Celtic Spirituality Honors Nature in a Timeless Way

celtic spirituality howth dublin ireland by giuseppe milo flickr

Ireland is an enchanting place full of amazing sights. The emerald green landscape, the historic and picturesque castles, and the majestic waters surrounding this gorgeous island nation offer a very compelling invitation to spiritual-minded travelers. The spirituality of Ireland is deeply rooted in the timeless embrace of nature. It is part of the rhythm and balance of life, and finds lovely definition in Celtic expression.

Celtic Spirituality Leads to Nature

The Celts are a people whose history dates back to the earliest days of Ireland. Differing historical accounts place varying degrees of mythology at the foundation of Celtic spirituality. In more recent history it has transformed into a blend of Christian faith and Celtic spiritual traditions. However, nature remains timelessly honored as a divine force. Men and women are viewed as equal, and both share equally in a close relationship with nature.

John O’Donohue, the late Irish poet and philosopher (1956-2008), was recognized for his work on Celtic spirituality. He is the author of several books on the wisdom inherent in Celtic spiritual traditions. In the PBS documentary, A Celtic Pilgrimage, O’Donohue shared his insights regarding this wisdom, explaining the effect that the natural elements have on the Irish soul. “In the Irish psyche, landscape has a unique presence. One of the wonderful insights of the Celtic imagination is that landscape is alive.”

O’Donohue invokes poetry in his discussion of nature’s beauty, and what this means for the Celts. “In our times, nature is property. We have real estate. But for the Celtic mind, nature was a divine presence.” As in other ancient cultures, the boundaries of environment extend beyond physical needs of Celts. The natural surroundings nourish and balance the soul, by offering awareness of the mysterious continuum of life.

Blending Christianity With Celtic Cultural Traditions

St. Patrick, one of the more famous Catholic saints in the world, came from Ireland. In a metaphysical blending of Christianity with the Celtic spirituality found in nature, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on the spring equinox.

Another internationally popular export from Ireland is celtic jewelry. Celtic jewelry is enjoyed for its artistic expression of the spirituality found in nature. Employing spiritual symbolism in the designs of traditional Celtic knotwork, the jewelry offers wearable expressions of such spiritual concepts as solidarity and fellowship with the Earth, and notions of birth and rebirth. One very familiar design used in Celtic jewelry is the Celtic cross. The cross, with its encompassing circle and intertwining knots, represents the interconnectedness of all of God’s Creation.

celtic cross 2 by tom harrington flickr

A Celtic Spiritual Pilgrimage Into Nature

Celtic spirituality today offers a fusion of modern religion with timeless traditions. But it is not necessary to be Irish to identify with the Celtic concept of spirituality found in nature. Appreciation for the Earth, sky, sea, and air can come anytime and anywhere, by simply taking a walk outdoors. Calm is infused within the peaceful landscape of trees, flowers, and rivers.

However, Spiritual Tours are offered in Ireland, and can immerse the pilgrim in a beautiful landscape of Celtic spirituality. The wondrous Celtic nature indeed comes alive, while walking along the lush green hills, visiting ancient Celtic sacred sites, and meditating by the rocky shores while the rumbling of ocean waves rock you into a hypnotic spiritual trance. Ireland truly offers a timeless Celtic spiritual pilgrimage into nature.

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About the Author

Gina Merlino is a freelance writer who cares about environmental issues. She has a Bachelor's in Philosophy, a Master's in Engaged Humanities, and is an avid reader of the news. You can find me on Twitter.