The author views Celtic Spirituality as a legitimate and helpful response to the modern move away from traditional spiritualities which have left many people in search of a new way. Of course, it does not always stand up to examination by Celtic scholars but its function is otherwise to supply the spiritual needs of the modern age. Modern Celtic spirituality is based on a relatively small number of early medieval texts and a collection of late nineteenth-century folk poetry.
The movement has constantly reinterpreted and rewritten these resources, finding new applications for them and producing their own poetry, prose and interpretations ‘in the Celtic tradition’. Most writers on Celtic spirituality rely on translations, or their own or others’ adaptations, and the extent to which they are ‘Celtic’ is not always obvious. At its best, Celtic spirituality seems to fill a real need, and whether it is historically true, it has developed in its own right. However, it is also true that much of what is called Celtic is derived from what others have written, often known at third hand, which has then been cited as fact or adapted by new writers. Either way, it is worth considering how and why this has happened to learn more about how Celtic spirituality has developed, why it is so important at present, and how, in spite of these drawbacks, it remains so attractive.
Rosemary Power, who lives in Co Clare, has worked in ecumenical ministry to England and Ireland. She writes on contemporary spirituality and also, as an academic, on medieval studies and popular tradition.