The Hag at the crossroads, the Keeper of the Grail, the Guardian of the Stone of Destiny… these are just a few of the many images of Lady Sovereignty that call to us from the pages of tales and myths. Hers is an image that whispers to us of an ancient way, a way seemingly lost to the mists of the past. For many, Sovereignty seems a concept out of sync with modern society. Still, Sovereignty continues to call to us, to hold a place for us, as She waits patiently for us to remember.

Who or what is Sovereignty? Sovereignty is the state endowed by being sovereign, and sovereign is an old word for king or ruler. Websters New World Dictionary includes two other definitions for the word sovereign: 1) supreme in power, rank or authority; and 2) independent of all others [a sovereign state]. While these definitions offer a glimpse into Her nature, Sovereignty goes much deeper. To discover the truth of Her calling, we must turn to the ancient texts.

The old Irish story The Settling of Tara introduces us to the Celtic Wheel of Life and to Lady Sovereignty. According to this text, once, at the time of the Great Feast when all of the nobles and learned people of Ireland were to gather at Tara, the seat of the High King, it happened that the nobles realized that they had forgotten the intrinsic alignment of life and land. So the Great King sent for the wisest and most learned of the Druids of Ireland to help the people to remember. The Druid, a man called Fintan son of Bochru and survivor of the great flood, spoke of one even older and wiser than he, a “spirit-being” who taught Fintan the proper order of things. Fintan then relates that sacred order…

I will then impart to you the sacred teachings of a wheel in whose spirit you will live. From this spirit you will work toward inner and outer harmony The wheel will become the center of your life.

Knowledge dwells in the West, it is where we soak in wisdom; battle dwells in the North, the only true battle being the one within, it is where we go to test ourselves, to challenge ourselves, to refine ourselves; prosperity dwells in the East, it is where we learn of the bounty of life and how to share it; music dwells in the South, the place where we heal our senses and remember the Great Song; and sovereignty dwells in the Center, where we are in right standing with our destiny, the people around us, and the earth beneath us, as it always has been, as it will be from now until the end of time.

(Excerpts from The Celtic Way of Seeing)

Sovereignty dwells in the center. She is the place at the heart of all experience, the place where all experience is integrated, the place of balance, the place where soul and experience meet. Being sovereign is more than just ruling, therefore; it is ruling in a way that ensures and upholds “right standing,” upholds the Sacred Harmony. It is leadership, kingship that upholds balance and flow, that allows equanimity between all the experiences and manifestations of the Airts – North, East, South and West – and that rules in harmony with earth and soul.

Celtic mysticism draws our exploration of Sovereignty one step deeper, for the Goddess of the Land Herself, the soul of the land, is called Sovereignty in the Celtic tradition. As Caitlín Matthews writes in Sophia: Goddess of Wisdom, Mother Sovereignty is a cauldron Goddess, one who gifts “empowering cups and cauldrons of rebirth,” like the Grail itself, to “[empower] the one who will aid the land and accept it exactly as it appears.” In fact, to be a king according to the ancient ways was to marry the land, to align soul with the soul of Lady Sovereignty, an act known as the Sacred Marriage. If the king broke the Sacred Harmony, the land became a wasteland. If the king kept and upheld Sacred Harmony, then the land thrived as Sovereignty bestowed Her blessing.

This concept of the Sacred Marriage can seem far removed from our modern lives, but in truth it is not. The Celtic Wheel of Life demonstrates that we, each of us, have the potential to be sovereign. Furthermore, the ancient story of The Settling of Tara tells us that “Maintaining the proper order of things is the responsibility of us all, king, druid, and commoner alike.” How can we engage this responsibility? We can marry the land of our lives, the land of our own personal Wheel.

Many shamanic traditions recognize the concept of the Sacred Garden, a place in the Otherworld that is the private refuge of one individual soul. It is a personal landscape, one that may or may not resemble an actual garden, a place of sanctuary where everything in that landscape reflects some aspect of the person and her or his life. We, each of us, have a Sacred Garden, a landscape that is our own personal earth, the earth of our life. As shamanic practitioners we can journey to our Sacred Garden and marry the Lady Sovereignty of our Sacred Garden.

In marrying our own earth, we draw again into Sacred Alignment and waken Sovereignty within ourselves. This is the true practice, one of living in integrity, alignment and harmony. To do so, we must honor the land of ourselves, the land of our Sacred Garden, the land of our life just as it is. We must care-take that same land in harmony with the Sacred Harmony, and in doing both allow and integrate all the experiences of the Wheel. Thus we align self with divine Self, awaken our own inner Sovereign and discover the doorway to freedom.

As human beings, we live between Earth and Heaven as children and guardians of both and interacting with both in co-creation. The Celtic Wheel confirms this. As we move through the Airts, from gestation in the North, through birth in the East and becoming in the South, to harvest and return in the West and then back to gestation, we do so coming again and again to the center, to Sovereignty. With the Mother and Her gift of potential below us and with the Father and His gift of activation energy above us, we emerge into manifestation through Their lovemaking. We emerge into life to stand between Mother and Father in co-creation, centered in our life, centered in the Wheel of our life, in Sovereignty.

Chinese mystical tradition teaches that life has nine palaces, each associated with a direction, and that through our lifetimes we learn to perfect the qualities of those nine palaces. In essence, we live to become the sovereign of each one of those palaces. What if those nine palaces were really nine rooms in one great palace? The Celtic Wheel of Life is that great palace, with a room in each direction and a throne at the center. A throne, created by Sovereignty, imbued with Sovereignty and that needs, even longs for a sovereign. Each one of us is that sovereign. What if each one of us embraced that Sovereignty?

 First published in Sacred Hoop Magazine, Issue 68 2010


Green, Miranda J. Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend. 1992 Thames and Hudson, Ltd.

MacEowen, Frank. The Celtic Way of Seeing. 2007 New World Library.

Matthews, Caitlín, Sophia: Goddess of Wisdom Bride of God. 2001 Quest Books.

Matthews, Caitlín and John. The Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom. 1994 Element Books.

Matthews, John. Healing the Wounded King. 1997 Element Books.