AN OVERVIEW OF KULDEE HISTORY:
History is written by the conquering race, or so it is said. In this case the cliche is true. The conquerors we will be discussing in this article are the Roman Catholic Church, and those "conquered" will be the Celtic church otherwise known as "The Culdees".
The name culdee is certainly odd enough. It appears to come from the word 'Culdich' which means 'certain strangers'. This doesn't really make any more sense unless you understand the reason for it's use. In the year 37 AD, there appeared on the shores of the British isles a very strange people indeed. They spoke a different language and they looked decidedly different. They were followers of Jesus and had come to Britain in an attempt to escape the persecution that followed after the death of their leader. They landed in the West Britons and were met by the king of the region, Arvaragus. They must have seemed to be pleasant enough for he housed them in the local Celtic religious schools. After a short period of time Arvaragus granted them a plot of land equal to twelve hides on which to build the first Christian church in Britain. It is believed that this is the church at Glastonbury based upon this evidence: In the Domesday survey of AD 1088 we find a passage that reads thus:
'The Domus Dei in the great monastery at Glastonbury. This Glastonbury church possesses in it's own villa XII hides of land for which have never paid tax.' It also seems to be true that after building the church several of the Celtic spiritual leaders of the region that had known these 'culdich' converted to Christianity. Later on, others converted including St. Columba. Since they were of the priest class already they were made ministers in the church and began to convert others to their cause.
In ancient times the Celts had been adopting and absorbing religions ever since they began the long move from the Balkans. They would come into a new area, and recognize similarities in their own beliefs and those of the inhabitants of the new region. Some might choose to stay behind and help these people while others would continue on the journey, taking these new insights with them to the next place. There is also the possibility that those previously mentioned landed 'Cludich' were people who had known Jesus and gotten the message from his own lips! Their beliefs were undoubtedly different than those that we know today. They hadn't had the influence of the Romans or Greeks added to it yet. Both of these races were conquering people and when they learned that they could let religion do it for them that is what they decided to use. The message of Christianity suffered as it was put to use in a way it was never intended to be used.... often for the controlling of people.
When the Celtic peoples "converted" to Christianity they didn't simply leave all the old ways behind, they incorporated their knowledge into their new duties. It can be seen in the symbolism of the Culdee church and in the fact that until the Council of Whitby in 664 AD they figured the holiday of Easter to be a different time than that of their Roman Catholic counterparts.
When one reads the Carmina Gadelica which is a collection of Celtic Christian prayers you cannot help but see the strong ties to nature within these prayers. In fact saints in the Culdee church were said to have talked to the animals, which is usually only attributed with Francis of Assisi.
The Celtic Church was allowed to grow unmolested up until the beginning of the seventh century. It was in 597 that Pope Gregory sent missionaries to convert the Anglo-Saxon people who had moved into the British Isles. When the Celtic church heard the message that they had to give they were astounded that it could possibly differ so much from their own beliefs. In fact it prompted a monk by the name of Columbanus to write a message to the pope: "Your chair O pope is filled with heresy. Deadly errors have crept into it; it harbors horrors and impieties." However the Romans had learned to conquer with religion instead of force and the situation rapidly declined. Despite the best efforts of the Kuldees, the Catholics began to make headway. In fact, Gregory was so happy with his progress that he sent out more missions equipped with all the vestments of the Vatican. In time the Kuldee church was pressed back except for a few monasteries on the remote islands of Ireland and in Scotland where they continued to exist in these regions, even into the Reformation! They left many legacies behind, but none greater than their artwork, which can be seen in The Book of Kells, and other works.
1. Elder, Isabel Hill, Celt, Druid, and Culdee, Covenant Publishing Co., London, 1973
2. Hope, Murray, Practical Celtic Magic,Aquarian Press, London, 1987
3. Elder & Derri; Celt, Druid abd Culdee; Artisan Publishers; 1990
4. Catholic Encyclopedia: Abbey of Whitby,
5. Rutherford, Celtic Lore, 1993, Bantham Press http://www.knight.b.htm
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Kuldees in North America:
The Kuldees in Kentucky:
The first organized Kuldeean group appeared in Kentucky in 1991 and was established as the New Hope Kuldeean Church. Services were held in the meditation center/church near Eastern Parkway in Louisville. The building was also used as an art therapy center... fulfilling the Kuldeean mission of healing. This center has been closed for some years but the work was continued by Rev. Bonnie Phillips in a peaceful remote location near Taylorsville Lake in Fisherville, KY.
As of Spring of 1999 there were numerous fully ordained Kuldeean Ministers residing in the State of Kentucky.
It should be noted that there are also Kuldeean Ministers in Indiana, West Virginia, Illinois, New England and Canada.
More Ancient Kuldee History!