Celtic Witchcraft: 12 Ways to Add Celtic Traditions to Your Magical Practice
A stone circle shrouded in mist. The sound of a flute in the distance is carried on the wind. Your heart is at peace here. You are home.
Does this sound like a vision or dream you’ve had time and time again? Are you a witch interested in learning the old ways of our Celtic ancestors? First, know this. You don’t have to be initiated into a certain tradition or religion to practice Celtic witchcraft (unless you feel drawn to). You can make your own path. As a solitary witch, and one who considers herself a Celtic pagan of 20+ years, here’s 12 ways to add Celtic witchcraft to your personal practice.
First, What is Celtic Witchcraft?
There are many definitions of Celtic Witchcraft. Some people will say you must be born in a Celtic land in order to practice Celtic paganism or witchcraft. Everyone can have their opinions, and my opinion is this – if you have ancestors from Celtic lands, YOU are Celtic. Even if you have no roots in the Celtic world, and you feel drawn to it inexplicably, go for it! It’s likely you lived a past life in the Celtic time and lands and that’s why it resonates. That being said, approach EVERY tradition and ancient way of life with respect. Don’t cherry pick just because it’s fun. Spend the time and effort immersing yourself in that path and respect the core energies and spirits.
SO! A definition – Celtic Witchcraft is weaving pagan customs and traditions from Celtic people into one’s magickal and spiritual practice. There are SO many ways to dive deep into the world of Celtic Witchcraft. Along the way, you might have someone say you’re not able to honor the Celtic tradition if you don’t live in the Celtic lands. All I can tell you is this – your path is your own. No one else’s. And tell the haters to properly eff off. Now, here’s a few ways in which you could start incorporating Celtic magic into your own.
12 Ways to Practice Celtic Witchcraft
1. Study Celtic Witchcraft
My first and biggest recommendation is to immerse yourself in Celtic magick through research and study. Don’t limit yourself to reading books with titles like “Celtic Magick” or “Celtic Wicca”, but instead read everything you can get your hands on. Including sources on Celtic mythology, folklore and fairy tales, history, geography, anthropology and witch trial documentation. A few of my favorite books on Celtic myth and lore include WB Yeats’ “Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry” and John Matthews’ “Tales of the Celtic Otherworld”.
Reading works of later folklore and history is also helpful. Put Emma Wilby’s book “The Visions of Isobel Gowdie” on your list if you’d like to read about the very believable confessions of a Scottish witch in the sixteent century. In addition, there’s the Carmina Gadelica which is a volume of poems, prayers, hymns and incantations from ninteenth century Scotland. This work is full of folk magic and syncretism of Catholic and older pagan customs.
2. Connect with Celtic Gods and Goddesses
Connect with the Celtic gods and goddesses by invoking their presence in your life and practice. Build small altars for your deities and provide regular offerings. Seek to meet them in meditation and dreams. Ask them to send you signs and teach you lessons. Further, invoke their aid in your physical and magical endeavors. They will lend their energy to your spells and magical workings of all kinds. Plus, working with deity is a fulfilling experience overall! Be aware – in my experience, the Celtic gods are a bit more elusive than some of the other pantheons. I believe this is due to their elemental nature. But once you have a relationship with them, it’s totally worth the “chase”!
3. Approach the Faeries and Elementals with Respect
Elementals, namely the “good folk” or faeries, are a huge part of Celtic myth and traditions dating back thousands of years. By making magick with the faeries, you’re engaging in an ancient sacred act of the Celtic people. Be warned – faery magick isn’t to be taken lightly. Faeries are NOT all pretty, little pixies with glitter trailing behind them. And even pixies have a mischievous side! Approach them with a reverence and caution. Then build a connection and slowly learn how to weave their magick into your own.
Listen to our podcast on Celtic Witchcraft to learn more:
4. Weave Celtic traditions into your own
Through your studies, you’ll learn of many old customs and traditions of the Celtic people that have been passed down through the years. Be creative and think of ways to weave these old practices and beliefs into your Celtic witchcraft practice. For instance, trees were an integral part of the Druids’ belief system. Learn how to use tree bark, seeds, pods, and blooms in your spells (as just one example). Hang a horseshoe upside down over your front door to ward off malevolent spirits. Learn to work with hag stones. This is an old folk tradition in Ireland and other Celtic lands.
5. Cook Traditional Celtic Meals
This is a fun way to practice Celtic witchcraft, particularly if you enjoy working magick in the kitchen. Study the different traditional Celtic meals and learn how to make them yourself. A few to try include colcannon and champ, boxty, smoked salmon and Irish soda bread. In addition, the Irish people love their beer, wine and mead. You could take up a hobby of brewing your own beer or mead and dedicate it to your Celtic god/goddess OR brew it with intention and turn it into a spell.
6. Celebrate the Celtic Witchcraft Festivals
Many modern witches follow the Wheel of the Year, which includes a few of the traditional Celtic holy days. Celebrate the Celtic festivals this year and add your own spin on them. For Imbolc, honor the goddess Brigid and cast spells with fire. Fire is a sacred element to Brigid and her sacred fires were lit on this day dating back centuries to ancient times. On Beltane, have a bonfire and make love (this is a traditional fertility festival). The other Celtic sabbats include Lughnasadh and Samhain.
7. Embrace Land, Sea and Sky
Modern witchcraft focuses on the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. But if you’d like to mix things up and add a Celtic flavor to the basis of your natural magick, embrace the concept of three: Land, Sea, and Sky. These were the three most important aspects of the divine to the ancient Celts.
8. Make Celtic Witchcraft With Sacred Celtic Animals
The ancient Celts revered animals as much as the trees and landscape around them. Study and connect with their sacred animals. Then invoke their energy when casting spells, meditating, and performing everyday rituals. A few include: boar, horse, bear, wolf, serpent, salmon, stag and cow. Add these animals’ figurines or images to your altar space. If you’re gifted an animal part (ethically sourced, of course), hold this piece during meditation and ask for that animal to meet you in the ether. Ask for their wisdom to be imparted to you. Animal bones, feathers, teeth, etc. can also be added to throwing charm sets and bone sets for divination purposes.
9. Learn and Use the Tree Ogham
Ogham is to the Celts what the Elder futhark runes are to the Norse/Germanic people. It is an ancient system of writing but each letter or marking has a deep, spiritual meaning that goes beyond a simple alphabet. Each symbol contains its own universal power. My recommendation is to learn each Ogham marking individually. Take time learning and connecting with each one. Until you know the entire Ogham system and can use it to divine messages for yourself and others. Celtic witches should add this form of divination to their repertoire.
10. Use Celtic Symbols
There are other Celtic symbols that can be used to practice Celtic witchcraft. The triquetra represents the sacred 3 including the triple goddess, land/sea/sky, and birth/death/rebirth. Celtic knots represent the intricate patterns we walk in life and how we always return to the place from whence we came. The Triskelion reminds us of our connection to all things and of reincarnation. And the Tree of Life connects us to the sky above, to the gods, and to the dead. Weave these symbols into your practice by carving them onto candles, wearing them as amulets, and incorporating them into your blessings.
11. Herbalism and Celtic Tradition
Consider incorporating plants and herbs from Celtic tradition and lore into your own practice. The Celts revered plants and trees, in particular, and as stated before had their own writing system based on sacred trees like the oak and ash. Research the herbs and trees that grow wild in Celtic lands and compare to what you have in your area. Are there any that grow native to your land that you can incorporate into your practice? Can you grow herbs like those they grew in Celtic lands?
12. Travel to the Celtic Lands
If you have the ability to travel, make a pilgrimage to one or more of the Celtic lands. Remember, the Celts were widespread from the British Isles all the way to Turkey at one point. So you can visit anywhere in Europe to technically visit a “Celtic” land. But may we recommend specifically checking out the British Isles, as well as Ireland for a rich Celtic history and heritage? Last year I traveled to Ireland and was able to tour the countryside, seeing and feeling the old ways for myself. Check out my article on the Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin here. And my article on the Fairy King of Knockma here.