Celtic spiritual events in Metro Washington

One of the things we discovered at the end of the recent Blessing Everlasting series of classes is that the Washington, DC, area has tons of events for those who want to explore Celtic spirituality -- worship, seminars, workshops -- even a Lenten series. Here's our grand list, through May 2013, with a couple of additions that go slightly farther afield: 

From the Cathedral Center for Prayer & Pilgrimage

  • Listening and Living: St. Patrick's Day Pilgrimage

Among the tools of the early Celtic clerics was a simple hand bell, made of folded iron sheets, sometimes dipped in bronze. St. Patrick was said to have kept three blacksmiths at work making such bells for each disciple whom he left in charge of a new church. Many of these ancient bells have survived into our time, the most famous being the bell of St. Patrick held in the National Museum of Ireland. As you journey with St. Patrick for an afternoon, you’ll hear stories of these bells and enjoy time to reflect on what “bell” might be sounding for you in your own life. Led by Sue Mosher.

Sunday, March 17, 1-4 p.m.

  • Lives, Legends, and Landscapes: A Pilgrimage to Northern Wales

The roots of the church in Wales were planted in the sacred soil of a Celtic community shaped by inspiring landscapes, ancient legends, and dedicated people of faith. Tap into this rich, but often overlooked tradition, with a journey to northern Wales. Walk enduring pilgrimage paths, connecting with the heart of Celtic spirituality, making a physical journey outward in order to travel inward. Pray in churches and cathedrals where thanksgiving and petition have been expressed for centuries, joining your voice with the timeless chorus of saints. Worship in rolling green hills or on rocky grey beaches, uniting your praise with that of all creation. Poetry and praise are the hallmarks of Welsh spirituality and the words of Welsh poets, from Taliesin to the Thomases (Dylan and R.S.) guide us as we journey together, listening for the word being written in our own hearts. Led by Dr. Terri Lynn Simpson.

Saturday, May 18 – Sunday, May 26


  • Sundays, 5 p.m. ~ Contemplative Eucharist with candlelight, music, and silence

St. Columba's Episcopal Church
4201 Albemarle Street
Washington, DC 20016

  • Sundays, 5:30 p.m. ~ Contemplative Eucharist with candles, music, silence, and healing prayers

St. Aidan's Episcopal Church
8531 Riverside Road
Alexandria, VA 22308

  • March 2 – see Esther de Waal prayer & lecture event below

  • Celtic Tenebrae Service

The Tenebrae liturgy during Holy Week focuses on darkness and light.

Holy Wednesday, March 27, 7:30 p.m.
St. Michael's Episcopal Church
1132 North Ivanhoe Street
Arlington, VA 22205

Retreats, Lectures, Workshops & Pilgrimages

  • Finding (W)holiness: A Celtic Pilgrimage through Lent

Using Celtic prayers and worship, largely from the Iona Community, we will explore our relationship with God and with each other on a spiritual journey into wholeness and holiness. Quiet morning on Saturday, February 9; Wednesday pilgrimage evenings February 20 – March 20; reflection day Saturday, April 6

St. Michael's Episcopal Church
1132 North Ivanhoe Street
Arlington, VA 22205

  • Thomas Merton: The Celtic Connection ~ A Morning of Prayer & Lecture by Esther de Waal

Merton’s discovery of his Welsh roots inspired him to plunge deeply into the riches of the Celtic world. Esther will explore the light it sheds on Merton and his significance for us today, as well as revealing the connections between the Celtic and Cistercian monastic traditions.

Saturday, March 2, 9:30 – noon
St. David's Episcopal Church
5150 Macomb Street
Washington, DC 20016

  • Shape Shifting: Weaving an Early Irish Christian Story of Transformation Together with Our Own Stories of Growth, Renewal and Tradition

In the strange story of Tuan mac Cairell, a 9th century Irish hermit, we hear of the ways in which the believer narrates his or her history, identity, and transformation. Weaving together the themes of shape-shifting, transition, and rebirth, Medieval church history expert Robyn Neville offers a window into how early Irish Christians made sense of aging, growth in the contemplative life, and personal integrity. This retreat will appeal to anyone with an interest in Celtic Christianity, contemplative prayer, changes in the life-cycle, and the wonders of the religious imagination.

Saturday, March 9, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
St. Margaret's Episcopal Church
1601 Pleasant Plains Road
Annapolis, MD 21409

  • The Mystery of Wales

Esther de Waal leads an exploration of hidden holy places, their saints, and above all, an exploration of religious poetry whose beauty remains largely unrecognized and unknown. Come be part of this celebration of the Celtic heritage of Wales.

Tuesday – Friday, March 12-15
Holy Cross Monastery
West Park, New York

  • Uniting Heaven and Earth:
An Introduction to the Céile Dé Tradition

Out of the wilderness and into an ancient Celtic settlement, a figure in undyed homespun walks with open hands, chanting a blessing of peace. So might a Céile Dé monk have appeared more than a thousand years ago. Today, with hands still open in gratitude, this ancient tradition continues to tell the story of the uniting of Heaven and Earth – and to offer ways to live that story within our own hearts, as we embrace the love of Christ yet also listen to “the testament of the Earth”, building on the wisdom of the ancient Druids. This cycle of four workshops introduces the Céile Dé tradition (http://www.ceilede.co.uk) and its practices in four sessions, each of which includes chant, meditation, and teachings. Taught by Sue Mosher.

Participants will have the opportunity to continue with the teachings and practices in a dedicated community that meets regularly in Washington, DC, and forms a supportive container for those on a path of openness to real inner change.

Sundays: April 7, April 28, June 2, June 30
Arlington, VA

  • Earth Awareness & Contemplative Practice with John Philip Newell

John Philip Newell is a poet, peacemaker, minister, and scholar, internationally acclaimed for his work in the field of Celtic spirituality. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, Newell teaches and preaches internationally on themes related to the sacredness of the earth and the oneness of the human soul.

May 17-18
Shalem Institute
Washington, DC