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Center for Action and Contemplation

Native and Celtic Spirituality Summary

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Native and Celtic Spirituality

Summary: Sunday, July 5-Saturday, July 11, 2015

Lived outwardly, the inner experience of union moves us toward compassion, justice, and inclusivity.

One of the non-dual gifts of Celtic and Native traditions is their openness to inspiration and wisdom from nature, beauty, and signs and symbols that speak deeply to the unconscious.

We are called to live in harmony with each other and all created things.

We must now rebuild on a foundation of original goodness, not any original curse or sin.

When we forget the roundness of life, the inter-being of all creatures and the Creator, we lose our sense of true identity and belonging—to that very circle.

Initiation teaches you that both dark and light, joy and grief, good and evil are part of the journey.


Practice: Intimacy with Creation

“In every religion we find the need to consecrate our participation in the natural world. This is especially evident in the tribal religions of native peoples. Their songs and prayers express a great courtesy toward the natural world. For example, the refrain ‘We return thanks’ in the thanksgiving ritual of the Iroquois Indians—first to our mother, the Earth which sustains us, then to the rivers and streams, to the bushes and trees, to the elements, and finally to the Great Spirit who directs all things—reveals the intimacy of their relation with the entire Earth community.” [1]

A Navajo chant expresses the depth of this intimacy with, and participation in, nature:

The mountains,
I become part of it . . .
The herbs, the fir tree,
I become part of it.
The morning mists, the clouds, the gathering waters,
I become part of it.
The wilderness, the dew drops, the pollen . . .
I become part of it. [2]

We also are able to “become part of it” when we are aware that we share the Spirit of God with all creation, as the following passage by Celtic theologian Pelagius affirms:

Look at the animals roaming the forest: God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the birds flying across the sky: God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the tiny insects crawling in the grass: God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the fish in the river and sea: God’s spirit dwells within them. There is no creature on earth in whom God is absent. . . . When God pronounced that his creation was good, it was not only that his hand had fashioned every creature; it was that his breath had brought every creature to life. Look too at the great trees of the forest; look even at your crops. God’s spirit is present within all plants as well. The presence of God’s spirit in all living things is what makes them beautiful; and if we look with God’s eyes, nothing on the earth is ugly. [3]

Go out into the natural world and look with God’s eyes; listen with God’s ears; know your place within God’s good creation.

Gateway to Silence:
One world, all sacred


[1] Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon, ed., Earth Prayers: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations from Around the World (HarperOne: 1991), xxi.

[2] Ibid., 5.

[3] The Letters of Pelagius as quoted by J. Philip Newell, Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality (Paulist Press: 1997), 10-11.


For further study:

J. Philip Newell, Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality (Paulist Press: 1997)

Richard Rohr, Adam’s Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2004)

Richard Rohr, Following the Mystics through the Narrow Gate (Center for Action and Contemplation), (CD, DVD, MP3 download)

Huston Smith, The World’s Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions (Harper Collins: 1986)

Dervishes (photo detail) performing at Ruhaniyat Purana, Qila, 2011, by Ajaiberwarl. Wikimedia Commons.
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