Our Fall Equinox ritual will be honoring Greek deities, including Dionysus. Our Summer Solstice ritual was also honoring Greek deities. Why? Aren’t Druids Celtic?
Yes, Druids were a part of Celtic society. They were more than religious leaders, though. They were legal authorities and adjudicators, political advisors, and medical professionals. They were also keepers of lore. They were the learned class that served their community.
We are a grove of Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) and the founder of ADF, Isaac Bonewits, had a vision. A vision to serve today’s Neopagan community much as the ancient Druids did theirs. As explained on the ADF website,
“We call ourselves Druids, and we look to the ancient Druids – the priests, priestesses, wise ones and magicians of the ancient Celts – for much of our inspiration. Like them, we’re people who value excellence – physically, intellectually, artistically and spiritually.
Although our name implies an inclination toward things Celtic, we seek to understand all of the currents within the Indo-European spectrum of religions. In addition to those who follow Celtic ways we welcome Norse, Hellenic, Baltic, Slavic and Latin Neopagans, and encourage each to take up the worship and magic of the old ways.”
Who are Indo-Europeans? Anyone whose native language is English, Gaelic, Spanish, German, Latin, Greek, Russian, Albanian, Lithuanian, Armenian, Persian, Hindi, and more, or half of the languages spoken today. The theory of the existence of these people developed from the discipline of linguistics. It was discovered that all these languages developed from one language. And that is about where the consensus ends. There are many theories as to how far back the people began to migrate and language began to diverge (probably around 4th millennium BC, but maybe the 5th) and from where (probably from here in Eastern Europe). For a brief description of the many hypotheses, go here. These people who we call Proto-Indo-Europeans were not a unified political or ethnic group but shared a language and a culture, and from this culture came the religious pagan cultures and their traditions that we adapt for our rituals. For more information read J.P. Mallory, M.L West, and ADF’s own Ceisiwr Serith.
Black Bear Grove chooses to honor the Celtic pantheon at Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnassa, and Samhain, which includes Irish, Welsh, and Britannic deities. At each Equinox and Solstice it can be any other Indo-European pantheon. In the past we have done Greek, Roman, Baltic, Vedic, Norse, and Anglo-Saxon, and Proto-Indo-European. For Fall Equinox we are honoring Greek deities and at the Winter Solstice we will be working with the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European pantheon. Ceisiwr Serith’s book is a great introduction to this pantheon, with suggested rituals and a pronunciation guide to Proto-Indo-European (because, really, how do you pronounce h1?).
Join us at the Fall Equinox on September 22 to honor Dionysus. There will be more about him in an upcoming blog.