The Three Cauldrons: Celtic Myth and Spiritual Wisdom

Academic and historically based study and exploration of authentic Celtic religion, mythology, druidism, folklore, literature, languages, wisdom texts, archaeology, ethnography, ritual, poetry and visionary practices, as well as the anthropologically supported identification of shamanic elements in Celtic contexts.

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Creating Celtic Wisdom Keepers: Knowledge that the Gods Empower

There is a lot of discussion online these days about how one can learn about the historical knowledge and practices of the past, in order to create a strong foundation based on the wisdom of the Celtic ancestors. It is well documented that the long-standing and time tested wisdom and rituals of indigenous cultures are enduring and powerful because they are supported by, and in some cases perceived to have been directly given by, the gods and spirits.  Some of these indigenous cultures have managed to preserve this ancient and sacred knowledge over centuries or even millennia. Others however, like Celtic traditions, have lost pieces of their religion and are working to put back together a fragmented knowledge of what was once a life-sustaining and deeply effective religion.

For many years, I have been working to learn, research, restore and transmit authentic historical Celtic practices and wisdom. That quest has taken me into the halls of academia, as well as onto the land to connect with Celtic language speaking tradition bearers. I did not realize it at the time, but the gods and spirits were clearly supporting certain activities, while putting up obstacles to prevent me from others... including not immersing myself fully in modern NeoPagan or New Age practices and beliefs. After 30 years of questing, and 25 years of teaching, I have found that when I stay in alignment with what the gods and spirits support, energy flows and synchronicities abound. 

One of the tasks before us is to not only think about the past, but also about the future… Who is this work for? How can an enduring legacy of information be created so that people anywhere in the world will be able access it and embody it? There are three parts to the quest before us, if we are sincere in our desire to set aside ego and preconceptions, and open ourselves to the actualities of the authentic knowledge and practices of the Celtic-speaking peoples.  The first is to begin to train people in the authentic historical materials, including how to separate fact from fiction in medieval sources, as well as in the proliferation of modern books, websites, and teachings which profess to provide access to historical Celtic knowledge, but which are in fact greatly influenced by -  and in some cases primarily comprised of - modern occult pathways which are often only about a century old. 

The second task is to gather, restore and transmit Information about authentic Celtic ritual, which includes a significant component based on ancient Instrumental music and vocal art forms. It was for this reason that I was given several research grants, bringing together my training as a musician and a Celticist. In the beginning, my fear was that there would be so little information that the task would be impossible. But after several extended research trips to Ireland and Scotland, receiving mentoring with remarkable scholars, and beginning to gain access to Celtic language speaking tradition-bearers, the amount of information that still exists is amazing!

And this leads us to the third task: Compiling and organizing this information into books and CDs, as well as in-person training programs for groups. Right now I envision one book and CD about the music, and another book and CD about ritual. In the present moment, however, we must begin with first steps, for those members of the community who feel drawn towards stepping into a role as a teacher, elder, wisdom keeper, ritualist, or tradition bearer, or who wish to deepen their individual practice. In this step, the Internet provides us with an opportunity to work together on the first part of the quest, setting training programs into motion that will provide those who are interested with a solid foundation of knowledge pertaining to Celtic culture, religion, mythology and sources of knowledge.  To that end, I wish to share with you some upcoming opportunities, which are outlined below. Many blessings to all who set foot upon this path!


Celticae Institute - Training Programs 2019/2020


Please join us for these unique and historically authentic courses in Celtic cultures, religion, mythology, folklore and wisdom traditions


The Wisdom of the Four Talismans: 


An In-Depth Journey into the Authentic Worlds of

Celtic Religion, Mythology and Folklore 


This course offers twenty-one scholarly and spiritual lessons based on reliable historical sources of knowledge. Each lesson includes reading, writing, meditation, journaling, contemplative work and personal ritual, to help each student create a foundation of knowledge upon which to build their personal or group spiritual practice. Fifteen of the lessons provide instruction in: Celtic culture and cosmology; Irish, British and Gaulish gods and goddesses; the four Celtic feast days and the Ritual Year; the Celtic Otherworld; Mythic Symbolism and Wisdom Traditions; Druids, Poets and Seers; Sages, Shapeshifters and Priestesses; the Symbolism of Animals; the Ogam Alphabet; Ancestor Veneration and Lore; Sacred Plants and Fairy Doctors, Folk Healing and Seership; the Celtic Origins of the Arthurian legends; The Mabinogi; the role of women in Early Irish law, and Celtic folksong traditions. Seven lessons explore culturally appropriate and respectful methods of defining, identifying and exploring shamanic elements and visionary traditions in Celtic cultural and religious contexts


The course text'Celtic Myth and Religion: A Study of Traditional Belief, With Newly Translated Prayers, Poems and Songs' (S.P. MacLeod)  available online in paperbook or electronic format from independent booksellers, AmazonBarnes and Noble, or McFarland Publishing.


Twenty-One lessons for $210

The course starts on the New Moon of Beltaine, May 4, 2019


Payment is accepted via money order or PayPal


Three work/barter scholarships are available for dedicated students




Illuminating Fionn's Window: 


A Six-Month Intensive in the Historical Traditions of Ogam


Join us for a congenial scholarly and spiritual online exploration of the Ogam alphabet, from ancient inscriptions to learned wisdom traditions found in the medieval manuscripts of the Irish poet-seers. Over the course of thirteen lessons, we will learn to separate fact from fiction regarding the creation and meaning of the Ogam letters, including the different ways they were perceived and utilized, from 4th to 7th century C.E. inscriptions, to their role in the training of the Filid from the 10th to 17th centuries. Originally used as markers of tribal territory and identity, Ogam later featured in the bardic training schools where the learned classes worked with new forms of the Ogam alphabet in a variety of intriguing ways.


We will work with authentic historical materials to respectfully restore the knowledge of Ogam. Students will be provided with PDF's of the course texts, 'A Guide to Ogam' by Damian McManus, and 'Auraicept na n-Éces' edited by George Calder.


Thirteen Lessons for $130 

The course starts on a New Moon, June 3, 2019


Payment is accepted via money order or PayPal

Three work/barter scholarships are available for dedicated students




The Feathered Cloak: Druid, Poet, Shaman, Seer


Visionary Traditions, Shapeshifting and Healing, 

and the Wisdom of the Celtic Otherworld 



This nine-month intensive explores accurate and authentic sources of knowledge pertaining to the training, roles and wisdom of the historical druids, bards and seers of Ireland, Britain and Gaul, as well as the medieval poet-seers of Ireland and Scotland known as the Filid. Students will learn how to identify and understand reliable historical sources of knowledge; interpret and work with Classical accounts, Wisdom Texts, and Otherworldly Symbolism and Poetry from medieval manuscript sources, and explore Folk Healers, Seers and Poets from the 17th c. to the modern era in the six Celtic countries (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and the Isle of Man).


Special attention will be paid to working in a culturally informed and respectful manner in regards to visionary, seership and healing traditions which have sometimes been referred to as 'shamanic’ (which of course involved native terminologies and methodologies in Celtic language-speaking cultures). We will also learn how to properly identify, interpret and explore native methods of working with the Celtic Otherworld, which was generally perceived in the pagan era as existing in the Lower World (but in some contexts, possibly in the Upper World as well). 


The inhabitants of the Otherworld(s) are the pagan gods and goddesses of Celtic-language speaking cultures, known in Ireland as the Síabrathe Áes Síde or the Túatha  Danannand in British / Welsh traditions as the Plant Annwfn or the Tylwyth TegWhile their abode was non-earthly (in parallel but separate planes of spiritual existence), the Gods were perceived as inhabiting - or more accurately, using as a portal into our world - sacred and liminal places such as hills, groves and bodies of water. They were associated with certain sacred sites but not limited to them; deities are able to travel beyond the confines of mortal time and space, and can manifest whereever they wish.


In preparation for this course, students should have some ability to enter into an altered spiritual state through meditation; chanting or sound; or through safe and effective core techniques as taught by the Foundation for Shamanic Studies (the 'shamanic journey'). It is important to note that there are many online sources, books and facilitators who work in ways that are not supported by Celtic sources, or whose methods may not always be grounded or safe. 


Also, there are myriad sources which profess to provide insights into Celtic Visionary traditions or Celtic Shamanism, which are not based on accurate or respectful knowledge or representation of Celtic cultures or religions. It should be noted that authentic, historical Celtic socio-religious traditions are not the same as what’s frequently presented in modern books or paths (Celtic Wicca / Magic(k); Worship of The Goddess, Celtic Earth Religion, or Modern Druidry). We honour all paths, but will not be discussing or following these modern pathways or books in this course. The four Course Texts are available for purchase online, and many are quite affordable as used copies:


Celtic Myth and Religion: A Study of Traditional Belief - MacLeod


The Druids - Piggott


Pagan Celtic Britain - Ross


Celtic Heritage - Rees


Also recommended: Early Irish Myths and Sagas - GantzAncient Irish Tales - Cross &Slover; The Mabinogi - Ford; Dictionary of Celtic Mythology - McKillopDictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend - Green


Thirteen Lessons for $130 

The course starts on a New Moon, September 28, 2019


Payment is accepted via money order or PayPal

Three work/barter scholarships are available for dedicated students



Coming in 2020



Honouring the Wisdom of the Three Cauldrons


The Celticae Institute is pleased to announce that a new Celtic Studies Programme will begin in 2020, which focuses on creating Elders, Teachers, Tradition Bearers and Tribe Members whose work is based on a solid foundation and accurate understanding of historical Celtic cultures and religions.


Acceptance into the program is by application, and is open to serious, dedicated students who understand (or wish to learn more about) the difference between modern occultism / earth religion, and authentic Celtic-language speaking cultures and their beliefs.


There will be a number of required course texts (a book-list will be provided in advance), and students will be expected to complete assignments to the best of their ability and to behave in a respectful manner at all times. Course instructor bio is below; full C.V. at (as well as:



The Three Branches of Knowledge


This is an individual training program,

whose levels are based on the three branches carried by the

medieval poet-seers, denoting their level of knowledge and ability:


The Copper Branch, The Silver Branch, and the Golden Branch.


The next enrollment portal is the New Moon of Samhain, Oct. 27, 2019. Detailed information available on the Celticae Institute FB Page.



Instructor Bio:


Síthearan NicLeòid (S.P. MacLeod) is a published author, teacher and Harvard-trained Celticist, as well as a Gaelic / Celtic language singer and musician, and a ban-druí and ban-fili


She has taught Celtic religion, mythology, folklore, literature and poetry at the university level (including Smith College and University of Massachusetts Amherst - Extension) and has presented academic papers at a number of Celtic conferences (The Harvard Celtic Colloquium; The International Celtic Congress; The Ritual Year Conferences at University College Cork; the Celtic Mythology Conference Series at the University of Edinburgh; and the Harvard Graduate Study Group on Ancient Magic and Religion).


Ms. NicLeòid has published numerous academic journal articles on Celtic mythology and religion, including The Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium; Cosmos: Journal of the Traditional Cosmology Society (University of Edinburgh); and a chapter in the recently released book, Celtic Mythology in the 21st Century, published by University of Wales Press.


She has given honorarium lectures at Harvard University and University College Cork, and received international grants to research, restore and transmit - through books, CD's and training programs - the earliest known Celtic instrumental music and vocal art forms (including poetic recitation, pagan liturgy, song and chant) in socio-religious context (set in historically attested Celtic ritual).


She is the author of five books, including:


Early Celtic Poetry and Wisdom Texts: The Three Cauldrons, the Songs of Amairgen, and other Cultural and Literary Traditions

 (forthcoming from McFarland Publishing in 2020)


Celtic Cosmology and the Otherworld: Mythic Origins, Sovereignty and Liminality (McFarland, 2018)


Celtic Myth and Religion: A Study of Traditional Belief (McFarland, 2012) [#1 in Celtic Studies on Amazon for 3 years]


The Divine Feminine in Ancient Europe: Goddesses, Sacred Women and the Origins of Western Culture (McFarland, 2014) [Endorsed by Margot Adler; NY Times Best-selling author John Perkins; and academic scholars of religion and anthropology]


Queen of the Night - Red Wheel / Weiser, 2005) [A scholarly and spiritual exploration of lunar symbolism in Celtic ethnographic and literary sources, supplemented by other cultural and I.E. materials]


Ms. NicLeòid is a professional vocalist who sings in numerous languages, including Old Irish, Middle Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Modern Irish, Welsh, Cornish and Breton, as well as Old French and Provencal. She has studied and performed Classical, Medieval, Rock, Folk, Celtic and World Music, and was the Founder of The Moors, whose highly acclaimed self-titled CD release is still a cult classic worldwide. She plays piano, flute, oboe, recorder, Irish flute, pennywhistle, low whistle, bodhrán, percussion, Tibetan flute, Native American drone flute, guitar, mandolin, electronic bagpipes, crotalbell-branch, and more recently, Pictish harp and recreations of an Iron Age Celtic lyre.


For more information or to register, contact the instructor on Facebook (The Celticae Institute FB page, or the public Túatha Imbais FB Page). You may leave a message in the comments section below if you encounter any difficulties connecting through FB. Many blessings! 





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Born on the eve of Lugnasad, your guide and ban-fili/ban-druí is a published author, teacher, and Celtic singer and musician. She trained in Celtic Studies through Harvard University, and has taught Celtic mythology and folklore at the university level. Her research in Celtic myth and religion has been presented at the University of Edinburgh, University College Cork, the International Celtic Congress, the Harvard Graduate Study Group for Ancient Magic and Religion, and the Ford Foundation Lecture Series.

She has served as Faculty at the Celtic Institute of North America and the Omega Institute, and her books include: ‘Celtic Myth and Religion: A Study of Traditional Belief' (McFarland), ‘Celtic Cosmology and the Otherworld: Mythic Origins, Sovereignty and Liminality’ (McFarland), 'The Divine Feminine in Ancient Europe' (McFarland), ‘'Queen of the Night' (Weiser), ‘Early Celtic Poetry and Wisdom Texts: The Three Cauldrons, The Songs of Amairgen, and other Cultural Studies’ (forthcoming) and a chapter in the academic collection ‘Celtic Mythology in the 21st Century’ (University of Wales Press).

Currently she is Director of the Eolas ar Senchais research project, which received international grant funding to research and restore authentic ancient Celtic instrumental music and vocal art forms, and historically attested Celtic ritual in socio-religious context.

She sings in many of the modern and medieval Celtic languages and is a multi-instrumentalist. Her previous musical group, The Moors, has cult status in the pagan world. She leads workshops and distance training programs, with new books, CD's and research on the way.


  • Gillian Van Dien
    Gillian Van Dien Saturday, 09 February 2019

    Hi Sharon: I would like to discuss attending one of these with you (they all sound fantastic!), but I don't have a FB account and don't want to set one up. I also don't want to leave my email here. Is there any other way to contact you? Thanks, Gillian.

  • Síthearan NicLeòid
    Síthearan NicLeòid Sunday, 10 February 2019

    Hi Gillian, and thanks for your message. I’m not sure how to facilitate a chat without leaving my email here, which I’d prefer not to do as well! I believe if you visit my website you can leave a message there privately with your email address. It’s at: Let’s see if that works!

  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Monday, 11 February 2019

    Gillian: Leave a message at and I'll forward it to Sharon next week (I'm currently out of town on business for my dayjob) Anne Newkirk Niven

  • Síthearan NicLeòid
    Síthearan NicLeòid Monday, 11 February 2019

    Thank you Anne! I hope you’re having a wonderful time, wherever you are!
    Many bright blessings

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