Category Archives: Celtic Symbolism

Skepticism About the Enchantment of Life


Skepticism and the Enchantments of Life

I get tons of emails filled with great questions.  I got this inquiry from Roger (name used with permission), and had to share it with you.  Roger writes:

‘All of this stuff you write here is very entertaining, but is that all it is? Entertainment? For example, is there proof of earth elementals, magic, and anything else you describe that is out of the norm? I am very interested in knowing this stuff, but I don’t want to delve deeper if I am going to be let down in the long run.’

I think this is a great email.  It appeals to my innate skeptic, and it smacks of a willingness to go beyond the mundane – to reach out for more – even if tentatively.

Well, Roger…I’ll be honest…it takes a certain amount of belief and faith to encounter elementals, or enchantment in life. It takes attitude, that’s for sure.  This is not to say we all frolic willy-nilly into fairy land.

Too much dreaming without substance is all fluff.  That’s why I appreciate healthy skepticism. It’s necessary to question.

In my experience, I’ve encountered things that logic cannot explain, and so my inquiries persist. Science comes close to explaining the enchantments of life, but it cannot fully explain the human-element which deals with attitude, perception and the dynamism of mind/spirit.

So, I guess my answer is circumventing the question, in that I’d say the realness of magic would be dependent upon your perception and reality.

I once wrote: ‘Magic is inherent in every inhalation of life.’ and that really is true. From a studious stance,  science and metaphysics can track down logical, organized connections within energetic phenomenon taking place in every moment of our conscious existence.  From a creative, imaginative stance…magic just “is”.  It’s in every atom, every cell, every nook and cranny of life.  It doesn’t have to be explained, or shoved under a microscope – it’s just present – at all times, and in all things.

It’s the glimmering sword of reason humans must wield in an effort to slice away doubt. But we’ve got to be able to suspend our doubt long enough to marry logic with imagination.

Life requires balance, and living a conscious life represents an endless Q&A between provable tangibles and intangible mysteries.  It’s healthy to be skeptical.  I certainly am.  Believe it or not, I’m hugely suspect of most things I encounter that deny logic.  But I think that makes me a great intuitive.  Why?  Because I’m not mindless.  I pick apart the unexplained.  In that process of picking, I usually come across a loop I can hook my psychic claws into.  Once hooked, I can suspend my analytical mind just long enough to peer into an opening of magic, wonder and wisdom. 

Plus, I can’t help but revert back to my ancestry – and the ancient lineage all humans share.  Native Americans, Vikings, ancient Celts, Aborigines, etc….all the Old People of the Old Ways.  They had old school psychic chutzpah.  They knew stuff that went deep into the core of what it meant to live and be alive.   We can argue they didn’t have the science to explain stuff as we do today.  But does that make their wisdom any less significant?  I don’t think so.


Take sympathetic magic for example.  This is a kind of practice that sees corollaries in nature, and mimics them in ritual to bring about a similar, binding effect.  An illustration of this is the Celtic Druid approach to mistletoe.  Science tells us mistletoe is a parasite on the oak tree.  Druids saw it as a snuggly, symbiotic partner to the oak.  As such, Druids harvested mistletoe and used it in sacred ritual to bind their community.  It was used as an omen or a symbol to keep marriages together, and bind the clan together.  Mistletoe in ritual was used to imitate a clinging, a kinship, a glue to that which is deeply rooted and strong like the oak.  Were the binding rituals effective?  I can’t say.  But I’m certain the divorce rates of ancient Celts were far less than that of the population today. Am I suggesting that all marriages end in divorce because a hand-fasting or a mistletoe ritual wasn’t employed?  Certainly not.

What’s relevant here is the connection and collaboration with nature.  I wholeheartedly feel (and have experienced) the effects of natural energy when profoundly, respectfully connected to it. 

I guess I’m saying we can’t put all our eggs in one basket.   Yes, indeed, there is such a thing as magic.  Look around at the miracle of Earth and our galaxy…that’s proof enough of magic.  Yes, magic can be conjured too.  Is it the end-all-be-all of an outcome?  No.  I don’t think so.  I think magic requires fortitude.  I think tapping into the enchantment of life requires intellect, imagination and a willingness to believe while still maintaining an even mind. 

I rarely make guarantees.  But I promise you this:  There is absolutely a superior, enchanted life taking place beyond our bills, our jobs, our kids crying, and long lines at the grocery store.  There is more to this life than what we see day-to-day. 

There is a gossamer veil that divides common experience from uncommon experience.  Luckily, that veil is translucent and ephemeral. Luckily, if we want to, we can venture behind that veil to access otherworldly experiences.  It takes an altered perception, and a balanced perspective to straddle the common and the uncommon.  Am I saying it’s easy?  No.  But I am saying it’s doable. 

Other articles of interest: 

Fan Mail From the Devil

Tapping into Nature’s Energy

Earth Meditation

Moon Meditation



Evergreen Symbolic Meanings and Reminders


Evergreen Symbolic Meanings and Reminders

I have a few evergreen (conifer) trees around the house and they mean infinitely more to me than mere landscape features.

Our ancient kin, particularly of the Celtic ilk, observed evergreens as hugely powerful in symbolism. Because they stayed green through the ‘dark half’ of the year, evergreens symbolic meanings included qualities such as:
• Strength
• Stoicism
• Invincibility
• Determination
• Immortality
• Revitalization

Unbending against heavy winter snows and brutal winds – the evergreen won a high place of honor amongst the Celts. In fact, these early clans brought evergreen boughs into the home as a reminder of the indomitable spirit inherent in all life.

I observe the evergreens in my midst as heroes in this winter grip. Ever-bright and ever-clear, their likeness reminds me of the ever-green nature within the core of every human. And so, those glimmery evergreens remind me of the Anahata (the green heart chakra) qualities.

We too have the ability to stand strong in the midst of adverse conditions. Whether comparing them heart chakras, or Celtic wisdom, evergreen symbolic meanings deal with life-loving qualities such as:

• The capacity to love in the coldest of times.
• The inner resources to feel warmth (empathy) in spite of austerity.
• The ability to feel deep magic in a sterile, fact-finding world.

Those are some of my thoughts on the evergreen, and how they remind me of emerald potentials forever glistening within the strongholds of our souls.

What does the evergreen remind you of?

If you need more inspiration, feast your ever-bright eyes on these green gems:

Celtic Symbolism of the Fir

Celtic Thoughts about the Yew

More Celtic Meanings of Trees

Symbolic Meaning of Trees (general)

Pinecone Symbolism

Pleiades, Samhain and Celtic Connections

The Pleiades Constellation

As we approach Samhain (October 31 – November 1) our awareness naturally moves in the same circles as our ancient ancestors as we all prepare for a shift in the seasons.

In the Northern hemisphere, this seasonal shift manifests itself in autumnal themes, and Samhain is the cross-quarter holiday marking the midpoint between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice.

The ancient Celts simplified this seasonal transition by establishing two halves to their calendar: Light and Dark.  Samhain marked the seam between light and dark in both agricultural and philosophical terms.

Most of you may already know this, but a little known fact is the connection between Pleiades and Samhain.  The Celts were masterful astronomers and astrologists. From their geographic position, the Celts could see the star cluster, Pleiades, quite easily with the naked eye.

Pleiades is cluster of nine stars, but only seven are seen with unaided vision.  Pleiades is heliacal, which means this group of stars appears to rise and set in the heavens.  This particular group of stars is extremely noteworthy because the rising and setting of Pleiades heralded the birth of light and dark in the Celtic view of time.

Rising in May, Pleiades marked the official start of summer (light) and thus Beltane was celebrated at this time.

Conversely, Pleiades’ descent in the skies at this time launches the journey into the darker half of the year.  So, when these shimmery beauties shone their brightest, at midnight on October 31st, the feast of Samhain was consummated and the new year was made official (Samhain observes the beginning of the year in the Celtic calendar).

What’s more, our ancestors knew the  potential for transformation was ripe at this pivotal point in astronomical time.  Ergo, many of the rituals and traditions observed at this time were all geared to tapping into the transformational power inherent in this time.

Samhain is a gateway into incredible metamorphosis and the position of Pleiades during this time is optimal for creating profound change in our lives.

Samhain Fire Ceremony

In fact, the Pleiades stars can serve as a guiding light as we move through the darkness of Samhain.

Samhain is a time of descent into dark realms which are represented by the upcoming winter months. The Celts used this time to gird their loins because they knew potential hardships loomed in their future.  Today, many of us admire the Celts because they were fiercely courageous and faithful to their own spiritual tenets.  In truth, they were stalwart because they had to be.  It took real fortitude to survive a harsh winter, and death was certainly a reality on many levels.

Realizing this, the Druids understood (and utilized) the potential guidance offered from all sources.  One form of guidance can be found in the seven virtues represented in the seven stars of Pleiades.

In the same way, we can cast our higher awareness into the stellar realms and follow the Lights of Guidance as our Druid ancestors did.

When the potential darkness of decay or even death threatens to close in on us this time of year, I invite you to look to the heavens as our ancestors did for guidance, assurance and illumination.

This Samhain, at midnight, honor the old ways by lighting seven candles; one for each ancient virtue represented in the stars of Pleiades.

Upon lighting each candle, affirm these seven starlit virtues:

  • Truth: Maintain honesty in all things, especially with yourself.
  • Purity: Remain clean and wholesome and therefore pleasing in the eyes of the ancients.
  • Faith: Be resolute in knowing all ways are blessed to those who have faith.
  • Patience: Surrender to the perfect timing of the Universe.
  • Kindness: Compassion, generosity  and goodness are the guardians of the soul.
  • Temperance: Sustain wisdom and discernment through self-control and moderation.
  • Determination: All is lost if the will is weak. Illumination is granted to the persistent.

This Halloween season, if the darker connotations of Samhain like death and dark power threatens to overtake your joy – simply look up to the heavens, and recall those glittery lights of virtue sparkling back to you.

Likewise, as we in the northern hemisphere embark on the dark months of winter, it’s assuring to know these starry illuminations can serve as soul-guides upon our path, lighting our way to greater wisdom and life experiences.

I hope you have enjoyed these observations about the connection between sacred Samhain and Pleiades, the starry calendar compass between the light and dark halves of the year.

If you enjoyed this topic, don’t miss these Samhain-related articles:

Meaning of Halloween

Halloween Symbols and Their Meanings

Symbolism of the Seasons

Samhain and the Seven Swans of Virtue

Celtic Symbol Meanings

Symbolism of Death and Loss

Presenting Celtic Symbols at Women’s Retreat

I’m Giving a women’s winter retreat presentation next month for Gaia’s Womb. Won’t you join me?

A Winter Retreat for Women
March 2, 3, & 4th, 2012
DeKoven Center, Racine, WI

This presentation explores the importance symbols and markings in connection with ancient Celtic queens and goddesses. Findings and historical connections are based upon studies of Celtic anthropological research paired with Celtic legends as well as Celtic lore, folk tales and Avia’s own observations. Discussions will include relevance of symbols such as the triskelle, moon markings, agricultural symbolism, and highlighted Ogham properties. Special attention will be paid to goddesses such as Epona, Danu, Macha as well as Celtic warrior queens such as Boudicca and Cartimandua. We’ll look at how these powerful women are a reflection of this era of Celtic life (La Téne Iron Age) and how Her symbols still empower modern women today. The goal of this presentation is to tap into prime Celtic anima (feminine) energy via her symbols, step back in time and come back into the present with renewed understanding about the rich heritage of the goddess and global womanhood.

To learn more and register, visit the Gaia’s Womb website via this link: Gaia’s Womb Women’s Retreat

See you there!

Samhain and the Seven Swans of Virtue

Samhain and the Seven Swans of Virtue

As we approach the cross-quarter holiday of Samhain, it’s a great opportunity to dive into ancient myth and stories.  Why?  Because ancient parables connect us with our ancestry and offer magnificent lessons we can apply to our modern way of life – thus making our experiences richer and more meaningful.

Now, I realize surface research into Samhain uncovers some potentially disturbing and macabre symbolism involving death and dark powers.  But, as with anything worthwhile, we’ve got to explore beyond the surface before striking true gold.  There is priceless philosophical gold surrounding Samhain.

One of these golden nuggets is nestled deep in the folds of Bardic wisdom (the realm of sacred Celtic storytelling).  It’s the story of the Seven Swans of Virtue, and it unfolds, thusly:

Once upon a time (I know, how trite…indulge me), there was a behemoth egg and the Universe was curled within it, growing steadily over millions of years.  At the moment of its fullest development the Universe quaked inside the egg and cracked open.  The yolk poured out of the egg and formed all matter/mass and this energy ruled the day (light).  The albumen (egg white) spilled out to create all the heavens and this energy ruled the night (dark). But that’s not all that emerged from the great egg.  From the intimacy shared between light and dark whilst incubating within the cosmic eggshell, seven magical swans were born and their names were:


These were known as the Seven Swans of Virtue and although they lived brightly in the heavens, they had the ability to shift between the two realms (Light/Material/Earth and Dark/Immaterial/Skies) at whim.    Now as the ever-progressing wheel of time continued making its revolutions, humankind evolved from the mix of heaven and earth.

In the beginning, humans were content to simply swim in the cosmos, satisfied with reveling in limitless bounty.  But after awhile, humans craved more diversity, and so they were offered a choice to experience a new way of life.  In this new way of living humans could experience their world through tactile (physical) form while simultaneously having access to heavenly (spiritual) experience too.  The contrast between physical and ethereal would be distinct, but access to both realms could still be obtained.  This offered humans a greater dimension of experience.

Unfortunately, the choice to live in enhanced contrast backfired for many humans.  The physical aspects of life proved to be utterly consuming.  The body and all the physical trappings that came with it caused humans to lose focus on their heavenly, celestial connections.  Eventually, the human race forgot their lineage and denied their divine connections to the heavens altogether. Throughout humankind’s blindness, the Seven Swans of Virtue remained vigilant in their celestial connection to the human soul.  The choice to ascend self-imposed prisons of physicality was always available to mankind.

By simply acknowledging their eternal connection to the seven virtues, the heavenly Swans were able to bridge the gap between light and dark and the soul of man would be balanced; renewed.  But it required fortitude and commitment from mankind to sustain the memory of their divine lineage.  Sadly, most humans at this point were simply maddened by the compulsive wants and cravings perpetuated by physical illusions.  These compulsions continued to feed a deep imbalance within humankind and led to manifestations of lust, greed, lack, sloth, envy, gluttony, hate (the antithetical flip-side of the Seven Virtues). Observing this difficult transition over the ages, the Seven Swans of Virtue conceded humankind was doomed to live out a endless cycle of illusory strife and struggle.  Without some kind of guidance, humankind would be lost in a chaotic abyss of misdirection.

Wanting to honor their choice to experience diversity, the Swans vowed to intercede on behalf on mankind, but with conditions.  So, the Seven Swans of Virtue agreed to shapeshift to earth and make themselves abundantly accessible to humankind, but only twice a year: Once on Beltane in honor of the cosmic yolk (light) and Once again on Samhain in reverence of the celestial albumen (dark).  These dates were chosen because of they are at their peak of cosmic balance.  It was during these times that the channels connecting physical and spiritual are opened at their widest, affording humankind to retrieve their Truth and reestablish their hereditary balance.

And so, upon midnight on Samhain, these majestic beauties begin their descent to earth whereupon they gather up the virtuous of heart who truly wish to know the Truth of their divine births as well as know the true ways of the Universe.  The Seven Swans of Virtue make themselves more openly known during this time so humankind may be apt to transcend the prison of illusions and re-embrace its cosmic connections.

The Seven Swans of Virtue still descend to Earth today.  The Celts knew this, and that’s why the constellation of Pleiades marked the cosmic opening from which the celestial Swans flew to visit the Earth.  These two dates (Samhain and Beltane) are the gateways to transformation for humankind.  So, this time of Samhain affords each of us the grandest opportunity for renewal, enlightenment and metamorphosis.

-The End-

If nothing else, the Seven Swans of Virtue is a great story to tell ’round your Samhain or Halloween hearth fire this year.

Other links of interest:

Symbolic Meaning of the Swan (on includes Celtic symbolism.

Halloween Symbols and Meanings (on

Meaning of Halloween (on