The spiritual development of the Celtic folk soul – Part 8
(To part 7)
The initiates of the Celts called the Christ Righ nan Dul, King of the Elements. They knew that everything in nature has been corrupted, in other words: everything that is natural, the plants, animals and man has come to a lower level. Previously the plant could produce a new plant on its own, whereas now it needs the fertilization.
The Druids, as spiritual leaders of the ancient Celts who lived in much of Western Europe well before Christ, were the astronomers of the time.
The heart of Druid culture was the sun in conjunction with the moon and the twelvefold zodiacal structure. The sun was the central element of the ancient Celt, and the Druids knew that its influence with that of the entire cosmos was affecting man.
The workings of the sun, moon and the planets relate to expansion and contraction, so it is with contraction and expansion that these macrocosmic rhythms replicate in the human microcosm.
Indeed, the soul of man is condensed in the material world at birth and shrinks, as it were, and at death his soul is released again and spreads into the celestial spaces, thus expanding again. The same thing happens to man in his sleep. When he sleeps, his soul is awake and experiences an intensely different world than when he is awake and comes back again, “shrinks back” into his body.
“Seeing the Sun at Midnight” is therefore an expression of experiencing the “spiritual” powers of the sun, or in other words “seeing the sun behind the sun.”
This wisdom was perfectly known to the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten or Amenhotep IV. He knew that the atavistic clairvoyance was going to disappear, and under his reign there was a transition from the worship of the “spiritual sun” to the worship of the “physical sun” as the giver of life. He changed the worship dedicated to Amun-Ra to the god Aton.
Interestingly, this solar wisdom did not disappear in the west until a thousand years later, and thus the ancient Druidic clairvoyant knowledge could be preserved into early Christian times.
The sun was therefore a central element for the Druids.
In the Hibernian Mysteries, the disciples of the Druids were placed before two images representing the sun and the moon.
Left alone in the darkness, the disciples alternately rose above themselves and then were squeezed in again. In other words, their consciousness expanded throughout the cosmos as in sleep, and contracted again in their own physical body as in waking. Here also the workings of expansion and contraction. In this experience, the pupils felt that their own personality diminished, almost disappeared. This experience was very important and could bring about an initiation!
The Druidic Mysteries correspond with the Egyptian Mysteries concerning the universal principle of the twelve zodiacal constellations that influence man on all levels.
There is something peculiar about the principle of the twelve: it implies a fullness, a fullness that longs for something new. In many stories and fairy tales we can read about twelve brothers or twelve swans who all long for a new experience or with whom something new is going to happen.
The twelve is the archetype on which the New Jerusalem is to be built.
It is the longing and seeking for something totally new, manifesting as a thirteenth force, the Christ light.
As humanity, we as a group should form the unity of the twelve so that the thirteenth, the Christ, can reveal himself in our midst.
It is the Hermetic law of “as above, so below.” As the sun is in the midst of the twelve planets, so the disciples of the group of twelve are lifted above themselves by the thirteenth force, which is the Christ light.
In principle, in the paradise state, man was immortal, but now carries death with him. And how come, one might ask. Here we must seek the fault in man, for he could not resist the Luciferian temptation. With his fall, man has drawn all of nature with him to a lower opportune plane.
Now it is related that the initiates in Ireland could still see an impression of paradise before the fall, of a condition in which nature existed on another plane. This image descended like a panorama into the souls of the initiates. The Druids experienced a deep sorrow through this image and it is believed that this experience is one of the main problems of the Hibernian Mysteries.
This fall was not only experienced from a human viewpoint, but for thousands of years one also experienced the primordial sorrow of the gods over the fall of humanity and their world.
Due to the geological composition of the earth, man experienced this fall many times more intensively.
The Hibernian Druids anxiously awaited the redemption and the arrival of Righ nan Dul, King of the Elements. He alone was able to reverse the effects of this fall.
The folk spirit of the Celts was strongly associated with the cosmic Christ powers that became active.
Here is an old Irish poem in which Christ is the shining Logos in the world who illumines the darkness:
In the time before God’s Son came,
the earth was a black swamp,
without stars, without sun, without moon,
without body, without heart, without form.
The plains and the hills became light,
the great green sea became light,
the whole earth began to shine,
when God’s Son came to earth.
When one understands the intense desire for the Christ, one can grasp the depth of the Christianity of the Celts in Ireland and what they had to defend there.
The coming of Christ brought something very different to the west than to the east. In the west He penetrated into nature, enlivened it and filled it with spirit.
In the east He was born in a man, in Jesus of Nazareth. At his crucifixion, the Druids in the west watched his life spirit permeate all of nature. After the mystery of Calvary, the clairvoyant Druid could see Christ in the changes of nature, in the wind, the waves, the air, the light, the plants and the stones. This flow went from the west through Wales to the east.
In the east, where Christ had lived, he had entered the hearts and souls of men. This impulse penetrated west through Greece, North Africa, Italy and Spain. The two currents meet.
The western current bore the ethereal image of Christ, the image of the solar hero fighting the demons. This image has had a great influence on Western culture and lived in the souls of the Celts, but also in the Saxons. In the old Saxon gospel of the ‘Heliand’ we can read how Christ is depicted here as a king with servants. In a way, the Celtic story of King Arthur with his twelve knights who have to conquer the (own) demons is mirrored here. It is in any case a special Celtic fact: lord and servant belong together, just as leader and follower. It shaped the organized, aristocratic structure of Celtic society. This organization could be seen in the smallest clans.
The Celts therefore did not need to be converted, for they experienced the Christ clairvoyantly in their system, then one does not need any outer traditions. Moreover: they had been looking for the Christ for centuries!
In the following Celtic poem, we read how the interweaving of elements from nature is connected with the mind. This verse is typical of Celtic Christianity:
So it was
So it is
So it is destined to be in eternity-
O Thou Tri-unity of grace!
By ebb and flow.
O Thou Tri-unity of grace!
With ebb and flow.
What the Celtic Irish knew about Righ nan Dul and about the life of Christ on earth can be summarized in the following way: Christ descended from the solar sphere to earth, incorporated himself into the thirty-year-old Jesus and after three years died on the cross. As a result, his Life-Spirit has been poured out over the earth and has become visible in the elemental world.
This is the image that Irish initiates were able to perceive up to the ninth century. It was related to the redemption in nature, while the redemption of man through Christ lived in the souls as hope, carrying the mystery of Calvary from east to west.
(To be continued in part 9)
 Jakob Streit, Sonne und Kreuz [Sun and Cross], Freies Geistesleben, Stuttgart 1977
 Hans Gsänger, Irland. Insel des Abel. Die irischen Hochkreuze [Ireland. Isle of Abel. The Irish high crosses], Verlag Die Kommenden, 1969