Word has come to us that noted Celtic scholar, linguist, and author Alexei Kondratiev passed away last night due to an apparent heart attack. His writings on Celtic religion and spirituality, which included the ground-breaking book “The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual”, were highly influential on both Celtic-oriented Druidic groups and the nascent Celtic Reconstructionist movement. He was a passionate defender of Celtic language and culture, and regularly advocated that Pagan religions that drew from Celtic culture should immerse themselves in the living Celtic languages and communities.
“For those of us who speak only English, the treasure-trove of the Celtic consciousness is still behind a locked door. But the key to unlock the door is there, within our grasp. Anyone of us can, at any moment, decide to fit the key to the lock and be on the other side.”
In addition to his insightful writings, Kondratiev was fluent in all six extant Celtic languages, and conducted classes on the Irish language at the Irish Arts Center in New York since 1985. Kondratiev was also an officer in the Celtic League American Branch, a board member of the now-dormant group Imbas (which hosts many of his online writings), and co-led the Protean Mnemosynides Coven with his partner Len Rosenberg (Black Lotus). He even wrote a comic-book about a Druid that immersed the character within Celtic culture. His wide-ranging and influential participation in the modern Pagan movement can not be adequately measured, but suffice to say he had a huge impact on many individuals, myself included.
“The battle is not over yet. The six Celtic languages are still alive, if not well. In them are stored, as on a disk, several millennia of a people’s unique experience, waiting to be given a new dynamic expression by that generation who will dare to break the colonial shackles of fear and self-doubt. Now more than ever do we need the devil-may-care valour of the Celtic warrior. Now more than ever do we need the druidic clarity of vision, the bardic ability to draw resources from the unlimited potential of the Otherworld. We must, as they did, have the imagination to give flesh to life-giving myth, and the will to work its pattern into our existence. Time is indeed short. Everyone of us who has felt the beauty of the Celtic world-vision must act, each in our individual ways, now, before it is too late. Gwnewch rywbeth!! Do something!!”
All honor to Alexei Kondratiev, may his journey to the Otherworld reunite him with his ancestors, and provide him communion with his gods. My deepest condolences to his partner, Len, his family, friends, and co-religionists.