Celtic Cosmology

by Rhiannon Hawk

A cosmology is a belief structure that explains the soul's existence and can be heard of in a story that explains the origin of creation. There is a map of a universal flowing spirit in the Celtic cosmology; it is in a vision of a tree where there are three worlds that exist together within. There is a surrounding circle that symbolizes the oneness. The oneness in Celtic cosmology means that all that exists within is of one spirit.

Since any written record of how the ancient Druids practiced ritual is not available, scholarly Druids of today have to put a considerable amount of effort into discovering the ways of the ancients. What we have to work with for creating Druid rituals is the Celtic cosmology or way the ancient Druids perceived order in the universe. The only resources that have been left for us to ponder are from a few various accounts made by Julius Caesar or Pliny, the old lore mythology, archeological findings, scholarly research, Celtic stone circles and carvings. Most of the old lore was written or recorded by Christian monks. Some scholars and historians speculate that a number of the ancient Druids may have entered the Christian monasteries in disguise to preserve their lore and art. During the process of recording it Christian elements were added probably for safety precautions. These old stories were originally told in an oral tradition.

There are no facts left for us that tell if the Celts had a belief system that had lore concerning how they believe the living Earth's creation occurred. We can only speculate that the Celtic tree cosmology is related to the great creation of life. The tree cosmology is present in practically every story. Drawn from the old mythological lore, the order that the Celtic Druids perceived the cosmos or universe was very well established. Even in the older lore, the stories of the pantheons of the gods and goddesses was a well-established concept of the cosmology of the three worlds in the world tree.

In reading and studying the old lore you will find continual reference to the Otherworld and Underworld. In fact, most of the old lore revolves around the Middleworld or Earth and the relationships that happened between the gods and goddesses from the Otherworlds with humanity. Good evidence shows that the ancient Celts viewed the inhabitants of the lands they conquered as people who were originally from the Otherworld. In Cymreag lore, the Pretanic old tribes are the pantheons of Cymreag gods and goddesses.

The cosmology of the Celtic Tree unfolds in all directions. When you do a tree meditation the roots are first developed, then the trunk, and then the branches. The three worlds of existence are contained in the world tree. The Middleworld contains four centers and a sacred fifth. The center symbolizes the core or heart spirit. The outer circle that surrounds the three worlds is the unity of all spirits and oneness - it is called Ceugent. When all realms are in harmonious balance the three worlds connect straight down through their centers with the energy of Nwyfre. Nwyfre is a bright energy that runs through the centers of the worlds. When it flows clearly then we have a scepter of light that goes straight down and up through the center of the tree. The scepter runs energy through and between the three worlds, and this energy exists in the outer circle that surrounds the whole cosmology.

In the Tree cosmology, the Otherworld and the Underworld are two different worlds. The Otherworld is above and of a higher dimension. It is the canopy of branches and leaves on the tree. Access to the Otherworld is usually located through portals on Middleworld (Earth) in areas where there is energy concentrated, such as leylines and power spots, hills, stone circles and the like. The Underworld is more distant from this world than the Otherworld, and is usually located through water, the sea, or places that reach deep water. The world tree roots are in the Underworld along with the past, our ancestors, our mind. The trunk exists on Earth, the Middleworld; it is our nature and earthly relations, our physical bodies, here and now.

The Middleworld is not only the center in the world tree; it is also this present moment. Druids remain on this Abred (Middleworld) during ritual. The "Between the Worlds" that Druids refer to is this Earthly plane, or Abred, Annwn (the Underworld) being below, and Gwynfyd (the Otherworld) being above. Instead of transporting ourselves to deity, as many other Pagans do, Druids open a door between the worlds and create a pathway for the spirits to cross over into our Nemeton to the tunnel that connects the three worlds sending energy and spirit up and down through the center of our Nemeton, this is also where we have the fire pit. The world tree branches reach into the Otherworld, the world of spirit and deity, and into the future. The roots dig deep and touch the cauldron of rebirth, our past, and ancestry, the trunk is where we are, Earth, the Middleworld.

In wholistic perception we are each a holograph of the cosmology's entirety. These three worlds are our divine connection to being open to Otherworldly guidance and inspiration when they are in balance and alignment. It is from within that our truer form will emerge. To know the truer form of our innermost selves allows one to see the truer form of what is without. Within our physical bodies there are places that have direct connection to these three worlds. They are the cauldrons of existence - they are energy centers. Our belly is connected with the Underworld, our heart is connected with the Middleworld, and crown when it is open, is connected with the Otherworld. They are similar to the chakras of Hinduism but when we see them within us, we see three cauldrons. Each of these three cauldrons represents the three worlds from the cosmology. These energy centers also carry the energy of the three worlds within us when they are clear and open.

It would help one to understand the cauldrons of existence more by doing the tree meditation first. The state of union we gain by doing the tree meditation and using its desired effects (which is a state of being merged with the Awen and all of existence) will assist in clearing any blocks and open our energy centers, our cauldrons of existence, and then we can anchor our scepter of light (Teyrnwialen).

The scepter of light comes down from the crown through the center of you and anchors into the Earth mother as a tree grows roots. It is a tool with which we gain a clearer awareness of the energies around us. Imagine the three cauldrons of existence that are within us as being direct outlets to the knowledge and spirits of the three worlds. The cauldron of warming is in your belly area and is facing up when it is healthy and open. The cauldron of vocation in your heart is facing forward when balanced in giving and receiving. The cauldron of knowledge in your head and crown facing up in the open direction when we are spiritually mature.

In the center of each cauldron or energy center there is a power spot that is activated or charged when all three cauldrons are in proper alignment. When attuned to alignment, balance, and unity, it opens a ray of light that goes straight down through the crown of your head and is anchored straight down your spine where it branches off at your legs and is connected with the Earth energy. This scepter of light when it is anchored opens new awareness of what is around you, energy wise, the sometimes invisible world. The tree meditation is simply a tool to get to this place, this awareness, but once you learn to recognize this state of alignment in your being you can go there anytime, anyplace at will, and see/read the energy of what is without.

Once we have attained this state of being, in tune and in alignment with those three worlds we can learn to see who we are and our connection with the divine energies around us. From this whole awareness, sensing or seeing those energies is possible. Meeting your otherworldly guides happens. You may get visits from the Ancestors. Try merging in a coffee shop sometime after you get familiar with the process. We also call this *merging with Awen* or *attaining Gwynfyd*.

Most people's cauldron of knowledge is on its side or upside down because they have not yet reached Gwynfyd/Otherworldly knowledge, or have not become spiritually mature enough to reach this point of growth.

When the cauldron is facing up it is open to attaining Gwynfyd. Love is definitely a big part in the process of merging, the love of life and *all* existence.

Some seekers understand this and some of them don't. Some can be helped if they seek the knowledge, you know, they ask questions and return to the Nemeton for gaining more experience. Much of these lessons come with continual practice, if the seeker continues to come back they will eventually learn by the way of the teaching that is in the rituals and meditations. Guidance in a seekers path is earned with their continual work and integration of wholeness and removal of energy blocks. If they become lazy and do not keep up with their work, then guidance slips away from them and they will have to re-earn its gifts by getting back on track within themselves.

It can happen that a seeker attains Gwynfyd knowledge and afterwards they have an event happen in their lives that causes more energy blocks and their access to Gwynfyd's guidance gets cut off. The cauldron of knowledge in the crown tips sideways and is facing outwards so it is then not open to Gwynfyd. To repair this the seeker will need to deal with the blocks and clear them to re-gain Gwynfyd and adjust the cauldron of knowledge to it's open position, facing up.

Another cause for a seekers misalignment can exist in their other energy centers, the cauldron of warming, and the cauldron of vocation. For to have access to wholeness, all three cauldrons must be balanced and aligned in their correct positions. If the cauldron of Gwynfyd is open, and one of the other two are closed it can cause for an unhealthy relationship to develop with Gwynfyd and can even lead to schizoid behaviors, not Otherworldly guidance. Because that seeker is not grounded in their cauldron of warming they have a tendency to leave their being through the cauldron of Gwynfyd in a twisted way. Their block serves as a starting point from which they gather all their energy above the block and move it up, twisting it out of their crown and escape life. This causes delusional behaviors because the seeker receiving Gwynfyd is not grounded in their being and they there for can not correctly interpret what they experience when they are outside of them selves, they end up with paranoia towards real life.

This is just one of the ways that a seeker will end up from an open crown and imbalance below. That imbalance will eventually manifest in their crown cauldron as well. The flow of energy discussed in the cosmology is the same as the flow of energy in our Nemeton (sacred space). Therefore as we work with the Celtic Triad Spirits, the spirit of Nwyfre flows through us. Nwyfre just opens and clears the way for the Awen. It is then not only us performing the ritual and meditative actions. As an equal mature relationship, we work with the spirits, and they work with us, at the same time the Awen begins to flow through us, guide us, and unify us.