I appreciate how author Rhonda McCrimmon shows some of the similarities between Celtic spirituality and other traditions such as yoga and Buddhist meditation. I suspect that Celtic spirituality is much richer and more complex than what she has presented here. (For example, there’s no treatment of deities.) But this is a quick read and a good introduction. 

Rhonda McCrimmon is a native of Scotland who found her way around the spiritual counterculture of the West before she arrived at Celtic shamanism which, she notes, is also called Seership in Scotland. It’s a tradition, she writes, that “was suppressed by Christian conquerors, just like so many other spiritual traditions around the world.” 

The Celts were ancient ethnic groups who lived in areas from Britain to the Black Sea. They likely wouldn’t have called themselves “shamans,” as that linguistic term comes from mystical cultures elsewhere, namely Eurasia. McCrimmon’s point in using the term “shamanism” seems to be that in pre-modern cultures, you wouldn’t have had to ask someone if their local mountain is scared or if following one’s own intuition is a good idea. These premises were taken for granted. They were embedded in cultures. 
McCrimmon writes that “part of the work of Celtic shamanism today is to reanimate the world – to reverse the cultural trends that numb us to the humming, buzzing burrowing forms of life that surround us.  In this sense, shamanism is an act of deep and radical remembering.”  It’s also, she notes, “a rebellious act, because in doing so you are reclaiming your own direct connection with the divine.”

The book title pays homage to two of the practical tools used in Celtic spirituality: cauldrons and drums. “My drum,” McCrimmon writes, “transports me across the thin veil that hangs between ordinary consciousness and the depths of my psyche; and my cauldron grounds and nourishes me, reminding me to tend my energy just as carefully as I would tend a simmering stew.”

The book is organized around the three inner cauldrons which are “responsible for storing and cultivating energy within every human being.” The inner cauldrons are energy centers in the human body. The lower cauldron, known as coire goriath, is analogous to the root chakra in yogic systems. The middle cauldron, the coire erma, is similar to the heart chakra. The highest cauldron, the coire sois, resembles the crown chakra. These three centers can be seen as emphasizing the physical, emotional and more purely spiritual aspects of one’s being. This view of cauldrons as lower, middle, and higher reminds one of shamanic understandings of three “worlds” or three realms of reality.  

Mostly this book is about how to pay daily attention to the energies of one’s inner cauldrons. 

The practice with inner cauldrons, McCrimmon writes, is to pay attention to their state on a daily basis. “Are they empty, simmering nicely, or boiling over?” Simple practices such as Saining, or imbuing a sense of the sacredness into a person, place or object, with breath, gestures, and words of invocation, are done with the intent of balancing the inner cauldrons by cultivating a sense of wholeness in each center of one’s being. 

“How do you know if your three cauldrons are coming into balance? It starts with a sense of deep inner wellness,” McCrimmon concludes. 

Each of the book’s short chapters includes exercises for meditation. There are also journal prompts for working with difficult emotions.  This book is good medicine for anyone devoted to the integration of spiritual practices into the daily routines of life.  

~review by: Sara R. Diamond

Author:  Rhonda McCrimmon
Hierophant Publishing, 2024
192 pp., $19.99