Sacred Earth; Sacred Soul - Celtic Christian Wisdom & Spirituality for the Here and Now – Part 2

By The Rev. Deacon Joe Dzugan


Sacred Earth; Sacred Soul - Celtic Christian Wisdom & Spirituality for the Here and Now – Part 2


October 2nd, 2022


humanity and the earth today



Opening Prayer
O God of life, who chooses creation over chaos and new beginnings over emptiness,
we bring to you the disorder of our nations and world and the emptiness of our lives and relationships.
Bless us and the nations with the grace of creativity.
Bless us and all people with the hope of new beginnings.

  •  J. Philip Newell, Celtic Treasure – Daily Scriptures and Prayer, p. 10.

Sacred Earth; Sacred Soul – Brief Summary of Introductory Thoughts

   Celtic scholar John Philip Newell writes that “we know things in the core of our being that we have
not necessarily been taught, and some of the deep knowing may actually be at odds with what our society or religion has tried to teach us. [Sacred Earth; Sacred Soul] is about reawakening to what we know in the depths of our being, that earth is sacred and that this sacredness is at the heart of every human being and life-form. To awaken again to this deep knowing is to be transformed in the ways we choose to live and act.”
    “What is unique about the Celtic [spiritual] tradition compared to most other Western traditions is that it cannot be reduced to a set of doctrines or beliefs; instead, at its core is the conviction that we need to keep listening to what our soul already knows either in the particular circumstances of our lives or in matters more universal. We need this awareness among us today, urgently.”
   “This way of seeing and hearing has a particular lineage. It can be traced historically to the Celtic world, but this is not to say that it is bound to Celtic ethnicity and culture. It goes by other names in other places and times. It is not only for those who wear kilts and play bagpipes, for instance or those who claim to have an Irish granny. Nor is it bound religiously. It resonates with the deep spiritual wisdom of other great religious traditions as well.”
   [This way of seeing] “can be accessed by anyone, regardless of ethnic origin or religious background, for it is a way of seeing that is based on what the soul already deeply knows, that both the earth and every human being are sacred. And we can apply this way of seeing to the most pressing issues of humanity and the earth today – [to the here and now].”

Sacred Earth; Sacred Soul – Historical Introduction
   “We speak of Celtic wisdom or a Celtic way of seeing, but who are the Celts? They are first referred to historically around 500 BCE. The Greeks called them keltoi, or ‘Celts’. Around the same time the Romans referred to them as galli, or ‘Gaels’. Today we primarily think of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Cornwall as Celtic territory, but in 500 BCE that was only the fringe. The Celts spanned the whole of middle Europe, ranging from what is now Turkey at the eastern edge right through the Atlantic coastline of present-day Spain.”
   “They were not an empire. Rather, the Celts formed a loose federation of tribes sharing a common culture and language base. They occupied Galatia (ancient Turkey), Galicia (ancient Spain), and Gaul (ancient France). All these place-names simply mean the ‘land of Gaels’ or ‘land of Celts.’ They were primarily a rural and agricultural people; their architecture was inspired by nature, rounded and curved rather than square and rectangular. They had sophisticated trading networks and highly developed art forms, often reflecting nature’s themes and patterns.”
   “Roman historians speak of the Celts with perplexity when they describe them as worshipping without temples. This is because the Celts considered the forests and mountains to be their temples. With even greater perplexity, Roman authors also describe them as viewing the feminine as sacred. In Rome, a thoroughly patriarchal society, this was considered unfathomable. But the Celts, who listened for truth deep within the human soul and the earth, prized the fact that all life comes from the union of masculine and feminine, which led them naturally and intuitively to honor the feminine as well as the masculine.”
   “And so, we get glimpses that take us to the edge of prehistory of a people who regarded the earth and the human mystery as sacred. [In Sacred Earth; Sacred Soul, we] will be primarily drawing on the wisdom that has flowed to us over the centuries through Christian teachers in the Celtic world. Repeatedly, however, these teachers were to pose a challenge, and even a threat, to the way more prominent forms of Western Christianity viewed the sacred as separate from the ordinary rather than at the very heart of it.”  “The basis of this conflict was laid in the fourth century when Mediterranean Christianity became the religion of the empire. Empire did not want to be reminded that the earth and birth are sacred, a view that held too many implications for how living beings and the resources of the earth were to be reverenced rather than exploited. Consequently, religion was made to bow to imperial power, and the stage was set for conflict with the Celtic world. As we shall see, it is a conflict that has continued in various forms for over sixteen hundred years. The Celtic [Christian] teachers help us remember that all life is holy, not just the life of our family or our race or our nation, and that every species, not just the human species is sacred.”
   [Our focus] “is about accessing an ancient way of seeing in a fresh manner. In other words, the perennial wisdom of the Celtic world flows to us through teachers of the past, yet also invites us to be part of its further evolution and unfolding. Because it is a way of seeing that is based on paying attention to what is deepest in the human soul, rather than a fixed set of outward beliefs, it is a tradition that can evolve and grow with us on the journey. We are in need of a paradigm shift today, religiously, culturally, and ecologically, if the world as we know it is not to collapse. The Celtic tradition can assist us in reawakening to the sacred in ways that will inspire and sustain our journey forward.”

Words of Awareness and Wisdom
   You have been graced with the dignity of divine birth, says Pelagius. Live this dignity in your life,
safeguard it in one another, and protect it in every human being.

                     (Reflect for a brief time on the ways this wisdom applies to you life.”

  •    Source: John Philip Newell, Sacred Earth; Sacred Soul, Introduction.


An invitation to our virtual participants: Discussion and comments are very much encouraged and welcomed. Online discussions can be held in the comments section in the post on Facebook for this week’s Deacon’s Reflection which is part of adult formation at St. Francis Episcopal Church.

Closing Prayer
Awake, O my soul, and know the Sacred dignity of your being.
Awake to it in every living soul this day.
Honor it, defend it, in heart and mind, in word and deed.
Awake O my soul, and know the sacred dignity of your being.
May the light of God illumine the heart of my soul.
May the flame of Christ kindle me to love.
May the fire of the Spirit free me to live this day, tonight, and forever. Amen.

John Philip Newell, Sacred Earth; Sacred Soul, p. 43.


“Sacred Earth; Sacred Soul”, Deacon Joe Dzugan, St. Francis Episcopal Church, 2022.

Posted by Mark Hamby at 6:00 AM
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