What Do NeoCeltic Pagans Believe?
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I have to begin this piece by saying that the beliefs I describe are my own and not necessarily those of other Celtic pagans. There are many different forms of the 'religion' and within those different forms there are many different practices.
I am a devotee of the Morrigan, a goddess of battle, sexuality, death and the cycle of life.
Most of the time when I tell non-pagan people this they think it means I am an aggressive person, (or at the very least a bit odd), but when you break down the symbolism of each of these things it makes a lot of sense.
I value physical strength and endurance, but the battle aspect of the Morrigan also applies to the emotional as well as the physical aspect of battle. I believe it is important to not walk away from the things I fear, to be there for my friends when they need me even though the intensity of their pain might hurt me too. I value the ability to look at who I am and try to change the things that I don't like, and to face the things that hurt me, or have hurt me in order to make the best of the life I have now.
In essence I believe this is how I can value myself, how I can learn to love myself despite the many mistakes I have made.
Sexuality and body image
I believe that a person's sexuality is something to be celebrated, not hidden, no matter what their gender preferences. I hate the fact that I live in a world where I have to hide being bisexual for fear of my own physical safety (but that's a topic for another piece in itself).
I also think that the body is a canvas that we can use to show our inner selves and beliefs, in the way we dress, the jewellery we wear and our physical health. The last part is especially true of me as I am trying to overcome compulsive eating disorder, my overweight body reminds me of all the things that I have done to disrespect myself in the past and how much these things hurt me but also it makes that disrespect into a physical thing by which other people may judge me too. My aim is to present an image that says I value health, bravery and my own individuality.
Death and the cycle of life
Death, no matter how frightening is a part of nature. There has been much death in my family, both of the physical and spiritual kind. Perhaps the spiritual part is more like a fracturing, but I digress.
There is an end to all things but in that end there is always a purpose. Trees give up their lives to give us paper, to warm our bodies, to give us material to build our homes. We use food scraps to give health to our gardens as compost. When people we love pass away there is always something we learn, even if it is something as simple as a reminder of how much we loved them.
The Power of Words
At the heart of the Celtic belief system is the power of the word. Things we say or write can have a profound effect on other people, whether it be a poem, a book, or an expression of concern to a person we love. The telling of stories through generations is one of the most important ways of keeping old wisdoms intact, a careless word can ruin a friendship, an expression of personal happiness can brighten someone else's mood. These are just a few ways in which words have power, and it has never been more true than it is now when some friendships that exist on IRC or through pen-pal exchanges will only ever exist as an exchange of words. Perhaps they are even more profound for being that way.
A word on the meaning of family: this is something I feel strongly about though it has a basis in chivalry more than Celtic paganism I suppose. I believe that the people I love, whether or not they are biologically related to me are as precious as my own blood kin and I would go out of my way to do for them the same things I would do for my biological family. I don't believe the lack of blood ties means I love any of my close friends less than any member of my physical family and it is important to me to think of my friends as family members.
So guys, you're all stuck with me, I ain't going nowhere ;)
Sarah Bradberry October 28, 1997
Copyright © 1997 Sarah Bradberry