Thursday, July 30, 2015

Celtic Pneumatology the Druids

First let us look closely at the term. Noting it is most often show in Abramic Light and not Pagan or Druidic !

pneumatology [noo-muh-tol-uh-jee, nyoo-] 
noun  > 1. Theology., doctrine concerning the Holy Spirit, the belief in intermediary spirits between humans and God.
2. the doctrine or theory of spiritual beings.
3. Archaic. psychology.
4. Obsolete, pneumatics.
Origin of pneumatology :
1670-1680 1670-80; pneumato- + -logy
Related forms:
pneumatologic  [noo-mat-l-oj-ik, nyoo-, noo-muh-tl-, nyoo-] (Show IPA), pneumatological, adjective
pneumatologist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Historical Examples:
There has been a great change of late years in connection with the science of pneumatology and with the manner of treating it.
Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XII. September, 1863, No. LXXI. 

The first part is cosmology, the second rational doctrine of the soul, pneumatology and theology.
A Commentary to Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason' 

Norman Kemp Smith 
But neither the physiology, nor the pneumatology had been placed in organic connection with the central cerebral science.

Buchanan's Journal of Man, September 1887 
Various :
We have now mind as mind, divested of its naturalness and subjectivity, and as such, it is an object of pneumatology.

A History of Philosophy in Epitome 
Albert Schwegler 
As to the psychic half of the cerebral functions, they omitted entirely that portion which relates to pneumatology.

Buchanan's Journal of Man, October 1887 
pneumatology was no science, but the mere fancy of an excited imagination.

Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XII. September, 1863, No. LXXI. 
British Dictionary definitions for pneumatology :
pneumatology /ˌnjuːməˈtɒlədʒɪ/
noun > 1. the branch of theology concerned with the Holy Ghost and other spiritual beings
2. an obsolete name for psychology (sense 1)
3. an obsolete term for pneumatics

Derived Forms:
pneumatological (ˌnjuːmətəˈlɒdʒɪkə l) adjective 
pneumatologist, noun

Pneumatology is the study of spiritual beings and phenomena, especially the spiritual aspect of human beings and the interactions between humans and God. 

Pneuma (πνεῦμα) is Greek for "breath", which metaphorically describes a non-material being or influence. Pneumatology as the study of the spirit is to be distinguished from psychology, the study of the soul. 

As many religious denominations do not distinguish between soul and spirit, this has been somewhat problematic. In general, the ABCs of psychology are the study of cognition, affect, and connation, or to put it into words more generally recognized, thinking, feeling, and willing. 

Thoughts, feelings, and acts of will (motivations, intentions, willfulness) is what fills the psyche, but when psychology is done what is primarily of interest is the actual nature of the collecting, organizing, and clarifying of thoughts, that is, thinking characterized as cogent, logical, run-on, disconnected, tautologous, symbolic, or psychotic (schizophrenic). 

Similarly feelings may be brought to the center of attention, but in psychology what is of interest is the actual nature of feeling itself, characterized as intuitive, sympathetic, empathic, inappropriate, projective, easily changeable, fixed and not easily changeable, or psychotic (manic-depressive). 

Similarly a person's will acts may be considered, but in psychology it is the actual nature of using the will that is of interest, characterized as unconscious, weak, self-serving, magnanimous, informed by thinking and feeling, overly influential over thinking and feeling, or psychotic (psychopathic or sociopathic). 

In contradistinction to psychology, pneumatology involves the study of the spirit (German Geist, Greek pneuma). In general, the ABCs of pneumatology are the study of technique (craftsmanship, German Kunst, Greek techne), science (conceptualization of ideas, German Wissenschaft, Greek episteme), poetry (inspiration, German Einatmung, Greek poises), belief (opinion, German Glaube, Greek doxa), and recognition (holding in mind, German Erkenntnis, Greek gnosis).

In Christian theology
Main article: Pneumatology (Christianity)
In Christian theology pneumatology refers to the study of the Holy Spirit. The English word comes from two Greek words: πνευμα (pneuma, spirit) and λογος (logos, study of; teaching about). 

Pneumatology would normally include study of the person of the Holy Spirit, and the works of the Holy Spirit. This latter category would normally include Christian teachings on new birth, spiritual gifts (charismata), Spirit-baptism, sanctification, the inspiration of prophets, and the indwelling of the Holy Trinity (which in itself covers many different aspects).

 Different Christian denominations have different theological approaches.  << Ref.

For the Pagan Celt or Druid this defination should be the interactions with the Gods Goddesses, AOS Si / Creideamh Sí , genii locorum , Otherkind and all aspects of SummerLands - the World of Spirit or as many call it the Astral Planes. 

Both sent from and by our Dindsenchas, Seanchas, Taibhsearachd and Ár nDraíocht Féin .

The point I hope people will see from the below article is the great 
similarity between the Charismatic tales of early Irish Christian converts receiving “charismata” or special gifts and powers via pneumatology of (claimed) Holy Ghost, (I believe) .

And (to me) the Pre-Christianity “Celtic-Pneumatology” of Awen and (Imbas) “Iombhas Forosna”, creating truly ancient Charismatic Vates, Bards and Druids that received gifts from the Aos Si, Gods or Goddesses, SummerLands  or other kinds of Otherkind.

While the below article only approaches our rich Druidic / Celtic heritages of these seemly magical realities.

 It does serve as a great reference to us all to rediscover our true natures and powers:

Christianity and the appeal of Celtic Pneumatology:

Charismatic Christianity and the
appeal of Celtic Pneumatology
Nigel Scotland notes that Celtic Pneumatology has become a significant
resource for charismatics and post-charismatics in recent years. The
section of this article considers some of the possible origins and content
of Celtic culture and Christianity. Drawing on the writings of Bede and
other early Christian writers, he reflects on the many stories of the
northern saints under headings related to spiritual gifts: healing and
wholeness conflict with the demonic and prophetic and knowledge gifts.
Charismatic Christianity
The word ‘charismatic’ derives from the Greek word ‘charismata’ which means gift
of the Holy Spirit. Peter Hocken asserted that Harold Bredesen (b. 1918) and Jean
Stone (b. 1924) ‘have the distinction of coining the term ‘charismatic’ to denote
the new movement of the Holy Spirit which emerged within the mainstream
denominational churches in the late 1960s and early 1970s. At the end of their
article entitled ‘Return of the Charismata’, they stated ‘we call this movement “the
charismatic renewal”’.1 Charismatic Christianity is a worldwide experience of the
Holy Spirit which is rooted in the Day of Pentecost. It emphasises an ‘overwhelming
filling of the Holy Spirit’ and the practice of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, most notably
speaking in tongues, prophecy and healing but also other speaking, helping and
miraculous gifts listed in the New Testament. Professor Max Turner has suggested
that ‘charisma’ means no more than ‘gift’.2 Charismatic Christianity therefore
emphasises the importance of the indwelling ‘Charisma’ or gracious gift of the Spirit
and the use of the ‘Charismata’ or gifts of Holy Spirit.
There are a number of reasons why charismatic Christians have found
themselves drawn to Celtic pneumatology. By the 1980s the charismatic movement
had grown steadily and impacted on the life and worship of numbers of the historic
denominational churches but at the same time many were beginning to feel the
need for a more ‘rooted’ spirituality. Charismatics knew what they had reacted
against but somehow they weren’t altogether sure what they should be standing
for. They still valued the filling of the Holy Spirit, the practice of the charismata
and freedom in worship, but there was now a growing sense that charismatic
Christianity had become introverted and insular and that the experience of the Holy
1 Hocken, P., Streams of Renewal, Paternoster
Press, Carlisle 1997, p 185.
2 See Turner, M., The Holy Spirit and Spiritual
Gifts: Then and Now, Paternoster Press,
Carlisle 1996, pp 252-255.
180 ANVIL Volume 23 No 3 2006
Spirit was an end in itself. There was increased concern that an unless the
anointing’ was related and directed into the surrounding world and its culture it
would dry up like an unused well. In short, it needed to be earthed in what was
objective and solid. It was at this point that some with an interest in early church
history began to discover that Celtic pneumatology had something very definite
to bring to this situation. The Celts like the Charismatics valued the gifts and the
Baptism of the Holy Spirit but their experience of his person was much more
integrated with the life of God’s created universe. They loved to use the gifts of
the Holy Spirit and delighted in spontaneous worship but they focused these
blessings on the presence of Christ as they reverentially shared the bread and wine
of the sacrament of Holy Communion. The Celts also found that they could draw
on the Holy Spirit’s presence through the created world around them. They
delighted to stand in the sea to praise God or walk in the rain reciting the psalms
or share in the Eucharist in the open countryside. Indeed Patrick had portable a
communion table for this very purpose. The Celts also made much use of Christian
art forms and symbolism particularly the cross as another means of allowing the
Holy Spirit to direct their attention on to Christ. For the Celts appropriate physical
touch was also a way of making the Holy Spirit’s presence a practical reality
particularly in times of sickness, worry and uncertainty. Hence they valued
sacramental oil, consecrated water, icons, art forms, holy relics and sacred treasures.
Two books in particular sought to demonstrate the possibilities of Celtic
pneumatology for those Charismatics who were feeling rootless. These were
Michael Mitton’s Restoring the Woven Cord: Strands in Celtic Christianity for the Church
To-day and Ray Simpson’s Exploring Celtic Spirituality: Historic Roots for our Future.
Both were published in 19953 and both sought to indicate the relevance of Celtic
worship and spirituality for Charismatic Christianity. Mitton asserted that the early
Celts were thoroughly comfortable with a God who would have readily understood
John Wimber’s concept of ‘Power Evangelism’. On a personal note he also related
that in Celtic spirituality he had ‘discovered something that he had been searching
for during the past twenty years’.4 Earlier in 1992, a group of Charismatic Christians
that included a Baptist minister, an Anglican Priest and a Roman Catholic layman
established the Northumbria Community in a large house that is situated in close
proximity to the cave where Cuthbert’s body is said to have been taken by monks
who were seeking refuge from Viking insurgents. Then in 1994 a group led Michael
Mitton and Ray Simpson launched The Community of St Aidan and St Hilda which
aims to bring healing to the land and calls its members ‘to commit themselves to
reproduce the quality of the lives of the Celtic Saints’. In 1996 Ray Simpson left
his Norwich parish and took up residence in a small cottage in Lindisfarne from
where he holds retreats, provides resources and actively encourages interested
churches to explore Celtic mission, worship and spirituality.5
Interest in Celtic Pneumatology was further prompted by the ‘Toronto Blessing’
which began with a series of meetings at the Toronto Airport Church in January
3 See Mitton, M., Restoring the Woven Cord:
Strands of Celtic Christianity for the Church of
Today Darton, Longman and Todd, and
Simpson, R., Exploring Celtic Spirituality:
Historic Roots for Our Future, Hodder and
Stoughton, 1995. See also Simpson, R., Celtic
Worship Through the Year, Hodder and
Stoughton, 1997.
4 Mitton, R., Restoring the Woven Cord p1.
5 See Bradley, I., Celtic Christianity Making
Myths and Chasing Dreams, Edinburgh
University Press, 1999 pp 208-210.
1994 and spread all over the world. Indeed the Toronto experience is ongoing in
many places at the present time. It was and is associated with a variety of emotional
and religious phenomena, most notably seemingly uncontrollable ‘holy laughter’,
people falling and lying on the ground in a semi-conscious state, running on the
spot, pogoing, roaring like a lion and jerking or twitching like pigeon. These
religious exercises’ have since become the subject of much ongoing debate not
only in the wider Christian world but among Charismatics themselves. To many
this was and is God moving in a ‘new wave’. It’s a time to ‘drink’ or ‘soak’ or in the
words of one church notice-board ‘to come and have a spiritual carwash’. For other
charismatics the phenomena are regarded as a psychologically induced human
response to preachers’ rhetoric coupled with a mild hypnosis generated by lengthy
sessions of calming worship songs. At best all this was held to be the
MacDonaldisation’ of charismatic Christian experience and at worst it was
unbridled ‘enthusiasm’. In the view of concerned Charismatics it had depersonalised
the Holy Spirit. In short, the Toronto experience resulted in the emergence of ‘PostCharismatics’.
These are Charismatics who still value and endorse the ‘Baptism of
the Holy Spirit’ but they reject outright the phenomena associated with Toronto
as psychological aberrations that are without Scriptural precedent. They also stand
four-square against the irrationality of what R.T. Kendal rejoices in and calls the
Yuk factor’! The Yuk factor is happy to endorse what many might take to be a
fetish as the moving of God’s spirit.6 In summary, Post-Charismatics feel that
Charismatic pneumatology has ‘run thin’ on content and doctrine and lost its
Christological focus. For the Post-Charismatics therefore Celtic pneumatology has
much to offer because it gives greater weight to the rational and promotes a Holy
Spirit experience that has less potential to become an end in itself. At the same
time it embraces the world which the Spirit, as the third person of the Trinity, helped
to bring into being
Celtic Christianity
The origins of the Celtic race are shrouded in obscurity. They are generally believed
to have first emerged as a distinct linguistic group in the Black Sea area about
1000BC. By 600BC they had moved from this central European base to the
Pyrenees in the south, the Rhine basin in the north and as far as Ireland in the
west and to what is now Rumania in the East. During the years 400 to 1000AD
the Celts came to dominate Ireland, Scotland and parts of Wales and the West
The Romans first established the province of Britannia in 50AD but they never
really exerted much influence north of Hadrian’s Wall which had been built for
defensive purposes in 122 A.D.. Celtic peoples were chiefly located in the
geographical regions of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. However by the time of Bede
Celts were settled in many parts of England and the influence of Celtic Christianity
stretched as far south as the Thames estuary. It is probable that Roman
6 See Kendall, R.T., Out of the Comfort Zone
(Hodder and Stoughton, 2005) especially pp
154-155 where he describes how Rodney
Howard Brown prayed for Randy and Nancy
Wall. Nancy was ‘left with an urge to utter
Ho! Involuntarily whether at home, church
or in a restaurant’. She asked Kendall why
she had this urge. He replied, ‘God does this
to see if you want the anointing more than
anything else in the world’. She immediately
cried out, ‘Ho!, Ho!, Ho!’.
Nigel Scotland Charismatic Christianity and the appeal of Celtic Pneumatology
182 ANVIL Volume 23 No 3 2006
administrators and soldiers were the first to impact the indigenous Celtic peoples
of the province of Britannia with the Christian faith. Their influence was
supplemented by monks from Gaul.
In 409 Rome was taken by the Goths and from that point on Roman rule came
to an end in Britain. After about 410 onwards the Roman military began to withdraw
from England and the country was invaded by Angles, Saxons and Jutes from various
parts of Europe. This meant that for much of the fifth and sixth centuries Celtic
Christianity was pushed north and west by the pagan invaders. Expressions of Celtic
Christianity were nevertheless in evidence in the British Isles until about 1000 AD
but it was most prominent in the period before the Venerable Bede completed his
Ecclesiastical History of the English People in 731. The golden age of Celtic Christianity
is usually regarded as mid fifth to the mid seventh century. This was the era which
saw the best known of the Irish and British Saints. Patrick’s arrival in Ireland in or
about 432 and marks its start. Others followed in his steps – Brigid, Ninian, David,
Columba and Aidan whose death in 651 represents the end of the era.
With the coming of Augustine, the monk from Rome, sent by Pope Gregory in
597, the influence of Roman Christianity began to mingle with and eventually
predominate over the Celtic expressions of the faith. Bede detects two campaigns
from Rome against the Celtic tradition. The first was about the beginning of the
seventh century under Augustine of Canterbury against the British Church in the
West; the second was made at the time of Bishop Wilfrid at the Synod of Whitby
in 663 when the issue turned on the date of Easter.7
As has been noted Charismatic Christianity places particular emphasis on the
Holy Spirit experience and the practice of the Holy Spirit’s gifts. What therefore
follows is an examination of the appeal for Charismatics of these two aspects within
the life and worship of the Celtic Church. The principal sources for this are found
in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, his Life of Cuthbert written in
716 and the writings of Patrick, most notably his Confession written about 470.
The Venerable Bede (673-735), a priest and monk at Jarrow, was the first great
English Church historian. He wrote of the period between Caesar’s invasion of
Britain in 55BC and the year 731 and described the situation in both Britain and
Ireland. He makes mention of a British King called Lucius who ruled under the
Romans and who sent a letter to the Bishop of Rome in 167 asking to be made a
Christian. Before Bede began his work, he collected and sifted his materials which
included ancient traditions and sources, recent letters and acts of church councils.
However, although Bede checked and sifted his witnesses, he is rarely
questioning of the evidence they produced or the stories which they related. De
Paor criticised Bede’s work on the ground that he took some of his information
from Gildas, a Welsh monk, who wrote about 540 AD and whose knowledge of
the events a century and a half before his own time was very far from perfect.8
Against that, it should be noted that Bede did have access to the library at Jarrow,
which was almost unequalled by any in England and he did cross-check his evidence
with other sources and with other individuals whom he knew personally. In
summing up his account of Aidan in Book 3 of his History, Bede made it clear that
7 See Chadwick, N.K., The Age of the Saints in
the Celtic Church, OUP, London 1963, p 121.
8 De Paor, L., St Patrick’s World, University of
Notre Dame Press, Dublin 1993, p 11.
he aimed to be faithful to his sources. He wrote, ‘…as a truthful historian, I have
given an accurate account of his life, commending all that was excellent and
preserving his memory for the benefit of my readers’.9
It is generally acknowledged however that Patrick, Columba and other Celtic
saints had their reputations enhanced with additional accounts of the miraculous
by later generations for varying reasons. Sometimes it was to strengthen the status
of a particular See or to promote their relics as a means of increasing pilgrimage
and racheting up monastic income. Bradley is of the view that Bede ‘almost
certainly over-exaggerated both the peculiar missionary zeal and the monastic
character of the Irish church’.10 Leaving aside these criticisms for the present, it
has to be said that many of the miracles in the Celtic Church which Bede records
are not out of keeping with the writings of his contemporaries. Additionally, many
of them resonate with the miracles reported by Luke in the Book of Acts.
The Holy Spirit Experience in Celtic Christianity
Contemporary Charismatic Christianity is generally held to begin with an
overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. This kind of
experience was by no means unusual among the Celts. Early in the fourth century,
shortly after the martyrdom of Alban, Bede related that Germanus, a bishop who
had come from Gaul, was ‘filled with the Holy Ghost, called on the name of the
Trinity’ and restored a girl’s eyes ‘in the sight of them all’.
Patrick (385-461) was a British man who was captured in a raid and taken to
Ireland as a slave for six years. He then escaped to Gaul where he trained as a
monk. He eventually found his way back to Britain from where he was
commissioned to take the gospel to Ireland. Towards the end of his life he wrote
in his Confession: ‘He who wants can laugh and jeer, but I shall not keep silent nor
keep hidden the signs and wonders which have been shown to me by the Lord
before they took place as He who knows all things before the world began’.11
Patrick is quite clear that these miraculous occurrences were accomplished by
the power of the Holy Spirit. He reminds his readers at the beginning of his
Confession that Jesus ‘poured out on us abundantly His Holy Spirit, the gift and
pledge of immortality, who makes those who believe and obey to be sons of God
and heirs along with Christ’.12 Patrick recalled how when he first reached Ireland
as a captive, he was able to pray before dawn in all weathers, snow, frost and rain
because the Spirit was fervent within me.’13
On occasion Patrick was profoundly conscious of the Holy Spirit praying from
deep within his own spirit. His description of this experience is not dissimilar from
that recounted by people who pray in tongues or who enter a state of constant
intercession by praying the Jesus Prayer. Patrick related.
I saw Him praying within me and I was, as it were, inside my own body and I
heard His voice above me, that is to say above my inner self, and He was
praying there powerfully and groaning; and meanwhile I was dumbfounded and
9 The sources for the descriptive material
related to the lives of the Celtic saints are
Bede’s History and Bede, Life of Cuthbert,
Penguin Books ,Harmondsworth 1986,
unless otherwise stated.
10 Bradley,I., Celtic Christianity, Edinburgh
University Press, Edinburgh 1999, p 27.
11 Patrick, Confession, Declaration 45.
12 Patrick, Confession, Declaration 4.
13 Patrick, Confession, Declaration 16
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184 ANVIL Volume 23 No 3 2006
astonished and wondered who it could be that was praying with me, but at
the end of the prayer He spoke and said that He was the Spirit … The Spirit
helps the weaknesses of our prayer; for we do not know what to pray for as
we ought; but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspeakable groans
which cannot be expressed in words. (Romans 8.26) and again: ‘The Lord our
advocate intercedes for us.’ (cf 1 John 2 v 1) 14
When he later reflected on his time in Ireland as a captive exile, Patrick wrote that
God protected him from all evils ‘because of His Spirit dwelling in me’.15
In his Life of Cuthbert Bede also stressed the work of the Holy Spirit. He wrote
that it was the bishop’s in the habit to go round the diocese ‘giving saving counsel
in all the houses and hamlets of the countryside, and laying his hand on the newly
baptised so that the Grace of the Holy Spirit might come down upon them.’. On
another occasion Bede reported that Cuthbert (634-687) arrived in a certain village
where ‘he preached twice to the milling crowds and brought down the grace of
the Holy Spirit by imposition of hands on those newly regenerated in Christ’. It is
clear therefore that in the years up until the time of Bede that Christian people
sought for and cultivated a conscious awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence in
their lives. Equally, it is evident that they expected the charismata or gifts of the
Holy Spirit to feature in the Church’s life, ministry and worship.
Spiritual Gifts in Celtic Christianity
Of the charismata or gifts of the Holy Spirit which were in evidence in this early
Celtic churches, healing and wholeness, conflict with the demonic and prophetic
and knowledge gifts appear to have been particularly prominent.
Healing and Wholeness
The writings of Bede and Patrick abound with examples of healing. In the case of
Bede however it has to be said that some of his sources may have suffered from
embellishments either through word of mouth or as written creations in the years
before he encountered them in his researches in the monastic library at Jarrow.
Leaving the possibility of such fabrication aside for a moment, what is not in
question is the fact that Bede himself evidently valued the gifts of the Holy Spirit
and believed them to be a vital aspect of the church’s life and worship.
The New Testament emphasises healing as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Bede certainly gives many instances of its use in the Christian churches in the
years before his own time. For example, he related the case of a youth whose
arm was healed by the power of the cross, which King Oswald (d. 642) had
erected before going into battle in 634. Some years after the King’s death, this
young man, a brother named Bothelm from the Church at Hebron, who Bede
stated ‘is still living’, slipped on the ice and fractured his arm which caused him
agonising pain. At length another brother decided to go up to the site of the cross
and brought back a piece of its revered wood. At supper he passed a few strands
of the old moss that grew on the surface of the cross to the injured man. He
had nowhere to put it and so thrust it next to his breast. When he awoke next
14 Patrick, Confession, Declaration 25. 15 Patrick, Confession, Declaration 33.
morning he was perfectly healed. Bede went on to relate several other miraculous
cures that took place at the site of Oswald’s death. ‘Many people’, he wrote, ‘took
away the very dust from the place where his body fell, and put it in water, from
which sick folk who drank it received great benefit.’ Bede felt this to be no
surprise, for during his life time Oswald ‘never failed to provide for the sick and
needy and to give them alms and aid’. A paralysed young girl was healed on being
laid down at the place of Oswald’s death and even a horse that happened to fall
at the spot was soon restored and ready to ride. Stories about other Celtic saints
also featured miraculous healings. St Brigid (c450-523) of Ireland cured a child
who was mute.16 It was not always the actual person who caused the healing.
The relics of the saints, or a visit to a saint’s tomb, often brought about miracles.
Bede gives the account of a man named Baduthegn who suddenly became
paralysed on one side of his body from head to foot. The man crawled on his
hands and knees to the tomb of Saint Cuthbert. He prayed and fell asleep there,
and when he awoke he was completely cured. Another individual with a tumour
on his eyelid was suddenly cured by the goodness of God and by means of
Cuthbert’s relics. Cuthbert brought healing to a woman who sipped water that
he had blessed and to a bed-ridden man called Hildmer who ate bread which he
had blessed and to Aelfflaed, a nun who was unable to walk, who touched a linen
cincture which he sent to her. Whilst not all Charismatics or Post-Charismatics
will be happy with the use of relics there is something of importance here. There
has been a tendency among some Charismatics, possibly stemming from
Protestant roots, to shy away from the physical. To be able to sip water that has
been consecrated in the name of the Trinity or to hold a small wooden cross
can be a powerful aid to the faith of someone who is sick or discouraged.
Cuthbert not only healed people but his prayers also brought healing to the
land. Bede recounted how Cuthbert went to live alone on Farne Island, a few miles
to the south east of Lindisfarne. He was, says Bede, ‘the first brave man to live
there alone’, for the island ‘had no water, corn or trees and being the haunt of evil
spirits was very ill-suited to human habitation’. However, when Cuthbert arrived
he ordered all the evil spirits to withdraw, and the island became quite habitable
and ‘a rich crop quickly sprung up’. Here we observe an important outward thrust
to Celtic pneumatology with obvious practical implications for C21st Christianity.
For Charismatics who feel that their worship or personal experience of the Holy
Spirit has become too introverted, Cuthbert and his associates present us with a
pneumatology that seeks to bring healing of the created order.
Bede also recounted healings by Bishop John, first of Hexham then of York.
The information was given to Bede personally by Berthun, the bishop’s deacon.
Among many instances, a dumb youth who had many scabs and scales on his head
and was partially bald, began to speak freely after ‘the bishop took him by the chin
and made the sign of the holy cross on his tongue’. Later ‘with the assistance of
the bishop’s blessing and prayers his skin healed, and a vigorous growth of hair
appeared’. When he was at York, John blessed and prayed over a nun who was
lying in bed with a wounded and badly swollen arm. Just as the bishop was leaving,
the pain left her, the swelling subsided and the girl gave thanks to our Lord and
16 Liam de Paor, St Patrick’s World, Four Courts
Press Ltd., 1993, p 212.
Nigel Scotland Charismatic Christianity and the appeal of Celtic Pneumatology
186 ANVIL Volume 23 No 3 2006
Saviour’. Another individual with a tumour on his eyelid was suddenly cured by
the goodness of God and by means of Cuthbert’s relics. On another occasion he
prayed for one of his clergy who had fallen from his horse and cracked his skull.
The bishop spent the night with him in prayer asking God to restore him. Early
next morning the priest was able to sit up and talk and within a short while was
again riding his horse.
Conflict with the demonic
Early Celtic Christianity both understood and grappled with the demonic. The
Celts lived in a world that they felt to be populated not only by Christ, angels
and saints, but also with demons and wicked spirits. It has been suggested that
part of the reason for this may have been the pagan religious practices and
backgrounds out of which the Celts had been converted. Ian Bradley posited that
the pattern known as the Celtic Knot was used to ward off the devil’s powers.
Patrick, when evangelising the Irish, had many a conflict with the forces of
darkness. For instance when he came to the heathen city of Tara he discovered
there was an idolatrous feast which was kept at the same time as Easter. By
tradition no one could light a fire before one was kindled in the King’s house.
Unconcerned by this pagan custom Patrick began his Easter celebration with an
enormous fire. The result of this was that the King went with a number of his
counsellors and wizards to remonstrate with Patrick. One of the wizards called
Lochra spoke against the Catholic faith in ‘the most arrogant terms’. In response,
Patrick shouted out aloud, ‘O Lord, who can do all things … may this impious
man who blasphemes your name, be now carried out of here without delay.’
Almost immediately the man fell headfirst and crashed his head against a stone
and died.17
Patrick recorded another instance during his labours in Ireland when he was
attacked by the devil. He wrote in his Confession: ‘I was asleep, and Satan attacked
me violently, something which I shall remember as long as I am in this body;
and there fell on top of me a huge rock, as it were, and I was completely
paralysed’. He was, he says, on shouting out, aided by Christ and his Spirit and
set at liberty.18
Celtic Christians developed a range of prayers and rituals to invoke God’s
protective powers against evil and fear. In times of danger some would draw a
circle round themselves and their loved ones.19 Using their index fingers they would
point and turn round sun-wise while reciting a prayer. The breastplate prayers, of
which the one attributed to Patrick is best known, seek in a similar way to surround
those who pray with the protective clothing of God’s presence. This of course has
clear Scriptural precedent in Ephesians chapter 6 verses 1 – 10 where Christians
are exhorted by the apostle Paul to take to themselves the whole armour of God.
The verses of Patrick’s breastplate show clearly the wide range of powers which
the Celts invoked for protection – the strong name of the Trinity, the life, death
and resurrection of Jesus, the angelic hosts, the faith of the confessors and the
word of the apostles.
17 Muirchu, Life of Patrick, paragraph 17.
18 Muirchu, Life of Patrick, Declaration 20.
19 Bradley, I., The Celtic Way, Darton, Longman
and Todd, London 1993, p 47
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
Cuthbert, like Patrick, was acutely conscious of a personal conflict with the devil
and evil spiritual forces. While preaching on one occasion he warned his hearers
to be on their guard whenever they heard the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven
being preached. For, as he went on to say, the devil ‘has a thousand crafty ways of
harming us.’ A little later Bede described how the wife of Hildmer, King Egfrid’s
sheriff, was possessed of a devil. ‘She was’, says Bede, ‘so sorely vexed that she
would gnash her teeth, let out frightful howls, and fling her arms and legs about’.
It was’, Bede reported, ‘a terrifying sight to see her.’ However as the man of God
came to Hildmer’s house the situation was transformed. Bede records that ‘as they
approached the house the evil spirit, unable to bear the coming of the Holy Spirit
with whom Cuthbert was filled, suddenly departed’ and the woman’s affliction
vanished. Bede wrote of Cuthbert: ‘He became famous for miracles, for his prayers
restored sufferers from all kinds of disease and affliction. He cured some who were
vexed by unclean spirits not only by laying on of hands, exhorting, and exorcising
that is by actual contact – but even from afar, merely by praying or predicting
their cure, as in the case of the sheriff’s wife’. Cuthbert, Patrick and other Celtic
church leaders demonstrate a thoroughly positive Trinitarian and Christocentric
way of dealing with the forces of evil. At the same time Bede does not give the
impression that the Celts were overly captivated by the demonic or engaged in
lengthy exorcism sessions. Yet they nevertheless had a quiet authority which
recognised that the power of God’s Spirit was released through godly and prayerful
Some years later Wilfrid (634-709) who was nurtured in the Celtic traditions of
the monastery of Lindisfarne, became bishop of York. But he then spent further
time at Lyons and Rome and became an intransigent supporter of Roman church
customs against the Celtic ways of northern England. After his return to his native
homeland he was imprisoned at the command of King Egfrid. He had not however
lost his Celtic openness to the Holy Spirit. When therefore the wife of the sheriff
who had put him behind bars was in a paralysed and dying state, Wilfrid agreed to
be taken to her. He sprinkled her face with holy water and poured some drops into
her mouth. She thanked God aloud and then like Peter’s mother-in-law,ministered
to them.20
Prophetic and Knowledge Gifts.
Celtic Christians also valued and practised prophetic and knowledge gifts. In his
Confession Patrick recounted eight visions which he saw in dreams, all of which
20 Eddius Stephanus, Life of Wilfrid (circa 720),
chapter 37.
Nigel Scotland Charismatic Christianity and the appeal of Celtic Pneumatology
188 ANVIL Volume 23 No 3 2006
were direct messages from God. The most vivid and most important in so far as
his life’s direction was concerned was his divine summons to return to Ireland and
to proclaim the gospel. His call as he described in his Confession is written in the
style of Paul’s vision of the man in Acts chapter 16 verse 19 saying come over to
Macedonia and help us.
And then I saw, indeed in the bosom of the night, a man coming as it were
from Ireland, Victorinus by name, with innumerable letters, and he gave one
of them to me … And while I was reading aloud the beginning of the letter, I
myself thought indeed in my mind that I heard the voice of those who were
near the wood of Foclut, which is close by the Western Sea. And they cried
out thus as if with one voice, ‘We entreat thee, holy youth, that thou come,
and henceforth walk among us.21
One of Patrick’s contemporaries, St. Ailbe, prophesied the coming of a great
bishop. He noticed a pregnant woman in the congregation and then was filled with
the spirit of prophecy. He told the priest, who was unable to speak at that moment,
This is why you are unable to speak: God wished that first you would hear the
news of the infant whom that woman carried in her womb. He will indeed be a
chosen one of God, a renowned bishop and he will be called David’.22 David was
born soon after and later became the principal bishop in Wales.
Visions while awake were common among the Celts. Columba (521-597) who
landed on the island of Iona in 563 with twelve disciples and founded a new
monastery was said on several occasions to have seen angels. He wrote that
Heaven has granted to some to see on occasion in their mind, clearly and surely,
the whole earth and seas and sky’.23 In his Ecclesiastical History Bede gives an
extended account of the Irish monk, Fursey , or sometimes Fursa, (d. 648). He
was born in Ireland and first came to England fairly late in his life, sometime after
630 and was welcomed by King Sigebert of the East Angles who was encouraged
by the work of Felix at Dunwich. Fursey proved to be an effective evangelist and
established a monastery probably at Burgh Castle near Yarmouth. Bede relates that
many were ‘inspired by the example of his goodness and the effectiveness of his
teaching.’ Many unbelievers were converted to Christ and a large number of
believers were provoked to greater love and faith.
Once when Fursey was ill ‘God gave him a vision in which he was directed to
continue his diligent preaching and to persevere with his routine of vigils and
prayer’. Prompted by what he saw, Fursey lost no time in constructing a monastery
on a site given to him by King Sigbert. On another occasion, Fursey had an
experience which appears to have been something akin the Apostle Paul when he
was caught up in the third heaven.. Fursey entered a trance and felt that he had
quitted his body. He was then carried up to a great height and told to look down
on the world. From this vantage point he saw four fires burning in the air and was
informed that they were Falsehood, Covetousness, Discord and Cruelty. He was
then informed that these fires destroy men’s bodies and that after death everyone
must make due atonement for their sins by fire.
21 Patrick, Confession, Declaration 23.
22 De Paor, L., Op. Cit., p 234.
23 Bradley, I., The Celtic Way p 93.
Aidan, (d. 651) another Irish monk, came to England about the same time as
Fursey and settled in the north of England at Lindisfarne. He was consecrated a
bishop and encouraged by King Oswald made long journeys on foot establishing
missionary and teaching centres. Aidan evidently had a strong gift of prophecy
since on one occasion he burst into tears and foretold the death of Oswald’s
successor, King Oswin. Aidan declared, ‘the King will not live very long; for I have
never before seen a humble King. I feel that he will soon be taken from us, because
this nation is not worthy of a King’. Bede noted that not very long afterwards the
bishop’s foreboding was borne out by the King’s death. Bede goes on in his narrative
to relate how Aidan foretold a storm at sea and gave the seafarers holy oil to calm
the waves. He summed up Aidan’s life stating that ‘he took pains never to neglect
anything he had learned from the writings of the evangelists, apostles and prophets,
and set himself to carry them out with all his powers.’ There is no doubting that
the Celtic churches took the prophetic with seriousness. Knowledge and prophecy
certainly helped to envision evangelistic enterprise and church planting. What we
don’t know from Bede and the other early historians is to what extent prophecy
failed or led men and women into extremes of behaviour.
In summary, it is clear that while some of what Bede relates may have been
embellished either by himself or by those from whom he derived his information,
miraculous stories of charismatic gifts were regarded as an important and integral
part of the Christian faith. It must also be remembered that Bede claimed in his
own words to be ‘a truthful historian’ who accurately recounted the facts as he
knew them to his readers. What he appears to do, is to use his historical sources
in a similar way to the gospel writers. Sometimes there is extended narrative but
at certain points there are core events which are presented in a form and style
which he anticipates will persuade the readers of the truth of the Christian faith.
Contemporary charismatic Christians clearly share the Celtic experience of the
Holy Spirit that awakened their awareness of Christ’s presence and deepened their
love and respect for the earth’s resources. Some Anglican and Roman Catholics
Charismatics can fully identify with those Celts who had an almost sacramental
view of the universe and literally found themselves able to imbibe God’s presence
as they delighted in the landscape and the changing of the seasons. Not only were
they respectful of the land, they prayed and worked for its healing and
transformation much in the way that contemporary Charismatics have been doing
in parts of Africa and South America.
In the matter of conflict with the forces of evil there is much in Celtic life and
worship which resonates with contemporary charismatic experience. Celtic
Christians shared the charismatic heightened awareness of the presence of evil
and spiritual conflict in both the socio-political and domestic spheres. It does
however seem to have been the case that the Celts did not share the tendencies
of the more extreme section of contemporary Charismatics, some of whom display
a capacity to interpret everything which goes amiss as the work of malevolent
Nigel Scotland Charismatic Christianity and the appeal of Celtic Pneumatology
190 ANVIL Volume 23 No 3 2006
From this brief survey it is clear that Celtic pneumatology has a wealth of riches
to give to both Charismatics and Post-Charismatics. At a moment in time when
many are re-assessing and seriously questioning aspects of their Holy Spirit
experience, Celtic Christianity offers a solid Trinitarian, contemplative, practical
and applied biblical Pneumatology which is rooted in British ecclesiastical and
historical tradition.
Dr Nigel Scotland is Field Chair, Theology & Religious Studies, University of
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