Celtic Wicca: A Complete Overview of Irish Witches and Celtic Witchcraft

This article will help you understand Celtic Wicca and Irish witchcraft.

The history of Ireland is rich with tales of magic and superstition, from the folklore of the Tuatha De Danann to the legendary banshees that haunt the countryside.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Irish folklore is the story of the witches. In this article, we will take a deep dive into the world of Irish witches, exploring their beliefs, practices, and the cultural significance they hold in the Emerald Isle.

The Origins of Irish Witchcraft

The origins of witchcraft in Ireland can be traced back to the ancient Celts, who believed in the power of magic and the supernatural.

They believed in a pantheon of gods and goddesses, known as the Celtic deities, who governed the elements and the forces of nature.

In this polytheistic worldview, the Celts believed that everything in the world was alive and imbued with magical power, including the trees, animals, and even the land itself.

This perspective forms the foundation of Celtic mythology, which has deeply influenced the practices of Celtic Wicca and Celtic Neopagans.

The Celtic practice of magic was known as druidry, which was passed down through the generations by an oral tradition.

The druids were considered to be powerful magicians and healers, who were responsible for communicating with the gods and performing rituals for the benefit of the community.

The Christian Influence on Irish Witchcraft

With the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, the practice of witchcraft became shrouded in secrecy and fear. The church regarded witchcraft as a pagan belief and associated it with the devil and evil. As a result, many of the ancient Celtic beliefs and practices were suppressed and forbidden.

However, despite the church’s efforts to stamp out witchcraft, many of the ancient beliefs and practices continued to thrive in the rural communities of Ireland.

The Irish people continued to believe in the power of magic and the supernatural, and the witches remained a central figure in the country’s folklore and legends.

The Beliefs and Practices of Irish Witches

Irish witches were known for their use of herbs and plants, which were believed to have magical properties. They were also believed to be able to communicate with the spirits of the dead and to perform spells and rituals to bring good luck or to curse their enemies.

In Irish folklore, witches were often depicted as old women who lived on the fringes of society, practicing their magic in secret and helping the community when called upon. However, not all witches were seen as benevolent figures.

Some were believed to be in league with the devil and to use their magic for evil purposes.

One of the most famous beliefs associated with Irish witches was the practice of “shapeshifting,” or the ability to transform into an animal form. This was believed to be a way for the witches to escape detection and travel unseen to perform their magic.

An interesting example of an Irish witch is Alice Kyteler, who lived in the 14th century and was accused of practicing witchcraft.

She was the first person to be charged with witchcraft in Ireland, and her story has become legendary in the country’s folklore.

Despite her trials and tribulations, Alice Kyteler managed to escape punishment and flee the country, solidifying her place in history as one of Ireland’s most infamous witches.

Practicing Celtic Wicca in Modern Times

Celtic Wicca is a modern revival of ancient Celtic pagan beliefs, incorporating elements of Wicca, a modern pagan, witchcraft religion.

While Celtic Wicca draws inspiration from historical and cultural traditions, it has evolved to reflect contemporary spiritual practices and beliefs. It’s a bit hard to describe exactly how to be a Celtic Wiccan.

To me, it is simply understanding the myths and ancient practices and incorporating them into my own craft.

Here are some tips for practicing Celtic Wicca as a modern-day Wiccan:

Study Celtic mythology and folklore

Understanding the myths, legends, and stories of the ancient Celts is essential to practicing Celtic Wicca. Research books, websites, and online resources to learn about the gods and goddesses, heroes, and legends of Celtic mythology.

Connect with the natural world

Celtic Wicca places a strong emphasis on connecting with nature and the seasons. Spend time in nature, observe the cycles of the moon, and celebrate the eight sabbats of the Wiccan calendar.

Work with Celtic deities

Connecting with Celtic deities is a key aspect of Celtic Wicca. Choose a deity that resonates with you, and spend time learning about its qualities and attributes. You can create an altar to your chosen deity, and offer prayers and offerings to them.

Remember that your spiritual practice should reflect your individual beliefs, values, and experiences. The key to practicing Celtic Wicca is to stay true to yourself and to find joy and meaning in your spiritual journey.

Common Celtic Deities and Their Representations

The Celtic pantheon of gods and goddesses is vast and complex, encompassing a wide range of beliefs and traditions.

While each tribe and culture within the Celtic world had its own specific deities, there were some that were widely recognized and worshipped throughout the Celtic world.

These common Celtic deities played a central role in the religious and cultural life of the ancient Celts, and they continue to be revered and worshipped by modern-day Celtic neopagans and Wiccans.

Here are some of the most well-known Celtic deities.


The goddess of fire, inspiration, and the arts, Brigid is one of the most revered and beloved deities in the Celtic pantheon. She was associated with the hearth, home, and family, and was worshipped as the patron goddess of poets and musicians.


The horned god of nature and fertility, Cernunnos was worshipped as the lord of the animals and the wild. He was associated with the cycle of life, death, and rebirth, and was seen as the bringer of abundance and prosperity.


The mother goddess, Danu was revered as the source of all life and the nurturer of the land and its people. She was associated with fertility, wisdom, and the rivers, and was seen as the embodiment of the primal forces of nature.


The god of light and the arts, Lugh was worshipped as the patron of smiths, bards, and other artisans. He was associated with the harvest and the sun, and was seen as a protector of his people and a bringer of victory in battle.

These common Celtic deities, along with many others, were worshipped in various ways, including rituals, sacrifices, and offerings.

They played an important role in the lives of the ancient Celts, and their influence can still be felt in the beliefs and practices of modern-day pagan and Wiccan communities.

The Cultural Significance of Irish Witches

Despite the fear and suspicion that surrounded them, the witches of Ireland held a special place in the country’s culture and folklore. They were seen as a symbol of the ancient magic and traditions of the Celts, and their stories and legends continue to be told and passed down from generation to generation.

The belief in witchcraft and the supernatural is deeply ingrained in the Irish psyche and continues to play a role in the country’s cultural identity.

This is reflected in the popularity of modern-day pagan and Wiccan practices, which draw upon the ancient traditions of the Celts and the beliefs of the Irish witches.

In Ireland, the celebration of Samhain, one of the oldest pagan holidays, is still observed today. It is a time when the veil between the living and the dead is believed to be at its thinnest, and it is a time for remembering the dead and paying homage to the spirits of the ancestors.

This celebration, along with other pagan holidays, reflects the deep connection between the Irish people and their ancestral beliefs, and the enduring influence of the witches on the country’s cultural heritage.

celtic wicca and irish witchcraft

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Celtic word for witch?

The Celtic word for witch is “drùidh” in Scottish Gaelic and “draoi” in Irish Gaelic.

What is the Irish school of witchcraft?

The Irish school of witchcraft, also known as the Irish tradition of Wicca, is a specific style of Wicca that draws upon the mythology, folklore, and spiritual practices of ancient Ireland.

This tradition emphasizes a strong connection to the land and its spirits and often incorporates elements of Druidism, herbalism, and the worship of the ancient Irish gods and goddesses.

How many witches were burned in Ireland?

The exact number of witches burned in Ireland is not known, but it is believed to be significantly lower than the number in other European countries during the witch hunts of the 16th and 17th centuries. In Ireland, the penalty for witchcraft was typically banishment rather than death.

What was the Irish Witchcraft Act 1586?

The Irish Witchcraft Act of 1586 was a law passed by the English government in Ireland that made witchcraft a capital crime. Under this act, those accused of practicing witchcraft could be sentenced to death by burning or hanging.

The act remained in force until 1735 when it was repealed as part of a broader reform of the English legal system.

What are Irish pagan beliefs?

Irish pagan beliefs are a diverse set of spiritual and religious practices that are based on the indigenous folklore, mythology, and spiritual traditions of ancient Ireland.

These beliefs often emphasize a connection to the natural world, the worship of the ancient Irish gods and goddesses, and the celebration of seasonal and life cycle events.

What are the 9 schools of magic?

The 9 schools of magic are a concept found in some traditions of modern Wicca and neo-paganism.

These schools are typically categorized based on the type of magic they practice, including elemental magic, divination, healing, and others. The exact number and categorization of schools can vary between different traditions.

What was the Irish Witchcraft Act?

The Irish Witchcraft Act was a series of laws passed in Ireland during the 16th and 17th centuries that made witchcraft a crime.

These laws were enacted by the English government in Ireland and imposed severe penalties, including death, for those accused of practicing witchcraft. The act was eventually repealed in 1735.

Who was the first witch?

The origin of witchcraft and the identity of the first witch are not definitively known. The practice of witchcraft has been part of human culture for thousands of years and has taken many different forms in different cultures and time periods.

What was the Witchcraft Act of 1542?

The Witchcraft Act of 1542 was a law passed by the English Parliament that made witchcraft a crime for the first time in English law. Under this act, those accused of practicing witchcraft could be sentenced to death by hanging.

The act remained in force until 1735 when it was repealed as part of a broader reform of the English legal system.

Who is the Irish god of magic?

In Irish mythology, the god of magic is often associated with the god Lugh, who was worshipped as the patron of smiths, bards, and other artisans. Lugh was also associated with the harvest and the sun and was seen as a protector of his people and a bringer of victory in battle.

What is an Irish Fae?

An Irish Fae, also known as a faerie or fairy, is a supernatural being from Irish folklore and mythology. You can check out that article for an in-depth description and guide to the Fae.


The story of Irish witches is a rich and fascinating chapter in the country’s history, and it provides a window into the beliefs and practices of the ancient Celts.

Despite the fear and suspicion that surrounded them, the witches of Ireland hold a special place in the country’s folklore and cultural identity, and their legacy continues to inspire and captivate the people of the Emerald Isle.

Whether you believe in the power of magic or not, the story of the Irish witches is an important part of the country’s rich cultural heritage, and it is a legacy that should be celebrated and remembered.

Like me, you can honor and carry on the tradition of Celtic Wicca by incorporating many of its ancient traditions into your own craft and practice.


  1. Adler, M. (2006). Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today. Beacon Press.
  2. Hutton, R. (1999). The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft. Oxford University Press.
  3. Monaghan, P. (2002). The Book of Celtic Myths. Thorsons.
  4. Green, M. (1997). The Gods of the Celts. Sutton Publishing Ltd.
  5. O hOgain, D. (2000). The Sacred Island: Pre-Christian Ireland. Capall Bann Publishing.
  6. Ross, A. (1995). Pagan Celtic Britain: Studies in Iconography and Tradition. Routledge.
  7. The Book of Irish Witches. (2020). Irish Central. https://www.irishcentral.com/culture/history/book-of-irish-witches
  8. Witch Trials in Ireland. (2022). History.com. https://www.history.com/topics/witch-trials/witch-trials-in-ireland.