Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bealtaine Ritual


Bealtaine
2017

Draoi: Támuid an seo chun onóir a thabhairt do na Déithe. ("We are here to honor the Gods")
Ceann Teaghlach: Fáilte agus Lá Bealtaine sona daoibh! 

Morrighan Chant:
Morrigan Morrigan Morrigan Morrigu,
Morrigan Morrigan Morrigan Badb,
Morrigan Morrigan Morrigan, Macha.
Morrigain, Morrigu, Macha, Badb (x3)

Draoi- (Dagda Chant/Waulking song) [Call & Responce] 

Hao riri o hu o
Ro-ho io hi o
Dagda mór 
E o hao-o hao o
Hao riri o hu o
Ro-ho io hi o
Ruadh Rofhessa
E o hao-o hao o
Hao riri o hu o
Ro-ho io hi o
Eochaidh Ollathair
E o hao-o hao o
Hao riri o hu o
Ro-ho io hi o (x3) 

Ceann Teaghlach: 
Sidh go neimh, (Peace up to heavens) 
Neimh go domhan, (heavens down to earth)
Domhan fo neimh, (earth under heavens)
Neart í gcách.  (strength in all) 

Fiach Chroí: - An Cailleach, Mother of mountains, of tribes and Gods; we bid you farewell on your way to sleep. May you rest peacefully in your slumber until we feel your frozen face upon us at Samhain. 


(Fire Song) (People sing while fire is being lit) 
Burn bright, flame within me. Kindled of eternal fire.
Of the people I will be. And the people apart of me
All are one of many parts. Single fire of flaming hearts. (x3) 

Fire Priestess: (light candles): "Seo an Tine Choisrichthe"  May Brigits Flame burn bright within our hearts and hearths.

Ceann Teaghlach:
ón lár chuig an imeall  Draoi:  an neimheadh seo
ón lár chuig an imeall  Draoi:  Cosaint na nDéithe do an áit seo
ón lár chuig an imeall  Draoi:  Go raibh beannacht na nDéithe agus ár sinsir ar an neimheadh seo    


Fiach Chroí: Osclaítear na geataí (Let the gates be opened) Os-k-LEE-ter na Gayh-tee 

Séamus: (North) "Ogma, Sun Face, eloquent champion of the Tuatha Dé, shinning champion of the Gods, we ask that you stand with us, that we may celebrate in peace. Hold forth your sword and protect the people." 

DraoiGo dtugtar onóir do na sinsiríthe (May the Ancestors be honored) 


who??? : (West)  "Ancestors we welcome you to our rite. As your blood flows through us into the future, may your voice whisper to us across the winds of time and become the words which we speak to the ears of our children."   

Ceann Teaghlach: Go dtugtar onóir do na Déithe. (May the Gods be honored)   guh toogder on-or do nah jee-huh

Chant:  "Gods of the people. People of the Gods"
(chant continues while following Sacrifice is called & during Draoi)

who??? Sacrifice: (West) "In great ships they loaded their 4 treasures and themselves, leaving behind forever the 4 great cities, and sailed through the skies to find a new world. And this is how our Gods come, and in your coming may you be welcomed. May fires burn in your honor, may there be songs in your presence and my the feats be laid before you." 

Draoi: Nan Diathan a tha san talamh
            Nan Diathan a tha san neamh
            Nan Diathan a tha sa mhuir mhoir bhorcaich 

(chant slows & stops) 

All: [Call out to your Patron or Pass] (start with Ceann, end with Draoi)

who???  Sacrifice- "Angus Mac Oc, son of the young for young is the son, conceived and born on the same day. Ruler of the Brú na Boínne, helper of lovers. The birds themselves sing your praise songs. Oh White winged wandering wayfarer, we ask your blessings as we journey into the work of summer. 

Fire Priestess: (second fire is lit along with incense) 

Fiach Chroí: "Pass now between the flame and be cleansed and renewed. One at a time come and tie a knot of your summers intentions into the cord." (Passed to the Ceann to be held aloft for all to see. Ceann hands cord to the Draoi.)

Draoi: See before you the cord of "OUR" intentions, of our hopes & dreams, and of our goals & wishes. May they manifest for us in ways of growth and achievement. Bíodh sé amhlaidh ("So be it.") 

(Draoi to dispose of the cord in the woods or in the fire) 


Baby Freya's Birth Rite

Ceann Teaghlach:
Arise Today baby Freya Bláithín
Through the strength of heaven
The Light of sun,
& Radiance of moon.
Arise today by Splendor of fire,
the Speed of lightning,
& Swiftness of wind.
Arise today by the Depths of sea,
The Stability of the earth & Firmness of rock.
Freya Bláithín: Arise today through the blessings of the elements in a new form as they wash over you in Truth, Love, and Beauty.


Mary Ellen:
May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you
Séamus: (or your own words 'gaeilge') 
Fáilte ar ais    welcome back
Beannachtaí na sinsear ar ort   The blessing of the ancestors on you
Síochán leat   May Peace be with you
An grásta na ndéithe a bheith in éineacht leat. The Grace of the Gods be with you


Fiach Chroí:    
Ancient ones Circle this child
Keep protection near
And danger afar.
Ancestors Circle this child,
Keep hope within.
Keep doubt without.
Spirits of our people Circle this child
Keep light near
And darkness afar.
Family of this child, Circle her.
Keep peace within.
Keep malevolence out.
Draoi:
Go raibh beannacht na ndéithe agus ár sinsir ar an bpáiste seo! 
(May the Gods and the Ancestors Bless this Child) 

  (Draoi uses 'The Waters mixed with Mead' to bless each wave)
 Fiach Chroí: 
A small wave for your form.              Séamus: Tonnan beag do cruth
A small wave for your voice.                           Tonna beag do Ghuth    
A small wave for your eloquence                     Tonna beag do Mhánrain                       
A small wave for your appetite                         Tonna beag do Chàleachd
A small wave for your health                            Tonna beag do Shlànachd
A small wave for your life                                Tonna beag do Shaohail 
A small wave for your wealth                           Tonna beag do Mhaoin
A small wave for your generosity                     Tonna beag do Bhuig
A small wave for your graciousness                 Tonna beag do Ghràsachd
Fiach Chroí:
Nine waves of grace for you Freya Bláithín 
By land, sea, and sky 
May you be welcomed among the people.
By the Tuatha Dé, the Gods of our people, 
the Spirits of the Otherworld, 
and the Ancestors whose blood lives within you; 
may you ever be blessed by these waves of grace. 

Séamus: An duigh, a nochd, agus suthain. (Today, tonight and forever.)

Draoi: Ón áit os comhair àr sùile chuig an áit istigh iontu. (From before our eyes to within them.)

Draoi: (Divination for Freya)


~ Draoi: 
"Before us stands a warrior. One that has seen battle, blood, and death. One who has risked his life for our freedom. This warrior is my friend and our guest today. From his early days of youth playing in the mountains of Mayo, through adolescence and into maturity he has always treaded the path of the Warrior. Recently Séamus you have completed your military service, and all whom are present honor and thank you for your time over seas. May this Torc forever remind you of your duty and obligation to protect and defend those you call family and friend. May Donn the ancestor of Gael look upon you with pride. In wearing this Torc may you be blessed by the Gods, the Ancestors and the Sidhe folk. On this day of Bealtaine I present you with your 1st Torc. (Draoi places Torc around the neck) 

 * Go raibh beannacht na ndéithe agus ár sinsir ar an bhfear seo.
(May the Gods and ancestors bless this man) 

* Go gcumhdaí is dtreoraí na déithe thú (May the Gods guide and Guard you) 


who???  "Angus Mac Oc, helper of lovers & young sun of summers beauty we thank you. Go raibh maith agat

who ??? "Gods and Goddesses of our Mothers and Fathers, High ones of the Ancestors, Rulers of these realms and the forces that fill them. You protect and provided for the people as they scatter across the land in this season of growth. We ask that you once again aid these people as our heads, hands and hearts turn to far-flung journeys of Summer. May we be protected and blessed in our work and in our search for this seasons prosperity. Shinning ones of elder days-for your blessings over us- 
All: Go raibh maith agaibh!  

who ??? Mothers and Fathers of Blood and of Spirit, most honored ancestors, we stand in respect and thankfulness for who we are because of your sacrifices for our lives. We return the love with honoring you today, and everyday. 
All: Go raibh maith agaibh! 

Séamus: "Ogma, great champion of the Gods for your protection this day we give thanks. 
All: Go raibh maith agat. 

Fire Priestess: "Feed the flames and set them dancing, hail to the sun and hail to all life. May the spear of fire burn within us to provide inspiration and direction in our work. Birigit, may your flame always be lit within us!"  
All: Go raibh maith agat

Fiach Chroí: (whispers) "Great grandmother, veiled one, witch and blue-hag please rest deeply now. We will see you again.  
All: Go raibh maith agat. 


Ceann Teaghlach: An Dagda, Eochaidh Ollathair, Ruadh Rofhessa; May your fertile bounty be present within our lives, may the abundance we grow be shared with all those in need. 

All: Go raibh maith agat! 


Draoi: Over hills and over meadows, see the crow fly, feel her shadow. 
Over woods and over mountains, searching for a war.
Her wings embrace each strife and battle, 
where swords they clash and chariots rattle. 
Seeking out the one whose time has come to take the blade.
Morrighan ancient crone of war, i'll see your face I'll cry no more.
Morrighan ancient crone of war come lift us on your wings.
Morrihagn ancient crone of war, we hear voice we'll grieve no more
Morrighan ancient cronce of war, come set our spirits free! 

All: Go raibh maith agat

Fiach Chroí: It is the hour of recall. As the radiance of this ceremony comes to an end let it remain as a light in your hearts. May your memories hold what the eye and ear have gained this day. May its inspiration continue within our beings.
Dúntar na geataí  (Let the gates be closed)
(Doon-tar na gayh-tee) 
Draoi: Neart inár lámha, fírinne ar ár dteanga, glaine inár gcroí.                                         
 (strength in our arms, truth on our tongue, clarity in our heart)

Ceann Teaghlach: Is é an dóiteán a chomhlánú. (This ritual is complete)




Monday, May 8, 2017

Prayers over my children


Prayer I whisper over my sleeping children
Go raibh beannacht na ndéithe agus ár sinsir ar an mo chlann seo. Go gcumhdaí is dtreoraí na déithe thú. Sidh go neimh, Neimh go domhan, Domhan fo neimh, Neart í gcách. 
*To a fluent/native speaker this is probably a bit off. I'd be curious to what corrections should be made. Feel free to leave suggestions. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Festival Dates


The Festival Date Debate
Lá Bealtaine sona daoibh go leir!




     The calendar date debate arises from the celebrations being on the 1st of the respective months of February, May, August, November. There are references dating back to the 11th century for people still celebrating Lúnasa, Bealtaine, and Samhain on what is called 'kalends' (1st day) of those months. We also know this from handed down folk traditions. The confusion around these 1st of the month traditions arises when there was a switch from the Julian to the Gregorian. This shift of dates occurs in 1752 within the Isles, and moved everything back 11 days, meaning what was once the 1st of Nov. is now the 12th by our current calendar. 

    We know that even up until recently, a hundred years ago there were people still celebrating these festivals in rural parts of Ireland and Scotland on the 12th, not the 1st showing a continuation of a time period when there was the calendar shift. 

     Another school of thought is that even before these festivals were connected to calendar dates they were simply based on local detailed agricultural observations. Such as Imbolc happens when the ewes in that region begin lactation, when the milk flows, and when the lambs were born. Also things like the cattle returning to summer pasture in the upper elevations until they come down at Lúnasa. Things like the 1st blooming of the Hawthorn in May. Samhain at the 1st hard frost of what is now Nov. and Lúnasa being when ripeness of crops was optimal for 1st Harvest. Much like our local Eden Corn Festival each year here in WNY which is always held around Lúnasa. This means often times a place would be celebrating something in a region whereas in another region it could be 2 weeks later or such. 

    ~ There is no standard or agreed view on these festival times for celebration and much debate about when and which is correct. No one really knows for certain and each was actually correct depending on the time period being referenced. It boils down to what is best for the dynamic of the group in todays context. Some people like to work with dates because they have larger groups; people need to schedule time off, while others might live in more rural areas and focus on details of that local area. Each has merit. 





Neart inár lámha, fírinne ar ár dteanga, glaine inár gcroí



My personal views:
     What gets me heated as a Gaelic Polytheistic Tribalist (Sinnsreachd) is 'how' the modern Pagans are celebrating these "fire-festivals." Most of them haven't a clue about why these things were celebrated historically even beyond their made-up esoteric ritualized trappings. What irks me to the core is the mispronunciation or anglicizing of these festivals. Seeing them treated so poorly without any Gaelic cultural influence by neo-druids and wiccans is sad. You try and educate them and all of a sudden you're fundamentalist. For those Neo groups it's all about some form of ritual that has no Gaelic format or tradition, etc. It's NOT Bell-tain, we say Be-ALL-tinn-uh. ;-) It's not all about having a 'ride' in the woods and getting stoned by a bonfire, although it could be argued that such things do have a place ;-) 

     For those not 'in the know' of the traditional customs of the Gael, it's better to just have a get together, and have a feast. 
Be 'a people', work together in the kitchen, have fun, tell stories, play games. Make some offerings to The Gods (The Tuatha Dé Danann), The Ancestors, and The Sidhe. Say some words, share some music and poetry, it's that easy! Don't complicate it by looking to foreign cultures for your rituals. Don't rely on Wiccan or Neo-Druid ritual formats to fill in gaps for your lack of education as their formats are far from accurate depictions of Gaelic culture. 
     Please remember these festivals are Pre-Christain Gaelic traditions, and as such they should be honored and respected by keeping them traditional. This is to ensure the survival of our cultures customs & traditions to be passed down into future generations without romantic or foreign influence. For us this is not just a branch of pagan spirituality; this is our culture, and our cultures faith. It is not something we just casually do for festivals. Our culture is everyday, all day long. Please see my useful links for more on this. GRMA.

Go raibh beannacht na ndéithe agus ár sinsir ar thú!




*Useful links:  


Starting a Druid group. Can it really be done? http://dreoilin.blogspot.com/2017/04/starting-druid-group.html










Refrenced/Cited: 
Irish Paganism - Morgan Daimler (pg 42)
Celtic Myth & Religion - Sharon Paice MacLeod
Cattle Lords & Clansmen - Patterson
The Apple Branch - Kondratiev
The Celtic Heroic Age - Koch & Carey

Friday, April 14, 2017

Starting a Druid Group



* The views and opinions in this article are from my personal experiences after 25 years on the path. The suggestions may be helpful or you may dismiss them. Take from them what you will. 







      All too often I hear people in the Pagan community, especially those that are Druids talking about groups. How to start a new group, not knowing where to begin and all the trappings that could be involved. It's always the same complaint- *I'm a solitary Druid, there is no one in my area to celebrate with (more on that later) Generally these people are Neo-Pagan/Neo-Druids. They want to form a seed group, a grove, or some form of "Druid" related group. Ultimately therein is part of the problem. The Druid was/is a social/polical title for someone that underwent specific training to be of service to their people. They belonged to a certain Culture; that culture had its faith and traditions and within that faith the Druids role was only part of the equation. 
      A deep study and look into Gaelic culture will reveal that the culture and faith can not be separated, they are interwoven, overlap, and without one the other is barren and devoid of all substance. Don't believe me, spend some time on a Native American rezervation. A culture has its mother tongue- its native langauge, its customs and traditions that are spiritual and yet also mundane. Beyond the use of language in daily life the music, foods, history, lore/stories, art, burial practices, and laws define and give a culture its unique substance that makes it what it is. Not just poorly translated mythology and modern rituals. Please read my Blog post: This Thing We call Druidry. http://dreoilin.blogspot.com/2014/06/a-look-at-this-thing-people-call-druidry.html
      
      This idea of having a 'Druid group' for "Clergy only" is not Gaelic and certainly not Celtic in the broad sense of our ancestral traditions. I am not saying there is no value in what they might do, and I am not bashing them; but I am calling them out on their focus on faith separated from culture. This romantic idea of Druid-priest-craft is absurd. I'm sorry to inform you, but your rotary club druid tradition of wearing long white robes wandering about neolithic sites has nothing to do with the iron age Celtic people, let alone their Gaelic decedents. It's 1700's Welsh Bardo-Romantic fantasy. Does it have value, sure it has some; but while the Masonic aristocrats of that time period were trying to re-invent a Celtic past they looked to foreign elements of Christian mysticism, alchemy, kabalah, Arthurian myths; Instead of looking to rural places of their neighbors like Ireland, and the Highlands of Scotland where the "folk tradition" remained and still remains strong. Why? Because at that time they were oppressing them as inferiors.
      Celtic traditions, specifically Gaelic ones are about "the people". The tribe, the clan, the family, the roles each person had within the community. Within those four seasonal rituals where the Draoi (Druid) served as mediator between the people and the Gods. Making sure ritual was done correctly doesn't mean always leading or holding the ritual itself. It sometimes simply meant 'over-seeing' and being present. Rituals were and are 'for the people'. This means all of the people, the children, the grandparents, everyone. They bring their offerings to the sacrificer or Draoi to make the sacrifice on their behalf. Not this modern notion of each individual having a voice to offer song, poem, or other offering in the middle of ritual. Can you imagine hundreds of people doing this in ritual, it would take hours. You can't imagine it because they didnt. Personal offerings were given after the rites, or communal offerings made and the proper care taken over the entire offering as a 'collective offering'. Peoples personal offerings of gifts like story, poems, and songs were heard at the feast, which held just as much importance as the ritual itself. These feasts were not a buffet or casual event. They had protocol and ritual to them as well. Who sits where and why, who is served first, who was a cup bearer and why, is there a heros portion, to whom does it go? Who speaks 1st, what type of conversation was prohibited, etc. Feasts just like Rituals defined the culture. 

      The trappings of starting a Druid Group are many. You'll get ego-manics arguing about who is qualified to do what, to even who has been on the path longer. You'll get one uppers, drama queens that want everything their way because they read it in once in a book. You might get strangers that are pedophiles, sexual predators, or even people with mental illnesses like bi-polar or schizophrenia. These types often do wander into "the occult" thinking they have something to gain like power or magic; its also a perfect hunting ground for warped people looking to exploit the good nature of strangers. You open your home a few times and you get robbed a year later, I've seen it happen. To people like that, they see your group is based on Druids; you must be about magic and such so they come looking for power, attention, and validation. I've seen groups of all types over the years. Ones that do not allow children but allow you to bring your dog. Some that are one gender only, to even those that require you to have sex with their higher ups to advance in their spiritual/educational program. I've seen seed groups that are merely "study groups" that have been reading the same 2 books for 5 years! My all time favorite was a group very overweight gay men who only allowed other overweight gay men to join that only met at the mall food-court. 

     As stated, many complain there is no one to celebrate with or they don't know where to begin, meaning they don't know how to formally start a group. For those like that I will provide a helpful link at the end of this article. The reason though you have a hard time forming a Druid or otherwise Pagan group is because its an unnatural process. What do I mean by unnatural? The religious traditions of our ancestors was ingrained into every aspect of the day, it was their world view and more. Things like magic were everywhere all the time, and there was different types of Magic as well. The entirety of the people they knew were of the same faith, albeit with differences from tribe to tribe and place to place, they shared common belief structure. They didn't have this umbrella term Pagan which can include conflicting philosophical elements into a culture. 

       Then and even now very successful groups form and maintain a bond because they form from families, families merging with other families, and so forth until there is a community. I am not talking just a husband and a wife and a few neighbors. I'm talking about a husband and his family, his brothers their wives and children, sisters, parents and grandparents. His wife, her family and the same applied to the other families. They need not all be family, but your close friends and their families is a good start. This is how you form a group, a tribe, a people must share the same culture, and that culture should be as Celtic as possible. The Gaelic tradition is a cultural thing with the spiritual aspect being only part of it. Yes, the spiritual part is every day, all day. It's the virtues, ethics, and simple things like how we do this or that. Though here is the major crux...
      Even in this Gaelic Pagan format you cant just expect something to blossom from just having tea and cookies. You cant just all read the same books and then poof, your a people now. You must, and this is imperative; you must have a few people that are not only educated in this area, and other areas; but they also must be able to lead. The ability to direct, teach, and hold the group with a focus. The problem of taking someone out of the Neo Druid tradition and placing them in the role of Draoi within a Tuath or Pobal is not going to translate or work out smoothly.  Again, you must have a few people that are educated and have experience in the ability to educate and lead, in roles of respected honor seen by 'the people' for your group to even have a chance of being productive. This is why so often groves and seed groups become study groups, and social club in nature. 


      Something to be said about this thing so many call Tuath (Tribe). At one time on the continent this meant a good 300,000 people for one tribe spread out over very large areas. In places like Ireland 30,000 people could easily make up a Tribe, sometimes even being on more than one Island where they lives in Scotland, Wales, or even Cornwall. This idea that there are no people for me to celebrate within my town is not accurate depiction of our ancestral customs. Somehow good ole' Hollywood transformed us to thinking that the people of your tribe must live within your village. This is not borne out of the evidence, as often times one would travel by foot or horse for day or half day to visit members of their Tribe, Clan or Family. How did we just measure distance? By time not by miles or kilometers. We measure distance by time, when I ask how far does Michael live? You might reply, "oh he's just up the road about 15 min from here." Not miles away. Same for our ancestors. So on that, given that we do not have to walk or ride horses to visit and we have cars, buses, trains and planes what is a 3, 6, or 12 hour trip to see "Tribe" if you only see some of them once or twice a year for major festivals like Lughnasadh? Personally, I will gladly make the time and travel for those that live 3-4 hours away a few times a year, or meet them in the middle for a day, or stay a weekend. Some families have reunions, Lughnasadh is often like this for many of us. 

     So, back to 'Groups'. It might be wise to consider reading some more material about the customs and traditions of these people that are our ancestors, and Druids within a Gaelic context not a Neo-Pagan context. Please see my Blog Post: Celtic Reading List http://dreoilin.blogspot.com/2017/01/suggested-celtic-reading-list.html



Here is my suggestion:
    You could easily start a "Gaelic Pagan" group which is much more inclusive to all people and not just those who have an obsession to be Clergy. Ditch the neo-trappings of the ego boosting title seekers. Maybe your Gaelic Pagan group studies the language, the lore, and gets together to play seisiún music. Start with you family, network with other families. Attend Highland Games as a group & Irish Festivals. Do things as a family and extended family unit. Form a solid core group that has become family. 

* Remember - you must have a few people that are educated and have experience in the ability to educate and lead, in roles of respected honor seen by 'the people' for your group to even have a chance of being productive.        

     Get together to talk, have cookies and tea monthly. Learn some Irish dancing, get involved together within the community as a group. Use the language with one another as much as possible. Make and share meals, work in the kitchen together. Once you have a strong family bond with these other families you then might consider something like Craigslist to reach other Pagans in your area. Always see it as cultural with the spirituality being part of the culture and not a spiritual group like a grove. Try and meet at a park for the new comers. Let them see that the group functions as a family unit and the visitors will either love it or they wont attend again. Especially if the people like Cean (head) or Draoi (Druid) are kind yet firm about what is accepted and what is not tolerated. 
      The things I've been talking about are mainly those traditions that are Celtic re-constructionist- CR, and Sinnsreachd. These are just some groups that exist which work in such fashions. 
      To focus your entire group on Druids is honestly a disservice to the culture and traditions of your ancestors. If you want to train to be a Draoi for your people, wonderful- Do it! Read, study, read some more, learn the language of your people like Irish/Scottish/Manx. Attend University, specialize in a few crafts of your trade, offer a service to your people and then and only then if they accept you will you be a Draoi. A tribe must be willing to have you, & require your services. After all, you'll be at the hospital when someone is ill, you'll see the newborns arrive, you'll be the one to give last rites to their/your loved ones. It will be up to you to be available to the drunk person to pick them up at 2am to make sure they are safe. You should be able to offer marriage counseling, perform legal rites like weddings, and so much more. Education and service, your people come first. I'm writing this at 1:22am and have to be up at 6am. Why am I doing this? Because this is apart of my service work, to offer insight for others that might be looking for something but have hit a dead end. 

     Ask yourself an honest question. Is the culture and faith of our ancestors worth preserving and passing on, or would you rather continue being involved in something that isn't culturally based that often focuses not on 'the people'? Shouldn't it be a family tradition that grows, one that includes everyone not just clergy celebrating festivals. I am not saying groups like ADF or OBOD do not offer value within their systems, but no one says you cant be involved in other more traditional things either at the same time. Try both and see what works best for you. 
  On that I offer you some helpful links. 


The Organization called Comhaltacht na nGaedheal (Fellowship of the Gael) exists is for any individual, family, or group that wishes more information on getting your own group started.
http://nan-gaidheal.org#home
        



Helpful Links:



Comhaltacht na nGaedheal Fellowship of the Gael Blog - http://bloggy.nan-gaidheal.org#home

Comhaltacht na nGaedheal  Fellowship of the Gael Twitter - https://mobile.twitter.com/Nan_Gaildheal



Reading List:  




Notes:
 * Earlier I mentioned "I'm a solitary Druid, there is no one in my area to celebrate with." 
The role of the Draoi is much like that of a Rabbi, and less like a Priest. Do not forget its a social/political role. A Draoi is an earned title. The Draoi being educated in the culture/faith serves the people, the community. This idea of Neo-Druidry spirituality where one is a solitary "Druid" has missed a major point. The main point is once again a cultural one. Neo-Druidry is faith based with no focus on the culture ie. The language, traditions, laws, customs, etc. How can you separate a faith from its culture, let alone transform it into something so far from its origins with foreign cultural influences? The Druid was/is a public servant to their people, and it was a title of earned respect much like Doctor, Professor or even Judge. 
     IMHO - No people/no community, no role of Draoi. Can you call yourself a solitary Druid? Sure you can also call yourself a Captain of a ship, but if you have no education/expeience, have never been on a boat, are you really a Captain? Just because you read a few books on "Druidry" doesn't magically transform you into something. This modern idea of reading New Age Druid books, being on 'the Druid Path' is rather conflicting with a traditional cultural opinion. It may be a very upsetting thing to accept, but ask yourself what was a Druid back then if they were not serving the people? Imagine someone who trained as a Draoi for many years and was a part of a community that didn't require their services. Hard to imagine because that would be like us saying we do not need that computer programer, teacher, judge, or psycholigist. So many seem to have a hang-up with things like ranks-titles. It's okay to call yourself a Gaelic/Celtic Pagan. Not everyone back then was a Draoi, they were the smallest in number to their communities; and for good reason. 

Insightful Triad


Three things a man is
What he thinks he is
What others think he is
What he truly is 

     Beyond all gender here, I wanted to take a few moments to address this Triad for I think there is often a misplaced value in some of its meaning. I feel the beauty of this triad is that we will never know the answers to these questions. Who we truly are is always changing as we grow and experience new things. Yes, there is a core to the self, a root and a foundation to things like our personal moral code and basic philosophy of life. Our views and our perceptions are in constant flux like the seasons with each new season bringing and even forcing upon us changes. 
    What we think about ourselves isn't always the most accurate, but if we somehow knew what others thought of us in all honesty sparing no feelings, it could be used in conjunction with the other two to possibly give us a holistic idea of who we are. I might think that I am a very persuasive individual but others might take me as pushy and unwilling to meet them at their comfort level. This leads me to a very important focus of this triad. 

~ What do others think of us?

   All too often I hear things from Pagans like, 'Who cares what others think about me.' and 'It doesn't matter what others think about me, I will do what I want.' If we know anything about our Gaelic ancestors traditions we will know about their virtues, things like honor price, and the value of an individual that could be measured by monetary means, even if it was through cattle. 
   What others think about us is important. No? Ask yourself about the people you know and the judgements you have placed upon them. Why did you formulate those opinions of them? Was it how they come across, their language, perhaps the company they keep? We all pass judgements and weigh things everyday. How someone is dressed, their choice of music, makeup, even the people they associate with. Ones reputation & their name holds a price. 

    Let me give you a very personal example about my life. I live in a town where my fathers family has been for over 100 years. My Grandfather and his two brothers after World War 2 became men associated with alcohol abuse. Back then in what was a small town everyone knew one another for the most part and people talked. My father born into this had 5 brothers and a sister. During the 50's many of his brothers were involved in a motorcycle gang. (I will leave the name of the gang out) They wore swastikas, were involved in violence and drugs. They made the paper several times and the surname took on a reputation. In the 50's this was also very much frowned upon in a small town. Given their fathers alcoholism it was seen as, "well... look at the father". My father was never involved in that lifestyle, but even in school it was, "which one is your father?" or "is your brother so-and-so?" Eventually my father became an alcoholic, drug abusing monster. He was physically abusive and my mother divorced him. My younger brother and I grew up without him - by my fathers own choice. Yet, I knew at any given time which of the 4 bars he was at; sitting right next to his brothers! My brother and I grew up the same way as my father did with, "which one is your father?" Now I'm a father to 3 boys and a girl and even now and then I still get the same questions. My brother has been in trouble since he was 10, and now that he's 32 with his own son, he still is in trouble with the law. His son is also a trouble maker. My children are in school & no doubt get asked by their teachers the same questions my father and I both were asked. Not long ago at a school event the Police were holding something for the school like fingerprints and id cards and my children's names tags were read by one of the officers and right in front of my wife he asks, "So, are you the good family or the bad family in town." How dare he. But honestly... look at the history, the reputation! 

   Do we judge people on an individual level? Do we stereotype them by their appearance like tattoos, piercings, and clothing? 

     What others think about us can matter. For an example you are looking to land a job, it's your dream job. Your employer has at their fingertips a means of looking up everything about you online. What does your online footprint say about you? Would it hold you back from this dream opportunity? A quick Google search and they have your Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr, Pintrest, Instagram, Amazon wish-list. Not to mention any/all public legal records. They can see how you are away from the professional world. What company you keep, how you dress, music you listen to, political and religious views, places you vacation, and so much more. 
   The point here is what does your 'online face' say about what others might think about you? Do you post all day long, do you you waste time and energy bitching and complaining? Do you share information, education, humor, and joy? Are you constantly ranting about things you can not change like other peoples faiths, political views, and even sexual preferences or diets. If you think that people do not judge you you're mistaken. If you think that their opinion of you doesn't matter, that is also a faulty use of critical thinking. The person you may not even know that knows of you only online has an ill formed and uneducated opinion of you because of what you share. They don't know that in real life 'off-line', you're not really like this. Too late, that person is so-&-sos brother, sister, cousin, nephew, etc and they told their family that they know you, and what type of person you are. No job! Use caution.
      It is not just online though. In daily life are you walking around in your own world, self consumed and selfish, or are you polite, personable, and hospitable? What of your appearance, your use of language, and even hygiene? Now, I'm not saying that everyone should be clean cut business professional; not the least! I love a well done woman in anything from steampunk to cybergoth. It's time and place. I am saying if you look like you are seeking attention, and are rude, use poor language you might as well hand them the rope because you basically strung yourself up at the gallows.

      An interesting way to look at this is through ancestor veneration. If we honor our ancestors, shouldn't we be a representative of them? We are after all a culmination of them, we are here because they survived war, famine, drought, plague, ice age and more. They survived, had children they loved and thats why we are here today. Wether or not your view of them is in a spiritual sense being with you on your lifes journey or simply as you should be healthy and strong because you owe that to them, I think honoring them by being the type of person they would want you to be. 
       Have you ever been in a formal situation where you required people to not only hear what you had to say and understand you, but also value and respect it? If so you might understand what I am talking about. 
      If what we think about ourselves is not an honest assessment, we are prone to see ourselves in ways that boost our egos or at least allow us peace from conflict in self doubt. Our self image is only part of the great equation. Others views of who we are are also one sided. How many of us can say that anyone really knows us fully? Do you put on airs, are you pretentious; do you interrupt conversations, take over conversations making them all about yourself? Are you a one upper, or have to have the last words? Perhaps you're socially awkward and too introverted and blend in. Do you say things that make others uncomfortable not respecting others boundries? Are you too rigid, or does your handshake feel like a dead fish? 

    This triad is beautiful because it forces us to think about ourselves in ways we often do not. What do I think I am? Am I really that or is there more. Am I being honest with myself or am I fantasizing about who I'd like to be instead? Who we want to be is not who we are. Maybe I am being fully honest with myself about all the positive and negative things I am aware of, even still; does this answer the question? How am I not myself? 
     We may also think upon the statement of, 'What do others think about me' in a more esoteric perspective. Energy, are there people you barely know formulating negative opinions of you sending negative thoughts out there attached to you. The subconscious is a strange thing. There could easily be people in your family or your close friends circle that have an opinion of you that if you knew of not only injury of insult would you take, but offense leading to sever the relationship would be pursued. 
     All of this from a Celtic Triad, for a people known for their ego, quick temper, and constant braggadocio. Masters of word and weapon we still aim to be, but please do give thought to your reputation and as someone told me long ago, "Go Gently little Wren." Hard words to accept, and even harder to apply. Still though, valuable information and something to always work towards. 

What do you think you are?
What/How do others think of you?
What/Who are you truly?

Think about it.
Only you can be the change you seek.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Kilts in Ritual?






     In ancient times long before people in Scotland were wearing the Great Kilt/Belted Plaid (Breacan an Fhéilidh) the Celtic people wore the Brat/Cloak. Basically this was a very long rectangular piece of wool fabric fastened by a brooch or fibula. Eventually as time passed on this eveloved into the Feileadh Mor (great plaid) and the Small Kilt (Féileadh beag, filibeg, philabeg) of the 16th and 17th centuries respectively. Many families have their own tartans that are registered and can be found on various websites. In our modern culture we have Military groups, Irish counties, and even Public and Private organizations that all use tartan for one use or another. Basically it is a deeply rooted thing, this idea of being united as a people using a tartan. 

     Today the Kilt is widely recognized as a symbol of Scottish heritage, and even more loosely a throw back to identifying with ones Celtic roots. What can be said is that from the Celtic Brat, the Great kilt developed and from that we have our modern kilt; just like the ones worn in WW1 and WW2. When one wears a kilt they do so not as a costume, nor as a simple piece of garb. It can be a uniform for some, but when the wearer does don a kilt, it is most definitely done so in an honorable veneration of Gaelic pride. It is and should be a statement of who we are and who we identify with. Who are our people and what culture we honor.  

     With so many Pagans wearing anything from monks robes, to fantasy renaissance wear in their rituals I ask, why not a kilt? If you happen to be of the Gaelic Polytheistic persuasion, by all means this should be an option. It should seriously be considered as the main choice for your ritual attire. You may chose to look into your families roots and see if you have any Clan associations, or even see if there is something universal you could wear. If you are apart of a Tuath or Pobal you could adopt and then adapt a tartan design that you all vote on. When I say adapt I mean you could use something that is readily available and then add a stripe or two to it to change it from being 'off the shelf'. What colors would you wear and why. As with all things they should have meaning to you. 




    I would much rather see people united with a group tartan or even each family wearing their colors than people in robes. If people in your group already have their own family tartans thats fine, but to wear your groups colors is a great option. A nice way of looking at it is if one were to join and march with a Pipe Band, you would wear 'their colors.' So, to wear the colors of your Tuath or Pobal does make sense in that respect. For me, it makes more sense culturally to wear something from our peoples history than a style foreign to us. 
     The women could wear an Earasaid, a shawl, a scarf, a ruana, or even long pleated tartan skirts. There are fly plaids, and even things like neck ties, hats, and hoodies people could wear to represent the group they are with; it need not be the kilt itself. There are baby kilts & youth kilts as well. Picture the image of a large group of people in kilts, people wearing torcs, tattoos showing, torc bangles, women with braids in their hair; these are all things that can be done to honor the culture and faith we celebrate as Gaels. One doesn't have to don formal kilt attire either. There is a time and a place for that like all things. I can tell you from experience that wearing a kilt with sandals and a tank top with a torc on during the summer makes me feel closer to my peoples culture and the faith of ancestors than wearing robes any day! Yes, I own robes, I have a few sets. Again, time and place ie. performing legal rites like weddings and such. 




    With companies like Sport Kilt there is no reason why one can not obtain an affordable kilt for their needs. They have many styles that range from casual, hiking, or even more formal. 

Picture if you will: 
     You are having a public ritual and picnic at a local park. You are there with your family, and many other families. The fire is lit, the BBQ is going, the sun is shining, the children are running around and outsiders see everyone in kilts and tartan. Do you think they look on with concern as if you were all standing around in robes? Nope! They see one thing that even they can understand...'a people'. They see culture and heritage. To them it looks like what it should be; a people gathered together celebrating. Celebrating what? Does it matter? Nope! It could be anything or nothing at all. Just being TOGETHER and sharing in good company. So, Why not wear a kilt?! 

* I should add that one does not need to have Scottish or even Irish roots to wear a Kilt. If you're a Celtic Pagan you're already honoring the faith of the Celtic people. So why not honor the culture as well and wear a kilt or don some tartan. If kilts are not your thing, consider wearing the tartan in creative ways like a skull cap or even a shoulder sash. 






Wonderful Kilt related Links: 

Has many articles https://albanach.org/












Monday, January 16, 2017

Celtic Feasting & Customs



     Most of us would agree that a language defines a culture. With that there are its funerary practices, styles of art, how they celebrate their faith and honor their Gods and so forth. One thing often left out is how people feasted. Each culture would have its own customs of dinning. For instance the Greeks would have had traditions much different from the Scythians or the Hebrews, just as the Celts would have been different from them and even the Germani (The Peoples East of the Rhine) Among the Celtic tribes, mainly those of ancient Gaul, we have a considerable amount of information. I'm intending to share some of the fragments that we have from historical accounts dealing with eating and drinking. So, grab yourself a pint and lets dig in. 


Plato 4th century BC
   I am not discussing the drinking of wine nor drinking in general, but outright drunkenness, and whether we ought to follow the custom of the Scythians and Persians, and also the Carthaginians, Celts, Iberians, and Thracians, all very warlike peoples, or be like you Spartans, who, as you claim, abstain totally from drink. 



Athenaeus AD 200 Deipnosophistae 
Trans. Philip Freeman 

From Posidonius in his Histories (135-c 50 BC)

   The Celts place dried grass on the ground when they eat their meals, using tables which are raised slightly off the ground. They eat only small amounts of bread, but large quantities of meat, either boiled, roasted, or cooked on spits. They dine on this meat in a clean but lion-like manner, holding up whole joints in both hands and biting the meat off the bone. If a piece of meat is too difficult to tear off, they cut it with a small knife which is conveniently at hand in its own sheath. Those who live near rivers, the Mediterranean, or the Atlantic also eat fish baked with salt, vinegar, and cumin. They also use cumin in their wine. They do not use olive oil because of its scarcity and, due to is unfamiliarity, it has an unpleasant taste to them. When a number of them dine together, they sit in a circle with the most powerful man in the center like a chorus leader, whether his power is due to martial skill, family nobility, or wealth. Beside him sit the remainder of the dinner guests in descending order of importance according to rank. Bodyguards with shields stand close by them while their spear-men sit across from them, feasting together with their leaders. The servers bring drinks in clay or silver vessels resembling spouted cups. The platters on which they serve the food often are of similar material, but others use bronze, wooden, or woven trays. The drink of choice among the wealthy is wine brought from Italy or the region of Massalia (the Greek colony ay Marseilles). It is normally drunk unmixed with water, although sometimes water is added. Most of the rest of the population drinks a plain, honeyed beer, which is called corma. They use a common cup, sipping only a little at a time, but sipping frequently. The servant carries the cup around from right to left. In the same direction they honor their gods, turning to the right. 

   The Celts sometimes engage in single combat during their feasts. Arming themselves, they engage in mock-fights and sparring sessions with each other. Sometimes however, wounds are inflicted and these mock-battles lead to real killing unless the bystanders restrain the combatants. In their ancient times, the best warriors received the thigh portion during feasts. If another man were to challenge his right to the choicest portion, a duel was fought to the death. Others in former days would collect silver, gold, or a number of wine jars. Having received gift-pledges and distributed gifts among friends and family they would stretch themselves out across their shileds on their backs and then someone standing near would cut their throats with a sword. 









Diodorus Siculus (wrote 60-c 30 BC) 
Trans. Philip Freeman 

   Some shave their beards while others allow a short growth, but nobles shave their cheeks and allow the mustache to grow until it covers the mouth. The result is that their mustaches become mixed with food while they eat, but serve as a sort of strainer when they drink. They do not sit in chairs when they dine, but sit on the ground using the skins of wolves or dogs. While dining they are served by adolescents, both male and female. Nearby are blazing hearths and cauldrons with spits of meat. They honor the brave warriors with the choicest portion, just as Homer says that the chieftains honored Ajax when he returned having defeated Hector in single combat. They also invite strangers to their feasts, inquiring of their identity and business only after the meal. During feasts it is their custom to be provoked by idle comments into heated disputes, followed by challenges and single combat to the death. They do not fear death, but subscribe to the doctrine of Pythagorus that the human spirit is immortal and will enter a new body after a fixed number of years. For this reason some will cast letters to their relatives on funeral pyres, believing that the dead will be able to read them. 







Strabo (64/63 BC-AD 21 at least) Geography
Trans. Benjamin Fortson

   There is also a certain wooden weapon like a grosphos, cast by handed not from a thong, and having a longer range than arrows; these they use most of all for hunting fowl. Even to the present day most of them sleep on the ground, and eat sitting on beds of straw. Most of their nourishment comes from milk and all kinds of meats, especially pork, both fresh and slated. Their pigs live in the open, excelling in height, and strength, and speed; in fact it is dangerous for an inexperienced person to go up to them, as it is for a wolf.
   At assemblies they have a peculiar practice is anyone should disturb the person speaking and interrupt him, an officer, approaching him with drawn sword, orders him to be silent with a threat; and if he does not cease, he does it a second and third time, and at last cuts off enough of the man's 'sagus' {"sagi/sagus" which they call lainai -probably a cloak} as to make it useless for the future. 


   As we can see from the Historical accounts there was a common them that seems to connect Feasting Customs, at least across Gaul. The similarities between them and the Brythonic Celts and the Gaels of Ireland are probably very close in custom. If one wishes to become more familiar with the Insular traditions it is best to read as much as you can of the stories that concern or have feasting within them. Here are some I feel provide a wonderful glimpse into the Gaelic and Brythonic culture. 
    
The Story of Mac Dá Thó's Pig & Hound 

Bricriu's Feast

The Severed head in the Feninan cycle


     Now that we have eaten the 'Heros Portion' so to speak, how can we adopt and even adapt what we know from the lore and the historical accounts into our own Celtic feasting traditions. Those of us that honor the Old Ways might be inspired to use what we have gained here for we will how feast after our rituals and festivals. 


Some modern feasting customs






    If you are like me and value the culture of the Celts, just as much as the spirituality you might wish to partake in some customs and traditions that define our culture in how we feast. It could argued that if the following customs are celebrated, an ancestor from ancient times would still know they are amongst kin folk due to these traditions. Here is a small list of things that you could incorporate into your festivals & gatherings. 


~ When Guests arrive you offer them a sip from a "Welcoming Cup". This beverage need not be alcoholic, though some good choices are Mead, Wine, Ale, Hard Cider, Apple Juice or Non-Alcoholic Cider. We use a drinking horn or a Scottish Quaich. Remember if using a Quaich always use two hands while passing and receiving. 

~ Welcome them in with a hug or a hearty handshake and any good welcoming phrase in Irish/Scottish/Welsh/Manx/Cornish/Breton or even Gaulish. Something simple like, "Céad Míle Fáilte" (Kay-ad mill-uh Fall-cha) is fine if you wish. You could even say this as you hand them the 'welcoming cup'. 

~ Hosting an event should be done with great care. The job of hosting is very serious. You want your home to be clean, free of clutter, organized, and have dedicated room for feasting and even games or dancing. Your home reflects your family. 

~ Try to serve traditional dishes that are in season to which ever festival is being celebrated. Local grown food is always best. Are you serving meats? Can you obtain local organic grass fed free range? Maybe you hunt? so perhaps deer, or wild boar, duck and goose, rabbit, etc.  Can you grow your own herbs and vegetables to be used for at least festival celebrations? Will there be milk, cream or butter? Can you obtain 'raw milk' (tested) instead of store bought rubbish? What about the alcohol, can you homebrew or make the mead yourself? So Much to consider when being a host. 

~ Make sure there is plenty of everything and that no one goes without. 

~ It is common for guests to bring gifts when visiting. Commonly this is often a bottle of wine, mead, or beer. Though there are other gifts might consider like candles, and breads, or even deserts. *Breads served or brought are always best when homemade if possible. 


~ Seating arrangements are taken seriously. Who sits where and why is important. The one hosting the event might arrange a table with pre-placed name cards to avoid confusion. Know your company, who does what for a living, etc. After all this is a feast, they should at least be family or close friends. If there will be new guests, its good to know a bit about them to make them feel special. 

~ Who eats 1st and why. Who is served 1st and how things are passed around the table also play an important role. It is not a grab for yourself free for all. Things are passed right to left. 

~ Have dedicated people for serving food and drinks. Are there teenagers present? They can best be of service to wait on those who need refills, before they can eat. 

~ Someone may be served "The Hero's portion" of the meal. Are there any people of military service, veterans, law enforcement, or even those in the martial arts at your table? Possibly just someone that has accomplished some great deed or feat within their personal lives for the benefit of the "the people" or others within the community. 

~ All offerings, blessings, and callings are done by the Druid/Draoi only. (In the Irish/Scottish language) This includes any portion dedicated as a meal offering left outside or at the table. Unless of course there is a dedicated person who makes the sacrifice for the people. Others may wish to make an offering and in doing so, give them to the Draoi or dedicated person to make the sacrifice on their behalf. Remember most often in Celtic culture 'the people' went to the Druid because they were the mediators between the Gods and the people. They had the power of word and education to be of service, it was their job. Let them be of service. 

~ Toasting should be done by all present and lots of toasting should be practiced. Toasts to the ancestors, the Gods, and Heroes. Just as important is toasting to one another & those whom could not be present at the feast. 

~ At the table there could be stories, songs, poetry and music. Consider having a seisiún "session" after the meal. Sing songs together. 

~ You may also wish to include a Mead Circling which is similar to the Germanic custom of a Symbel. 

~ A proper parting/blessing to your guests is good form. You may wish to offer them a care package of food to take home for the next day or for those that could not attend. I always using the 'welcoming cup' full of Milk and a special spoon I carved from Rowan (protection) to pour milk over the tires of the departing ones vehicle. I do so clockwise while singing a blessing. I generally reserve this practice for those guests that i don't see often that travel long distances to visit. You may chose to use something like this:


A Journey blessing

Sith co Nem Peace up to the heavens.
Nem co doman         Heavens down to earth.
Doman fo nem Earth under heavens
Nearst hi cach Strength in all


Nan Diathan a tha san talamh Gods in the earth
Nan Diathan a tha san neamh Gods in the sky
Nan Diathan a tha sa mhuir mhóir bhòcaich  Gods in the great pouring sea

Dìon nan Diathan air An àite An rud seo.  Protection of the gods on this object. 

Gu robh beannachd na Diathan agus ar Sinnsearan air an àite An rud seo. May the gods and ancestors bless this object.

Manannan bhith leat air gach bealach. Manannan be with you in every pass.
Manannan bhith leat air gach talach. Manannan be with you on every hill.
Manannan bhith leat air gach strutha. Manannan be with you at every stream.
Ruadh, s’raighe, is rèid lein. Headland ridge and lawn.
Gach muir is tir, gach frith is cluan. Each sea and land, each moor and meadow.
Gach laighe sios, gach éirigh suas. Each lying down, each rising up.
An lag nantonn, air barr nan stuagh. In trough of waves, on crest of billows.
Gach ceum dh’an chuart dh’an téid thu. Each step of the journey you go.

Ón áit os comhair àr sùile chuig an áit istigh iontu.  From before our eyes to within them.




~ The host may have a special welcoming & greetings for the Guests at the meal before it begins after the Druid speaks 1st.

~ The Draoi might do a blessings over the meal, over the guests, and over the offerings most likely in Irish or Scottish.

If you are the host you could use this:

Blessings on the Blossoms
Blessings on the Fruits
Blessings on the Leaves and Stems
Blessings on the Roots.


My family often uses this. You may adjust it for your needs. 

We give praise to the Túatha dé Dannan, the Gods of our people and our Ancestors. 
We thank you for this meal and all that has come before it. 

Bless the Field and the Fruit
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Hands and the Harvest
The Brewer and the Brew
and the Home and the Hearth 

or

Bless 
Host and host
Hunter and hunted
Hands and harvest
Hearth and hall
Field and fruit
Feast and friends
Cup and contents
Tongues and tales
Singers and songs

Other wonderful Feasts ideas might include:



~ Playing Fidchell, or Chess or other board games. Maybe you are a DnD family? 

Have you ever heard of the New Celtic Card Game called Ard Rí https://www.culturlan.com/pages/ard-riIts Both children and Adults can play, there are three versions of skill level. 

~ You may wish to have certain topics to discuss but be sure its not NOT business related. No "business meeting like" topics. Remember the Gauls only talked business after a meal, and if interruption in conversation was had it was highly offensive. If this feast is related to something you do with your Tribe, Grove, Coven, etc remember the mood should be Festive! This is not a communication meeting or a time for group business while eating. That is done at other times or after the meal. Perhaps such topics are best left for tea & cookies, lunch type meetings. If there is important issues to be brought up, after the meal would be at least better form. 

~ Divination after a meal might be offered privately or for the group. 

~ Music with dancing can always be fun! Are there any Irish dancers in your family, Sean Nos dancing anyone? If you don't have live musicians, why not make a music play list for feasting, and one for after the feast for drinking, dancing or other merriment. Its nice to have some relaxing eating music and more upbeat tunes after the meal. We live in a time where you could add your playlist to your phone or usb drive and just plug in, hit play, and 'shake yer bum' it's that easy. Let the little ones show you how its done! 

~ Since we are not in practice of carrying swords you could always have hand to hand combat, arm wrestle, wrestle/grapple. But of course what would a Celtic meal be without some real feats of strength? "George, go fight your Father!" There are wonderful practice weapons one can obtain for those braggadocio moments of heated debate during meals where you may wish to engage in combat. Having personally done this many times I can tell you, there is nothing that makes me feel more connected to my ancestors than having just finished swallowing some delicious roasted pork and grabbing my practice sword to defend my stance on an issue. "I call you out on your B.S. 'Mr. know it all', take that!" And of course in good form knowing when to call it, and return to the festivities.