Resources for Celtic Pagans

At some point during your study of Paganism, you may decide you're interested in the magic, folklore, and beliefs of the ancient Celts. Learn about the Celtic gods and goddesses, the tree months of the Celtic year, and books to read if you're interested in Celtic Paganism.

Trinity Library
Gallery of the Old Library, Trinity College, Dublin. Bruno Barbier / Robert Harding World Imagery / Getty Images

If you're interested in following a Celtic Pagan path, there are a number of books that are useful for your reading list. Although there are no written records of the ancient Celtic people, there are a number of reliable books by scholars that are worth reading. Some of the books on this list focus on history, others on legend and mythology. While this is by no means a comprehensive list of everything you need to understand Celtic Paganism, it's a good starting point, and should help you learn at least the basics of honoring the gods of the Celtic peoples.

Narrow path, oak avenue, fog, morning light, flower bed, Naumburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Andreas Vitting / Getty Images

The Celtic Tree Calendar is a calendar with thirteen lunar divisions. Most contemporary Pagans use fixed dates for each "month", rather than following the waxing and waning lunar cycle. If this was done, eventually the calendar would fall out of sync with the Gregorian year, because some calendar years have 12 full moons and others have 13. The modern tree calendar is based on a concept that letters in the ancient Celtic Ogham alphabet corresponded to a tree.

Woman in Forest
Anna Gorin / Moment Open / Getty Images

Wondering about some of the major deities of the ancient Celtic world? Although the Celts consisted of societies all over the British Isles and parts of Europe, some of their gods and goddesses have become a part of modern Pagan practice. From Brighid and the Cailleach to Lugh and Taliesen, here are some of the deities honored by the ancient Celtic peoples.

Druid Praying
A modern Druid celebrates the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, June 2010. Matt Cardy / Getty Images

The early Druids were members of the Celtic priestly class. They were responsible for religious matters, but also held a civic role. Scholars have found linguistic evidence that female Druids existed as well. In part, this was likely due to the fact that Celtic women held a much higher social status than their Greek or Roman counterparts, and so writers like Plutarch, Dio Cassius, and Tacitus wrote about the baffling societal role of these Celtic women. 

Although the word Druid conjures up visions of Celtic Reconstructionism to many people, groups like Ár nDraíocht Féin welcome members of any religious path within the Indo-European spectrum. ADF says, “We're researching and interpreting sound modern scholarship (rather than romantic fantasies) about the ancient Indo-European Pagans–the Celts, Norse, Slavs, Balts, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Vedics, and others.”

Woman Playing Harp in Sunlight
What do we mean when we use the term "Celtic"?. Anna Gorin / Moment Open / Getty Images

For many people, the term “Celtic” is a homogenized one, popularly used to apply to cultural groups located in the British Isles and Ireland. However, from an anthropological standpoint, the term “Celtic” is actually fairly complex. Rather than meaning just people of Irish or English background, Celtic is used by scholars to define a specific set of language groups, originating both in the British Isles and in the mainland of Europe.

In modern Pagan religions, the term “Celtic” is generally used to apply to the mythology and legends found in the British Isles. When we discuss Celtic gods and goddesses on this website, we’re referring to the deities found in the pantheons of what are now Wales, Ireland, England and Scotland. Likewise, modern Celtic Reconstructionist paths, including but not limited to Druid groups, honor the deities of the British Isles.

Ogham Staves
Patti Wigington

Ogham staves are a popular method of divination among Pagans who follow a Celtic-focused path. Although there are no records of how staves might have been used in divination in ancient times, there are a number of ways that they can be interpreted. There are 20 original letters in the Ogham alphabet, and five more that were added later on. Each corresponds to a letter or sound, as well as a tree or wood.

Celtic Cross Tarot Spread
Lay your cards out as shown in the diagram to use the Celtic Cross spread. Patti Wigington

The Tarot layout known as the Celtic Cross is one of the most detailed and complex spreads used. It's a good one to use when you have a specific question that needs to be answered, because it takes you, step by step, through all the different aspects of the situation. Basically, it deals with one issue at a time, and by the end of the reading, when you reach that final card, you should have gotten through all the many facets of the problem at hand.