CELTIC STUDIESMyth and Tradition
Image: ‘Blackbirds Are Gathering’ by Andrea Kowch: www.andreakowch.com
The 2019 course has now begun; next intake will be April 2020.
Are you interested in studying accurate and up-to-date information about the native myths and traditions of Ireland and the other Celtic nations? And are you interested in exploring what an authentic contemporary spirituality – one which has its roots in the old traditions of those countries, but which makes sense in a very different world – might look like in the context of this knowledge? If you are, then this course is for you.
One of the primary functions of The Hedge School is to provide a resource for accurate and up-to-date knowledge about our native traditions. Much of the available information about Celtic traditions, especially on the web, is either profoundly inaccurate or outdated by several decades; most material on Celtic mythology, in particular, is very poorly researched. With this in mind, The Hedge School offers a year-long interactive distance-learning course which provides a sound and up-to-date introduction to our Celtic heritage and, at the end of the course, explores the relevance of those native traditions to our lives and practices today.
Our ‘Celtic Traditions’ course derives from Hedge School founder Dr Sharon Blackie’s Master’s-level education in Celtic Studies. It is founded on our current understanding of research from several disciplines, including Classical and indigenous literature, history, archaeology, and folklore. It will include material from all six Celtic nations (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, the Isle of Man, and Cornwall) but will focus primarily on the Irish and Welsh traditions, where there is a greater abundance of material.
Although it’s based on academic material and research, the course materials will be perfectly accessible to all interested students. The course will be of interest to anyone who has a Celtic heritage, or who is fascinated by the old native cultures of the Celtic lands. If your spiritual practice is based on Celtic traditions, or if you would like to develop one which is, then the course will offer you firm and authentic foundations on which to build.
The following topics will be covered during the year:
- The foundations of our knowledge: the original sources, and where to find them
- Who were the Celts?
- An introduction to Celtic cosmology, religion and mythology
- The Celtic pantheon: gods, goddesses and other Otherworldly beings
- The Celtic Otherworld, and the mundus imaginalis (including the Otherworldly journey tales: the Echtrae and Immrama)
- The Mabinogion, and the Book of Taliesin
- Arthur, Merlin and the Grail legends
- Gaelic heroes and heroines: the Fionn cycle, the Ulster cycle, and the great cattle raids
- The ritual year
- Animals, trees and plants in Celtic culture
- The Creideamh Sí (‘fairy faith’)
- Celtic Christianity, and the lives of early saints
- Bards, poets, druids, and seers
- Folklore and folklife
- The evidence for Celtic ‘shamanism’
This is a self-study course, without assignments. The course will be taught through monthly written Modules. Each month, you’ll be sent an email with links to download your materials; you can then read and work through them at your own pace. Reading lists and other resources will be provided as we go along, and selected academic articles and book chapters that are relevant to monthly Module content may also be downloaded.
During the course of the year, participants will also be able to use a private, high-specification online forum (quite independent of Facebook and other social media), in which Sharon will participate, for ongoing discussions with other participants, and to ask questions about the course material and to discuss their relevance to our lives today. To aid reflection, discussion questions relating to each month’s material will be posted on the discussion forum each month. (You may undertake the course without participating in the forum, but much of the value will be lost.)
Please note that because this is a self-study course, and because everyone will come to it with different skill sets and learning methods, it’s really not possible to sensibly estimate the time commitment required. It’s very much up to you how you approach it, and how deeply you explore the various threads and participate in the forum.
Enrolment and payment
The 2019 course has now begun and enrolment is closed; the next intake will be April 2020. Please sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date.