Gathering at the hearth of wisdom
"I walk through God towards God, because it is the most mysterious and yet the most intimate experience and invitation to my own authenticity there can be ….. I choose the Céile Dé path on that adventure because it sings the song of the land through which I travel and it does so with the voice of the enlightened ancestors ..." Sr Fionntulach
The annual teaching retreats are where we learn teachings and practices from the beautiful ancient Céile Dé Tradition. But that is far from all we get from a retreat.
When we gather on retreat, we come together as a family, bound by ties of love rather than of blood. The Caim ( our community ) is our spiritual family.
Where does a family gather? In terms of our past culture, a family gathers round the fire, at the hearth in the centre of the home. The fire gives them warmth. They cook their food on it to nourish themselves. They share in stories and song. And they welcome strangers into their midst.
This beautiful concept seems to us to be encapsulated in the Gaelic word “teinntean”. It means “fireside”, a “hearth”, a “circle of peats drying by the fire”, all of which conjure up images of the hearth in the home and the people gathered and working around it. “Teinntean” can also mean “furnace” or “forge”, which has connotations of being tried or tested by fire – a symbol of the spiritual life.
All of these things we do in retreats. We come home to the circle of our spiritual family. We warm ourselves at the fire of our shared commitment, and the closeness of our fellow seekers. We get nourishment for our souls, from the teachings, the practices and the sacred silence. We hear and tell stories and myths. We sing our Fuinn (sacred chants). And we welcome anyone who seeks spiritual nourishment in this circle.
We hope these images speak to caimeachs (community members) and non-caimeachs alike. Those who come across the Céile Dé site and find themselves wondering if they might attend a teaching retreat are most welcome to attend, providing there are places available.
How to pronounce 'Teinntean'
Click here for word definition and hear audio pronunciation at the online Gaelic dictionary LearnGaelic.net
a circle of peats drying by the fire
** Main 'Teinteann' Photograph courtesy of The Scottish Crannog Centre, Loch Tay, Near Aberfeldy. Many thanks for their kind permission to use this beautiful image of the hearth inside the crannog ( a crannog is an ancient fortified dwelling constructed in a lake or marsh in Scotland or Ireland.)