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I am available as a Celtic priest to perform any type of spiritual ceremony required.

I will discuss and plan with you the type of ceremony you want, the location, and the contents of the ceremony.

Nothing will be imposed.

Baptisms and Naming Ceremonies

A baptism or christening is a Christian ceremony. A naming ceremony need not be Christian.

A Baptism.

  • While this is a Christian ceremony, the child will not be made a member of any Christian denomination. In a general way, the child will be baptised into the Celtic Christian spiritual tradition.
  • My focus is on celebrating the child's birth, and welcoming that child into a spiritual community. That spiritual community is represented by the people present at the ceremony: parents, godparents, family, friends. Through consultation with the parents, I will build into the ceremony the spiritual beliefs and preferences of those present.
  • While, traditionally, baptism emphasises the wiping away of Original Sin, that will not be my focus. I prefer to focus on the delight of the child's birth to all present, and the blessings that that child will bring into the world.
  • We will pray for protection, health and wholeness, fulfilment, happiness and long life.
  • I will use water from a holy well. Preferably, we will have the ceremony at a holy well.

A Naming Ceremony.

  • A naming ceremony will be similar to the baptism I have described above except:-
  • We will not use water to 'baptise' the child
  • We may not have any specifically Christian element

A Possible Structure for the Ceremony

  • All gather. It can be in the living room of the home, in the garden, at a holy well, or some other location.
  • The parents carry the child into the circle of people, symbolising the child's birth into the community.
  • The priest welcomes all.
  • The parents introduce the child, explaining the choice of name. They can also tell the story of the pregnancy and birth and describe the child's personality.
  • The child is brought around to everybody present for them to greet and bless the child.
  • The parents introduce the godparents or anamchairde (soulfriends) — that have been chosen. They explain why they chose these people, and what role they would like them to have.
  • The godparents or anamchairde are invited to say how they feel about being asked to take on this role, and how they hope to fulfil it. The female soulfriend is asked to wrap a white cloak around the child. The male soulfriend is asked to hold a lit candle on behalf of the child. Each will be asked to repeat a few words to express what these symbols represent.
  • Various people in attendance do their bit sing a song, offer a gift, pray a blessing.
  • The four elements earth, fire, air and water are brought symbolically to the child by various people in attendance and a prayer is said for the characteristics of those elements to be present in the life of the child. For example, earth is brought in a bowl and is put on the soles of the child's feet. The prayer said prays a blessing on the child's journey through life, symbolised by the feet walking on the earth.
  • The priest puts oil on the child's crown, acknowledging the child's divine calling and praying that that calling will be fulfilled in the child's life. This can also be a prayer for health and wholeness and the fulfilment of the child's potential.
  • In a baptismal ceremony, the child is now baptised with well water. While the traditional words are: I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, I prefer to say: Baistím thú in ainm an Athair agus an Mháthair, an Mhic agus an Mhaighdean, an Spiorad Naoimh agus an Cailleach Feasa which translates as: I baptise you in the name of the Father and the Mother, the Son and the Maiden, the Holy Spirit and the Wise Old Woman. This baptismal formula unites the Christian Trinity with the Celtic Triple Goddess.
  • The priest sprinkles water around the child and family, as a circle of protection against any form of accident, abuse, illness or misguidedness. This is a prayer of protection for the child's inner divine light and integrity.
  • The ceremony ends by everybody joining hands and giving thanks. At this point there can be music, singing and/or dancing.

A naming ceremony performed in The Burren, County Clare.

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Funerals including Memorials and Anniversaries

A death is a time of intense emotion when people usually feel the need for some sort of ceremony to assist in the transition of the departing person from this life. For families and communities that are not regular church goers, this is a difficult time as they often do not know what to do. I am very happy to be of assistance in these situations.

Of course, deaths are usually unexpected and the time of death cannot be predicted. It may be that I will have other commitments at the time I am required. However, I will do my very best to make myself available. My preference would be to spend the few days around the time of death with the chief mourners and to put together with them a ceremony or ceremonies with which they would be comfortable.

Usually there are a number of ceremonies required:

  • Removal of the body from the home or morgue
  • A ceremony at which the public can attend.This could be in the home, in a funeral parlour, or in a hall.
  • At the graveside.

At these ceremonies, my emphasis will be on:

  • A celebration of the life of the person who has died
  • Giving thanks for their contribution to life and the blessings we have received
  • Forgiveness for any of their shortcomings
  • Praying for a peaceful transition for them to the other world


  • Soothing the pain we feel at their departure
  • Dealing with the guilt we may feel in relation to our own behaviour towards them while they lived
  • Committing ourselves to keep their memory alive
  • Praying for strength and protection for us as we adjust to living without them.

Christian elements can be included in the ceremonies if the chief mourners so desire.

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First Communions and Coming of Age Ceremonies

For Christians, the time of first communion is a recognition that the child has reached a certain stage in his or her development where he or she is capable of understanding the more spiritual aspects of life. Traditionally, it is a recognition that the child has reached the age of reason.

For parents who do not attend any particular church, but who regard themselves as Christian, it may be important to them that their children appreciate the meaning of communion and learn to receive it. Receiving communion is a powerfully symbolic ritual which carries within it the message that one is coming into communion with the divine, and that one is receiving a spiritual food.

A child of a certain age can begin to appreciate that nourishment of his or her soul is just as important, or even more important, than nourishment of his or her body. In a ceremony of this kind, I like to bring out an emphasis on where this nourishment can be found. Of course it can be found in daily life, one does not have to go to a church to find it. It is found in giving and receiving love. It is found in being truthful and in hearing the truth. And it is found in beauty.

The ceremony therefore can be a celebration of these things in the child's life - the love that is in the home, the learning and development that is going on in the child, and the beauty that surrounds the child's life. Communion is then a making conscious of the reception of this spiritual food by the child.

During the course of the ceremony, the story can be told of how Jesus first created this practice of communion for his friends. Jesus said at the time, that the bread and wine on the table was his body and blood and that his friends should eat and drink his body and blood. We will try and relate this to the present by illustrating how parents give their lives in a very real way for their children, and others do also to a lesser extent. So the bread and wine is not just the body and blood of Jesus but the body and blood of parents and others who give their lives for the child. We stay spiritually nourished by giving of ourselves to each other. The divine is present in this giving and receiving.

This should be the kernel of the ceremony, but we can then add a variety of other elements. There can be music, singing and dancing. The room or location can be decorated with the child's art and with objects that celebrate the child's life. Significant people in the child's life can be invited. During the ceremony there can be readings and poetry and an opportunity for parents, godparents and others to speak. Afterwards, there can be a celebratory meal.

I am not prepared to 'say a Mass' in the conventional sense, but if you look through the above description of the ceremony, you will see that all the elements of the conventional Mass are present without the formality of set words or actions.

A Coming of Age Ceremony

For parents who do not want a Christian ceremony, I am happy to put together a ceremony with them which will celebrate the coming of age of their child. The content of the ceremony will emerge from discussions with them. It can be held at whatever location they choose.

There are a number of moments in a young person's development which the parents and the child might wish to celebrate. The first of these is of course the birth, which we have covered already in our discussion of baptism and naming ceremonies.

The Age of Seven: The next moment of transition for a child is around the age of seven. At this age, the child is losing his or her first teeth, and receiving new adult teeth which he or she will have for the rest of his or her life. It is a symbolic moment where the child begins to take on the first elements of adult life. At this age, the child can take on some personal responsibilities, can grapple with certain adult concepts, can acquire certain adult skills, and can consciously begin to develop attributes and qualities such as truthfulness, trustworthiness, gentleness and kindness.

The Age of Puberty: The next moment of transition for a child is the time of puberty. This can be earlier for a girl than for a boy, but is usually around the beginning of the teens. The transition to sexual capacity and awareness is a major adjustment for a young person, and causes huge physical and emotional changes. The young person and the parents can be helped go through this transition with a suitable ceremony.

Other Moments of Transition in Life: There are other major moments of transition in people's lives such as:

  • completion of secondary school
  • graduation from college
  • departure from home
  • 21st birthday
  • 40th birthday, mid-life, or menopause
  • retirement

One should also include: marriage and marriage anniversaries, the birth of a child, major illness, and of course death.

All of these can be spiritually celebrated in some way and I am happy to be of assistance.

Family on Day of First Communion on Aran

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House Blessings and Other Blessings

There can be two reasons for wanting to bless something. One is to consecrate it or dedicate it for some sacred usage. The other is to protect it and those who use it. And of course one can want to bless it for both reasons. Blessing a house, or the site of a house, is a good example of consecrating a space for a sacred usage, namely making it a holy place in which people can live. Blessing a car is a good example of placing a circle of protection around something which can be lethally dangerous for its occupants and for other road users.

House Blessing

Traditionally in Ireland, when people were choosing a site for their home, they walked the land carefully to find the spot with the most positive energy. Even in recent times, people were careful not to build their home on a fairy path, something which would block the fairies way and turn them against you.

Having found the spot, they then walked in a turas deiseal, a journey around the perimeter of the site in a clockwise, or sunwise, direction. From this comes the word 'contemplation'.

People of this time understood that the plan and concept for their home was initially with the gods. The gods had the 'template' for their home. Through con-templation, walking around on the perimeter of the site, they were drawing down this plan for their home from the heavens and making it manifest on the earth.

Whether you are at the initial stage of choosing a site, or at a later stage of being ready to build, ready to move in, or already moved, a ceremony of blessing may be important to you. I am happy to perform a ceremony with you that will reflect your beliefs and your view of the world and that will consecrate your home and make it a sacred dwelling.

Other Blessings

A Car: It is common enough for people to want to have their car blessed as a ritual of protection against accident on the road. I use sacred water from a holy well for this purpose. I can then leave the bottle of water with the car owner to carry in the car at all times. At the beginning of a journey, the water can be used to bless the car and occupants as a protection against accident.

It is common enough also to conduct blessings on:

  • A pregnant woman
  • An animal, including pets
  • Seed for planting
  • A harvest
  • Buildings other than one's home
  • Boats, planes and other forms of transport

There is no limit to what one can want to bless or have blessed. Of course, one does not need a priest or practiced practitioner for every occasion. It is good for people to become accustomed to creating their own rituals of blessing and protection without having to call on an outsider to do it for them. However, there will be occasions when it seems right to ask in somebody more experienced, and in these cases I am happy to be of assistance.

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Healing Ceremonies, Blessings of the Sick, and Praying with Someone

  • I do not offer any particular form of 'therapy'. What I can do is pray with someone.
  • Sometimes I pray with a person alone, other times it is with a group gathered around the particular person
  • My first step is always to create a sacred space around those of us present. To do this we will close doors and try to ensure an uninterrupted silence, as far as possible.
  • We will then light a candle, and perhaps an incense stick, hold hands and have a moment's silence to recollect ourselves.
  • Within this setting, I will normally want to have a conversation with those present and especially with the one we are focussing on. I will share my own thoughts and encourage others to do the same.
  • Out of this conversation will come a prayer. After a brief silence, I will pray whatever prayer comes to me.
  • I will invite others also to pray, either out loud or silently
  • I will lay my hands on the person, either on their head or shoulders, or simply take their hands in mine
  • I will anoint the person with oil.
  • There may be other elements in the ceremony such as singing or readings.
  • I always leave room within the ceremony for something spontaneous - the 'movement of the spirit'
  • We will end the ceremony with a ritual of closure such as a final blessing, holding hands, a song, or hugs all round.

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Solstice, Equinox, and Full Moon Celebrations

Within the Celtic tradition, the Divine is particularly accessible during moments of transition. These moments of transition can be times in one's own life, such as birth, marriage, coming of age and ultimately the moment of death, but there are also times within the calendar of nature which are clear moments of transition. In modern times, these transition moments in nature have been all but forgotten.

For those wanting to reconnect with nature, celebrating the year's natural transition moments is a good place to begin. These moments--solstice, equinox, and full moon--have been occurring since our planet was formed. Their regular predictable occurrence is not only to be found in the skies, but is a pattern that is also embedded and reflected in the life-cycles of living beings.

Plants are aware of temperature and the length of daylight. Their annual cycle of growth, flowering, seeding, and dying back is directly connected to the pattern of the sun and moon in the skies. Animals also. Birds know when to make nests and lay eggs. Goats and sheep know to become fertile at the beginning of winter in order to have their young in the spring. Fish know when and where to go to spawn and mate.

Humans at first sight appear less connected or controlled by this pattern in the skies. However, a woman's menstrual cycle is a direct reflection of the monthly cycle of the moon. In subtler ways, our moods are effected by our exposure to sunlight and by the fullness of the moon. When we see the effect the moon has on the sea, twice each day causing huge changes in tide across our shores, and when we realise that our bodies also contain a large percentage of water, it is logical to assume that the moon is also registering some 'tidal' effects on our bodies and on the bodies of all living beings that contain water.

  • When I participate in ceremonies at these times, I draw on the gifts, experience, insights and mental associations of all present to create a ceremony.
  • The ceremony can be pre-planned, or it can be a spontaneous gathering with everybody expected to contribute.
  • Choosing the right moment is important. In the case of the solstices and equinoxes, that moment is sunrise or sundown. In the case of the full moon, it can be sundown or later in the evening when the moon is high in the sky.
  • Choosing the right location is also important. A site outdoors is of course best. A sacred site outdoors would be even better. And on a hilltop with a clear view would probably be best of all.
  • It helps to light a fire at the centre of the circle. This is symbolic of the sun and of course it draws people around a focal point.
  • Gathered in this way, there can be readings, prayers and songs.
  • People share their mental associations with this cosmic event. This is a conversation around the topic.
  • A participant will recount a mythical story connected to this cosmic event that comes from some sacred tradition
  • Another participant will lead us in a circle dance and explain the symbolism of the movements
  • Someone will suggest a ritual action such as jumping over the fire, walking in a sunwise direction around the fire, or whatever ñ an action that would ritualise the meaning of the occasion for us
  • There will be music and singing
  • We will share food and drink together

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Celtic Festival Celebrations Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasa, Samhain

These four festivals divide the year into four quarters. Each festival marks the beginning of a new season. They are therefore festivals that celebrate transition moments in the year. The festivals are celebrated on the following dates:

  • Imbolc: February 1st
  • Bealtaine: May 1st
  • Lughnasa: August 1st
  • Samhain: November 1st
  • For the Celts, the festival begins at sundown of the previous day. Also, traditionally the festival lasts a lot longer than one day. The dates above mark the beginning of the festival.

For people who live in the countryside, who are mostly outdoors, and who gather, grow and hunt for their own food, these transition moments signal big adjustments in the patterns of daily living from season to season. I know this well, because I grow vegetables, keep animals and fowl, and I fish.

Imbolc is a time of excitement as we expect the winter's end. We appreciate enormously the lengthening of the day, the warmer weather and the emergence of growth in the ground. Our minds are preoccupied with planning the planting season, ordering the seed, preparing the ground, spreading seaweed or compost, and planning the rotations. The chickens and ducks begin the lay again and we can again eat eggs.

Bealtaine is a time of celebration and relaxation. The summer has begun in earnest. The crops have been sown and we await their harvest. Everything is coming into its fullness. We keep ourselves going with weeding and watering, picking the first fruits, and fishing.

Lughnasa is greeted with a certain sadness as we begin our goodbyes to summer and anticipate the shortening days and the colder weather. The harvest has begun and we are carefully storing away what we can for the winter. We count our failures and our victories as we assess the success of our work.

Samhain is the beginning of the new year. We begin it in the dark and the cold, where all life begins and ends. Everything has died back and so do we. We stay indoors more. It is a time for reflection and planning. A time for restructuring, renovation, renewal. We try to make our stores last until the end of spring. We make do with what we have got, and do without what we cannot have.

When we create a celebration around these festivals, we draw on our own experience of these transition times, as well as drawing on the traditional practices and beliefs associated with them.

On the island of Inis Mór, where I live, Samhain is a public festival.

Some of the people dress up as Otherworld creatures on Halloween night. They completely camouflage their personal identity, so that they are unrecognisable even by people who know them well. They then visit their neighbours and gather in the pubs in the main village of the island. They remain silent for the whole night, never revealing their true identity.

This ritual dressing-up dramatises the ancient Celtic myth surrounding Samhain. For the Celts, the transition night between the old year and the new year was a time when the veil between this world and the Otherworld was very thin. Both worlds could blend on this night. This meant that there was a real danger that one could disappear into the Otherworld on this night, or that one could encounter someone from the Otherworld. Those dressing up represent the creatures of the Otherworld coming into our midst.

At Croagh Patrick, in Westport, Co. Mayo, an ancient ritual celebrating Lughnasa is still practiced.

This Lughnasa ritual is the climbing of the Holy Mountain. In pre-Christian times, the mountain represented the earth goddess Anu. At sunset, the sun god Lugh came into her bed for the night and they made love. Their intercourse produced the harvest. This is a harvest festival. The climbing of the mountain takes place these days on the last Sunday of July, marking the beginning of the harvest. Traditionally, people climbed the mountain during the night, in order to join Anu and Lugh ritually in their bed, so that they could also benefit from their harvest. Nowadays, people mostly climb the mountain during the day.

Bealtaine is celebrated throughout Europe with flowers, an altar to Mary, the May pole and sexual games.

In Ireland, Bealtaine was a festival of sexual license. It was a time also for getting married. The cattle, which were the measure of a person's wealth, were driven through a narrow gap between two bonfires and put out into summer pasture. This was a purification ritual, and may even have had a practical purpose.

Traditional practices around Imbolc have largely been forgotten.

However, an Imbolc practice being revived in many parts of Ireland is that of making St Brigid's cross out of straw or reed on the feast of St Brigid. This cross is ritually placed in a home as a protection against fire for the coming year. The cross is an ancient fire symbol, representing the sun, but through St Brigid this cross is also representative of Christianity.

Another practice being revived around the festival of Imbolc is the laying out of St Brigid's cloak overnight on the earth. In the morning it is gathered in, having been blessed by the dew. It is then torn up into strips and distributed to people. The cloth is used as a protection against illness. Usually the cloth is blue. Dew is the sacred water of the Celts. It has a mysterious quality to it as it both arrives on the ground and disappears again in a mysterious way.

On Inis Meán, the least populated of the three Aran Islands, there is still a practice of using the Babóg Brídín (the doll of St Brigid). Children make this doll out of straw on the eve of February 1st, the feast of St Brigid. They bring the doll around to all the houses in the vicinity, knocking at the door and inviting the residents to welcome St Brigid into their homes. Welcoming Brigid means welcoming the spring.

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A Celtic Mass

The Christian eucharist has been around in various forms since the beginning of Christianity.

In the time of Saint Paul, according to one expert I have read recently, it was a gathering of Christians around an actual meal with little formality attached to it. There may not even have been the concept of a priest officiating.

Later, many different expressions of it developed as Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. Until Christianity became centralised and uniform, which did not happen to any great extent until nearly the 12th century, the eucharist was celebrated in many different languages and in many different ways.

In Ireland, during the period of the Celtic Church, that is before the 12th century, the eucharist was normally celebrated only once a week, on the sabbath. After the ceremony, monks took the sacred bread back to their cells in a little satchel and ate a piece each day. They put the satchel around their necks when they went to work. Often in the fields these satchels were hung on the branches of trees, blessing the work and the harvest.

With the Gregorian Reform, the Christian church in the west became more centralised and hierarchical. Central to this reform was the promotion of the Roman Ritual, a book which contained in great detail the words and rubrics of every ceremony to be performed in the name of Christianity. This put an end to all diversity within the Church and imposed a rigidness and staleness upon the ceremony of the eucharist which lasted until the reforms of the Vatican Council in the late 1960's.

Of course, the Reformation which shattered Christianity into many piecces led to a new diversity among the expressions of Christianity. However, many of the Protestant churches chose to put an emphasis on Scripture rather than on ritual, and consequently the eucharist became something that was either not practiced at all, or practiced at a very minimal level. Only the Anglican and Lutheran churches have continued to give some prominence to the eucharist, and their ceremonies are now quite similar to the post-Vatican Council Roman Catholic Mass.

It is my view that sacred ritual is a very important medium for worship. The use of ritual actions, symbolic objects, sacred images, vestments, candles and incense all contributes to the human effort to express ourselves spiritually and to be in touch with the divine.

I believe that Jesus was extraordinarily insightful and courageous when he took the bread and wine of the Passover meal and gave it such a radically new meaning. The Passover meal was a Jewish religious festival meal normally led by the head of the household. It had a laid down structure to it, with certain foods to be on the table and certain prayers to be said. The Jewish authorities instructed the people on how this ceremony was to be performed.

Jesus, while respecting the tradition and therefore wanting the celebrate the occasion, had no respect for the authorities or their efforts to control how it was celebrated. He therefore felt free to be creative and spontaneous at the celebration and to add a new layer of meaning to it. As we can see from the gospel account, he did this in two ways: first by taking the bread and wine from the table and declaring it to be his body and blood which we should eat and drink, and second by insisting on washing the feet of his disciples.

The Passover was a celebration of the Hebrew people, those who later became known as the Jews, escaping from their slavery in Egypt. They 'passed over' the Red Sea out of Egypt, led by Moses, and spent the next forty years in the desert before eventually settling further north in Israel. The Passover festival, which happens once a year around our time of Easter, is a celebration of liberation from slavery.

Jesus honoured that celebration and left that meaning intact while at the same time adding a new and even deeper layer of meaning. For me, that new layer of meaning was that Jesus saw that his life with his disciples was a giving of himself to them. His life with them was food and drink for their souls. In inviting them to do this same thing in memory of him, he was asking them to also give their lives in this way to and for one another.

When we take the bread and wine in the eucharist, it is not so much that we are eating and drinking the body and blood of Jesus, as that we are eating and drinking the body and blood of each other. This is nourishment for our souls because our lives contain a divine element, as did the life of Jesus. The divine is in each of us, as it was to a very manifest degree in Jesus, and we bring that out in each other when we live according to the insights that Jesus gave us about life. When we share a meal with people we love and respect, we are not just receiving nourishment for our bodies, we are also receiving nourishment for our souls. This is why many people light a candle at a meal, to represent this spiritual element. In this sense, every meal together can be a eucharist.

When we celebrate the eucharist then we can follow the example of Jesus. While being respectful of tradition, we are encouraged by Jesus' example to allow the spirit to move us during the celebration and to feel free enough to add new layers of meaning to the ceremony that are relevant for us today. Tradition can give us the initial structure and suggested content for the ceremony, but there is nothing to stop us adding to and adapting what has been given, so that it meets our needs and touches us where we are at.

Jesus quite clearly respected the spiritual traditions of his people. The gospels recount him visiting the synagogue on the Sabbath, and going up to Jerusalem for the festivals. This is on the one hand, but on the other hand, Jesus clearly had no time for the religious leaders of Judaism. He took every opportunity he could to denounce them. He denounced them as a pack, rather than just focussing on particularly corrupt individuals.

Jesus strongly supported the rich indigenous spiritual tradition of Judaism, but had no time for a religious structure of control that was hierarchical, male dominated and authoritarian. For Jesus, the power that he recognised was the power and potential within each individual, and the authority that he respected was the inner divinely given authority within each person.

The development of Christianity as an institutional religion was not something that Jesus could even remotely have wanted to happen. It is my view that these institutional expressions of Christianity that we have today offer only a distorted, corrupted and emasculated version of what Jesus really stood for.

If one can appreciate the difference between an indigenous spiritual tradition and an institutionalised religion then one can see where Christianity could have taken us had it not been hijacked and anaesthetised by institutionalisation. An indigenous spiritual tradition is something which lives dynamically among a people and does not need hierarchical or centralised control. It is the accumulated mythology of the people and out of it comes an inculturated expression in daily ritual activities and regular festivals and celebrations.

A modern example of an indigenous tradition that has not been controlled centrally but is nonetheless dynamic, life-giving and adapted to the contemporary world, is the Irish musical tradition. Of course, this is not a spiritual tradition in the strict sense, but it does illustrate how a tradition can survive and be self-sustaining without centralised control or institutionalisation. In the case of Ireland, there is also a Celtic spiritual tradition which is indigenous and has not been institutionalised. However, it only survives on the margins of Irish society, as the mainstream has been dominated since the 12th century by the institutionalised Christian church.

The challenge in creating a Celtic Mass or eucharist is to be faithful to the Irish indigenous tradition while at the same time making the ceremony relevant to people of today and allowing within the ceremony for spontaneity and the movement of the spirit.

We have done this on Aran each Sunday for many years by first locating the ceremony outdoors, if the weather allows. Having it outdoors is part of the Irish tradition going back to pre-Celtic times. It serves to connect us with our natural environment where not only do we commune with the divine in nature but we see also on the landscape the marks of our spiritual tradition going back to ancient times. We have worshipped close to a holy well, and on the site of an ancient Celtic monastery.

The ceremony has been hosted by my wife and I who act as guardians of our household and of the vision for that household. People who join us are our guests. It is our role to lead the ceremony, as it would be the role of any couple to coordinate a celebration in their home. This role is similar to that of an abbot or abbess in a Celtic monastery where the community was ideally never more than 12 or 13 people, imitating Christ and the 12 apostles.

Within the ceremony there is music and singing, silence, prayer, sharing and reflection, as well as symbolic objects, ritual actions, and the use of some food and drink (not necessarily bread and wine). It has a structure to it, is carefully led from one stage to the next, but at the same time is open to spontaneity and to the full participation of everybody. The prayers that are said come from the heart and are not prescribed. The priestly role is held by my wife and I but is not strongly emphasised. When we cannot be present, others take over the role.

The ceremony is not particularly Christ centred nor is it restricted to self-confessed Christians. It is a ceremony that is open to all people of good will. It is centred on the divine rather than on Christ. Participants share their insights and experiences, their beliefs and their doubts. For some people the teaching and example of Jesus has assisted them in their spiritual journey, and they share this. What unites the group is each participant's desire to acknowledge the divine in one's life and to be in touch with that life-source.

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