Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism (CR) or Celtic Polytheistic Reconstructionism
Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism (also Celtic Reconstructionism, CR or Celtic Reconstructionist Polytheism) is a polytheistic, animistic, religious and cultural movement. It is an effort to reconstruct and revive, in a modern Celtic cultural context, pre-Christian Celtic religions.
Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism originated in discussions among amateur scholars and Neopagans in the mid 1980s, and evolved into an independent tradition by the early 1990s. Celtic Reconstructionism represents a polytheistic reconstructionist approach to Celtic Neopaganism, emphasising historical accuracy over eclecticism such as is found in many forms of Neo-druidism. Currently, "Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism" (CR) is an umbrella term, with a number of recognized sub-traditions or denominations.
Celtic Reconstructionist Groups
- Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism (CR) – Celtic polytheistic reconstructionism.
- Pàganachd / Págánacht (Paganism or Heathenism)
- Ildiachas Atógtha (Reconstructed Polytheism)
- Gaol Naofa - Gaelic Polytheism
- Celtocrābiion - Gaulish Polytheism
- Celtoi - Ancient Celtic Polytheism (in German speaking countries)
As interest in Celtic religion grew alongside the growth of Wicca and the counterculture, by the mid 1980s small groups of people began to focus on a culturally specific form of Celtic spirituality. Utilising primary and academic sources for the mythology and surviving folklore, the early adopters of CR worked to reconstruct a more accurate approach to ancient Celtic religion. It wasn't until the early 1990s that the term Celtic Reconstructionism or "CR" began to be used for this emerging tradition. The first usage of the terminolgy was in the Imbolc and Spring 1992 issues of Harvest Magazine (a Neopagan publication out of Massachusetts). Kym Lambert ní Dhoireann first used the phrase "Celtic reconstructionist" as a tradition name in the Spring issue, however Ní Dhoireann credits Kathryn Price NicDhàna with originating the term as ní Dhoireann's usage was in response to NicDhàna's writing in the previous, Imbolc issue about the need for "reconstructing [the Celtic gods'] traditional forms of worship."
In order to reconstruct Ancient Celtic Religion, CR's study archaeology, historical manuscripts, and comparative religion, primarily of Celtic cultures, but sometimes other European cultures, as well. Celtic Reconstructionists are not pan-Celtic in practice, but rather immerse themselves in a particular Celtic culture, such as Gaelic, Welsh or Gaulish. According to Kathryn Price NicDhàna, CRs believe that while it is helpful to study a wide variety of Celtic cultures as an aid to religious reconstruction, and to have a broad understanding of religion in general, in practice these cultures are not lumped together. In addition to cultural preservation and scholarly research Celtic Reconstructionists believe that mystical, ecstatic practices are a necessary balance to scholarship, and that this balance is a vital component of any Celtic Reconstructionist tradition.
Based off of what is known from the Gaelic concept of The Three Realms of Land, Sea, and Sky, many Gaelic Polytheists (as well as other Celtic Recons) use ritual structures based on this understanding of their sacred cosmology, as well as maintaining altars to their gods and goddesses (often outside), practicing divination (often the reading of omens, but ogham is sometimes used), and celebrating the four fire festivals - known in their Gaelic names as Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnassadh.
Celtic Reconstructionism and Druidism
Though there has been cross-pollination between Neo-druid and Celtic Reconstructionist groups, and there is significant crossover of membership between the two movements, the two have largely differing goals and methodologies in their approach to Celtic religious forms. Reconstructionists tend to place high priority on historical authenticity and traditional practice. Most Neo-druid orders tend to prefer a modern Pagan, eclectic approach, focusing on "the spirit of what they believe was the religious practice of pre-Roman Britain".
However, some Neo-druid groups (notably, Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF), the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD), and the Henge of Keltria) have more recently adopted similar methodologies of reconstruction, at least some of the time. ADF, in particular, has long used reconstructionist techniques, but the group has been criticized for their pan-Indo-European scope, which may result in anachronistic combinations such as "Vedic druids" and "Roman druids".
Terminological differences exist as well, especially in terms of what "druid" means. Some Neo-druid groups call anyone with an interest in Celtic spirituality a "druid," and refer to the practice of any Celtic-inspired spirituality as "druidry," while reconstuctionist groups usually use the older definition, seeing "druid" as a culturally-specific office that requires decades of training and experience, which is only attained by a small number of practitioners, and which must be conferred and confirmed by the community the druid serves.
- The CR FAQ - An Introduction to Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism:
- What we mean by Celtic Reconstructionism: Statement from Imbas
- Tairis - Collection of articles on Celtic Reconstructionism with a focus on Scottish Reconstructionism
- Gaol Naofa: Gaelic Polytheism organization (Scotland)
- IMBAS (Seattle, Washington)
- Celtoi Net (German)
- Celtocrabion (in Portuguese)