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History and Philosophy of the Ancient Keltic Church

by Ann Finnin and David Finnin

The Ancient Keltic Church is a religious organization dedicated to the rediscovery and  revival of the pagan mystery faith  of the ancient Celtic peoples, and the incorporation of this ancient faith into modern 20th century America. It was founded in 1976 by Ann and David Finnin as an experimental group called  The Roebuck, which was made up of members of many  different magical systems devoted to the exploration of a British mystery tradition made public in Britain during the 1950's and introduced into the United States during the  years 1964-1966 through the writings of Robert Cochrane.

Cochrane  died in 1966. However, with the aid of the Cochrane writings and material contributed by other British traditionalists, the members of the Roebuck attempted  to recreate this tradition and, through trial and error, forged a mystery school  designed to teach its students the various methods of personal magical development.

In 1982, contact was made with Evan John Jones, a member  of the Clan of Tubal Cain - the British hereditary tradition of which Cochrane was the leader.  After an apprenticeship which lasted nearly two years, Ann and David were adopted into the Clan by Jones and empowered to carry  the tradition back to the States. Thus, a link between the old tradition and the new was formally established.

In 1989, The Roebuck incorporated as a legal, tax-exempt church and became the Ancient Keltic Church, with all the  rights and responsibilities pertaining to our legal status. Since then, we have worked to establish the Ancient Keltic Church as  a modern day Celtic mystery school of the sort that might have come down to us from ancient  times had nearly 2,000 years of Christianity not intervened. It has a large group of people who attend its open festivals, it has a smaller group of  devotees who choose to receive instruction in order to learn more about the  mysteries, it has an Initiate priesthood that serves those who come to the rites by running rituals, teaching classes and giving oracles, and it has a core group of  people who have dedicated their entire spiritual lives to  guarding the rites and teachings against those who would dilute or corrupt them.

We carry on a tradition that practices magic and taps into ancient and primal sources for the power  to do so. We invoke the aid of unseen  forces and use natural materials like stones, herbs, animals, etc. to channel our will in order to make things happen. But we are, above all, a Pagan religion with a complex theology and strict code of  behavior. We believe  that spiritual development comes first and that magic is secondary, coming once a certain level of attainment has been achieved. 'Our belief,' as Cochrane wrote in 1966, 'is concerned with wisdom; our true name, then, is  the  Wise people and wisdom is our aim.' One of the ways in which this is accomplished is through contact with the inner plane guardians of the circle. These guardians, called 'gods', 'shining ones', or, in later times, 'fairies', are  the  primordial forces of nature as described in Irish, Welsh and Gaelic folklore and are associated with the four elements of fire, earth, air and water.

These guardians, along with a Father God and Mother Goddess, make up  the pantheon of  deities to which a member is introduced, first through guided meditations and then through personal contacts. Personal development and magical power comes primarily through understanding all these natural  forces, dark as well as light, and  transforming that understanding into control over their aspects in the individual psyche.

However, once achieved, this personal developement must then be laid upon the altar of service,  for power is only a means to an end, not an end in  itself. As tribal healers, seers and shamans of old knew well, the final result of the attainment of personal magical power is to go forth and serve the people of the tribe.  By running rituals, teaching classes and ministering to the needs of  the people by providing healing, counseling, and rites of passage for them and their children, we hope to continue this tradition of service and commitment  to our community.

written by Ann Finnin and David Finnin
updated: December 1, 1997
document ROEBHIST © 1997 Ann Finnin and David Finnin

 Here are some other things to look at:

Contact information, for Ancient Keltic Church and Roebuck study groups, covens  and newsletters in North America.

 You may return to:

A concise description of the Roebuck Tradition.
The index of English Traditions of the Craft.
The Beaufort House home page.