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History of Theosophy in Wales







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Peter Freeman, one of the founders of Theosophy in Wales and a driving force behind it for over 40 years asserted that Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, gained his knowledge from the Druidic tradition and that St Patrick, (also born in Wales) the patron saint of Ireland, was in charge of a Druidic Centre in Llantwit Major in South Wales. Scholars generally agree that Celtic Chiristianity developed into a distinct form as a result of its fusion with the Druidic beliefs and traditions.  Peter Freeman was also a founder member of The Dewi Sant (Saint David) Lodge of the Theosophical Society in Wales which spcialised in the serious study of Celtic Mysticism and Traditions


Tradition holds that Christianity was brought to the British Isles by Joseph of Arimathea and Aristobulus in A.D. 55 (some argue it was as early as A.D. 35) Some modern scholarship rejects this, and place the introduction in the middle of the second century. Little is known of the first several centuries, however,

Christianity was firmly established in Roman Britain by the time of the council of Arles (314) as two British bishops were in attendance. (There is also a possibility that British bishops were at Nicaea).


The true flowering of Celtic Christianity occurred after the Romans left Britain and they found themselves alone, surrounded by hostile barbarians. This is the time of the great celtic Saints: Patrick, David, Brigid, Columba, Brendan, Columbanus, and many, many others.


This period was characterized by great holiness, love of learning and nature. It reached it's peak in the seventh century in the Columban monastic federation of Iona. Its decline began soon after when, in 671, it lost Saxon Northumbria to the Roman observance.


This was by no means the end. Celtic Christianity survived for the next five centuries. Due to many forces, demographic changes, Viking raids and settlement, and the expanding Roman rite; Celtic Christianity slowly retreated. Yet this was the period when the Celts reached the pinnacle of their artistic

genius; combining mediteranean plaitwork, barbarian zoomorphs, and their own native spiral and key patterns to create metalwork, illuminated manuscripts and stonecarving that amazes us even today. (Some examples include the Kells and Lindisfarne Gospels, the Ardagh Chalice, the Tara brooche and the Linsmore Croizer.)


The Celts of Gaul were among the first Celts to accept Christianity, but it is unclear when Christianity first entered the British isles. By successfully adapting itself to Celtic society, Christianity entered Celtic culture without

confrontation, and without martyrs. The first well-recorded Christian mission to Ireland was by Saint Patrick, who was living in Britain (or Wales) and taken as a slave to Ireland during a raid. He made an escape to France, where

he studied the new religion until he became a bishop.


Then in 432 he returned to Ireland to preach. The complete conversion of Ireland did not happen within his lifetime, but the first permanent foothold of Christianity was established by him.


Celtic Christianity is an union of Druidism and Christianity nominally founded by Columba and Columcille, among other early saints, and centred on the Scottish island of Iona, in the southern Hebrides. Saint Columba is said to have first spoken the famous prayer "Mo Drui, Mac De" (My Druid, Son of God), as if identifying rather than contrasting the old and the new religions. Early Christian sanctuaries were built in circular shapes, unlike the rectangular or cruciform shapes of Roman Christian sanctuaries, which is in keeping with the earlier Druidic concepts.


Many Druids may have converted to Christianity when it became popular with the nobility, and though they followed the new religion they kept most of the old wisdom. Other Druids became Bards, and the Bardic tradition kept many of the old mythologies alive in the culture.


There are stories of Celtic saints speaking with animals and plants, as the old Druids used to do, something usually attributed only to St. Francis of Assisi. The Carmina Gadelica, a book of Celtic-Christian prayers collected by Alexander Carmichael in the outer Hebrides, shows a very strong connection to the natural world.


The Celtic church was less centralized than the Roman church, being somewhat more monastic than heirarchical, and also used a different way of calculating the date of Easter. Some of these monasteries were headed by women, including Abbes Hilda of Whitby who hosted the Council of Whitby, where it was decided to join with the Roman church and the rest of Europe.


There is debate among historians as to how distinct the Celtic church was from other forms of Christianity of its time, but there are some unique elements nonetheless. One unique feature of the Celtic church was the cut of the tonsure, which was bald in the front and long in the back, unlike the Benedictine tonsure, which is short all around with a bald spot in the centre.


The Celtic Christian art of illuminated manuscripts, such as the beautiful Book of Kells, is another uniquely Celtic contribution to Christianity. Its symbol is the Celtic Cross, a cross with a circle around its centre.



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Pages About Wales

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Wales is a Principality within the United Kingdom

and has an eastern border with England.

The land area is just over 8,000 square miles.

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