Introduction to Gaol Naofa: Our Mission Statement
Ní mbeidh daoine beith ag tnúth le shliocht, nár riamh breathnaigh ar ais chuig a sinsear.1
Gaol Naofa is an Irish phrase that roughly translates to “sacred kinship.” We have chosen this name for our organisation as it highlights the bonds that sustain our community and the bonds we share with our Dé (“gods”), sinsir (“ancestors”), and the spirits of nature.2 The full name of our organisation is An Chuallacht Ghaol Naofa (“The Community of Sacred Kinship”). Gaol Naofa was founded in the summer of 2007 by Tomás Flannabhra. As of January 2014 the leadership has passed to Annie Loughlin, who currently administers the organisation from Scotland with the aid of the Gaol Naofa Council.
Gaol Naofa is committed to the practice and further advancement of our Gaelic Polytheist Lifeway (Ár nDóigh Bheatha Ildiach is Gaelach/Ar Dòigh-Beatha Ioma-Dhiadhach Ghàidhealach),3 and to the preservation and protection of the Gaelic cultural continuum as a whole. The purpose of Gaol Naofa is to take an active role in the preservation and revitalisation of the pre-Christian and other-than-Christian, earth-based spiritual traditions of our Gaelic ancestors. We do this by gathering people together and creating an environment for the exchange of resources, information, research and ideas, and by providing a medium for the propagation of knowledge.
We are dedicated to preserving the Gaelic, earth-based, cultural traditions that survive and, through careful scholarship and collaboration, reviving and reconstructing the polytheistic Gaelic spiritual ways that have been fragmented or fallen into disuse. Gaol Naofa’s vision is the practice and preservation of our Gaelic Polytheist Lifeway, in the context of modern life and in strict accommodation with history and tradition, and to affirm our native traditions as a fulfilling and sacred way of life for Gaelic people.
In our dedication to Gaelic culture and our Gaelic Polytheist Lifeway, we are committed to:
- Education: gathering and producing sound, reliable, informative and inspiring materials about Gaelic Polytheism and Gaelic cultural preservation, via articles, books, and other forms of media.
- Community: preserving Gaelic cultural and spiritual communities, and providing resources and contacts for the further development and growth of our communities.
- Restoration: building on the foundation of the ancestral traditions we have inherited; reconstructing and revitalising the earth-honouring and polytheistic customs, ceremonies, and values that were fragmented or neglected; and doing so in a culturally, historically, and academically accurate manner that is compatible with contemporary life.4
- Practice: providing practical guidance and support, and a framework for the revival, adoption and application of our Gaelic Polytheist Lifeway.
- Preservation: supporting and guarding the living Gaelic cultures and the languages which are their heart; preserving and passing on our cultural and spiritual traditions, and our Gaelic worldview, to ensure a continuation for posterity.
Gaol Naofa is dedicated to providing accurate information to our members and the public regarding the ancient and modern Gaelic peoples and the historical and contemporary Gaelic customs, traditions, and beliefs. We are not a New Age organisation nor do we perpetuate romantic fantasies about our ancestors. Gaol Naofa promotes the living heritage of the Gaels; this includes the practice of traditional customs, crafts, music and dance, and the preservation of the Gaelic languages and Gaelic sacred sites.
Though we have the guidance and participation of senior members of our cultural communities, and a membership that is both international and multi-generational, Gaol Naofa itself is still a relatively young and small organisation. We have a strong work ethic, along with ambitious ideas and aspirations for the preservation and restoration of our ancestral lifeway. We are confident in the collective will and strength of our people, and the recourse our cultural, spiritual, and historic heritage provides us. To join Gaol Naofa means that you believe in and support our vision and goals, and that you want to be part of a supportive community of dedicated people, committed to the work of bringing these goals to fruition.
- A translation of Edmund Burke’s quote “People will not look forward to posterity, who never look back to their ancestors” into Gaeilge by Treasa Ní Chonchobhair.
- The names for the nature spirits vary depending on where you live. See The Gaol Naofa FAQ for more on this.
- Gaol Naofa has coined this term to better describe our specific tradition and beliefs, as practiced by the members of Gaol Naofa. This is partly in order to distinguish ourselves from other Gaelic Polytheist groups, but also to emphasise our commitment to our spirituality as a way of life. Although admittedly a bit of a mouthful, we feel the phrase speaks to the heart of Gaol Naofa’s philosophy and community.
- That is to say, we’re sorry, but we cannot condone or encourage the expansion of your burgeoning severed head collection, or the taking of hostages or sacrificing your enemies…We kinda frown on that sort of thing, in fact. On the other hand, if you want to build your own roundhouse then all props to you, but it’s not a requirement and most of us are actually quite happy with modern conveniences like electricity and flushing toilets.