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Celtic Mythology and Religion

Ancient Celtic mythology and religion revolved around the wheel of the Celtic year - a lunar-based calendar with eight segments, each with a corresponding festival.

The four fire festivals, all including bonfires, take place on the last evening of a month and the following day and are tied to the agricultural cycle: Samhain is celebrated on October 31-November 1 (Halloween) and marks the Celtic New Year. Imbolc is celebrated February 1-2 and welcomes spring (Groundhog Day).

Beltane (Bealtunn in Scots Gaelic, meaning May Day) is celebrated April 30-May 1. The god Bel (or Cernunnos, the horned god of Ireland) dies but is reborn as the goddess' son. He then impregnates her ensuring the neverending cycle of rebirth. Lughnasadh (Lammas in England) is the feast of the god Lugh and the first fruits of the harvest and is celebrated August 31-September 1.

The other four holidays of the Celtic year celebrate the spring and fall equinoxes and the winter and summer solstices. Alban Arthuan (Light of Arthur), like winter solstice celebrations all over the world, celebrates the return of the sun following the shortest day in the year.

The spring (vernal) equinox is celebrated as Alban Eiler (Light of the Earth). Alban Heruin (Light of the Shore) is celebrated as Midsummer's Day. Finally, Alban Elued (Light of the Water) is observed at the autumn equinox and, like the spring equinox, is a sacred time when the line between worlds is thin and magical possibilities abound.

Buy Books about Celtic Mythology and Religion
Kindling the Celtic Spirit
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Kindling the Celtic Spirit: Ancient Traditions to Illumine Your Life Throughout the Seasons
by Mara Freeman, illustrated by Linda Carol Risso

From Amazon's review: "Following the format of the Celtic calendar, Freeman shares the stories, recipes, spells, and Gaelic expressions that go with each of the monthly festivals and celebrations." This is a truly lovely book, packed with engagingly shared information and beautifully illustrated.
The Mist Filled Path
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The Mist-Filled Path: Celtic Wisdom for Exiles, Wanderers, and Seekers
by Frank Henderson Maceowen

From the Author: "The content within The Mist-Filled Path represents an amalgam of personal experiences I have had; initiatory experiences that have opened me to the deeper flow of energy in the universe, and an expansive vision for an integrative human spirituality that celebrates the living earth. Although partially rooted in the ancient cosmologies of my Scottish Highland and Irish ancestors, I have written The Mist-Filled Path from a broader, interfaith, ecumenical, and integrative perspective." This book has rave reviews from readers. A wonderful introduction to modern Celtic spirituality.
Stations of the Sun
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The Stations of the Sun
by Ronald Hutton

This is a terrific, well-researched look at the history and customs of the British holidays - where did they come from, why are they celebrated as they are. Useful for pagans, or for anyone interested in British history or for all of us who love holidays and traditions.

Book Description: "From the twelve days of Christmas to the Spring traditions of Valentine, Shrovetide, and Easter eggs, through May Day revels and Midsummer fires, and on to the waning of the year, Harvest Home, and Hallowe'en; Ronald Hutton takes us on a fascinating journey through the ritual year in Britain."
The Celtic Spirit
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The Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year
by Caitlin Matthews

Caitlin and John Matthews are world-renowned Celtic scholars, folklorists and practicing pagans. You will find many of their books scattered about our website. In this book, Caitlin has provided short meditations for each day of the year drawn from Celtic pagan spirituality.
Illuminated Celtic Book of Days
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Illuminated Celtic Book of Days
edited by Louis de Paor, illustrated by Lynne Muir

A reader in Celtic culture, both prose and poetry, from pre-Christian times to the present. Lovely illustrations by Australian calligrapher Lynne Muir. Dr. De Paor is an award-winning modern Irish poet writing in Gaelic, a professor of Irish Studies at the National University of Ireland in Galway, and a proponent of Irish cultural revival.
Celtic Folklore Cooking
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Celtic Folklore Cooking
by Joanne Asala

Asala gathered traditional Celtic recipes, then grouped them by holiday with meal planning tips for a complete feast, including drinks. Sprinkles folklore stories and tidbits throughout. A nice cookbook whether you're pagan or not and easy way to begin creating your own Celtic celebrations.
Yule : A Celebration of Light and Warmth
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Llewellyn Celtic Festival Series

Llewellyn is the only publisher so far to offer a complete series of books on all eight Celtic holidays. While some of these books are quite good, for example Midsummer by Anna Franklin, readers must use discernment. Each book discusses the pagan roots and traditions, and also provides recipes, crafts, and other celebratory ideas.

Halloween: Customs, Recipes, Spells by Silver Ravenwolf
Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth by Dorothy Morrison
Candlemas: Feast of Flames by Amber K and Azrael Arynn K
Ostara: Customs, Spells & Rituals for the Rites of Spring by Edain McCoy
Beltane: Springtime Rituals, Lore and Celebration by Raven Grimassi
Midsummer: Magical Celebrations of the Summer Solstice by Anna Franklin
Lammas by Anna Franklin and Paul Mason
Mabon: Celebrating the Autumn Equinox by Kristin Madden

Llewellyn also offers Wheel of the Year: Living the Magical Life - by Pauline Campanelli (with very nice illustrations by Dan Campanelli) - this is a lovely, up close and personal look at how their family celebrates the Celtic year. Highly recommended.

For lots of great articles and information on the Celtic Myths, visit Celtic Mythology.