Celt or “Celt”?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I’m just going to put it right out here: Unless you speak a Celtic language, and live in a Celtic society (culture), you are not a Celt. And unless you fulfill those two requirements, you’re never going to be a Celt.

You might however be a “Celt.”

You see scholars define Celtic as having to do with language only. There is no Celtic bloodline. The Celts were not a separate race. And just because your ancestors came from Scotland (or Ireland, or Wales, or Brittany, of the Isle of Man, or Cornwall or Galicia), that doesn’t mean you are anything other than someone descended from a Scot, (etc.).

Druidism? Well, there are no family trad Druids (and there certainly isn’t a Druid bloodline). And the only truly Celtic Druids are those living in one of the seven above-mentioned countries who also are speaking Gaelic or Welsh (etc.) who are ministering to their fellow countrymen.

American Druids therefore are not Celtic Druids, and they never can be. They may very well be Celto-philic (and many of us are) but since America is NOT a Celtic society, our Druidry is  necessarily a very American one, and will bear only passing resemblance to our Celtic counterparts, just as, say, Reform Judaism only bears passing resemblance to Hassidic Judaism.
But still, even if you’re not a Celt you might be a “Celt.”

Scare quotes they’re called, and they reference a thing that is not really the thing it says it is. So, you might know a smattering of Scots-Gaelic, and you might wear a kilt with all the accouterments, and you might even play the bagpipes. You’re a “Celt” but you’re never going to be a Celt.

“Celtic Reconstructionism” is a fascinating past time. But only in America. In Wales, there’s nothing to reconstruct. The Cymru already live in a Celtic culture and speak a Celtic language. The same is true of the Irish, the Scots, the Manx, etc. So what exactly are we reconstructing in America? Something that has never existed here in the first place?

That is not to knock Celto-philes. I’m one of those. I love the music, especially Alan Stivell, and I even tried to learn the Great Highland Pipes (I couldn’t get the hang of the circular breathing required). Celtic tapestries abound in our house, and we regularly  pay homage to several Celtic deities (some ancient and some brand new). No, I enjoy a good Ceilidh, or Morris dance, and I’ll even suffer the haggis on Robert Burns birthday. My wife and I have attended Highland Games all over the Northwest, and will continue to do so. But none of that makes me a Celt.

Nor anyone else. I’m an American Druid. That is all any Druid in America can hope to ever be. I’m damn proud of it too.

Sorry to break it to you.