Like hot wires touching, Celtic imagination crackles with energy that comes from holding opposites together. I used to be jealous of Native Americans for their connection to their ancient teachings, but now I realize we all can plumb the perspectives of our early ancestors. I love learning of the Celts of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. My family name comes from Clan Sutherland.
I admire the clan plaid and crest of a great lion standing under the arching words, Sans Peur, meaning without fear, but what I cherish most is the primal wisdom surrounding our contradictions. Like other earth-based belief systems, the Celts absorbed nature's requirement of meshing the both/and in life. Their cultural symbols, feast, and arts reflect the creative tension of opposites.
We need the dark silence of winter to spawn the green shoot of spring for the abundance of summer. We need the play of the young with the guidance of the mature. Conception requires male and female. Strangely, there is no life without death. All of these dwell within one life and all life. We walk through days of the mundane while sensing the divine. Creativity, if not life itself, comes from allowing each opposing energy its time, its role, its season.
The pre-Christian Celtic cross symbolizes the energy of opposites. A circle surrounds the intersection of vertical and horizontal lines. The vertical line represents the human connection to the heavens while the horizontal line reflects our life in space and chronological time. These lines stretch outward with masculine energy traveling beyond our imagination to the unfathomable, to the infinite. Women have this masculine energy too.
The trademark of the Celtic cross is the circle said to be the feminine energy of holding, intimacy, and birth. The circle surrounding the apex is the beauty of the feminine, courageous in its insistence on being present and relational in the midst of the hard holding of life and its paradoxes. A spiritual life demands that we stand in the apex where the daily routines of ordinary life meet the extraordinary mystery beyond us. Our work is to be in the here and now knowing it is transcendent and eternal. Many artists strive to relay the mystery, magnitude, and beauty of the so-called ordinary.
Our individual lives, spirited women, are full of deep mystery - at times welcoming and others disturbing. Poet and priest, John O’Donahue captured this saying, “the infinity that haunts everyone and which no one can finally quell is the infinity of one's own interiority."
Celtic society included the role of the Druids and the Bards to explore the close unseen worlds, the spirituality of creation, and the importance of the arts to help us see our connection to the mystery of ourselves and our earth home. May you spirited women smell that closeness, be at ease with your contradictions, and gaze with all your creative senses at the mystery which is your life.
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