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Rowan and Red Thread: Magic and Witchcraft in Gaelic Cultures

by Annie Loughlin, Treasa Ní Chonchobhair and Kathryn Price NicDhàna for Gaol Naofa

Rowan and Red Thread: Magic and Witchcraft in Gaelic Cultures is copyright ©2012 Annie Loughlin, Treasa Ní Chonchobhair and Kathryn Price NicDhàna. All Rights Reserved.

January 27, 2014

Membership Guidelines

Before applying to join Gaol Naofa, we ask that you join us in our private Gaelic Polytheism discussion group on Facebook and actively join in with discussions for a minimum of six months. This is an opportunity for you to get to know us, and for us to get to know you, so we can all be sure that Gaol Naofa is the right fit. The group is very active and is comprised of both GN-members and non-members, and posts in the group are only visible to group members and will not show up in your newsfeed, or to anyone on your friends’ list (unless they are also group members, depending on your settings and how Facebook is feeling that day).1 Participation in our Facebook group is no guarantee of being later accepted into Gaol Naofa, but is a necessary step in getting to know one another.

Before applying to join the Gaelic Polytheism group, please make sure you’ve read these guidelines below, as well as the Gaol Naofa FAQ. The guidelines here also apply to members of Gaol Naofa.  It is absolutely essential that anyone wanting to join the Gaelic Polytheism must contact us to confirm that you have read, and agree to abide by, the group guidelines.

So, to join the group, there are four steps…

Step One: Read the Guidelines thoroughly.

Group Guidelines

1. We expect members to comport themselves with honour, compassion, and integrity.

Hospitality is the rule here. Remember what it was like to be new. Be kind. Be welcoming. If you are new here, also bear with those of us who are old and sometimes cranky.

Questions are always welcome here, but do try to do a little of your own heavy lifting. If someone says your question is best answered by reading a link, please read the link before questioning them further. While we are here to help newer people (and are happy to do so), those of us who have written articles, books, and websites have done so partially so we don’t have to constantly repeat ourselves on Teh Intarwebs fora. :)

2. Respect fellow members and other polytheists.

This forum is for Gaelic Polytheists, those who are exploring Gaelic Polytheism to see if it is for them, and friends and allies who are supportive of our work. Please respect one another, including those who may be curious and questioning about our ways and practices.

Conversations here should not serve as fodder for the public disparagement of other individuals or groups. Calling someone an idiot elsewhere online for all the world to see because they don’t agree with you or perhaps were laboring under misconceptions is dishonourable, disrespectful, and does not in anyway engender community.

Please respect other members’ privacy. While the group is now for members-only, not everyone wants to go into lots of personal details in a forum. Feel free to take conversations to PM or the phone.

3. Lying, misrepresentations, sockpuppeting, and other dishonourable behaviours are not allowed here.

Respectful discussion is welcome, but mud-wrestling, name-calling, flaming, ad-hominem attacks, petty squabbling, unnecessary drama, and trolling are not. We understand that discussion can become heated sometimes, but this does not excuse negative behaviours. If established community members say you’re behaving inappropriately, you may want to back off and think about it until you’re calmer.

Inappropriate behaviour will result in warnings being given; we understand that everyone has an off-day every now and then, but think before you post! Repeated warnings about inappropriate behaviour may ultimately lead to individuals being banned. Chronic behaviours of this sort show the type of character we don’t want in our communities, and we reserve the right to ban individuals if they fail to show consideration of others, or basic common decency.

We know the difference between conversation and bullying. Being a bully is not part of the ‘warrior’ path.

Please do not join in discussions if you are intoxicated, whether under the influence of alcohol or any other substance. Also, do not go outside the group and get your friends to join just to “gang” up on someone who disagrees with you. This is not a space for your own personal internet army; sometimes people have different opinions, and that’s OK.  It’s also OK to disagree with those opinions, so long as you do so respectfully.

We have no illusions that a mid-sized forum on the Internet can be “safe space”. However, we will not welcome anyone who has a history of threatening physical harm to others, physically harming others, or in other ways dedicating themselves to intentionally causing distress to community members or the community itself. Any threatening behaviour from members will result in the ceremonial wielding of the ban hammer.

On no account will sock-puppeting of any kind be tolerated. Members who try to add sock accounts to the group will be banned.

This is not a group for witchcraft. In Gaol Naofa, we use the traditional Gaelic definition found in the lore and the living cultures, not the neopagan redefinition. For how we define witchcraft, please see The Gaol Naofa FAQ (pp.77-79). For a longer, heavily footnoted explanation, see “Rowan and Red Thread: Magic and Witchcraft in Gaelic Cultures.”

4. Second Chances.

Members who have been banned due to inappropriate behaviour may (eventually) be given a second chance if they show a willingness and sincere desire to change. However, rejoining a forum with (or without) a new screen name does not give someone a blank slate. The only way those with dishonourable histories will be given another chance is if those they victimized feel the situation has been resolved to their satisfaction and they are OK with the person being given another chance. See: How to Eff Up (there’s some language, so be warned).

5. Personal Spiritual & Visionary Experience is Welcome.

The discussion of personal experience, and information received through spiritual experiences (aka the various forms of Personal Gnosis), is absolutely welcome in conversation here. But in order to avoid confusion, please remember to present it as your personal experience and not historical fact.

6. Cite Your Sources.

If you are presenting traditional material, evidence or theories, it is helpful if you provide a source or reference for others. If you are asked for one, or if your source is questioned, it’s nothing personal; this is par for the course in Reconstructionist and traditional discussions and not a sign of distrust or a questioning of your intelligence. Citing your sources simply helps further the discussion and helps others learn, and it’s always appreciated.

7. Ignorance is bliss and can be forgiven, however, knowledgeable loyalty to folly cannot.

It is perfectly okay for someone to disagree with you over something (though this should be done in a courteous and civil manner), but as this is not a group for fantastical or romantic beliefs, hands will not be held for those who chose to continue living in a fantasy world when sound evidence (from reliable sources) to the contrary has been presented.

8. Stay On Topic.

This is a group for Gaelic Polytheism and Gaelic Culture. Discussions of comparative religions are fine, but please do not post things that will mislead people into thinking non-Gaelic practices are part of Gaelic Polytheism and please do not be offended if something you post is questioned or removed for being off topic. There’s nothing wrong with a little relaxed and friendly banter, but if threads keep getting derailed then the admins may step in and politely ask posters to get back on topic.

For more on Gaelic Polytheism, please familiarize yourself with the content at these websites, if you haven’t already: Gaol Naofa, Tairis, Paganachd.

9. Bear in mind that some of us are old…(er)

Not everyone understands text speak (or whatever it is you call it!), so please save us the brain ache and write in full sentences. English may not be everyone’s first language either, so full sentences makes it much easier for everyone to read and understand each other.

10. Self-Promotion.

Individuals who join simply to spam their own links, events or work are extremely rude and annoying. If you are a member who actually joins in conversation and otherwise contributes to the group, then posting a link to your event or website is welcome. However, those who join and immediately use their membership for promotion will be warned once. If it happens again, you will be banned.

11. Proselytizing.

Don’t. It really is a waste of time. And just rude.

12. Racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and similar oppressive prejudices are not allowed here.

Anyone, of any race, sex, gender, gender expression or sexual orientation, is welcome to join here; racism and bigotry will not be tolerated, nor will the promotion of colonialism, cultural misappropriations, “shamanism” (unless you’re a traditional Siberian), or pay-to-pray. We are here to build community, not to exploit or commodify spiritual experience. Those of us in the diaspora are also very conscious of being good neighbours, and accountable, to our relatives and Elders who are Indigenous to where we now live. This group, and our advisory council, includes people of colour, including traditional Indigenous people and elders. For more on this, visit CAORANN.

13. Do Not Delete Comments or Topics.

Once you click reply, leave your comment on the thread as removal will create confusion for others. If you make a typo, just correct it in another reply. We urge you to think carefully before replying if you are afraid of having your comment up for all to see. Topics will only be removed by admins if they are off-topic for the group.

14. Conflict Resolution.

If you have a problem with another poster, please try to deal with it like grown ups, in private. Do not allow personal grievances to spill over into discussions and threads; this is not a forum for your dirty laundry!

If you have concerns with the way this group is run, please deal with any issues privately with the admins. You can find out who the admins are by looking at the group’s member’s list and selecting the “Admins” option from the drop-down box, and then PM us.

Do not block or ignore any of the admins; however, if you have problems with other members in the group, that you cannot resolve, then by all means ignore them if it means there is less potential for upset and drama.

14a. Conflict Resolution for Gaol Naofa members within GN or GP group spaces.

Upon joining Gaol Naofa you will be assigned one of our Brughaidhi (Hospitallers) as a member liaison, who may also act as an ombudsman or advocate (as necessary). If you have a problem with another member (or members) and are unable to resolve matters privately and constructively, you may wish to contact your assigned Brughaidh for help in mediation and conflict resolution. The other party may also involve their assigned liaison to assist in resolving the issue.

If you do not feel comfortable with involving your assigned Brughaidh you are welcome to contact another member of the council, of your choosing. In the event that your liason (or chosen contact) may be unable to deal with your request, you will be assigned (or may choose, if you prefer) a proxy.

If you have concerns with the way the organisation is run, please deal with any issues privately, with a council member (or members) of your choosing. You are welcome to contact anyone on the council to discuss any concerns you might have directly, or approach the issue via your assigned Brughaidh.

15. Common Sense.

The admins recognize that these rules can only go so far. When all else fails, the admins of this group reserve the right to use common sense in dealing with any situations that might arise.


Now that you’ve read the Guidelines, and if you fully agree with them…

Step Two:  contact us and tell us a bit about yourself and your interest in the group. You can do this by

Step Three:  Let us know if you’ve read, and agree with, these group guidelines. Let us know if you have any questions.

Step Four:  Go to the Gaelic Polytheism group and click “+Join Group.”

Although we aim to respond to membership requests as quickly as possible, sometimes we are unable to process requests in as timely a manner as we’d like. Please bear in mind that Gaol Naofa is run by volunteers, and we do what we can with the time we have. Your patience is very much appreciated!

Moran Taing!

Notes

1 According to the way Facebook currently operates. Any changes that might be made to Facebook’s structure in the future are unfortunately beyond our control.

February 20, 2015

Introductory Leaflet about Gaol Naofa and Gaelic Polytheism

The following text is available for download as a pdf, which you are welcome to print off and distribute. Links to the pdfs (available in two sizes) are given at the bottom of the page.

 

An Chuallacht Ghaol Naofa

An organisation of Gaelic Polytheists committed to the preservation and revitalisation of our lifeway – the earth-honouring traditions of Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man

Gaelic Polytheism

Gaelic Polytheism is the reverence of the deities, ancestors and nature spirits of the Gaelic-speaking lands: Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. We refer to this triad of spirit-beings as Na Trí Naomh (Gaeilge [Irish], “The Sacred Three”). Our beliefs and practices are informed by the historical and archaeological record as well as the living cultural continuum.

The basic foundations of Gaelic Polytheist belief can be seen as:

Hard polytheism — Seeing the deities (goddesses and gods) as distinct and individual.
Animism — Recognising that all creatures, places, and some objects have a spirit, or spiritual essence, which we acknowledge in our practices.
Reverence of our ancestors — Along with the gods and spirits, our ancestors of the body, mind and spirit are honoured in our ceremonies.
Recognising a Gaelic cosmology and worldview — We view the world around us in a way that is informed by our beliefs, values, and cultural outlook, and this informs our ritual practices and behaviour.
Values — Observing and upholding traditional Celtic values such as truth, hospitality, courage, honesty, generosity, good judgement and the importance of the bonds between family, friends and community.

While Celtic Christianity provides a fulfilling and meaningful life for many of our relatives, we do not feel drawn to Christianity. We feel that we have been called by the spirits of the earth and the waters, the voices of our distant ancestors, and the spiritual forces that gave shape and meaning to their lives, as well as to our lives now. For more information about our basic principles of belief, please see:

http://www.gaolnaofa.org/about/house-posts/

Is Gaelic Polytheism ethnic-based?

While we maintain that Gaelic Polytheism is an ethnic tradition rooted in the culture, worldview, values, and character of the Gaelic peoples, we believe a sincere desire to adopt and internalise our beliefs, practices, and worldview, and participation in Gaelic Polytheist community, are the only prerequisites needed to become a practising Gaelic Polytheist. People of Gaelic heritage are more likely to be drawn to Gaelic Polytheism, but having Gaelic ancestry is not a requirement to participate in Gaelic Polytheism or to join Gaol Naofa.

Many of the Gaol Naofa Council members also hold council seats with an activist and preservation organisation — CAORANN, or, Celts Against Oppression, Racism and Neo-Nazism. As such, Gaol Naofa — by extension — takes a firm stance against racism, sexism, homophobia, cultural appropriation, the destruction of sacred sites, and the spread of white supremacy in any culture. For more information, please visit:

http://www.bandia.net/caorann/

What Gaelic Polytheism Is Not

We hold deep respect for the ways of other, Earth-honouring ancestral traditions, and our friends and relatives who preserve those ways of life for their peoples. Our belief is that we must be rooted in our own culture and traditional ways and not steal from, nor denigrate, the ceremonies or traditions of other cultures.

Gaol Naofa has the utmost respect for other paths and perspectives, but we do not see Gaelic Polytheism as a path that’s compatible with eclecticism, witchcraft, “Shamanism,” Wicca, New Age, or Neo-Druidic practices. Although Gaelic Polytheism is a modern pagan tradition, we do not feel that the “Neopagan” label or community is representative of our beliefs, practices or worldview, and we do not identify with it in any meaningful way beyond acknowledging the role reconstruction has, of necessity, played in the revival of our ancestral ways.

About Gaol Naofa

An Chuallacht Ghaol Naofa (Gaol Naofa) is an organisation of Gaelic Polytheists, committed to the preservation and revitalisation of the pre-Christian, Earth-honouring spiritual traditions of the Gaels.

The Gaels are the peoples of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man who have historically spoken, and still speak, one of the Gaelic/Goidelic languages.

We provide support and resources, and act as a touchstone to help provide community and fellowship for Gaelic Polytheists across the globe.

Gaol Naofa (pronounced “gweel nee-fah”) is an Irish phrase that roughly translates to “sacred kinship.” Our organisation is run by a group of dedicated volunteers who make up An Chomhairle Ghaol Naofa (The Gaol Naofa Council), currently led by Annie Loughlin, who is based on the west coast of Scotland.

Membership

Membership in Gaol Naofa is offered, free of charge, on an individual or household basis. Individual applicants must be over eighteen years of age, and must be able to meet a number of requirements outlined on our membership page. Those under eighteen may join as members of a family or household:

http://www.gaolnaofa.org/membership/

As an international organisation, Gaol Naofa focuses on a number of different areas to help achieve our goals:

Education – gathering and producing sound, reliable, informative and inspiring materials about Gaelic Polytheism, via articles, books, videos and other forms of media.
Community – nurturing Gaelic cultural, spiritual, and language preservation communities; providing social networks, events, and fellowship for our members, their families and extended families.
Preservation – guarding and protecting our cultural and spiritual traditions to ensure a continuation for the generations to come.
Restoration – reconstructing and revitalising (in a culturally and academically accurate manner) the worldview and ceremonies that were discontinued and almost lost.
Practice – providing practical guidance and support to our members and those who wish to adopt our Gaelic Polytheist Lifeway.

Interested? Learn more by reading our FAQ online:

http://www.gaolnaofa.org/about/faq/

Or contact us:

gaol.naofa@gmail.com

Download the leaflets

Paper sizes differ slightly between the US and UK so the leaflet has been formatted to fit both sizes:

 

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June 12, 2014

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