These aren’t really frequently asked questions, but they are questions/101 type information I imagine a lot of people might ask about my various identities/communities and interests.
What’s the difference between/Which term should I use?
1) Celtic, Irish, Scottish, British, Druid
2) Pagan, Heathen
3) Unitarian Universalist
4) Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Neurodiversity
5) Political labels
Part 1: Celtic, Irish, Scottish, British
Celtic– (pronounced with hard C unless you’re referring to the Boston hockey team) refers to a language family, there are 2 branches- the Goidelic or Gaelic- consisting of Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic & Manx, and Brythonic- consisting of Welsh, Breton and Cornish.
British– from the island of Great Britain, the United Kingdom (Britain & Northern Ireland) Some people do not like the term “British Isles” for political reasons, but a more satisfactory term has not become widely accepted enough, so I still use it. English, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish and Manx are all ethnic and cultural identities- it is usually acceptable to refer to all as British, but not as English!
Irish Diaspora– people of Irish descent scattered throughout the world (diaspora comes from a Greek word meaning scattered, and is used for many other ethnic and cultural groups- Jewish, Black/African Diaspora etc) Diasporae is plural.
Druids- a broad range of people call themselves Druids, in Britain & Europe it tends more towards being a pantheistic nature-based philosophy with influences from metaphysical and Western Mystery Traditions, and some similarities with Wicca. This type is called Revival Druidry, and Isaac Bonewits called it Meso-Druidry, though they tend to not like that term. Druid groups which arose in the United States tend to be more specifically polytheistic and based on research about Celtic cultures, Isaac called them Neo-Druids. Other druid groups are more political or fraternal in nature. Druid organizations are typically called “orders”, and groups or congregations are called groves, nemetons (that’s Gaulish for grove) or circles- gorsedd in Welsh. I am a member of ADF, Ar nDraiocht Fein, Our Own Druidism, which was founded by Isaac Bonewits.
Part 2: Pagan, Heathen You may have encountered these terms in a negative sense to mean unbeliever, infidel, savage etc. These words have been reclaimed by people who self-identify with them, as we revive, reconstruct pre-Christian/Islamic religions or create new religions- typically with an emphasis on nature and ritual, often use of magic and divination and theology that can vary from monism, pantheism, animism to polytheism and agnosticism. I *do not* use either word to describe Native American, African, Asian or other religions- even when I recognize commonalities, unless individual members or groups within those religions choose to identify as such.
Part 3: I’m also a Unitarian Universalist. This is a liberal non-creedal denomination that arose from a merger between the British Unitarians (who still exist as a separate group) and the American Universalist movements. They were both heterodox forms of Christianity (that is not affirming the Nicene/Apostles’ Creed) Not to be confused with- Unity, a New Thought form of Christianity (it’s a cousin of Christian Science) Especially since I belong to Unity Unitarian Church! There are also Unitarian Christians in Transylvania, and the American Unitarian Association, which broke off from the UUA to re-emphasize the Christian roots of the tradition.