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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

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Welcome to the 12th edition of the Edge of the Circle Newsletter. This newsletter has come about as an effort to reach out to the Pagan/ Occult community (particularly in Seattle where we are based) to inform the community of what events are happening at our store. I've got great plans for this newsletter. Hopefully, as time goes by, it will only get bigger and better. Without further ado, welcome, and enjoy.


Erica (Raven) Branch-Butler,




Edge of the Circle Books is Seattle's resource for Paganism & the Occult. This newsletter seeks to provide the Seattle community with a place to list events, post articles, and do a bit of networking. We are at: 701 E. Pike St, corner of Boylston Ave., just two blocks west of Broadway, on Capitol Hill. Edge of the Circle Books strives to be everything that you could want in a Magickal Pagan store.

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by Alexei Kondratiev Copyright © 1998 Alexei Kondratiev All Rights Reserved May be reposted as long as the above attribution and copyright notice are retained [Originally published in An Tríbhís Mhór: The IMBAS Journal of Celtic Reconstructionism Vol. 1, No. 4, Bealtaine 1998.]

It is now commonplace among people with an interest in early Celtic tradition to believe that the gods of pre-Christian Ireland were the Tuatha Dé Danann, the "peoples of the goddess Danu". This goddess is pictured as their progenitor and as a general Earth-mother, tying both the nature of the gods and the manner of their worship to the physical reality of the Land. In Neo- Pagan circles a vivid sense of the character and personality of this goddess has emerged, so that some people can now describe themselves publicly as "ardent devotees of Danu". Also widespread is the notion that Danu's consort is Bile, and that he is either the first male ancestor of both gods and mortals and therefore a kind of Lord of the Dead, or that, because of his name (which means "tree"), he represents the World Tree that is the axis of the universe and of any ritually consecrated area. These are powerful theological concepts, which provide revived Celtic religion with some much-needed focus and depth. Yet what are our textual sources for them? How solidly are they rooted in the historical record?

Our most immediate sources are certain popular Victorian and Edwardian books (many of them still in print) that first attempted to bring the complicated and chaotic material from mediaeval Irish and Welsh manuscripts into a form that the non-scholarly public could understand and enjoy. They transmitted the conclusions of more scholarly discussion about the nature and meaning of the texts, without, however, going over the arguments of the discussion in detail, or indicating the reservations some scholars might still have had about the conclusions. It is in these books that the Tuatha Dé Danann are first presented unambiguously as "the peoples of the goddess Danu", with Danu and Bile as the most ancient ancestors within the pantheon. In the words of Charles Squire, for example:

"The most ancient divinity of whom we have any knowledge is Danu herself, the goddess from whom the whole hierarchy of gods received its name of Tuatha Dé Danann. She was the universal mother. Her husband is never mentioned by name, but one may assume him, from British analogies, to have been Bilé [sic], known to Gaelic tradition as a god of Hades, a kind of Celtic Dis Pater from whom sprang the first men. Danu herself probably represented the earth and its fruitfulness, and one might compare her with the Greek Demeter. All the other gods are, at least by title, her children." 1

Let us examine the foundation for these statements, beginning with the figure of Danu herself.

First, it must be recognised that *Danu is a reconstructed form: it never occurs as such in any Irish source. If one assumes that Danann (as in Tuatha Dé Danann) is the genitive form of an n-stem noun, one can also assume - on the analogy of other n-stem nouns like Ériu gen. Érenn, brú gen. bronn, etc. - that its nominative form would be *Danu. However, even this supposed genitive form is of very limited distribution (usually found only in the expression Dé Danann), and when it occurs in other constructions it seems to refer to a male name (e.g. in the patronymic mac Danann meic Bratha, which clearly indicates a *Danu son of Brath). 2

Next, it should be pointed out that nowhere in the Lebor Gabála Érenn (Book of Conquests of Ireland) - our earliest source on the material related to the Tuatha Dé Danann, compiled between the ninth and the twelfth centuries - does Danu appear (under any form of her name) in the role of primordial mother. The one figure who appears prominently in the text and has a similar name is Danand (or Donand) daughter of Delbaeth son of Ogma, who cohabits with her own father and has three sons by him, Brian, Iuchar and Iucharba. These three come to be known as the tri Dé Danand, the "three gods of Danand", and we are told that all the Tuatha Dé Danann took their name from them, although no logical reason for this appears in the narrative, nor any sense of why the three alone are "gods".3 A story already current at the time of the compilation of the Lebor Gabála made them the enemies of Lúgh, because they had killed Lúgh's father when he was in the shape of a lap-dog.4 The magical tasks which Lúgh imposed on them and the cruel death they suffered in spite of all their efforts were the subject of a literary tale from the later Middle Ages, Oidheadh Cloinne Tuireann (The Violent Death of the Sons of Tuireann), which was counted as one of the "three sorrowful tales of Ireland" (Tuirell [or Tuirenn] Biccreo was, according to the Lebor Gabála, another name of Delbaeth).5 Elsewhere in the Lebor Gabála the "three gods of Danand" are stated to be Triall, Brian and Cet, sons of Bres (presumably also by Danand), the half-Fomorian ruler who is the antagonist of Lúgh in Cath Maige Tuired, the story of the great climactic battle between the Fomorians and the Tuatha Dé Danann; indeed, the compilers of the Lebor Gabála seem to have been uncertain as to which trio merited the name.6

Danand is described as having four daughters: Airgdean, Barrand, Be Chuille and Be Thedhe. 7 Elsewhere they are presented as her sisters, and in that context all of them are said to be the daughters of Flidais.8 Be Chuille is particularly linked to Danand: they are mentioned in several places as di bantuathaig ("two female farmers [or landowners]")9 among the Tuatha Dé Danann.10 These are surely the same pair as Be Culde and Dinand who are called upon by Lúgh in Cath Maige Tuired to serve as bantuathaid ("witches", practitioners of destructive magic) in the battle.11 Finally, to make matters even more confusing, one passage states that the Morrígu was the mother of the Three Gods, and that her other name was Danand - despite the fact that elsewhere in the same compilation the Morrígu and Danand are presented as sisters, both daughters of Earnmhas who was herself a bantuathach.12

What we undoubtedly have here is the work of loremasters dealing with a vast number of regional tales, many of them very similar to each other but involving differences in detail and in the names of their protagonists. In attempting to weave all of these elements into a consistent whole they were unable to avoid some confusion, giving incompatible genealogies to some characters and assigning the same narrative role to different characters in different passages. Thus the role of the "three gods" appears to shift between several triads of characters (the three sons of Delbaeth; the three sons of Bres; the three sons of Cermait) at various points in the text. Also, harmonising different stories from different sources required coming up with a single name for each functional character. Some of the names used (Lúgh, Brigit, Nuadu) are corroborated by ancient Celtic sources and are certainly authentic survivals of pre-Christian Celtic theonyms. Others (In Dagda, Goibniu, probably Dian Cecht and Oengus), though not confirmed by the same kind of evidence, appear equally authentic on the basis of their structure. But some (e.g. Partholón, Cessair) are obviously complete inventions, and others appear to be adaptations of names found in Classical sources (as has been suggested in the case of Ogma, whose name appears to be borrowed from Lucian's Gaulish god Ogmios). Thus the Lebor Gabála is no trustworthy guide to the names and relationships of the figures in pre-Christian Celtic mythology. What evidence it gives us of the earlier tradition is to be found in the overall patterns of the stories, and in the basic functions exercised by the more important characters.

In the case of "Danu"/Danand, one particular element should hold our attention: her relation to a specific feature of the Irish landscape, the Dhá Chíoch Anann, two hills in Luachair in West Munster whose shape suggests the breasts of a vast supine woman whose body is the Land itself. This was the site of one of Fionn Mac Cumhaill's most famous boyhood deeds (his victory over the fairy woman of Síd Brég Éle) and was recognised as a place of importance in some of our earliest written sources. Many linguists have supposed that Anann is, like Danann, the genitive of an n-stem noun whose nominative form would be *Anu. In the Lebor Gabála, however, the di chích Anand are linked to a figure named Anand who is also a daughter of Earnmhas, and who in another passage is stated to be identical to both Danand and the Morrígu (dia forainm Danand o builed Da Chích Anann for Luachair, 7 o builed Tuatha Dé Danann - "from whose supplementary name 'Danand' the Two Breasts of Anann in Luachair are called, as well as the Tuatha Dé Danann").13

(One should also make note here of a phrase used several times in the Lebor Gabála: Danand máthair na ndée ("Danand, the mother of the gods").14 In context, it clearly refers to her as mother of the Three Gods only; but it would suggest something rather different to a later readership with different expectations.)

Throughout the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, the Lebor Gabála remained the prime authoritative source on the origins of Ireland. All literate people were expected to be familiar with its basic plots and characters, and it gave rise to countless secondary tales and poems. In the seventeenth century, as the native lore was coming to be challenged by a new elite of foreign settlers, the great Irish scholar Geoffrey Keating (Seathrún Céitinn) produced his encyclopaedic work Foras Feasa ar Éirinn (Foundation of Knowledge About Ireland), an updated and re-organised compilation of material from the Lebor Gabála and related sources that made the lore more accessible to the people of his time. Keating was a man of formidable erudition and had a deep understanding of the traditions he collected. It is thus significant that he stresses the link between Danann and the two hills in his native Munster. He explains the "divine" status of her three sons by their excellence i gceardaibh gintlí ("in pagan crafts"), which led to their people worshipping them as gods and calling themselves "Tuatha Dé Danann" after them. And he adds: Is ón Danann ba mháthair don triar seo ghairtear Dhá Chíoch Dhanann den dá chnoc atá i Luachair Dheáidh i nDeasmhumhain ("And it is from the Danann who was the mother of these three that the two hills that are in Luachair Dheáidh in Desmond are called The Two Breasts of Danann").15 His choice of spelling - Dhanann instead of Anann - has led many scholars to suppose that the second name was derived from the first. Since in modern Irish pronunciation the lenited d sounds like a voiced guttural spirant, coming after the other guttural spirant ch it would tend to be assimilated, and one might hear Dhanann as Anann. So this would seem to be a tidy solution to the problem of the two goddesses Anann/*Anu and Danann/*Danu: Anann is simply a corrupt form of Danann, and they were always the same figure.

Yet is this really the full answer? There are many reasons to think that it isn't. For one thing, the name Danand was already associated with the two hills during the Middle Ages, when the lenited d had a quite different sound and was less likely to be dropped. Also, the name of the hills is already di chích Anand in the earliest sources, which suggests that Danand is the secondary rather than the primary form. Most importantly, the prominence of the cult of santez Anna ('St. Anne') in southern Brittany, often associated with pre-Christian religious sites, strongly suggests the widespread worship in the region of a Land-goddess with a name that sounded like "Ana". The origin of the name is obscure, and may even be pre-Celtic. But another, similar-sounding name - Danann - was known to Irish scholars of the Middle Ages, who decided that it referred to a figure of identical function, and led to both being conflated with each other in the syncretistic history that became the Lebor Gabála. One can speculate that the name Danann was introduced by one of the later Celtic groups that had an influence on Ireland. Since, as we shall see, it has a Welsh cognate, a good guess is that it was a Belgic name; and its probable derivation from a root dan- meaning "low ground" or "moist earth" makes it plausible that it was the name of a Land-goddess.

At this point we may want to consider the provenance and original meaning of the term Tuatha Dé Danann. Whether or not it ever meant "peoples of the goddess Danu", it isn't likely to have originally been a theonym: there's no precedent in Indo- European tradition for gods or groups of gods being referred to by a term of this kind. Indeed, it fits perfectly into the pattern so well-attested in the Lebor Gabála of using the names of historical ethnic groups to designate mythological peoples: Fir Bolg (Belgians), Fir Domnand (Dumnonians), Fir Gaileoin (Gauls), and so on. It is not unreasonable to suppose that the Tuatha Dé Danann were also an ethnic group known in Ireland's distant past - perhaps the people who worshipped the goddess whose name we have been considering. This is not to suggest that the compilers of the Lebor Gabála were the first to apply that name (arbitrarily) to figures based on Celtic gods: the name is too deeply entrenched in Irish literary and folk tradition to have been invented in the Middle Ages. But it may have been in use for some centuries to mean "magical ancient people", ascribing all strange, unexplainable structures in the landscape to a real people vaguely remembered from the distant past - much as rural French folklore today ascribes all ancient ruins indiscriminately to the "Romans" or "Saracens". The makers of the ancient wonders would have been imagined with godlike traits, which would have made it all the easier to place the gods of the older religion among them, reducing them to mortals with magical powers (with the exception of Danand's three sons, the Lebor Gabála never portrays them as actual gods). A tradition existed that they were demons and beings from the Otherworld, but the compilers of the Lebor Gabála preferred to think of them as ordinary humans with arcane knowledge.16 Their association with the síd-mounds and ancient burial sites made it possible to conceive of them as both supernatural creatures and human ancestors.


Let us now turn to Bile, *Danu/Danann's supposed consort. A figure by that name does appear in the Lebor Gabála, but is not related in any way to Danand in the narrative. Bile is one of the ten [some recensions say six] sons of Bregon [or Breogan] who originally lived in Spain. One of them, Íth, first saw the land of Ireland when gazing out to sea from the top of a tower, and mounted an expedition to investigate it. Arriving just after the death of Nét son of Indui at the hands of the Fomorians, he gave advice on the matter of that chieftain's inheritance, and then was murdered by the Tuatha Dé Danann, who were jealous of his charisma and wisdom and suspicious of his motives. His body was brought back to Spain, whereupon the other sons of Bregon decided to go to Ireland themselves to avenge their brother and seize the island, taking with them their own sons and retainers. Bile's son was Mil, after whom the "Milesian" invasion of Ireland was eventually named, since it was from Mil's sons alone that the Gaels were said to be descended. Bile, therefore, can indeed be seen as a "first ancestor" figure, and was explicitly declared to be such in mediaeval Irish literary tradition, since the Lebor Gabála states several times: Bile 7 Mílid, is dia cloind Gáidil uile ("Bile and Mil, it is from their progeny that all the Gaels come") - obviously a well-known item of historical lore.17 It is not Bile, however, but his grandson Donn who takes on the role of "first ancestor to die in Ireland" and therefore the leader and host of all those who will die subsequently in that land - something like the "god of Hades and Celtic Dis Pater" suggested by Squire. Donn (whose name means "lord") was the chief of the eight sons of Mil and commanded one of the ships in the invasion. A magical wind sent by the Tuatha Dé Danann wrecked his ship against a small island off the southwestern coast, drowning three of the sons of Mil (Donn himself; Airech the steersman; and the youngest, Éraind [or Érennán] the lookout on the mast, who fell into the sea), as well as their grandfather Bile.18 Although all of these characters could have qualified as "first dead in the land" and leaders of the later dead, and were perhaps recognised as such in parallel traditions,19 Donn gave his name to the islet where the wreck took place (Tech Duinn, "the House of Donn"), after which it became the focus of folk traditions about the Otherworld, with himself as Lord of the Dead.20 As for Bile, apart from his position of primacy and the manner of his death, he plays no active role in the narrative at all.

What grounds do we have, then, for linking Bile with *Danu/Danann? Squire mentioned "British analogies". There is indeed in mediaeval Welsh literature a figure named Dôn whose name appears to be a cognate of Danann. She never appears as a character in the stories, but is known only as the mother of the Plant Dôn, a group of figures with traits suggestive of pre-Christian divinities, very similar to the Tuatha Dé Danann in concept and function and most probably cognate to them. Unlike the Tuatha Dé Danann, however, whose precise relation to *Danu/Danann is somewhat confused, the Plant Dôn are explicitly Dôn's children. Although there are more than three Plant Dôn, three among them are set apart by the similarity of their names, which are descriptions of occupations with augmentative suffixes: Gwydion ("Great Wizard"), Gofannon ("Great Smith") and Amaethon ("Great Farmer"). Not only does this at once suggest an Indo-European functional triad, but it also obviously presents an analogy with the trí Dé Danand who are Danand's sons. The names in both traditions are sufficiently different to make certain that one wasn't simply a borrowing from the other, but that both are descended from a common theme in the Celtic past, whatever role culture contacts may have played in the subsequent development of the stories. However, the main source in which the Plant Dôn appear (the Four Branches of the Mabinogi) makes no mention of Dôn's husband, and the only male figure of her generation who plays a major role in relation to her is her brother Math, the magician-ruler of the Plant Dôn (in an arrangement many scholars have found to be reminiscent of a matrilineal social system). The only place where Dôn's husband is fleetingly identified is the Trioedd Ynys Prydein (Triads of the Isle of Britain), a collection of lore in triadic form, found in several manuscripts from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, which was intended to serve as a memory aid for native Welsh storytellers, linking characters by common themes relating to their roles. Many of the stories would now be completely unknown to us if we didn't have these brief, cryptic allusions to them in the triads. Triad 35 (Tri Chyuor a aeth o'r Enys hon, ac ny doeth dracheuyn yr un onadunt - "Three emigrations that went from this island, and not one of them ever came back") mentions Arianrhod - the daughter of Dôn who is famous for being the mother of Lleu in the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi - as Aryanrot merch Veli, "daughter of Beli". 21 This is evidently Beli Mawr son of Mynogan (or Manogan), who appears frequently in chronicles and genealogies relating to Celtic Britain. Like Bile, he plays no active role in any story, but is important chiefly as the "first ancestor" of virtually all the lineages of native British rulers, most of whom claimed kinship with one of his descendants, Coel Hen ("Old King Cole") of Colchester. According to Genealogy 10 in the Harl. MS 3859, Beli's grandson was Afallach, whose name is directly linked to Ynys Afallach, the Island-Paradise of Apples, cognate to Eamhain Abhlach of Irish tradition; and, most importantly, in the same source his wife is called Anna (quam dicunt esse consobrinam Mariae virginis - "who was said to be the cousin of the Virgin Mary").22 We have already noted the confused relationship between Danand and Anand in the Irish texts, so it is significant to see a similar relationship suggested between the names Dôn and Anna. The linking of Beli to Dôn by way of Arianrhod appears very tenuous, of course, especially since the figure of Arianrhod in Triad 35 bears little resemblance to her character in the Mabinogi. Here she has a husband, Lliaws son of Nwyfre, and two sons, Gwenwynwyn and Gwanar, who join their uncle Caswallawn son of Beli (the same character who was depicted as ruling Britain in the Second Branch of the Mabinogi; he was modeled after the historical figure Cassiuellaunos) in an expedition to pursue Julius Caesar's army after the latter's attempted invasion of Britain. One could well be tempted to assume that this is a completely different character coincidentally bearing the same name as Lleu's mother. Yet Arianrhod's name is both unique and extremely well-known in Welsh tradition, so that if there really had been "two Arianrhods" in the literature of the Middle Ages some allusions to that fact surely would appear elsewhere in the extant poetry, contrasting the two and making it clear that one and not the other was meant. It is actually simpler to accept that there was a sequel to the Mabinogi, in which she married and had two other children besides Dylan and Lleu (the chronology of the stories indeed makes this possible). So the thread uniting Beli and Arianrhod and Dôn, though barely visible, still holds plausibly.

Although their roles and names appear strikingly similar, it is in fact difficult to find an etymological link between Bile and Beli. We will deal with the name Bile in the next paragraph; Beli, despite its close similarity to the former, doesn't seem to be either a cognate or a borrowing - although the resemblance between the two names may have guided the development of the characters' parallel roles in Irish and Welsh tradition. Since in Latin texts Beli sometimes appears as Belinus, it was once widely assumed to be related to the Gaulish theonym Belenos, but this no longer seems so likely. It is most probably derived from the stem bel- meaning "battle, tumult", exemplified in words like the British theonym Bellatucadros (Beautiful in Battle) and perhaps early Welsh belu "to kill" (although there may also have been some influence from Breton beli "power, authority").

The most plausible etymology of Bile (though even this isn't certain, since the mediaeval copyists seemed unable to decide whether the i in the name was long or short) derives it from a word that means "tree", especially in the sense of "sacred tree". Throughout Irish tradition the term bile has been used to designate particularly large and ancient trees that served as focal points for ritual spaces or tribal territories. The lore of places frequently mentions the trees that marked the centres of the provincial divisions, with the centre of Ireland as a whole indicated by the biggest of them all, the Craeb Uisnig (Tree of Uisnech), an ash tree of such proportions that it was said to have covered twenty miles of ground when it finally collapsed. It was described as dor nime ("door of heaven"), suggesting that it was a means of gaining access to other worlds, a role often played by great and wonderful trees in Celtic stories, and which certainly points to the fundamental Indo- European motif of the world-tree or world-pillar which serves as the axis of the entire universe and whose immense height penetrates all the levels of existence and unites them all.23 The importance of this concept to the Celtic theory of sacred space is further reinforced by the architecture of the later temples of the "Belgic" type (like the particularly elaborate one discovered at Gournay-sur-Aronde), where great posts were strategically placed to indicate the centre and the four quarters, exactly like the famous bilí of Irish sacred geography.24 The term bile is also known (as a rare and archaic term) in Scots Gaelic, while in Manx billey has become the ordinary word for "tree". It has its origins in Old Celtic bilios, attested in Gaulish place- names like Biliomagos "Plain of the Sacred Tree" (modern-day Bilem). 25 No cognate has survived in Welsh, but in Breton bilh can still mean the trunk of a very large tree that has been cut down.

These linguistic and theological features could indeed suggest that the figure of Bile, "first ancestor" of human lineages in time, is also "first point in space" out of which all subsequent spatial dimensions grow. That the name of the character did have such symbolic associations cannot be ruled out by any means, but there are simpler reasons why a human could be compared to a bile. In literary Irish - and especially in the praise-poetry the filí addressed to their aristocratic patrons - the term bile is often applied to the scions of noble families, with the sense of "eminent warrior". 26 Sometimes a poet might make a playful allusion to the "tree" meaning (as when, for example, we read in the Metrical Dinnshenchas: mac Golláin cen imduibe/ba bili bán Bregmaige - "the son of Gollán without darkness of dishonour was the white bile of the plain of Brega"), 27 but the basic characteristics invoked were visible glory and solid, immovable strength. These are, in fact, the main qualities suggested by bile when it refers to a tree. The word is ultimately derived from an Indo-European root *bhel- applied to things that are bulky and swollen, or in the process of swelling and growing (it is, in particular, the root from which the word "phallus" developed). The idea, then, is great size and solidity with a specifically masculine, virile flavour. In relation to the trees, it originally expressed their size rather than their sacredness, although the longevity of a giant tree, remaining as an unchanging landmark for centuries in the shifting landscape, would have naturally made it the focus of religious awe. But given the generalised meaning and diversified usage of the term, and even while noting the fascinating correlation between trees, maleness, and the centre of ritual space, it becomes less compelling to link the literary character Bile directly to the concept of the World Tree.

Where does this leave our original pair of "primordial parents"? The evidence linking the two figures to each other in a literary context is, as we have seen, almost nonexistent. Bile/Beli is indeed associated with a "first ancestor" motif (and in both Irish and Welsh traditions he has a grandson who rules an Otherworld place for the dead), and his name (at least in its Irish form) does contain a possible reference to sacred trees, but this seems to be little more than an instance of a widespread Celtic metaphor (albeit a powerful one) in which male strength and dependability are compared to the solidness of a giant tree. As for *Danu, although it remains possible that this was the original nominative form of the name, in all extant sources the nominative in fact appears as Danand (modern Danann).28 The scant literary evidence concerning her places her within the now-familiar Celtic pattern of a Land-goddess linked to three male divinities who represent either a functional triad, the three vertical divisions of the universe, or something less clearly defined. In the mediaeval texts these goddess-figures are never shown as primordial mothers, but always as daughters of some pre-existing character. Danand is specifically identified as a bantuathach ("female farmer or landowner" - one can assume that the term bantuathaid "sorceress, witch" used in Cath Maige Tuired came from a misunderstanding of the original word), which links her to the world of third-function activities, and may indicate the context of her worship in pre-Christian times. Squire's comparison of her to Demeter is particularly apt, since the Greek goddess was, despite the more exclusive Eleusinian mystery cult that grew up around her, first and foremost tied to the processes of the agricultural cycle, and relevant to the lives of farmers (as she still is in her guise of St. Demetra); and although her name meant "Mother Earth" (suggesting that she once had a more primordial role), the official theogony didn't portray her as the progenitor of the other gods, but made her a child of Rhea and Kronos. The association of Danann with a probably much older figure named 'Anann' or 'Anna' also suggests that she may have been superimposed on a goddess with more primeval "Mother Earth" traits.

"Moist earth" and "pillar of strength": although one can no longer point to them as characters in an explicit mythology of origins, they are still powerful archetypes of the primordial qualities of the divine female and the divine male, as expressed by the Celtic imagination. As symbols, they remain basic to the vocabulary of Celtic myth, and exploring the intricate patterns into which they have been woven throughout the literature and lore of the Celtic languages will continue to be a fruitful and enriching endeavour.


1. Squire:1979[1905], 50-1.

2. DIL:1983, 182.

3. LGE:1941, 128, 156, 160, 192.

4. LGE:1941, 134-6.

5. ibid.

6. LGE:1941, 162, 198.

7. LGE:1941, 182.

8. LGE:1941, 132, 158.

9. Tuathach can also mean "lord, chief representative of a tribe", which complicates the picture. However, since the term bantuathach is unique to this text (and to texts derived from it), I have chosen to retain R.A.S. MacAlister's interpretation.

10. LGE:1941, 150, 182.

11. CMT:1982, 52-4.

12. LGE:1941, 122.

13. LGE:1941, 188.

14. LGE:1941, 182, 216.

15. FFE:1982, 86.

16. LGE:1941, 134, 165.

17. LGE:1956, 44, 90.

18. LGE:1956, 38, 54-6, 70, 80.

19. Ír, another son of Mil, was drowned at Sgeilig, which also became an important sacred site associated with death and the Otherworld.

20. Davidson:1988, 176.

21. TYP:1979, 75-82, 277-8.

22. TYP:1979, 281-3.

23. Davidson:1988, 178-81.

24. Brunaux:1986, 20.

25. Ross:1967, 34.

26. DIL:1983, 73.

27. LL:1965, 867.

28. In some later texts, Danann is given a new genitive form Danainne, treating it as a feminine noun of the second declension (cf. DIL:1983, 182).


Book of Leinster (vol. 4), ed. by Anne O'Sullivan. Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies, Dublin, 1965. [LL]

BRUNAUX, Jean-Louis. Les Gaulois: Sanctuaires et rites. Éditions Errance, Paris, 1986.

Cath Maige Tuired, ed. by E.A. Gray. Irish Texts Society Vol. LII. Dublin, 1982. [CMT]

CÉITINN, Seathrún (Geoffrey Keating) (ed. by Padraig de Barra). Foras Feasa ar Éirinn, vol. 1. FNT, Dublin, 1982. [FFE]

DAVIDSON, H.R. Ellis. Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe. Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, 1988.

Dictionary of the Irish Language, (E.G. Quin, general editor). Royal Irish Academy, Dublin,1983. [DIL]

Lebor Gabála Érenn, parts IV and V, ed. by R.A.S. MacAlister. Irish Texts Society Vols. XLI and XLIV. Dublin, 1941, 1956. [LGE]

ROSS, Anne. Pagan Celtic Britain: Studies in Iconography and Tradition. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1967.

SQUIRE, Charles. Celtic Myth and Legend, Poetry and Romance (original title: The Mythology of the British Islands). Bell Publishing Company, New York, 1979 [1905].

Trioedd Ynys Prydein, ed. by Rachel Bromwich. University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1978 [1961]. [TYP]



Version 2.5, ©1999 by Epona Perry.

Last modified November 15, 1999.

There are many out there who believe that Wicca and its related forms of NeoPagism are a type of Celtic Paganism (and vice versa), but this is simply not true. The following article is meant to be a comparison of Wicca and Celtic Paganism in order to demonstrate this, and to educate the public about Celtic Paganism. While Wicca certainly contains elements of Celtic mythology, folk magic and religious belief, its basic tenets and beliefs are radically different from those of Celtic Pagans. I intend only to show that these two religions are indeed different and distinct; this article is not meant as an attack against Wicca or those who are Wiccan. There is a list of the sources I used at the end of this article, and it is my hope that whether you agree or disagree with what I have to say, you will at least go check it out for yourself by reading some of the sources listed. I hope that this article will encourage the active pursuit of knowledge and spiritual development though knowledge.

There are many modern people who are finding fulfillment in following modern versions of the ancient religion of the Celts. But what is Celtic religion? When we refer to the Celtic peoples and their religion we are talking about what existed in Gaelic, Gaulish, Brythonic and other Celtic religions during the golden age of the Celts. This would be from 400 BCE to roughly 1300 CE. While that date includes the beginnings of Celtic Christianity (which is almost a religion in and of itself), in this we will only be discussing Pagan Celtic theology. The pagan roots of Celtic spirituality has existed longer than Christianity. Unfortunately, much of what was known about classical Celtic pagan religion was either lost or combined in with Celtic Christianity, and so much of what we have to draw on is from Christian or other non-Celtic texts, and the wealth of knowledge contained in Celtic Mythology. These sources present their own problems when trying to accurately asses the cultural and spiritural practices of the ancient Celts, and those who follow the Celtic path must dedicate themselves to careful examination of what we do know and continual study.

Even with the problems facing modern Celtic scholars today, we still have much information to go on when practicing Modern Celtic Paganism. There really is little or no need to look outside the scope of the Celtic world when looking for guidance in how to shape our religious practices, due to the large amount of mythological material left behind by Celtic peoples, most of which come from the Gaelic Celts in Ireland and Scotland and the Brythionic Celts in Wales. There is also much to be learned fron the modern descendants of the Celts, i.e. those in the so-called "Six Celtic Nations". In the past an now, there is much diversity to be found within Celtic Paganism, and so it is sometimes difficult to say what is right and what is wrong. But by study and examination of the two paths, Celtic Paganism and Wicca, we can see that even this diversity still does not allow the two to be considered as one, for they are fundamentally different.

Was there more than one form of Celtic Paganism? Undoubtedly, based upon the extreme diversity between the tribal Celts themselves. The other reason for the marked differences in regional Celtic religion is, of course, the influence of outside peoples through trading and invasion. Of course many customs and religious practices of neighboring or conquering tribes were incorporated into the Celtic tribes of the area, and through time spread to other Celtic nations as well. There are some who even believe that Celtic culture and language spread even faster than the Celtic peoples, which may indicate that the Celtic Spirit went beyond genetic ties alone.

The Celts as a tribal society were very different from the way we live today. Their ways of expressing themselves (which we can see in their language, art and music) require a different way of looking at things in order to understand, other than the Christian/Greco-Roman viewpoint that most of us are used to.The way they approached their spirituality and religion was also unique, and cannot be easily categorized and understood within the contexts of most other forms of spirituality and religion. Why is this?Because Celtic religion was a unique approach from a unique people, just like many other World religions.

Despite this, there are many (especially in the NeoPagan community) who continue to fail to recognize Celtic Paganism as a distinct, valid form of NeoPaganism that is different from other NeoPagan reilgions. And as a result of the recent renewed popularity of things Celtic, it seems almost everyone and anyone is calling themselves Celtic these days, especially NeoPagans. The most common misconceptions are that Wicca is a form of Celtic Paganism and that Celtic Paganism is just another tradition within Wicca. This can easily be seen to be false when honestly examining the two religions.

Let's start by comparing the basic moral/ethical code of each religion. Wiccans use the "Wiccan" or "Witches' Rede" as their foundation ethic. The whole morality of Wicca is based on the ideals of "harm none", "perfect love and perfect trust", and the "Threefold Law". While these are theoretical statements and made with good intent, they have little real-life practice in the context of Celtic Paganism, and ignore a fundamental part of Nature. This is because one (harm none) is a rule that must be broken just to survive (eat or be eaten). This leaves interpretation and application to each individual instead of being the unifying, ethical standard it was meant to be. And "perfect love and perfect trust" is a nice idea but unattainable in real life, and so it becomes an un-meaningful by-line instead of inspiring personal truth and responsibility. The "Threefold Law" is a Wiccan belief that presupposes a belief in some sort of Karma which is *not* a basic part of Celtic religion. Modern Celtic Pagans follow a moral/ethical code based on those of modern society and those found in the ancient law texts and other writings. These include:

* Respect for Nature and all its creatures

* Honour (as defined by the community)

* Truth

* Service to the Community

* Loyalty to friends, family, and local community

* Hospitality

* Justice

* Courage

Respect for other living things is a key element of Modern Celtic Paganism, and is self-explanatory. Honour means conducting yourself within and without your community in a way that garners other's respect for you. The other elements that follow help guide you, as well as the examples of the Gods and Heroes of the Celts as found in Celtic Mythology. Unlike the individualistic tendencies of Wicca, community was the probably the most important thing to the ancient Celts. Therefore, as modern Celtic Pagans, how you help your community and how the community views you are very important in your self-perception and should shape your self-conduct.

Besides these basic differences of morals and ethics in Wicca and Celtic Paganism, their basic cosmology, they way each system views the world/universe, is very different also. Wiccans use the Greco-Roman idea of the "Four Elements" (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) in their view of cosmology. Celtic Pagans see their cosmos as being comprised of the Three Realms: Land, Sky and Sea. There are also the three planes of existence: ThisWorld, the Otherworld, and the Underworld. There are other sub-systems (called the dhuile) in addition to this which are all interwoven and connected, much like a Celtic knot. As you can see by these examples alone, the way Celtic Pagans view their universe is much more complex than "Earth, Air, Fire and Water", and these "four elements" could never hope to encompass the Celtic viewpoint; therefore they are not considered by Celtic Pagans. In addition, unlike Wiccans, Celtic Pagans do not break their universe and its contents down into components like the Greco-Roman "elements", with correspondences and correlations, color-charts and rules as to what God should be prayed to if you want Love. Instead, all matter is seen as being interconnected in some fashion, so that the Divine can be said to be inherent in all things. So where the Greek elements are what *defines* the Wiccan cosmos, the Three Realms, "dhuile" and others are ways for a person to help understand aspects of the cosmos and their place in it.

Where the Wiccan ideal of the cosmos is based primarily on duality (twos: The God and Goddess, Male and Female, Light and Dark) and quadrality (fours: The Four Elements, The Four Seasons), the Celtic cosmos and most aspects of the religion are triune in nature ( based on threes) or rely on odd numbers as models of balance. Even the Celtic Pantheon is divided into three: the Gods of the Upper Realm (sky), the Gods of the Middle Realm (land) and the Gods of the Lower Realm or Underworld (related to the sea).

Another looming difference between Wiccans and Celtic Pagans is the way each views the Deities and the Divine. Wiccans believe in archetypal God and Goddess, with all the God/esses in the World being but facets of these archetypes: "All Gods are One God and All Goddess are One Goddess". So a Wiccan makes no large distinction between say Osirus and Odin, except when they are "using" specific deities for specific purposes, such as dedicating a ritual or a spell to Cernunnos as a God of Forest and Animals to try and effect a good deerhunting season. For Wiccans (and many other Neo-Pagans) all the Gods and Goddesses (just like their cosmos) are categorized by function, such as Brigit being "the Goddess of creativity", Venus "the Goddess of Love" and Isis "the Goddess of Death and Rebirth". Gods and Goddesses from many cultures and pantheons may be mixed together in Wiccan practices, something known as "eclecticism".

Celtic Pagans believe that each deity is different and individual, and should be respected as such. They are not associated with specific functions like "love" and "healing" and "creativity" but some dieties will be better known for some aspects over others. Many Celtic deities span many functions, making it difficult if not impossible to "classify" them as in the Wiccan system. Most Celtic Pagans honor three types of deities in their practices: personal deities (ones that provide special inspiration and guidance), tribal deities (when working in a groups), and the dieties and spirits of the land they live on. Ancestors and land spirits are honored as separated entities and are an integral part of Celtic Paganism, whereas they may or many not be included in the beliefs and/or practices of a Wiccan.

Celtic Pagans and Wiccans also differ in their approach to ritual. Wiccans will "cast a circle" to "create" sacred space, using set formulas of chants, props, symbols, and "magic". Wiccan rituals are based mainly off of the Western Ceremonial Magic tradition (some of which is drawn from Celtic lore), where formulas of ideas and objects combined in a specific way for a specific outcome are believe to achieve a material effect. This reflects their elemental view of the universe and so is in-keeping with their religion.

Celtic Pagans recognize that sacred places are found, and not created. Therefore most Celtic Pagans will conduct their rituals in a natural setting, or will conduct no such casting of a "circle" in order to pray, meditate, or conduct other religious practices. Because Divinity runs throughout all things, there really is no need to find a "sacred" place to hold a ritual in, although most prefer a setting that will be appropriate for a spiritual activity. Celtic Pagans also know and respect that some places that are sacred are not meant as places to hold rituals, large or small. Places for ritual are found and selected beforehand, and honor is given to whatever spirits inhabit the place. For Many Celtic Pagan groups finding and selecting the appropriate ritual grounds is the first task they undertake as a group. Celtic Pagan ritual will incorporate many of the same elements found in the Wiccan ritual, such as meditation, visualization, group singing and dancing to attune to one another, and special time to honor the deities of the group. The focus of the ritual is not a specific material outcome, but is more directed at re-focusing ourselves and our community with our gods and Nature in order to better understand and work as a part of our universe.

Most Wiccan rituals involve the working of magic and spell-casting. The idea of Magic as a force that can be directed with one's own will and the practice of spell-casting are integral parts of Wiccan belief, but they are not a part of Celtic Paganism other than as an additive. There are Celtic Pagans who hold this belief and add spell-casting to their religious practices, but that is a matter of choice. The belief in "magic" and the practice of spell craft are not a part Celtic Paganism in its basic form. Most Celtic Pagans do not cast spells, and it is not a prerequisite of being a Celtic Pagan.

Wicca is a highly individualistic religion that is just as easily practiced on a solitary basis than as a large group. Most rituals are based around the welfare of the individual or the coven rather than the whole community. The Celts did indeed place a high value on individualism, but tied very closely to that was their duty to their families and tribe. Their individualism was allowed to flourish *because* of the safety and comfort their close-knit communities, thus the importance of the survival of the "all" was greater than the importance of the self. This is difficult for most of us to understand today, as most of us grow up in small families in separate home with little connection to the rest of the family or community.

The very foundation of Celtic culture was the home. The hearth was the cornerstone of the spirituality of the people. In Celtic religions great emphasis is placed on the sanctity of the home, and strength of the family. Families, to Celtic Reconstructionist folk, include people who have adopted each other in the context of that culture. The individuals are encouraged to walk in strength and to fulfill their responsibilities to their "families". These components are only found in Wicca in the loose sense of the "coven" or "circle".It could therefore be argued that the foundation of Wiccan culture is the individual.

Wicca is an initiatory mystery religion. You have to fulfill certain requirements before you are allowed access to the complete scope of their religion. In Celtic religion the only requirement you need is to have a connection with the Celtic culture through family or study, and to be dedicated to the betterment of your "tribe", with very few other initiatory elements. Within Wicca (and many forms of modern Druidism) there are the various degrees and levels, each having its own mystery, each mystery being revealed by someone in authority. We cannot be certain how the ancient Celtic clergy functioned, but we do know that *any* person could approach so seek to communicate with the Gods. You did not need a "cord" or the title of "priest" to have access to the greater mysteries of life. The mysteries of the universe are found in the lessons of the Gods, the order of Nature, and within ourselves learn about ourselves and our place in the universe through our study of these things. And this includes understanding our place in and how we affect our global community.

In Celtic religion life lessons are taught through mythological stories which are a central feature of the oral tradition of the culture. In Wicca, little emphasis is placed on this. Myths and story-cycles form the core of Celtic magical practice, through teaching and through what ritual exists. In Wicca there is no clear teaching of what is required to break past the cycles of rebirth. Yet in Celtic religion, the requirement can be clearly and concisely stated, that being to fulfill one's duty, to always be honorable and to stand for the truth come what may, and while understanding *why* what is honorable is considered so.

Wicca and is a relatively recent addition to the religious paths of humanity. There is a lot of mis-information regarding it. It is sad that a great many of its followers have to do the religion such a disservice by claiming an ancient unbroken line of tradition that doesn't exist.There are many well-known Wiccan writers and teachers that continue to claim a great antiquity for Wicca, or the origins of Wicca. Yet mythological Druids (who are a product of the British Revival effort of the 18th century and contain as much if not more mis-information regarding their Celtic roots than Wicca) have nothing to do with modern Wicca. The Wicce of Saxon origin have even less to do with the historical Draoi.Perhaps these are the only myths that Wiccans can agree upon. Loretta Orion (herself an initiated Gardenarian witch) in her book "Never Again the Burning times" states clearly that there is little solid proof of modern Wicca's ancient origins, and that Wicca is a modern creation.

There is also the etymological evidence of the discrepancies surrounding the word "Wicca".Some claim it stems from a Saxon word, others a Welsh word, and yet others a Gaelic term.None of these agree with each other about the root or the meaning of the word.And as for claiming it as a Gaelic term (Witta), the letter "W" was never a part of the Gaelic language except for in borrow-words, so neither Wicca nor Witta as a derivation could be Gaelic.As a student of Irish Gaelic, I have found that the sound [w] does exist in Irish and Scootish Gaelic as a "mh" or "bh", like the [w] in the current pronunciation of Samhain [SOW-ihn]. But the "w" rarely occurs at the beginning of a Gaelic word, and even more rarely in front of the slender 'i' sound. So there is next to no linguistic evidence that the word "wicca" or "witta" could be a Gaelic word.

Anyone can call themselves a Druid (or a witch, or a Native American Shaman, etc.), there are no requirements to earn these labels. Many are hungry to find a teacher to show them the "mysteries" that they long to understand, and get too caught up in the romantic imagery inspired by these labels to really check out the teacher or the material they are being taught. This is something that each one of us needs be responsible about. Any good teacher will encourage the student to so some studying on their own, or will at least bring in outside sources to corroborate what they are saying. Beware of studying under anyone who relies primarily on their own writings and sayings as sources of wisdom. Unfortunately, thanks to some publishers (we won't mention any names), there are plenty of unscholarly books out there that unethical teachers can use nowadays to make them *seem* more reputable and knowledgeable than they really are. These situation can readily be uncovered if the student asks enough questions and reads the source material on their own to judge its veracity. Remember, just because you are a learning from someone doesn't mean you have to give up your own powers of reasoning.

Most Pagans nowadays will agree that Wicca is a modern reconstruction, even if they dispute the veracity of Garner's work. Some refer to modern Wiccans as Neo-Wiccans, for the purpose of showing that there is little to no connection between Gardner's creation and the Wicce of the middle ages, and no connection to the Celts; except for what modern Wiccans have borrowed and incorporated. I must point out here that there are in fact many Wiccans out there who speak openly and outright about the young state of Wicca, and also about the confusion and mis-information surrounding its inception. Many of these people are also dedicated to re-educating people about Wicca and its origins and purposes. Sláinte (cheers) to them! As a Celt would say, it is the honorable thing to do *grin*.

I will close this article by saying that Wicca (and other groups in the occult community that take from Celtic culture) and Celtic Paganism can both co-exist happily, as long as the histories and philosophies of each group are both treated with respect, presented truthfully, and given credit where credit is due.I have to say that it was very hard for me to analyze my Wiccan beginnings with an "open mind" even after I felt the Celtic call and understood that Wicca was not the right path for me, but I am glad I did so.I hope that others will take up the call for truth concerning this matter and help to spread the word by referring them to this article or other helpful sources.

Part of what drew me to Wicca and Paganism in general was that it seemed to be a religion and philosophy that encouraged study and the evolution of the spirit through knowledge of the world around us, and I hope further that through this article and my website. Some will notice that I still have many of my old references to seemingly contradictory Wiccan sources on my website and think me a hypocrite -- but the purpose of this site is not just to serve Celtic Reconstructionalist Pagans, but *ALL* Celtic Pagans, including Celtic Wiccans, Druids, and the like.My own original content is of course Celtic-Reconstructionalist-Pagan oriented, but I still offer forums and links to other forms of Celtic Paganism as well, in the hopes that we can still exist as an occult *community* and continue to share the knowledge and spirituality that has helped so many.

Cead Mile Beannachtai!



1. The World of the Druids, Miranda Green

2. The Druids, Peter Berresford Ellis

3. The Druids, Stuart Piggot

4. The Pickengill Papers-The Origin of the Gardnerian Craft, W.E. Liddell

5. Pagan Celtic Britain, Anne Ross

6. Dictionary of Word Origins, John Ayto

8. Never Again the Burning Times, Loretta Orion

9. Drawing Down The Moon, Margot Adler

10. The Celtic Tradition, Caitlin Matthews

12. The Celtic World, Miranda Green

13. Druid : Priest of Nature, Jean Markale

And of course I must thank and heavily credit Iain MacAnTsaoir for his original essay, Why Wicca Is Not Celtic as inspiration for (and for providing the bulk of the arguments of) my article.

Epona Perry

This article may be republished as-is if copyright and notices are attached. See the Celtic Cauldron Public License.






Celtic gods and goddesses are among the most popular of deities revered by today's Neo-Pagans, Witches, Wiccans, and Druids. Figures like Brigid, Cernunnos, Rhiannon, and CuChulainn are honored for their magic, their bravery, and their mythical deeds. Among Pagans, the gods and goddesses of Gaul, Ireland, Wales, and the other Celtic lands rank with the Greek, Roman, Norse, and Egyptian pantheons as the most popular and influential deities in the Neo-Pagan movement. Magic of the Celtic Gods and Goddesses is the first resource available to help Pagans, Witches, and Druids to connect specifically with the Celtic Gods and Goddesses in a truly deep, powerful, and spiritual way. This book will help you: * Learn the major Irish, Welsh, and continental Celtic deities. * Discover the major myths and lore associated with each deity. * Create rituals and magical work appropriate for each deity. * Understand the psychological archetypes of each God and Goddess. * Forge true and meaningful relationships with the deities for our time. * Relate the various gods and goddesses to the Sabbats and Holy Days.

Paperback: 203 pages Publisher: New Page Books (January 2005) List Price: $14.99


Looking for a gift for your Celtic Pagan friends ? We have quite a few items that would be suitable:

How about beautiful Celtic Pagan art including God and Goddess plaques from Maxine Miller, or statues of the Goddesses Maeve, Danu and Cerridwen Keltic Jackalope? We also carry Paul Borda's “ “Triple Brigit” statue.

Other gifts may include items like these, one of our Celtic themed t-shirts, chalices and other items.





by Michelle Skye (Author)

Book Blurb:

The seasons, moon phases, and even our personal experiences can be linked to the Divine Feminine. They have a face . . . they have a name . . . they have a goddess!

Meet thirteen vibrant Celtic and Norse goddesses very much alive in today's world. Explore each deity's unique mythology and see how she relates to Sabbats and moon rites. Lyrical meditations will guide you to otherworldly realms where you'll meet Danu, the Irish mother goddess of wisdom, and Freya, the Norse goddess of love and war. As you progress spiritually, you'll begin to see Aine in the greening of the trees and recognize Brigid in a seed's life-giving potential.

Goddess Alive! also includes crafts, invocation rituals, and other magical activities to help you connect with each goddess.


Michelle Skye (Massachusetts) is a Pagan Priestess with over ten years' experience following the Path of the Wise. An active member of the Wiccan and Pagan communities, she teaches classes, leads workshops, and has founded Massachusetts Pagan Teens and Sisterhood of the Crescent Moon. Her articles have appeared in Circle Magazine and SageWoman, and she's a regular contributor to Llewellyn annuals and Renaissance Magazine.

Product Details

Paperback: 280 page Publisher: Llewellyn Publications (July 1, 2007) List Price: $18.95





As a culture we are driven--driven to acquire, amass, get, use, devour, taste, and try.

And of course it is never enough. Until we figure out that enough is enough, we will never lead a fulfilling life. Unless we let go of possessions, attitudes, emotions, old lovers, or old ideas, we'll never be able to make true changes in our lives. We are very good at taking, consuming, hoarding, devouring, overworking, and inputting more and more and more . . . but we have forgotten how to let go, how to eliminate. We need to remember the basic concept of releasing and renewing that is imprinted in every cell of our bodies.

We need to relearn what our ancestors knew: how to banish.

"Banishing," Denny Sargent writes, "is the identification and naming of people, things, forces, feelings, thoughts, or ideas that are negative or harmful in one's life and, through the strength of will and positive power, i.e. love, taking command over these negatives and tossing them OUT!"

Sargent, an eclectic ritualist, interweaves his personal testimonial with the theory of banishing harmful factors from our physical environment and from our bodies, our hearts and emotional lives, our minds, and our spirits--through the elements of air, fire, water, earth, and spirit. In the second part of the book he provides more than 100 banishing exercises and rituals based on traditional practices performed throughout time and around the world.

* Everyone wants to get rid of something--bad luck, emotional pain, illness, weight, guilt, clutter, dependency, bad habits, an ex-lover, or just the blues.

* More than 100 simple exercises and rituals to get rid of anything.


Denny Sargent (aka Aion, Hermeteicusnath) is an eclectic ritualist and a member of a number of initiatory magick groups. Today the Western Magickal Tradition, Tantrika, and Taoism form increasingly important foci for his studies and writing. He is the author of Your Guardian Angel and You, The Tao of Birth Days, and The Magical Garden, which he wrote with his wife Sophia. He has contributed to a number of magazines, including PanGaia and Green Egg. He and his wife live in Seattle.

Paperback: 210 pages Publisher: Weiser Books (June 2007) List Price: $16.95




A long-awaited new edition of the seminal text on the spiritual system that is a convergence of Gnosticism and Haitian voodoo, The Voudon Gnostic Workbook is a singular sacred work that is comprehensive in scope--from "how to be a lucky Hoodoo" to how magick and voodoo intersect energetically, to esoteric time travel. Complete with charts and graphs and instructive interdimensional physics, The Voudon Gnostic Workbook is an "object of desire" among students of the occult.

Weiser's long-anticipated republication of this rare text will be an event in the annals of esoteric publishing, as the book itself is somewhat of an "unholy grail." There are listservers devoted to it and much discussion of the mysteries held within its pages. While The Voudon Gnostic Workbook has remained a controversial book considered important for masters of metaphysics, it recently came into popular culture and renewed popularity when Grant Morrison revealed it had been the inspiration for his cult comics The Invisibles, using the cribbed time travel from Bertiaux' s masterwork. Voodoo is not an evil religion and is much misunderstood. It derives from the Dahomean Gods called the "Loa." Esoteric voodoo is actually a highly practical procedure for leading us into making contact with the deepest levels of our being and most ancient modes of consciousness. Michael Bertiaux's Voudon Gnostic Workbook is the most comprehensive and illuminating contemporary book on the subject. Launched out of a correspondence course and series of classes for students and followers of Voudon Gnosticism and the OTO, this seminal text is at once one of the most mysterious and magnificent of all esoteric books.


Michael Bertiaux is an occult practitioner and instructor in the Chicago area who developed a large following based on his voodoo-infused Gnostic teachings.

Paperback: 672 pages Publisher: Weiser Books; Expanded Ed edition (July 2007) List Price: $39.95



J U L Y / A U G U S T

Upcoming classes from Horizon Oasis

Summer Classes at Edge of the Circle Books:


Wednesday July 11th, 7:00pm

Brandy Williams

This presentation begins with definitions of Thelema and feminism.

The presentation goes on to examine three forms of Thelema: Thelemic

fraternal organization, Thelemic religion, and the language in which

Thelema is expressed. The presentation then considers the future of

feminist Thelema.


Wednesday August 8th, 7:00pm

Each letter in the Hebrew alphabet has a corresponding note on the

musical scale. Using these correspondences, we will learn to sing

the LBRP.

JULY 4th Shamanic Meet up 7--8:30PM

JULY 11th O.T.O , 7---9PM , Feminist Thelema /Brandy Williams



Horizon Oasis is a local body of Ordo Templi Orientis, the Order of Oriental Templars, or Order of the Temple of the East. We are located in Seattle , Washington.


Second Saturdays of each month, 6PM . Doors close promptly at ritual time.

Horizon offers a public performance of Liber XV, the Gnostic Mass the second Saturday and fourth Sunday of each month. This ceremonial pageant of the lance and the grail is a great opportunity to observe Thelemic ritual firsthand, as well as to meet with others who may share similar interests. For information on attending Gnostic mass, see How To Attend a Mass, or contact



Open Circle, Wiccan

Meets at the Edge every Sunday from 5PM -8PM

Subject Line: Holy Well


JULY 4th Shamanic Meet up 7--8:30PM

JULY 11th O.T.O , 7---9PM , Feminist Thelema /Brandy Williams



Horizon Oasis is a local body of Ordo Templi Orientis, the Order of Oriental Templars, or Order of the Temple of the East. We are located in Seattle , Washington.


Second Saturdays of each month, 6PM . Doors close promptly at ritual time.

Horizon offers a public performance of Liber XV, the Gnostic Mass the second Saturday and fourth Sunday of each month. This ceremonial pageant of the lance and the grail is a great opportunity to observe Thelemic ritual firsthand, as well as to meet with others who may share similar interests. For information on attending Gnostic mass, see How To Attend a Mass, or contact




UnCommonSense Tarot Tarot readings

Erica (Raven) Branch-Butler

Please inquire about Tarot Parties, classes and other events Available every day except Wednesdays, 12:30-8.30PM.


Edge of the Circle Newsletter is looking for writers and artists! Our Focus has been on the Pagan community, Sabbatic Witchcraft, Hoodoo, Western Ceremonial Magic, African Traditional Religions, Asatru and Heathenry, Wicca, Celtic Paganism and more obscure aspects of the Occult. If you have an article or art to share, please email with "Newsletter" in the subject line. Please send only original material. All Copyrighted material will be honored and credited to/as the property of the original writer.


This concludes our Newsletter for this month. Look for us again on the first of August.