhlig9> 0ur Gaelic Polytheist (ifeway
8GP(9. @ee 8r n"9igh 7heatha Ildiach is Gaelach
8r n"9igh 7heatha Ildiach is Gaelach 8Gaeilge9> 0ur Gaelic Polytheist (ifeway 8GP(9. Gaol
Naofa has coined this term to better describe our s!ecific tradition and beliefs& as
!racticed by the members of Gaol Naofa. This is !artly in order to distinguish
ourselves from other Gaelic Polytheist grou!s& but also to em!hasise our commitment
to our s!irituality as a wa% of life. Although admittedly a bit of a mouthful& we feel the
!hrase s!ea1s to the heart of Gaol NaofaAs !hiloso!hy and community
(rd )1 8/engo'delc9> Eigh )ing
7:ir1n breac 8Gaeilge9> Bbarm brac1B? a yeast bread with sultanas and raisins made on
/amhain in 6reland
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7ean feasa 8Gaeilge9> Bwise womanB
7eannach nimhe 8G+idhlig9> a horned monster
7-statu 8/engo'delc9> BmoralityB? has its root in the word C>$& meaning Bhabit& usual
!rocedure& !ractice& manner& or wayB
7ride9g 8Gaeilge9> B(ittle 4r'dB 5 a doll fashioned at (, -hMile 4r'de 86mbolc? -ebruary 1st9 to
re!resent the goddess herself
7rythonic> a Celtic language s!o1en in !arts of 4ritain 8u! to the -irth of -orth in central
/cotland9. Cornish& ;elsh& 4reton& Cumbric and 8!ossibly9 Pictish all derive from the
4rythonic language
7uachaill1 tu1 8Gaeilge9> Bstraw5boysB 5 young men disguised in elaborate straw mas1s who
traditionally !rovide entertainment at 6rish weddings
$-ilidh 8Gaeilge9 or c;ilidh 8G+idhlig9> a formal or informal meeting of family and friends
where stories and tales are told& songs are sung& and dancing is had
$ill 8Gaeilge9> a small grou! dedicated to a s!ecific religious !ur!ose
$rann ogham 8Gaeilge9> Btree oghamB
$reideamh s1 8Gaeilge9> the B-airy -aithB? a term describing the modern and still evolving fol1
beliefs in 6reland& which encom!ass some of the !re5Christian survivals
$ros 7r1de 8Gaeilge9> 4r'dAs Cross
"aoine s1dhe 8Gaeilge9 or daoine s<th 8G+idhlig9> B!eo!le of !eace& !eo!le of the moundsB?
while inter!retations vary& usually refers to the Gaelic nature s!irits& though
sometimes also to certain ancestors and=or deities
"- 8/engo'delc9& "-ithe 8Gaeilge9& "iathan 8G+idhlig9 or =eeghyn 8Gaelg9> Bdeities? godsB
"- ocus (n*"- 8/engo'delc9 or "-ithe agus (n*"-ithe 8Gaeilge9> BGods and Non5GodsB or
BGods and n5GodsB? a !hrase commonly used in Gaelic Polytheism to refer to the
gods& s!irits and ancestors
"eiseil 8G+idhlig9 or deiseal 8Gaeilge9> Bsunwise& cloc1wise& right5hand5wiseB
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"iaspora> the dis!ersion or s!reading of something that was originally localised 8as a !eo!le&
language or culture9
"indshenchas 83iddle 6rish9> Blore of high !lacesB? !lace5name lore of 6reland
"rao1 8Gaeilge? !lural drao1the9> druid
>:idhead9ireacht 8Gaeilge9> !ro!hecy? divination
>2isneachd 8G+idhlig9> BforetellingB
>ianna 8Gaeilge9> a roving warrior band who lived outside the bounds of normal society
>ili 8Gaeilge9> B!oetB
>ilidecht 8Gaeilge9> B!oetry? divinationB
>ilidheachd 8G+idhlig9> B!oetryB
>ine 8/engo'delc? !lural& finte9> close family& immediate 1in
Gealach ?r 8Gaeilge9& Gealach @r 8G+idhlig9& 4ayst oa 8Gaelg9> BNew 3oonB? the first sliver
of the new moon that a!!ears in the s1y
Gaeilge> the modern 6rish Gaelic language? usually referred to in 6reland as sim!ly B6rishB
Gaelg> the 3anC Gaelic language& from the 6sle of 3an
Gaeltachta1 8Gaeilge9> native 6rish5s!ea1ing areas located in 6reland 8!arts of *onegal& 3eath&
3ayo& Galway& )erry& Cor1 and ;aterford9& Northern 6reland 8!arts of 4elfast and
*erry9& and Canada 8Nrinsville& 0ntario9
Gaelic .olytheism> !olytheism where the !ractitioners honour the Gaelic deities
G2idhlig> the /cots Gaelic language? usually referred to in /cotland and 6reland as sim!ly
BGaelicB
G2idhealtachdan 8G+idhlig9> native /cots Gaelic5s!ea1ing areas located in /cotland
8Eighlands and 6slands9& and Canada 8Ca!e 4reton& Glengarry& Prince Ndward 6sland&
and Newfoundland9
Gaol aofa> 6rish !hrase that roughly translates to Bsacred 1inshi!=affinityB
Geamh 8Gaeilge9> the dar1 half of the Gaelic year
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Geas 8Gaeilge=G+idhlig9 or geis 8/engo'delc9> a sacred !rohibition or BtabooB
Goidelic> any of the related languages descending from Gaelic in 6reland& /cotland and the
6sle of 3an
Aebor Gab:la Brenn 83iddle 6rish9> BThe 4oo1 of 6nvasionsB? an early 6rish tale that tells how
6reland was settled by siC different waves of !eo!les
Aifeway> a cultural and s!iritual way of life that fully embodies& and thoroughly !uts into
!ractice& a traditional worldview
A1on*t1 8/engo'delc9> a grou! of !eo!le& not necessarily related by blood or marriage& who
share a household
a "aoine 'aith 8Gaeilge9> BThe Good Peo!leB? an e!ithet for the aes s1de
.iseoga1 8Gaeilge9> Bcharm5setter? su!erstitious !ersonB? a 1ind of cunning5!erson
)1 8/engo'delc9> 1ing
3ain 8/cots? from the G+idhlig and Gaeilge B$e-nB or B$ianB and the /engo'delc B$>nB9> a
!rotective charm or ritual& commonly !erformed at the festivals to ward away evil or
malevolent influences& and to encourage !ros!erity& health and ha!!iness
3amh 8Gaeilge9> the light half of the Gaelic year
3eisiCn 8Gaeilge9> BsessionB? a traditional 6rish musical session& often held in !ubs
3innsear 8G+idhlig? !lural $inn$earan9& sinsear 8Gaeilge? !lural& $in$ear9& sinser 8/engo'delc?
!lural& $in$ir9& or shennayr 8Gaelg? !lural& $henna%ragh%n9> BancestorB
3engo1delc> the 0ld 6rish language
3ruith 8/engo'delc& !lural @r-ithe9> BNlderB? !eo!le who ta1e the !art of the wisdom bearers&
advisors and ceremonial leaders in our community
#ech "uinn 8/engo'delc9> the BEouse of *onnB? an assembly !lace for the dead
#1r na nDg 8Gaeilge9> land where there is eternal youth and feasting among the deities and
heroic ancestors
#r1 d- d:no 8/engo'delc9> the Bthree gods of s1illB? 4rian& 6uchair and 6ucharba
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#Cath 8/engo'delc& !lural& tAatha9& tuath 8Gaeilge? !lural& t-atha9> grou! of !eo!le the siIe of
a nation
#Cathal 8/engo'delc9& tuathal 8Gaeilge9& or tuathail 8G+idhlig9> Bagainst the sun? left5hand5
wiseB? the act of turning left& or 1ee!ing the sun to your left? withershins? viewed as
bringing bad luc1? the o!!osite of ei$eil
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