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Celtic Paganism and the Tree of Life

Updated on November 4, 2011

What is Celtic Paganism?

Undressed trees stand shivering

as flimsy shifts blew away;

the last leaves are quivering,

till they too will drop, decay.

Under bark's rough covering

grow tiny cells in wonder-

blooms to be, still hovering,

kept safe from autumn's thunder.

©Leny Roovers 20-10-2004

The ancient Celts encompass both fierceness in battle and an affinity and closeness with nature. The Celts revered eloquence and poetry, and the potency of the spoken word, and this is reflected in their rich myths and legends and also in the Magickal tradition of spell workings

Many forms of Paganism incorporate Celtic deities, myths and practices into their worship and rituals, and use Celtic symbols and jewellery . The festivals of Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh are Celtic in origin. Some pagans follow a path that is specifically and exclusively about Celtic Paganism. Read on to learn about some Celtic gods and goddesses, a Celtic protection ritual, mythology and poetry and the tree of life!

Lilting Celtic Music - Listen while you read...

Are you going to Scarborough Fair? I love this tune!

A beautiful red haired Celtic Woman

A beautiful red haired Celtic Woman
A beautiful red haired Celtic Woman

The Celts are a Mystery

Information on pre Christian Celts is limited and comes to us in fragments so take what you like and leave the rest!

A slighty gothic looking but beautiful Celtic woman with a dragon
A slighty gothic looking but beautiful Celtic woman with a dragon

Some Celtic Gods and Goddeses

Celtic myths were passed down orally, not written down, and there were many different goddesses and gods, associated with different locations - streams, wells and groves. As the Celts were dispersed, living in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, the names of each deity often varied and pantheons were not unified and unchanging, but a traveller could recongise familiar deities by the ways in which they were represented.

As a follower of Celtic Paganism, or just Paganism with Celtic elements, these deities are great to incorporate into your spells and worship.

Cernunnos

Cernunnos is the Horned God, protector of animals and instinctual behavious. He is at once linked to sexual delight, abundance and abandon as well as hunting and culling, and purifying and sacrificing. The Druids encouraged the worship of Cernunnos, attempting to replace the plethora of local deities and spirits with a national religion.

Cerridwen or Brighid

An important figure in Celtic Paganism, Cerridwen is the Maiden, and a corn (and therefore abundance and harvest) Goddess, who had a magical cauldron. the Cauldron is a feminine symbol, being linked to creation of spells and of course food. Corn goddess. As the poem above shows, she was the Mother of Taliesen, greatest and wisest of all the bards, and therefore a patron of poets and bards, and protectress of the healers and smiths. She is also connected with wolves, and some claim her cult dates to the neolithic era. Her festival Imbolc is at the 1st of February. Here's a great lens about Brighid

Danu or Dana

An Irish Mother figure Goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danann or the mother of 'the peoples of the goddess Danu'. She is also part of of a triad of war goddesses known collectively as the Morrigan. Danu is connected with the moon goddess Aine of Knockaine, who protects crops and cattle. Under a variety of names, including Anu and Don, Danu was worshipped through pre-Christian Europe and the Middle East.

Hound of Culchulainn Charm

Hound of Culchulainn Charm
Hound of Culchulainn Charm

Celtic Symbolism - Celtic Paganism Elemental Correspondances

Celtic Symbols for the four elements - these can be used when crafting spells and practising rituals. These four elements are united by Ether or Spirit. - this symbolises the life force that powers all life around us, including ourselves, plants and animals.

  • Sword or Arrow - East, Life, Air, Spring, and Dawn
  • Spear or Rod - South, Light, Fire, Summer and Noon
  • Cauldron or Cup - West, Love, Water, Autumn and Evening
  • Shield or Mirror - North, Law, Earth, Winter and Night

The Story of the bard Merlin, son of Cerridwen - The Book of Taliesin is a Welsh collection of prophetic, religious and historical Celtic poems.

From the Book Historical Atlas of Celtic World
From the Book Historical Atlas of Celtic World



Primary Bard to Elphin am I

and my country is the region of the summer stars.

Many have called me Merddin,

but at length all men will call me Taliesin!

I have been a herdsman and traveled over the Earth.

I have slept in a hundred islands, guest of a hundred kings.

I have dwelt in a hundred cities.

For a year and a day I was in fetters...

I HAVE BEEN A FIERCE BULL AND A YELLOW BUCK.

I HAVE BEEN A BOAT UPON THE SEA.

I HAVE BEEN THE FOAM OF WATER.

I HAVE BEEN A DROP IN THE AIR.

I HAVE JOURNEYED HIGH AS AN EAGLE.

I HAVE BEEN A TREE-STUMP IN A SHOVEL.

I HAVE BEEN AN AXE IN THE HAND.

I HAVE BEEN A SPOTTED SNAKE ON A HILL.

I HAVE BEEN A WAVE BREAKING UPON THE BEACH

ON A BOUNDLESS SEA I WAS SET ADRIFT.

THEN FOR NINE MONTHS I WAS LITTLE GWION

IN THE WOMB OF CARIDWEN,

AND AT LENGTH WAS TALIESIN.

Kirlian Photography of a Celtic Cross

Kirlian Photography of a Celtic Cross
Kirlian Photography of a Celtic Cross
Cruxcroix  -  For protection on life's journey
Cruxcroix - For protection on life's journey

A Celtic Pagan Protection Ritual

From the carmina gadelica, the ancient celtic oral tradition

Shield and Safeguard Us

Valiant Nuada of the white sword,

Who subdued the Firbolg of blood,

For love of the Tribe, for pains of Danu's children,

Hold thy shield over us, protect us all,

Hold thy shield over us, protect us all.

Danu beloved! Mother of the Shining Ones,

Shield, oh shield us, Lady of nobleness,

And Brigit the beauteous, shepherdess of the flocks,

Safeguard thou our animals, encircle us together,

Safeguard thou our animals, encircle us together.

And Ellen, beneficent, benign,

Governess of the trackways of power,

Invoke the star of power upon the path,

Guide well thou ourselves, shield our procession,

Guide well thou ourselves, shield our procession.

O Mother! O Maiden! O Crone of Wisdom!

Be the Triad with us day and night,

On the machair plain or on the mountain ridge,

Be the Triad with us and her cloak around us,

Be the Triad with us and her cloak around us.

Original Carmina Gadelica in full

Yggdrasil the Tree of Life
Yggdrasil the Tree of Life

The Tree of Life

The tree of life can be seen in numerous religions and traditions as trees do seem to represent nature in all its glory. I have to confess and say that I have and am a tree hugger (usually when no-one is looking!) There is a park nearby me and there are plenty of silver birch trees - magickal trees, amongst others that I like to meditate with and share in their power (If there are people around I usually just put my hand on them so as not to seem to mad. I love trees because they eminate a powerful wisdom, many are so much older than us and also bigger too! Did you know that 2/3rds of the tree is underground!?

Anyway, in the Celtic tradition the tree of life is thought to have come via the Norse, who say a world ash tree as the source of all life. the tree is called Yggdrasil, and led to nine different worlds.

The Nine Norse Worlds

Midgard, the land of ordinary mortals

Asgard - land of the Aesir

Hel - world of the dead

Anaheim - home of Vanir and Freya's Hall

The land of Fire

The land of the Light Elves

The land of the Dark Elves

The land of the Ice Giants

The land of Fog

Nine was a number of great importance to the Norse and also the Celts. On the tree, there are runes and mystical symbols which were used as a magickal alphabet, and also in divination. the Norse God Odin hung on the world tree, Yggdrasil, for nine days and thus learnt the secret of the runes in a shamanic experience. the Norse belived that the Dragon Nidhogg who lived in the underworld, was gnawing away at the roots trying to cause chaos. For more info on Nidhogg and other Dragons please take a look at my blog

http://feedvalidator.org/check.cgi?url=http%3A//www.squidoo.com/xml/syndicate_lens/celtic-paganism-and-the-tree-of-life

Another picture of Beautiful Yggdrasil

Another picture of Beautiful Yggdrasil
Another picture of Beautiful Yggdrasil

Yggdrasil image credit

The beautiful Yggdrasil image above is courtesy of and copyright of Leila Brown 2002

Do What Thou Will, An it Harm None

For me, Paganism is about taking the good in the world, in nature and in religions and forming it into a way of life and worship. when something from Celtic Mythology or Celtic Paganism feels right, I adopt it into my life - and this freedom is what Paganism is all about! I recommend you do the same (up to you tho! :o)

Record your thoughts or spells in a Celtic Journal

Record your thoughts or spells in a Celtic Journal
Record your thoughts or spells in a Celtic Journal

Beautiful Celtic Jewellery - All available at my shop! www.stormjewelsgifts.com

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This intricate Celtic Pentagram symbolises the endless intertwining of life with the circle of infinity. GBP 14.84The powers of this ancient, Celtic Aran Cross can be drawn upon for Confidence and Courage. GBP 5.93Celtic Horse for Tranquillity and Serenity, made with Pewter and supplied with a black cord - GBP 4.94Ourobourus, an ancient serpent who was known to constantly renew itself, is worn for Security and Long Term Goals. GBP 5.93The Glastonbury Sword, crafted in pewter and set with runes, is worn for Advancement and Ability GBP 5.95Containing a genuine Moonstone of Selene, Lunar Goddess and also the planetary seal of the Moon, this pendant can be worn for intuition. Pure Sterling Silver GBP 24.74Viking Pendant - Odin sometimes wore a terrifying mask when encountering potential opponents which would scare them away, saving the "Allfather's" energy for more enjoyable pursuits. GBP 9.89Viking God Thor's magical hammer is an invincible weapon of supernatural strength, was worn as a powerful amulet for personal and psychic protection. GBP 12.86
This intricate Celtic Pentagram symbolises the endless intertwining of life with the circle of infinity. GBP 14.84
This intricate Celtic Pentagram symbolises the endless intertwining of life with the circle of infinity. GBP 14.84
The powers of this ancient, Celtic Aran Cross can be drawn upon for Confidence and Courage. GBP 5.93
The powers of this ancient, Celtic Aran Cross can be drawn upon for Confidence and Courage. GBP 5.93
Celtic Horse for Tranquillity and Serenity, made with Pewter and supplied with a black cord - GBP 4.94
Celtic Horse for Tranquillity and Serenity, made with Pewter and supplied with a black cord - GBP 4.94
Ourobourus, an ancient serpent who was known to constantly renew itself, is worn for Security and Long Term Goals. GBP 5.93
Ourobourus, an ancient serpent who was known to constantly renew itself, is worn for Security and Long Term Goals. GBP 5.93
The Glastonbury Sword, crafted in pewter and set with runes, is worn for Advancement and Ability GBP 5.95
The Glastonbury Sword, crafted in pewter and set with runes, is worn for Advancement and Ability GBP 5.95
Containing a genuine Moonstone of Selene, Lunar Goddess and also the planetary seal of the Moon, this pendant can be worn for intuition. Pure Sterling Silver GBP 24.74
Containing a genuine Moonstone of Selene, Lunar Goddess and also the planetary seal of the Moon, this pendant can be worn for intuition. Pure Sterling Silver GBP 24.74
Viking Pendant - Odin sometimes wore a terrifying mask when encountering potential opponents which would scare them away, saving the "Allfather's" energy for more enjoyable pursuits. GBP 9.89
Viking Pendant - Odin sometimes wore a terrifying mask when encountering potential opponents which would scare them away, saving the "Allfather's" energy for more enjoyable pursuits. GBP 9.89
Viking God Thor's magical hammer is an invincible weapon of supernatural strength, was worn as a powerful amulet for personal and psychic protection. GBP 12.86
Viking God Thor's magical hammer is an invincible weapon of supernatural strength, was worn as a powerful amulet for personal and psychic protection. GBP 12.86

I'm new to squidoo so all comments and constructive criticism very welcome! Blessed Be.

Tell me your views... - Do you like my lens? Hate it? Let me know

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    • Monika Weise profile image

      Monika Weise 4 years ago from Indianapolis, IN USA

      Great job :) Blessed Be!

    • profile image

      celestialelff 5 years ago

      Great Post, I thought you might like my new machinima film

      The Tree Of Life, Bright Blessings ~

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI_vTmnPJv0

    • WiccaLady profile image
      Author

      WiccaLady 5 years ago

      Thanks Celtic ways, sorry no more detailed lens yet, but maybe one day!

      Celestialelff - thanks for the link to your video, it's very well done!

    • WoodlandBard profile image

      WoodlandBard 5 years ago

      Ah, you are traveling my world here, beautifully done, beautiful introductions and links to grand explorations. I hope you create more detailed lenses of what you present here. You may have done already and I just have to seek harder :-)

    • profile image

      celestialelff 6 years ago

      Greetings, Great Lens :D

      I thought that you might like my

      Taliesin's Battle Of The Trees machinima film,

      Bright Blessings By Stone and Star,

      Celestial Elf ~

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0gduIjXOU4

    • GreenfireWiseWo profile image

      GreenfireWiseWo 6 years ago

      Great lens - thank you.

    • profile image

      tone255 6 years ago

      Nice lens, very nice art work, the kirlian Photo of the Celtic cross is stunning well done.

      BB

    • MSBeltran1 profile image

      MSBeltran1 7 years ago

      This lens is just georgous. Great work, excellent content. 5* fave & fan... wonderful job.

    • sciencefictionn profile image

      sciencefictionn 7 years ago

      Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful lens! 5 stars ... and more, if possible!

    • profile image

      grannysage 7 years ago

      My husband is Celtic and I am a Viking. He also reads runes. I love that you are a tree-hugger as well. Lenrolling this to my tree lens, "Save the Tree Spirit." And welcome to Squidoo!

    • Sensitive Fern profile image

      Sensitive Fern 7 years ago

      I love your lens and your enthusiasm! Lensrolled to my celtic and norse lenses. 5*

    • profile image

      MarcMooney 7 years ago

      Nice lens, how about adding some Cletic tunes?

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 7 years ago

      Great lens 5 stars and a Fav! I have a good Celtic cross story - took place in a graveyard in Isle of Mann - I was researching my family history and tried to photo a grave marker cross and the new camera jammed - when I got back to the hotel I tried another photo and it worked just fine. Go figure!