Seven Signs of Celtic Wisdom

I’ve been reading Edward Sellner’s lovely book Wisdom of the Celtic Saints. In it he describes seven characteristics of Celtic Christian Spirituality. Of course, while this list may be an insight to what is distinctive about Celtic wisdom, I think it’s really universal in its application: here are seven characteristics of the spiritual life that all of us might profitably emulate, regardless of whether we have any sort of affinity to the saints of the Celtic lands.

  1. Love of, and respect for, nature
  2. Love of learning
  3. Yearning to explore the unknown (pilgrimage, wanderlust)
  4. Love of silence and solitude
  5. Understanding of time as a sacred reality blessed and already redeemed by God’s overflowing compassion
  6. Appreciation of ordinary life (encountering God in the here and now)
  7. Belief in the value of kinship relationships, especially the spiritual ties of soul friends

Seamus Heaney reads "St. Kevin and the Blackbird"
Quote for the Day
Be Joyful: Saint David of Wales
St. Andrew and the Scots
About Carl McColman

Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

  • Rob

    I found a similar list (I think it came from the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids). It is pagan in nature, but it dovetails rather nicely with these seven.

    The first gift is a Philosophy which emphasizes the sacredness of all life and our part in the great web of creation. It cares passionately about the preservation and protection of the environment and offers a worldview that is ecological, geocentric, pragmatic, idealistic, spiritual, and romantic. It does not separate Spirit and Matter—it offers a sensuous spirituality that celebrates physical life.

    The second gift puts us back in touch with Nature with a set of practices that help us feel at one again with Nature, our ancestors, our own bodies, and our sense of Spirit by working with plants, trees, animals, stones, and ancestral stories. Eight seasonal celebrations help us to attune to the natural cycle, as well as to structure our lives throughout the year and to develop a sense of community with all living beings.

    The third gift brings healing with practices that promote healing and rejuvenation, using spiritual and physical methods in a holistic way to promote health and longevity.

    The fourth gift affirms our life as a Journey with rites of passage: for the blessing and naming of children, for marriage, for death, and for other times of initiation, when it is helpful to ritually and symbolically mark our passage from one state to another.

    The fifth gift opens us to other Realities with techniques for exploring other states of consciousness, other realities—the Otherworld. Some of these are also used by other spiritual traditions, and include meditation, visualization, shamanic journeying, and the use of ceremony, music, chanting, and sweathouses; but they are all grounded in specifically Celtic and Druidic imagery and tradition.

    The sixth gift develops our potential. Druidry as it is practiced today offers a path of self-development that encourages our creative potential, our psychic and intuitive abilities, and fosters our intellectual and spiritual growth.

    The seventh gift of Druidry is the gift of Magic. It teaches the art of how we can open to the magic of being alive, the art of how we can bring ideas into manifestation, and the art of journeying in quest of wisdom, healing, and inspiration.

  • marlster

    nice post and nice blog! thanks for the great summaries and insights. I have just added you to my blogroll!

  • Hamza Darrell Grizzle, the Grateful Bear

    Thanks for sharing this, Carl. I’ve posted a link to this entry at

  • Rev. Paul Turner

    This is really good…thank you. I am glad I have found your blog and will be back often!

    These signs leave one with much to contemplate and consider…again thank you for posting them.

    God Bless,
    Pastor Paul
    aka Reverend Bitch, Sir

  • Dena Stewart-Gore Louisville ,KY

    Thanks for the information. I’m jsujt getting where I’m learning about this. Pray that the Holy Spirit caresfully guides me through this so I’m enriched and educated and not drawn “in the wrong direction.” I’m female and have a prophetic music ministry witha healing emphasis. I’m wanting this to help in christian growth and not otherwise. I’m also as I’ve found out somehow multi-Celtic in smoe really interesting ways (most of the connections excpet for Ireland and Scotlan are pretty much severed (I had NO IDEA that Germany, Austria, and Switzerland were Celtic at one time (pre-Christian) Kinda wild.

    I learn something new all the time. Cool.