Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Filidecht is a path not just of contemplation but of action. It's important to remember this as we walk along the path. Like everyone else, I have to keep reminding myself sometimes, but beyond daily practice this spiritual path demands action in other ways as well. As a solitary practitioner I know that I often face a sense of emptiness when I contemplate the thought of a ritual alone, particularly given that the major festivals are primarily oriented toward families and social occasions -- feasting doesn't have quite the same panache when approached alone, certainly.

Yet it is action that makes a spiritual path a practice. There's no point in a path if no feet follow it, and path implies necessary motion. It helps to remind myself that what I'm doing is not just for myself, but for the deithe agus an-deithe as well, for the deities and the spirits with whom I share my life and whom I serve. Even if I'm the only physical body at the feast, I still have company in the form of deities, ancestors, land spirits, helping spirits. They deserve my recognition and my offerings and it is for them that I perform the actions of any given ritual.

To go through the physical work of preparing the food mindfully, laying out the altar, setting out the offerings, speaking sacred words aloud; it is this that marks a spiritual practice. Belief has some importance to me, absolutely. But practice is a primary part of what distinguishes a spiritual path from a passing fancy. No matter how splendid one's words or how high one's thoughts, if there is no action then there is no proof that those words or thoughts genuinely mean anything outside of one's own head. Ritual enacted, the actual cultivation and practice of our virtues, bringing one's life into physical harmony with community and environment, and acting mindfully in each moment are all necessary parts of creating a life that is poetic. 

I know it's too easy to slip into complacency, too easy to make excuses of being too busy, too tired, too unprepared. And with CR there is so often no real pattern set to follow for personal, solitary ritual. Even groups often face challenges of what to do together if everyone follows different deities or works within different Celtic cultures. Yet the act of taking up the cup of welcome, of offering each person a taste of the drink that is shared with the Gods, is an excellent place to start. Pouring out a libation to the beings who are to be honored, speaking words aloud and calling upon their names, telling the stories of their deeds -- this is ritual.

No comments:

Post a Comment