Celtic Shamanism: Druidic Systems of Magic, Part 1.

Modern Druid ritual, Stonehenge 1983

Celtic Shamanism and Druidry were practiced by the Celtic tribes until the late Roman period, and even until modern day in the far western reaches of Ireland. At the very core of these spiritual practices are 3 main principles to conceive of and practice; 3 systematic perceptions of the way the Shaman should interact with himself and the world around him/her. These concepts are called by their Old Irish names Eolas, Imbas, and Dán, which I’ll be covering in detail throughout this piece. This trifold system of practices will give you new tools to venture into other worlds with; and to use to master the vessel you inhabit.

The first concept is that of “Eolas,” the Celtic word for “knowledge.” This type of learning would be to indulge in studying the Lore, the written wisdom and experience of those before you, and the analyzing of the myths of your people. The Druid, or Shaman, must be well versed in the history of the people and the traditions of his/her blood; he/she is a spiritual anchor for the surrounding community.

The second concept is called “Imbas,” which in Celtic means something like “inspiration/intuition.” This is practiced through the study of dreams, vigorous meditation, communication and offerings to spirits. This is where our intuitions, personal insights, and innate wisdom are given meaning; and we must master our internal dialogues and systems before attempting to master any external forces. The last principle is that of “Dán,” the Celtic word for something like “Gift/Poem/Skill.” This would represent how you apply your Imbas and Eolas to create yourself, your talents, and your destiny. This is represented by art, music, writing, magic, teaching, and the mastery of yourself and the universe in which you inhabit.

Small diagram of the 3 part system.

An easy way to visualize this system is to think of it as a metaphysical cauldron. The cauldron bubbles over a healthy and robust flame, and inside of it is a world that absorbs and radiates whatever is coming into it simultaneously. Out of this union spews forth creation and magic; all the while absorbing the energies of the surroundings and ancestral spirits. Through this trifold union we become true sorcerers of the Will; entering a permanent world of ascension and creation.  

When visualizing this cauldron, imagine the Eolas as the Cauldron itself; the foundation of tradition and the anchor of the spirit. Underneath the cauldron of Eolas would be the Imbas, the energy and vitality that boils the Eolas. The Imbas represents the internal fire that transforms the contents within the Eolas or cauldron; the force we use to build off of our Eolas foundation of knowledge. Once the inner fire of the Imbas mixes and brews the contents of Eolas, an internal synthesis is created, which is unique to each person.

Out of this synthesis rises the Dán, the fruits and magic of our union of Lore and Revelation. This is the product of our magic; of our creation. Dán represents the skills or gifts we possess; the vessels and tools we use to make our will and purpose known in this life. Dán also represents the actions and outcomes that arise from the union of Eolas and Imbas, the creations of the inner fire.

Druid by Aylett Sammes, 1676

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s