THE SEEKER: WHERE TO START
A lot of people who happen to be new to Celtic paganism/Druidism/Celtic Polytheism find that they don’t know where to start. They know that they are interested in Celtic paganism/Druidism/Celtic Polytheism but because of all the conflicting information out there about them they become confused and too overwhelmed to continue. So, where do these people start and how do they proceed.
The beginning is always inside you. You need to take a good hard look at yourself and ask a few important questions. Have I thought this through and am I sure that this is the path I choose to follow? Have I looked into other religions and am reasonably sure they are not for me? Am I ready to read, research, question and learn? Do I have the time needed to do all that? Am I ready to be a forever student? Do I have an open mind and can I except that in some instances I may not find the answer to my questions or the answers may not be to my liking? If you have answered all the above questions with the affirmative then you are ready to start your path.
The first thing you need to do is understand that you will be starting at the absolute beginning. Understand that to be able to follow your chosen path now you need to know what it was in the past. So the first place I would recommend that you start is history. Here are a few books that I recommend for you:
1. The World of the Celts by Simon James
2. The Ancient Celts by Barry Cunliffe
3. The Celts: A History by Peter Berresford Ellis
These are just a few, as you move along in your studies you will come across a few others.
History is just one aspect of the background information that you need to know. The next important area that you need to get some ground work from is Mythology. Here are a few books that I recommend for you:
1. Celtic Myths by Miranda Green
2. Celtic Myths and Legends by Peter Berresford Ellis
3. Dictionary of Celtic Myths and Legends by Miranda Green
4. Animals in Celtic Life and Myths by Miranda Green
Again these are just a starting point for beginners on the area of myths.
The next area that you need to get a background in is the Druids and Druidism. Here the texts are a bit challenging since not much is known about Druidism. You will need to be careful of Unverified Personal Gnosis. Not a lot of people tell you that the work that they are presenting are of their own interpretation of what Druidism is. I recommend the following:
1. The World of the Druids by Miranda Green
2. The Druids by Peter Berresford Ellis
3. The Druids: Celtic Priests of Nature by Jean Markale
4. The Religion of the Ancient Celts by J.A. MacCulloch
Let me give an example here, when I first discovered I wanted to follow the Celtic paganism path, I started with the history of the Celts and read all the history books I could find on the subject then I also read about the history of all the places associated with the Celts. I also realized through my readings that it was the Irish Celts that interested me the most so I read the history of Ireland, I learned about the Celtic culture as a whole and then the Irish culture. I looked at the arts and crafts of both the Celts as a whole and the Irish Celts specifically. I wrote down questions for myself and went about trying to answer them. Who were the Celts and where did they come from? What kind of people were they? How did they treat each other, how did they treat their women? Did they have laws that governed them, and if they did what are these laws? What sort of arts and crafts did they have? How did they live? Were they sea faring people or farmers? Did they have written lore? What are their myths and legends? What kind of religion did they follow, did they have priests? Did they have rituals and celebrations? What kind of gods did they worship and how did they worship them? What did they hold sacred? Look at their language, try to learn it or at least learn about it. These are just some of the things you could research or look into and this is just an example.
Through all of this I would advise you to read carefully and critically and learn to sift through the gathered information. Some might be false, some misleading and some factual. Learn to cross reference every book or internet site you come across. Just know that even a book that is full of rubbish can be useful in some way.
In conclusion know this, not everyone who starts a path will go on walking it. Some will stop and change paths, and some will stop and go back to what they believed in before. None of these people are wrong or right, everyone evolves and everyone changes. What was right for you a year or three years ago may not be right for you today. Do not think less of yourself or anyone else for not sticking to the path they chose, but most of all judge people the way you want to be judged.