Please read this article, then answer the questions at the very bottom of this page
Aurrad: Old Faith in a Modern world, by John Machate

Copyright © 1999 John Machate
All Rights Reserved
May be reposted as long as the above attribution and copyright notice are retained


Aurrad is the modern rebirth of the pre-Christian indigenous faith of the Celtic peoples — the ancestors of the Irish, Scots, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, Bretons and residents of Nova Scotia. It is a faction of a larger movement currently known as Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism (CRP). The movement has become popular among those who want to practice a faith that instructs for a modern lifestyle based on the practices of the Iron Age Celts rather than the Wiccan ritual model. It is being promoted by discussions on bulletin board systems, newsgroups, books, e-mail based mailing lists and various internet chat networks.

To begin with, a reconstructionistic religion is one that bases its practices on the history, mythology, archeology and folklore of a particular culture. The purpose of a reconstructionistic religion is to rebuild the Pagan religion of said culture, within the context of the modern world. Other examples of reconstructionistic faith groups include Asatru (Germanic), Hellenion (Greek), Nova Roma (Roman), Dievturyba (Baltic/Latvian) and Romuva (Baltic/Lithuanian).

Aurrad have attempted to glean information about the rituals and values of the early Celts from the various reliable sources. However, there are many things that we do not know or have little information about; and though we have to flesh out our system where we do not have any direct evidence of our ancestors ways we do not simply make up things. We do not claim to be the “true” way of doing things Celtic, however we do feel that if you plan on calling yourself an Aurrad then you should be as connected to its roots in ancient Celtic practice as possible. To Aurrad both tradition and innovation are important, as we live in a world that our Celtic ancestors could never have dreamed.

Part of being a reconstructionist faith means incorporating the language into the faith. An example would be what we call ourselves. The word “aurrad” itself is old Irish, its original meaning was “a person with legal standing in the tribe.” To the modern Aurrad it has two meanings, it is the name of our faith, and the name of a member of our faith. Thus it ties into the original meaning as simply, “us”. Other ways to incorporate language would be to use it in places where our native tongue would not be appropriate, and in our rituals. For the purposes of this article, we use the Irish language, both Old Irish and modern depending on the word or phrase. Feel free to use the Celtic language of your choice in place of what we offer here.

The faith as a whole emulates the society of the Iron Age Celts. By this we mean that there are different roles to serve or paths to follow that when combined with the whole of the faith form a community. Some Aurrad are studying to be clergy and philosophers( druí) or seers(fáidh), others wish to be poets or musicians (fili), some follow a warrior (curadh) path, and still others strive to combine paths. No matter the path that an Aurrad follows, all paths work together to create a cohesive, unified faith and community. However, it must be noted that we do not support the resurgence of the caste system that existed in Ireland as late as the middle ages, all Aurrad are freemen (aire) and equal.

Aurrad is also very family oriented with the smallest organized group being a household. Households and individuals usually form intentional family groups, calling themselves a family (fine), tribe (tuath), clan or kindred. We currently do not have an organized clergy or churches, though some of the groups may incorporate as churches for legal purposes. A household will usually have daily or monthly rituals for the family, lead by the head of the household, while a clan would get together for seasonal rites, lead by a chosen chief or Druid. This does not preclude groups from getting together more often for fellowship and community well being.

An important point to remember is that this is a faith and a life style not a social club, cultural revivalist group or a church. We recognize that the concept of religion outside of the cultural matrix is modern and may have developed out of the Christianization of Europe. No matter the cause of the separation, we are a modern religion and we recognize that our faith and home practices are fairly separate from the culture in which we reside. The result of the separation is the manifestation of a subculture that has its own laws and guidelines within the framework of the legal system of our respective lands; Hebrew communities are a good example of this separation. This subculture may manifest as a collection of kindreds, clans, tribes (tuath) and families (finte). As Aurrad we promote the development of this subculture so long as it does not violate any laws of the land and does not create a “cult of personality” or private militia.

Some cosmological points should be understood, since they are what truly separate use from other, more common, Neopagan religions. We view the world as having three realms Land, Sea and Sky known collectively as An Thríbhís Mhór, which literally means “the great triskele.” These realms are intertwined and overlap at the edges, such as seashores, the horizon, and where springs erupt from the land. The Realms should not be confused with elements found in Wiccan or ceremonial rituals as the similarity ends at the name.

We celebrate four major holidays, though many Aurrad have a few other holidays determined by their or tribal or hearth patron or chosen path. The holidays that all Aurrad celebrate are Oíche Shamhna/Samhain (November 1), Lá Fhéile Bríde/Oímealg (February 1), Lá Bealtaine/Bealtaine (May 1), and Lá Fhéile Lúnasa/Lughnasadh (August 1). We tend to only honor those gods and goddesses of a specific area or pantheon of Celtic deities. There are exceptions but that is usually the result of previous experiences in other religions.

We believe in the Otherworld, the realm of the gods, spirits and our ancestors. The perception of this Otherworld is left to the individual as we each may perceive it a bit differently depending on the culture of focus; Irish, Welsh, Gualish for examples.

We are polytheists and see the world as having many different religions and many different gods. We respect other peoples gods and religions, but their gods are not ours. We also recognize that other people may honor our gods in a different fashion.

When we hold a rite we honor three groups of beings; the gods, our ancestors and the spirits. The spirits are usually those that reside in the local area, since it is only proper to respect them while we are there. Our ancestors are both cultural and familial and we honor them, not only during ritual, but also through living. Finally, we show respect for our gods by living well and honorably and making the appropriate offerings to them.

Like other Neopagan and Heathen religions, the Aurrad also honor the earth as our home and mother. This is not based on some ancient Celtic belief, but the modern proof that we are destroying the planet and ourselves. Respect for the planet is respect for each other and ourselves. We show respect by living as clean as possible, and by being ecology minded.

Just as the Asatru have their Nine Noble Virtues, we also have a similar set of values. The Nine Values of Aurrad are Truth, Honor, Justice, Loyalty, Courage, Community, Hospitality, Strength and Gentleness. Within each of these are further ideals, such as wisdom, faith, self-reliance, restraint and balance. Other Celtic Reconstructionist Pagan groups also list a set of nine values as the underlying principles of faith and call them by other names, but the basic ideals are the same. The list of values is a modern construct based on the “ideals” expressed in the mythology of the Celts, particularly Ireland. We believe that if each individual manages their life with these values the whole of the Neopagan/Heathen community will benefit.

One thing that can be noticed in the Neopagan religious movement is that people practice many different religions and mix systems to prevent what they feel would be intolerance. From the Aurrad perspective, our faith is not such a religion. We do not feel that it is intolerant to point out when things are not appropriate to our faith. For example, we do not mix cultures in our practice. Those Aurrad that do pay respect to gods of other cultures do so in ways that are appropriate to those gods and cultures. For example, Ganesh would not be honored in an Aurrad ritual, but an Aurrad may honor him in a Hindu ritual. Aurrad is not a system of magick or spirituality which can be added to something else or onto which other systems can be added.

While the defining principles of the faith does exclude some people, we have to remember that exclusion is not evil. Being Aurrad is not a lifestyle for everyone and we do not pretend otherwise. We understand that some folks may join our faith and then find that it is not right for them and move on. Seekers are welcome in our hearths and tribes as long as you maintain our standards and values.

If you are interested in the honoring the Celtic gods but want to continue to work in the Wiccan ritual model, there are many Celtic Wiccan covens and groups from which to choose. If you are more interested in modern Druid or Neo-Druidic practices then check out Ár nDraíocht Féin, Keltria or the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. Finally, if Aurrad interests you but you want to see other variations on Celtic Reconstructionism there are two organizations, that are specifically CRP, Imbas and Aisling Association of Celtic Tribes.

Aurrad is not just the rebirth of a pre-Christian faith, but a chosen lifestyle. By doing daily devotionals as well as familial and seasonal rites we stay in touch with our gods, ancestors and the spirits. Living by the Nine Virtues of Aurrad we contribute to our communities and set high standards by which we can judge ourselves and each other. To be Aurrad is to be bound by honor and loyalty to the Gods and each member of your tribe, clan or grove.

Pronunciation Guide

An Thríbhís Mhór : ah-VREESH-vohr

Aurrad: OW-rath (with a soft “th” as in “the”)

fine : fin-UH (uh has the “a” as in about)

Imbas : IM-bas

tuath : toouh (uh has the “a” as in about)

Lá Bealtaine / Bealtaine : LAW BYAL-tuh-nyuh / BYAL-tin-yuh

Lá Fhéile Bríde / Oímealg : LAW AY-lyuh BREE-juh / EE-MYEL-ug

Lá Fhéile Lúnasa / Lughnasadh : LAW AY-lyuh LOO-nuh-suh / LOO-nuh-suh

Oíche Shamhna / Samhain : EE(huh) HOW-nuh (The “EE” here is pronounced with the throat open, not contracted as it would be in English) / SOW-in

Internet Resources

Nemeton mailing list,

Imbas mailing list,

Ár nDraíocht Féin,



Inis Glas Thoir Website,

Aisling Association of Celtic Tribes,

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After reading the Aurrad article above, please answer the following questions.

Submit your Answers to the following Questions to the Mystery School with the subject line:  Aurrad answers from ________ your magikal name

1.  What is Aurrad?  Pronounced: OW-rath (with a soft “th” as in “the”)

2.  What does the term Aurrad mean, where does it come from and how is it used?

3.  How is Aurrad different from other ‘religions’?

4.  What are the 9 values?

5.  What is the “great triskele”?

6.  What is Aurrad not?

7.  What are the 4 major holidays celebrated and when?

8.  What is the role of the “other world”?

9.  How is Mother Earth important?

10.  What is the Aurrad position on mixing cultures/gods & goddesses?  Explain.

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Created: 5/10/07