You'd think after years of discussion and a FAQ website and book detailing the tradition that the online community would already have an idea about what Celtic Reconstructionism (CR) is. Alas, based on threads in various online fora, I can see that is not the case. There are people—who claim to be CR or to teach CR—who don't seem to even understand what exactly Celtic Reconstructionism is. They post links to foundation work like the FAQ, and yet don't appear to have even read it (otherwise would we really be constantly re-hashing these things?).
So here's my thoughts:
So here's my thoughts:
Celtic Reconstructionism is a way of life. It encompasses your entire worldview, your being. Celtic Reconstructionism is about living every moment of every day within tradition, religion and culture. As a Gaelic Polytheist (or Gaelic Reconstructionist Polytheist), my thoughts, words, beliefs and actions are filtered through Gaelic culture and its accompanying worldview. I don't think simply as a modern polytheistic American or Irish-American; I think like a Gael.
Each Celtic culture is enclosed within a worldview that makes it wholly unique (though some commonalities do exist between them), and it is entering into a cultural worldview, wrapping it around oneself like a shawl, and allowing it to take root deep within us that truly makes one CR, in my humble opinion. It is that which separates Reconstructionism from general Neopaganism (where practitioners tend to be rooted in individualism and modernism over living traditional communal culture).
Community lies at the center of CR. It is the hearth around which we are all gathered. It is that which shelters us, what we tend to, that which holds us accountable, and what provides direction and solace. But community does not take the same appearance for all. For some, it is their immediate family (of birth or of choice). For others, a monthly gathering or study group. For others still, an online group of trusted peers or phone connections with close friends and family. Furthermore, some might have all of the above or any combination of them. Whatever community looks like for us, the main thing is that we give to that community. We foster kinship and help it grow. We don't come to community as spectators; we participate.
Study is a part of what some of us do, certainly, but one does not need to read x-amount of books or hit the books for x-amount of hours, days, or years in order to practice CR. Indeed, how could one even practice if one is constantly buried within a book? CR is about practicality and experience just as much as learning—if not possibly more. One cannot fully know the goddesses, gods and spirits through bound pages; it is through the participation in prayer, offerings, ritual, and ceremony that they are known to us. All of which can be performed with little more than basic knowledge of CR ritual.
CR has within it many paths; scholarship of which is only one. We are not all scholars. Some amongst us are quite happy being mystics, warriors, artisans, musicians, or healers. In fact, some are called to simply be hearthkeepers—to tend to their home, hearth and the welfare of their family through simple prayers, charms, blessings and offerings. Every path will and does include some degree of study, though—after all a hearthkeeper will need to learn traditional songs and prayers—but to assume that every CR needs a vast library and hours upon hours bent over books instead of living CR is sending the wrong message, I fear.
Learning can and certainly does happen through communal cultural immersion and participation as well, and experienced "culture-bearers" play an important role in CR community— even if they are not polytheists themselves. In situations where one is a member of an extended family or other type of group, we can certainly be participating members of the CR faith and tradition without ever reading any books at all. In fact, this is the way our ancestors learned and were immersed in culture (and I'm not only referring to the Iron Age here, but the entire Celtic cultural continuum). This is why worldview is so crucial. People who only understand books and arguing online usually don't have in-person groups, and are usually behaving in ways that will keep others from wanting to share experiential work with them.
Can one be a CR and only attend a gathering or two a year? Absolutely. But only if every other moment and thought comes from a CR worldview outside of those gatherings. You can't attend a gathering and then shut CR off for the remainder of the year. Also, if you are CR on Monday, Ásatrú on Tuesday, Wiccan on Wednesday, Hellenic on Thursday ad nauseam, then you are not fully CR because you are setting aside the CR worldview to practice— or dabble, really— in others.
Granted all the above is just my experience-based opinion mixed with what is said within The CR FAQ itself, so as they say your mileage may vary; but I hope it gives everyone something to ruminate on.