Alexei Kondratiev (1949–2010) was an American author, linguist, and teacher of Celtic languages, folklore and culture. He taught the Irish language and Celtic history at the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan, New York from 1985 until his death on May 28, 2010. Nine editions of his book, The Apple Branch, were published in English and Spanish between 1998 and 2004. At various times, he taught all six of the living Celtic languages.
A long-time member of the Mythopoeic Society, Kondratiev was the Scholar Guest of Honor at the organization's Mythcon 33 convention in 2002, papers coordinator for Mythcon 39 in 2008, and maintained a book review column in its publication, Mythlore. In 2010, the society named a new award after Kondratiev, the Alexei Kondratiev Memorial Student Paper Award, to be presented for the first time at its Mythcon 41 convention in Dallas, July 9–12, 2010.
On the File 770 science fiction fandom blog, Ken Gale reported that Kondratiev "spoke over 60 languages and was fluent in 13 to 20 of them." In the Northeast Tolkien Society's tribute to Kondratiev, co-chairs Anthony S. Burdge and Jessica J. Burke reminisced about how he offered advice on the pronunciation of key Algonquian terms for a paper at Mythcon 37 in 2006, and his passion for the Polynesian culture and language at the Hawaii Mythcon.
Kondratiev encouraged students to think of language as a tool to connect with and understand the culture of its people. The collection of languages he acquired included the Native American languages of Cherokee, Lenape, Lakota, and Navajo.
Born on February 14, 1949 in New York, son of a Russian father and French mother, Kondratiev became fluent in the languages spoken by his parents: Russian, French and English. English was the later of these three languages; he did not speak it until he started school in New York. He was the eldest of six children, with four sisters and one brother.
Kondratiev grew up in both New York City and Bourgogne, France, as he traveled back and forth between the home of his parents in New York City and his grandparent's home in the Saone Valley. His interest in the Celtic culture began as a child, exploring the ancient Celtic ruins near his grandparent's home in eastern France. He began learning the Irish language from library books.
In the 1960s, Kondratiev studied the Celtic languages and culture while traveling through Brittany, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. He lived for a while among native speakers of the Irish language on Inishmaan, the middle island of the Aran Islands group, where he acquired fluency in Irish Gaelic. During that period, the Aran Islands were still home to elderly Gaeilge monoglots.
A graduate of New York's Columbia University (anthropology and linguistics), Kondratiev also studied Celtic philology at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Paris. His studies at both schools included archaeology. During the 1970s, he took music courses at the Mannes College in New York.
A frequent participant and occasional speaker at science fiction conventions, Kondratiev met Judy Harrow at a science fiction convention in the early 1980s. During an interview at the Etheracon convention in Poughkeepsie in January 1993, Kondratiev commented about how Harrow practiced a "heretic" form of Gardnerian Wicca he found appealing. He attributed his gradual attraction to Neopaganism in the 1980s to his contact with science fiction fans who had become Neopagans. When he met Harrow, Kondratiev still considered himself a Christian, and continued to identify himself as such throughout the 1980s while attending Neopagan religious ceremonies.
"Children of Memory"
Although he did not join Harrow's Proteus Coven, Kondratiev was initiated into the "Proteus tradition" by Night Rainbow. After his initiation, he joined Mnemosynides Coven. This group was founded by Len Rosenberg (known in the Neopagan community as "Black Lotus") with Erich Heinemann ("Ophion") in 1988. Mnemosynides, which means "Children of Memory," was named after the titaness of Greek mythology, Mnemosyne. Mnemosynides Coven belonged to the Protean-Gardnerian tradition of Wicca, which originated with Judy Harrow's Proteus Coven. Kondratiev remained a member of Mnemosynides, and a Christian, until his death in 2010.
At the time of his death, Kondratiev had been high priest of Mnemosynides for more than 20 years. In her "Memoriam" to the group's former high priest, published by Circle Sanctuary, Mnemosynides high priestess Lisa Bodo explained how he taught her the importance of "the bridge between Celtic Paganism and early Celtic Christianity." He did not consider his Neopagan and Christian beliefs to be in conflict and never renounced his Christianity.
Guest speaker and teacher
His knowledge of Celtic mythology and language made Kondratiev a frequent guest speaker at conventions, conferences and retreats, especially events with an emphasis on magic, Neopaganism or Wicca. He taught classes and served as program director for the Esotericon convention (which focused on science fiction, fantasy, magick and Neopaganism) in New Jersey from 1985 until 1991, when the convention discontinued. Then he served as a guest speaker for Ethericon, a similar convention which started operating in 1992 at Poughkeepsie, New York. In more recent years, Kondratiev has been a guest at the Sacred Space and Ecumenicon conferences in Maryland, and the CWPN Harvest Gathering in Connecticut. As a featured guest at the Chesapeake Pagan Summer Gathering (Maryland) in 2008, he recited 108 names of the Hindu goddess, Kali, at a puja led by Len Rosenberg.
An openly gay man, Alexei Kondratiev was often accompanied at conventions and conferences by his life partner, Len Rosenberg (1951-2010), who died less than five months after Kondratiev on October 15, 2010. He participated in New York's Gay Pride March and other gay pride parades, and faithfully attended New York Bear Den, a gay men's group in Queens.
His friends remember Kondratiev as an avid bird watcher. Queens was one of his favorite locations for studying birds, as well as a center for cultural diversity. He commented that over 100 different species of birds could be observed in a single day while walking through the park in Queens. Birds and animals are one of the interests Alexei Kondratiev had for all of his life.
- Devoted to You: Honoring Deity In Wiccan Practice. Co-authored with Judy Harrow, Geoffrey W. Miller, and Marueen Reddington-Wilde. Kensington Publishing Corp. (2003). ISBN 0-8065-2392-1.
- Celtic Rituals: A Guide to Ancient Celtic Spirituality. Scotland: New Celtic Pub. (1999). ISBN 1-902012-18-6.
- The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual. Cork, Ireland: The Collins Press (1998). American edition: Citadel Press (2003). ISBN 0-8065-2502-9.
- Learning the Celtic languages: a resource guide for the student of Irish, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Breton, Manx, or Cornish. Co-authored with Liam O Caiside. New York: Celtic League American Branch (1991).
- Dangerous Times, Featuring Beleagean Days and Vidorix the Druid, Evolution Comics (1989). A series of six comic books, with Vidorix the Druid by Alexei Kondratiev and Beleagean Days by Margie Spears. Artwork for Vidorix the Druid was by Jim Fletcher, Don Hudson, Jordan Raskin and Sandu Florea. The series of six comic books published under the trade name, Evolution Comics, by Ken Gale and Mercy Van Vlack in 1989, is unrelated to a comic book publisher with the same trade name founded by Nicholas Ahlhelm in 2007.
Significant articles and papers
- "Samhain: Season of Death and Renewal". An Tríbhís Mhór: The IMBAS Journal of Celtic Reconstructionism, volume 2, issue 1/2, Samhain 1997, Iombolg 1998.
- "Basic Celtic Deity Types". IMBAS website. Retrieved 2010-06-01.
- "Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch to Live: an Enquiry into Biblical Mistranslation." Enchante, Number 18 (1994). pp. 11–15.
Contributions to periodicals
Alexei Kondratiev also contributed articles about folkore, mythology and Celtic culture to the following publications.
- Mythlore. Semi-annual journal of the Mythopoeic Society.
- Mythprint. Monthly bulletin of the Mythopoeic Society.
- Keltoi. Magazine published by the Celtic League American Branch.
- CARN. Quarterly magazine of the International Celtic League.
- Keltria: A Journal of Druidism and Keltic Magick. Quarterly publication by the Henge of Keltria, an organization of modern Druids.
- Six Nations, One Soul. Quarterly newsletter of the Celtic League American Branch.
- Butterbur's Woodshed. Mythopoeic Society's discussion group.
Radio show guest
- Nuff Said!, a radio show devoted to comic books and related subjects, produced by Ken Gale for WBAI radio. Alexei Kondratiev was a guest on five of the show's broadcasts from 1993 to 2002, speaking on the subjects of comic books, Celtic culture, mythology, history, and works of J. R. R. Tolkien. Notes in the show's archives for February 5, 2002, when Kondratiev talked about Tolkien, claimed that he could also speak Elvish, but did not identify which of the Elvish languages fabricated from Tolkien's stories.
- Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade, a radio show about radical environmentalism, produced by Bill Weinberg for WBAI radio. Kondradiev was an occasional guest of the show, talking about the works of J. R. R. Tolkien.
- "Eco-Logic," a radio show on environmental issues, produced for WBAI-FM by Ken Gale. Alexei was on the Dec. 29, 2009 episode speaking on "Natural Cycles." 
- Myth Woodling (August 24, 2010). "Alexei Kondratiev, 1949-2010". Yet Another Wiccan Website. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
- "Alexei Kondratiev - Irish Language, History of Celtic Revival". Irish Arts Center. Retrieved 2010-05-30
- "Alexei Kondratiev (1949–2010)" File770. Retrieved 2010-05-30
- “Student Paper Award Named In Honor of Alexei Kondratiev”. Mythopoeic Society (June 9, 2010). Retrieved 2010-06-10
- "The Art of the Celtic Calendar". Text by Mercy Paddock Van Vlack with Alexei Kondratiev. Celtic League American Branch website. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
- "The Quarterly Feasts". Text by Alexei Kondratiev. Celtic League American Branch website. Retrieved 2010-06-11
- Anthony S. Burdge and Jessica J. Burke (July 19, 2010). Remembering Alexei Kondratiev. The Northeast Tolkien Society. Retrieved 2010-08-16
- Lisa Bodo (August 2010). Alexei Kondratiev: In Memoriam. Circle Sanctuary. Retrieved 2010-08-19
- Alexei Kondratiev's Facebook profile states that his date of birth was February 14, 1949. Retrieved 2010-07-24.
- Ellen Evert Hopman and Lawrence Bond (2001). Being a pagan: Druids, wiccans, and witches today. pp. 21–25.
- "Alexei Kondrativ in New York" BBC article in srl abroad (December 2004). Retrieved 2010-06-01.
- "Multi-culturalism's great exemplar". The Keane Edge. See blog note posted by Oliver Gogarty (June 8, 2010) about Irish monoglots and music classes.
- See biography on p. 89 of Devoted to You: Honoring Deity In Wiccan Practice.
- Eternal Haunted Summer Pagan Songs and Tales. (October 3, 2009).
- "Speakers 2004". CWPN’s Harvest Gathering (September 2004).
- "Len Rosenberg (Black Lotus) 1951-2010." The Wild Hunt blog (October 17, 2010). Retrieved 2010-10-20.
- "Memorial to Black Lotus". Another Wicca Website. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
- Ken Gale (July 30, 2010). "Evolution-ary Thoughts". Nuff Said! comic book radio show. Retrieved 2010-08-17
- IMBAS Journal, (Samhain 1997). Retrieved 2010-05-31.
- See reprint of article at Proteus Coven website. Retrieved 2010-05-31
- Mythcon 33. Guest speaker biography. Mythopoeic Society (July 2002). Retrieved 2010-06-01
- Nuff Said! Guest List Nuff Said! radio show. Retrieved 2010-08-18
- "Eco-Logic Past Guests". Retrieved June 13, 2013.