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Llan Dobhran

What does Llan Dobhran do?

Llan Dobhran seeks to develop a new liturgy out of the interpenetration of Christian and Pagan traditions. A new liturgy that celebrates the wonder and awe of the creation of God. A new liturgy that lets go and lets be the pain we have suffered, that brings us to forgiveness and the healing of the wounds we have inflicted on one another. A new liturgy that affirms us as cocreators whose created art spirals beauty back into this tired world. A new liturgy that renews our energy so we can stand tall in the outer world and witness our Christianity by standing with the oppressed, so we can take back our voice from the rabid Fundamentalists, so we can serve as an example of the truth that a joyless Christian is a contradiction in terms.
stained glass celtic cross

Llan Dobhran develops and leads celebrations of the eight spokes of the year. These celebrations help us to become more in tune with the rhythms of the planet and reconnect us with both our Christian and pre-Christian ancestors. These celebrations combine pagan mythology and Biblical revelation. In the development of this liturgy we study the old feast days of the saints and learn what medieval Christians looked to in the Bible on these feast days. We are trying to recapture some of the energy of the medieval Christian "Age of Faith" through these studies, an age that produced such timeless mystics as Hildegard of Bingen, Francis of Assisi, Mechtild of Magdeburg, Meister Eckhart, Dante, Julian of Norwich, Nicholas of Cusa. As Matthew Fox notes in The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, "all these mystics display a rich theology of the Cosmic Christ. Perhaps the reason they do so is the Middle Ages represents the last time there was a living cosmology in the West. When a living cosmology is lost, as happened with the Enlightenment, there is no need of a Cosmic Christ. But when a living cosmology emerges again, as in our time, we depend on the wisdom of our ancestors in faith who developed an understanding and experience of the Cosmic Christ at the very heart of their mysticism."

What are the symbols of Llan Dobhran?

equal armed cross
The name Llan Dobhran is composed of "llan" from the Welsh for church or monastery, and "dobhran" from the Scots Gaelic for otter.

Llan Dobhran takes as its symbols the celtic cross and the otter. The celtic cross is a symbol of inclusiveness: a cross in a circle, the arms of Christ enfolding the world. The otter is an endangered animal who nearly met extinction due to man's greed for her fur. As a totemic creature, the otter has been associated with the feminine and creative forces of life. The adult otter has practically no natural enemies (except man). Otters are fast in the water and can outswim fish but they can be ferocious fighters. Otters exhibit more play behavior than do most wild animals, including wrestling, chasing other otters, tossing and diving for rocks and clamshells, the repeated capture and release of live prey and sliding down a wet bank repeatedly.


Why the blending of paganism and Christianity?

In "Easter 1916" Yeats writes,

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven's part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child

I, Sister Ia, was baptized Roman Catholic, and long considered myself among the ranks of the "recovering Christians". I have been a practicing pagan since 1983. Paganism is a beautiful earth-centered tradition that has at its core celebration of the many facets of divinity. When I found my first pagan circle it was like a breath of fresh air. Suddenly there was a place for me where I was not a mere handmaid. Where divinity had a face that was like mine. Sometimes it was female! The usual Christian church has only two faces for the female - breeder and harlot. I just cannot identify with that church. But the spiritual wound is that the message of Jesus is so far separated from the spiteful preachings of fundamentalists of whatever stripe. Over the years I still felt myself pulled to the words of Jesus despite the preachings that had made me drop away from the church. As I came to see that I could be Christian through my own interpretations of biblical revelation without stifling my own spiritual growth, I also came to realize the fundamentalism that was starting to poison the pagan community. There are those in the pagan community who are challenged if you even reference a Jesus parable. I cannot judge this... many of us who came to paganism did so after being deeply wounded spiritually by the Christian Church. But at some point, for our own self-interest, to heal our own wounds, we have to forgive. I firmly believe that it is possible to be Pagan and Christian, just as it is possible to be Buddhist and Christian. Jesus had other sheep that were not of the Jewish fold. His sacrifice on the cross was for ALL humans, not just Jewish humans. Today the relevance of this message is forgotten, as tiny fractionalistic denominations claim that those in other Christian denominations are not really Christian. I believe that those who engage in interdenominational warfare are mocking Jesus' sacrifice. They are akin to those "lawyers" Jesus railed against:

"Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering." When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely. (Luke 11:52-53)

In recovering older traditions of Christianity and looking at them through the lens of pagan-identified facets of the one divine presence, I invite others to join me in melting that stone in our hearts. Why should we sacrifice a stream of divinity just because it has been misused and abused by misguided men? In order to heal our own wounds and help others heal theirs, we must go back through the past, searching out the lost and buried mystical traditions, murmuring name upon name, recoving the names of God/dess and celebrating them back into relevance.

"If Christianity can't recover its mystical tradition and teach it, it should just fold up and go out of business. It has nothing to offer." - Father Bede Griffiths


A Litany of Deliverance

From Patriarchy's dualism,
From Patriarchy's proneness to self-pity,
From Patriarchy's sentimentalism,
From Patriarchy's violence,
From Patriarchy's lack of imagination,
From Patriarchy's intellectual laziness,
From Patriarchy's lack of authentic curiosity,
From Patriarchy's separation of head from body,
From Patriarchy's separation of body from feelings,
From Patriarchy's preoccupation with sex,
From Patriarchy's fear of intimacy,
From Patriarchy's reptilian brain,
From Patriarchy's anthropocentrism,
From Patriarchy's cosmic loneliness,
From Patriarchy's crucifixion of Mother Earth,
From Patriarchy's envy and manipulation of children,
From Patriarchy's abuse of women,
From Patriarchy's homophobia,
From Patriarchy's righteousness,
From Patriarchy's idolatry of nationhood and national security,
From Patriarchy's forgetfulness of beauty and art,
From Patriarchy's impotence to heal,
From Patriarchy's sado-masochism,
From Patriarchy's parental cannibalism and devouring of its children,
From Patriarchy's lack of balance,
From Patriarchy's savaging of the earth,
From Patriarchy's quest for immortality,
From Patriarchy's ego,
From Patriarchy's waste of talent and resources, human and earth,
From Patriarchy's human chauvinism,
From Patriarchy's compulsion to go into debt to finance its bloated lifestyles,
From Patriarchy's matricide, spare us O Divine One.

- Source: The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, Matthew Fox



* Courtney Davis' Celtic Art

* The Book of Kells

* House of Breathings

* Creation Spirituality

* Staying Green: Resources and Ideas for Creation Spirituality

* Desert Flowers (Neil Douglas-Klotz of Prayers of the Cosmos and Desert Wisdom)

*The Celtic Cross: A Ritual

*Creation Dances - Dances of Universal Peace

* Celtic Christianity

* Celtic and Old English Worship

* Toby Griffen's Saint Dubricius page

Carl McColman


What's New with Llan Dobhran?

Elemental Prayer


Lammas Ritual


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Copyright © 1996-2000 Joan Schraith Cole.
Links checked July 4, 2000
Content updated December 6, 1998

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