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sionnach
24 Jul 2015, 20:59
I found myself connecting the best with Celtic paganism and am interested in learning more about what we do know about the beliefs are associated with Celtic paganism especially in the British Isles. I now understand the Irish tales written by the monks has aspects of Pre-Christian beliefs but it was influenced heavily by the writers who were no longer pagan. Despite this there appears to be much from archeological , comparative anthropology, and careful evaluation of the writings and folklore that was preserved. I was interested in what other people have found to be true ( in the sense of being as close as we can to what was believed) about them. Their relationship to the gods/goddesses. The relationship of goddesses to the land. The difference when compared to the gods and goddesses of Rome. Any input would be appreciated.

monsno_leedra
25 Jul 2015, 17:12
To be honest when I was studying about Celtic social and spiritual practices it got more confusing than solving. Mostly because so many tried to make a Celtic Pantheon of gods / goddesses and semi-divine beings yet Celtic is a language group not a people. As such what applied to one tribe did not specifically apply to any other's and the aspects that did were not always the same or even the same names.

Even looking at the known Celtic tribes in Britain alone produced a lot of conflicting theories as to what their cultural, social and spiritual beliefs and practices actually were or looked like. When you expanded it to include Ireland, Wales, Scotland and even some of the French peoples you only discovered that the Irish were the main Celtic group that had an detailed stories that were well known and recorded. The Welsh had many tales of their own but those seemed to fall more into the Arthurian legends and such vice the Irish tales.

It's like I found quit a bit of difference between the P variety of the language and the Q variety of the language. That in turn made quit a bit of difference in the stories and the surviving heroic tales. It's like Cernnunos as far as I know has only been identified on two pieces of crafted items and one of those is implied to be him not that it is actually known to be him. Yet he is a central figure it seems when people speak about the Celtic people.

I truly do not believe you can do a true pantheon comparison to any well defined and established pantheon such as Hellene, Roman, Egyptian, Teutonic or Nordic. You might be able to do a compare and contrast of specific divinities but the social order and political / cultural influences are not to be found.

Honestly I'd suggest trying to focus upon a certain known tribe or perhaps a certain known geographical area vice trying to focus upon an assumed Celtic Pantheon. Of course just my own opinion so others may disagree.

Tylluan Penry
26 Jul 2015, 02:28
Try reading books by Marion Green or Anne Ross. Both academics (nice writing styles though) and both very sound. It's a good start.
Then remember that the Romans merrily syncretised most of the deities in the lands they conquered. So you will have quite a bit of unravelling to do. It really depends how far we want to go with it though.

sionnach
26 Jul 2015, 19:41
I appreciate your response very much. Growing up I learned much about Greek and Roman culture which presents an organized family of gods with specific attributes. I then learned of Norse gods and goddesses with some similar aspects yet not so organized. But I heard little about Celtic culture other than the Arthur Legends. When I started learning about Celtic culture I was first surprised that most of what we knew was from Ireland as you pointed out. Then I found it interesting that the island of Ireland (The only country I know that is named after a goddess) preserved Celtic pre-Christian culture and Iceland preserved what we know of Norse culture. What I am now trying to understand is the relationship of the Celtic goddesses to the land and that the gods and goddesses appear tribal or to a clan rather then the family of gods written down by the Irish monks. Do you have any ideas about this? And thank you again for responding because I am very interested in this subject.

- - - Updated - - -

I just finished Celtic Gods and Heroes by Sjoestedt and although it was not Celtic I also read 'Old Norse Religion in long-term perspectives" written by several authors after a conference in Lund Sweden in 2004. They were looking at how the religious practices and beliefs changed and were influenced both by Rome and then by Christianity. They looked at how archeology showed changes in rituals as the religion changed but I do not now a conference similar for the Celtic Religions. I am interested in looking deeper into the relationship of the Celtic people and their gods and goddesses beyond the way it is portrayed in the tales written by the Monks. I to appreciate the suggestions and will look into them.

sionnach
27 Jul 2015, 18:00
The answer is I want to go much farther and am interested in finding people interested in Celtic paganism on a more in depth level. Unlike the gods of the Greeks/Romans the Celtic gods and goddesses share the earth and are not in a separate location as in Mount Olympus. There is a greater interaction between the Celtic spirits and gods/goddesses with the Celtic people but it occurs in the wild places and locations under the ground out in the wilderness. There is a greater association between Celtic deities and Nature. There is a blur between animal and humans certainty not seen in Abrahamic religions. Oisin has a semi-animal nature who is born from a doe named Saar and would have been a deer if the mother were to clean him with her tongue but instead she just licks his forehead were a tuft of fur is. Knowledge is found in nature thus the salmon of wisdom which feeds on the hazel nuts lives in the rives of which a person who drinks from all five rivers have considerable knowledge. Salmon are known for their awareness of the cycles of the earth and return to the site where they were born and respond to the cycles of nature. Cycles themselves are so important and celebrated. There is even the separation of the hero's of the tribe from the heroes outside of the tribe. I find that there is a strong connection of the goddess in particular to the land itself with female spirits or goddesses connected with the land and natural features. Even the magic appears to be associated with nature. These are some of the impressions I have gotten but am interested in how others see the relationship.

monsno_leedra
27 Jul 2015, 20:29
Sorry don't have any books or such as I truly do not recall the titles it's been so long now. You might want to check into the early Celtic Christian church and such. Figure a lot of early Celtic and Druid material crossed into the Celtic Church and had a significant influence upon it. I think a lot of it's influence stayed in Ireland so didn't quite undergo as much change. Sort of similar to how Irish Celtic lore was not lost nor modified nearly as much as that of Britain or mainland Europe.

DavidMcCann
28 Jul 2015, 09:10
I just finished Celtic Gods and Heroes by Sjoestedt
That's a good start! Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe, by Hilda Ellis Davidson, is also useful. The problem is not just how much material we've lost but how very local the religion was. Even if you take my version of Paganism, behind the well known Gods found in Athenian religion are all sorts of local divinities. If you lived at Epidauros, then the Gods who really mattered were Mneia and Azesia.

Do you know these sites?
http://www.paganachd.com/
http://www.gaolnaofa.com/about/faq/

thalassa
28 Jul 2015, 17:09
The answer is I want to go much farther and am interested in finding people interested in Celtic paganism on a more in depth level. Unlike the gods of the Greeks/Romans the Celtic gods and goddesses share the earth and are not in a separate location as in Mount Olympus.

So...I think this is a huge misunderstanding of Greek and Roman mythology. First off, there are more than just a dozen big name gods in either pantheon...and these twelve only the gods for a portion of the history of either people. Secondly, these gods come after an earlier almost animistic primordial deities. The Greek gods are the earth--Gaia's body *is* the Earth (also the sea--Oceanos, the sky--Ouranos, etc.). The Olympic deities make their mythic home on Mt Olympus, certainly...but that is an actual place (specifically the Mytikas peak of the mountain (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Olympus)). Rome is slightly different in that many of their gods are gods of the polis rather than nature gods--deities of Rome (Anna Perenna (the year), Concordia (agreement, marital harmony), Libertas (liberty), Abundantia (abundance), Aequitas (equity), etc)...but the Dii themselves are complicated, and very much related to their Etruscan counterparts as their Greek ones. And Roman deities do have deities of the land as well... And that is before taking into account both the various lares of the Romans (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lares) or the naiads, dryads, and other nymphs of the Greeks (and Romans), and the daemons of the Greeks.





Personally (re the OP), I could never get into the Celtic mythology enough to care about any of the exclusively Celtic gods (and I never cared too much about the whole language family arguement--there's as much similarity as difference between all of the Indo-European originating religions when you look at them from the big picture. I have some dealings with Epona and Sulis Minerva, from a bioregional standpoint, and with Manannan mac Lir, and with Maman Brigitte from time to time...but thats about it.

(In my experience, the Celtic gods are fairly open to being part of a diaspora)

And with that being said, we have a reading list you might enjoy somewhere around here.. (here it is) (http://www.paganforum.com/showthread.php?9880-Celtic-Resources-Books-and-other-Media-list)

(http://www.paganachd.com/faq/readinglist.html)

sionnach
28 Jul 2015, 19:01
I must admit I am not as familiar with the roman nor greek gods as I am with Celtic. I do not understand your usage of dispora in reference to the Celtic gods. The term does not fit from what I know. My comments are related to Caesars issues with understanding Celtic gods and goddesses. One of the issues as I understand Celtic gods and goddesses is that they were more tribal or clan related than a group of gods/goddesses with differentiation in their specialties. I do agree that there were earlier aspects of greek and roman beliefs of spirits of the lands and waters as you mention but again I am not as familiar. Celtic goddesses were in particular associated with the land and land features to a much greater extent that roman goddesses were. Celtic goddesses are mother-goddesses in single or triple forms, local divinities, river goddesses animal goddesses, teachers, mothers, and incarnations of natural forces of fertility and destruction. The male Celtic gods were the father aspect, Chief gods, protector of the tribe, warrior magician and craftsman. In the last we see for instance both Dagda (just one of his titles) and Lug being experts in all aspects of craftsmanship without the division of different crafts to different gods. In addition the Celtic Gods and Goddesses dwell on the earth or In the earth in what is the sidhe. And I think (correct me if I am wrong). Heroes and kings was well as others of the mortal society could enter the sidhe and there was significant interaction between the those of the sidhe and the mortals on the land. This seems different than the relationship of the Greek and Roman gods and goddesses but as I have expressed I am not as familiar with their mythology and would appreciate being corrected if this is inaccurate. In fact that is why I joined the forum, to learn by expressing ideas and seeing how others see these subjects. I want to learn more and am not unwilling to correct what I think in view of better information. I did look at your list and have read some of the books included but look forward to learning more. I would love to have more interaction to challenge my understanding.

Tylluan Penry
29 Jul 2015, 00:04
Well, okay. The thing to remember is that you are looking at a period and at cultures (because you cannot lump 'British Celts' together in a single cell, they are very diverse over tiny areas) that did not write things down. Therefore just about everything we know about them will come from what others wrote about them, or from artefacts they made or used.

It is extremely difficult to generalise so when you make a statement (and I am NOT being critical here) 'Heroes and kings as well as others of the mortal society could enter the sidhe...' you really don't have much evidence to back that up. This is not a failing on your part - just a fact. Do we know how Celts thought of the sidhe? Not really. We might get an idea what others thought they knew, but that's never going to be the same.

If you are using myths and legends, then remember these are going to be like a palimpsest, layer upon layer, often the later ones being added by people whose beliefs were quite different from the original.

If you are using anything written by Caesar, do remember that he had his own agenda here. The De Bello Gallico, for example, was put together mainly from annual dispatches sent back to Rome to show how well he was doing and how difficult his task was. he was not really interested in the people he was writing about... only about how he could show himself and his actions in the best possible light. So yes, use his work (it's fascinating) but we always need to keep looking over our shoulders to see what else is out there.

And a final proviso - much of what people think of as Celtic is in fact Anglo-Saxon. Or an Anglo-Saxon version of Celtic which is even more baffling.
But I do wish you all the best with your search!

sionnach
30 Jul 2015, 18:53
Thank you for your response, that is exactly what I am looking for. You are right I must be careful not to make statements as facts but rather as impressions I get from what I read. I must admit when I am talking about Celtic pre-Christian I am really referring mainly to Irish beliefs. This is because most of what I can find is from Ireland so I have become more familiar with Irish mythology and folklore. How similar it is to the rest of the Celtic world I do not know.

But I still think Caesar's response is still telling of the difference between Roman and Celtic view of gods and goddesses. There was considerable use of Mercury to compare to the Celtic gods and he does not describe a family of gods and goddesses as seen in Roman mythology. From what I have read there is evidence that the gods and goddess were tribal meaning a god /goddess of a tribe thus the large number of gods and goddesses in which inscriptions have been found are because of all of the different tribes or clans each with a god/goddess associated. In Irish mythology there is a clear connection with the land and land features - rivers, lakes, mounds, hills. There is also a close association of the gods/goddesses and the natural world including the cycles of the world with the celebrations of Imbolc , Beltaine, Lughnasadh, and samhain. The concept of the salmon of knowledge and hazelnuts connecting knowledge to the natural world. These seem to be reasonable characteristics of at least Irish Celtic beliefs as I have found so far but I would like to know what others think.

thalassa
31 Jul 2015, 04:01
But I still think Caesar's response is still telling of the difference between Roman and Celtic view of gods and goddesses. There was considerable use of Mercury to compare to the Celtic gods and he does not describe a family of gods and goddesses as seen in Roman mythology. From what I have read there is evidence that the gods and goddess were tribal meaning a god /goddess of a tribe thus the large number of gods and goddesses in which inscriptions have been found are because of all of the different tribes or clans each with a god/goddess associated.

The problem with your assumption here is that you are talking about a specific time period in Roman history. Religion does not exist in a vacuum. It evolves as a part of the culture of the people. Roman history goes back over a thousand years before Caesar. The Roman view of the gods at this, much earlier, time period (which are some of the gods I include in my worship) looks very different than the view of the gods in the time period you are talking about, where their views have been influenced by the Classical and Hellenic period views of Greek culture and religion. During these earlier periods (as with the Archaic period in Greek history) religion (and culture) looks more similar to that other Indo-European cultures (such as the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons) than it does to the later periods in their respective histories...which makes sense, because these cultures (and religions) have a common origin.

Culture (including religion) behaves in similar ways that species do, over time. Cultures (and religions) adapt to changing times and new technologies, they react to changes in the environment (the hearts and minds of men, who is in turn influenced by their environment) by changing tenets and practices, they mutate with the introduction of impactful personalitites (Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Joseph Smith, etc), they often hybridize in the margins where two overlap, and they tend to split when their populations split and encounter different experiences. Religion is fairly slow to change when the culture is stable, and cultures tend to be stable when they don't have serious conflict (whether that is conflict with other peoples or with the environment or within themselves), and conflict tends to be minimal where there isn't much ecological stress. You cannot reliably understand a religion without looking at the greater culture from which it comes and the history of the people where it originates, and even then, you have to remember that the culture (and religion) of a particular people is only the culture of that people for a slice of time--as you move forward and backward in time, the culture changes, sometimes so much that it is indisinguishable in degree of difference from an entirely different culture.

With that having been said...I took Irish history at a local college, where it was taught by a guy that had come to the US from Ireland for his PhD (his area of specialty was Civil Rights movements) and met a local girl and decided to stay (Irish history taught in an Irish accent is just more fun). To paraphrase him, the theme of Irish history (maybe to a lesser extent Scotland, Wales and England; though Mrs P would be better equipped to answer that) is one of invasion and settlement, in which the newcomers become "more Irish than the Irish themselves"--the Celts were just one of many people that became part of that culture. I really recommend the book Britain Begins (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/dec/07/britain-begins-barry-cunliffe-review), for a more thourough understanding of the most up to date understanding of the early history of the British Isles, which (IMO) is essential to any understanding of the culture and history there (or for any Pagan religion, whether one is a reconstructionist or not). Among the first inhabitants that settled Ireland were a group of people that shared their ancestry with the Basque. I truly recommend reading (or perhaps rereading) the Leabhar Gabhla (The Book of Invasions), and looking at it as a history told as a metaphor, rather than as religious mythology.

Tylluan Penry
31 Jul 2015, 07:47
Yes, Thal, invasion is important, although we didn't have as many invasions as we feel we did! The thing about the Romans is that we have to view how they treated (and were treated by) the people they invaded from several angles:
1. that the Romans swamped everything in their wake. They did sometimes, not often.
2. That the invaded people resisted tooth and nail. (A bit like the Asterix stories.)
3. That the two cultures borrowed from each other to a greater or lesser extent.
4. That the two cultures (and of course there may even have been more) melded and produced something quite new.

One of the most fascinating areas of study for me is place names. It's surprising what can turn up there! Often we get a better idea from this of how the land was used and shaped.

sionnach
31 Jul 2015, 13:09
Yes, Thal, invasion is important, although we didn't have as many invasions as we feel we did! The thing about the Romans is that we have to view how they treated (and were treated by) the people they invaded from several angles:
1. that the Romans swamped everything in their wake. They did sometimes, not often.
2. That the invaded people resisted tooth and nail. (A bit like the Asterix stories.)
3. That the two cultures borrowed from each other to a greater or lesser extent.
4. That the two cultures (and of course there may even have been more) melded and produced something quite new.

One of the most fascinating areas of study for me is place names. It's surprising what can turn up there! Often we get a better idea from this of how the land was used and shaped.

I like you analysis. There is information that the Germanic tribes that resisted Rome and finally invaded Rome evidently liked the hierarchical structure of Rome and respected its power. This is a personal opinion but it seems that the Celtic and Germanic cultures were more oriented to individualism and separate groups of power whereas Rome was the quintessential centralized power with much clearer hierarchy. This proved to me a more powerful force and harder to resist than the Tribal or clan organization of the northern people. I find it not surprising that the roman church designed itself after the roman military pattern. This clearly helped it to eliminate all other forms of christianitiy from the ebionites to the gnostics to the marcionites. It is also why I think it was so successful at eliminating any pagan opposition. I also think the Kings /leaders of the Invading tribes saw the potential for this power structure and the advantage of Christianity with its clear power structure that could secure their power better over the older Germanic and Celtic concepts of ruling. Sorry I got off the topic but I find one of the interesting aspects of English history is that the Barons kept some power to themselves (thus magna carta) whereas the Kings in France gave the king greater power over their nobles. I think that concept is some residual ideas of the original peoples concepts of individualism over complete acceptance of central structure. Ok I really got off subject but I have often wondered if anyone else thought this.

- - - Updated - - -

I do agree with your comments about how religion changes. This was studied for Scandinavian paganism in a conference in 2004 in Lund Sweden with a book printed 'Old Norse Religions in Long Term perspectives' multiple authors. They see the change in Norse religion as different cultures especially the Roman one influenced the religion over time. They show archeological evidence for change in places for votive deposits from natural areas to within the structures of the village. The entire works written near the year 1000 shows a much more complex organization of the Norse gods/goddessses far removed from the original tribal gods and goddesses in pre-roman times.

This is probably similar to the Leabhar Gabhla written much later well after paganism had essentially died out as an organized religion. It to was probably influence by roman and other cultures which created a family of gods/goddesses which were more likely tribal/Clan linked to different regions than a true family of the Goddess Dana. I still think though within these tales are elements of the pre-Christian beliefs that can still be understood. That is why I want to know what other people think. I will try to get a copy Britain begins and would like your thoughts about what we can understand of pre-Christian Celtic beliefs.

Jembru
31 Jul 2015, 15:49
Sorry to join this a little late. I had to wait for a quiet shift at work to find time to reply properly. I work with local Celtic deities. I am not attempting to reconstruct the original religion, but I am definitely attempting to reinvent it! There wasn't a big pull towards the Celtic cultures of my ancestors that others have felt. It happened almost by accident for me. I was inspired to look to a more land-based path, and this led me to research local deities. I discovered there are many Roman shrines and inscriptions throughout the North East of England, that honoured local Celtic deities. I simply started there. My relationship and connection to these deities started to grow from there.

Finding much more than names and the parallels the Romans made to their own deities, isn't easy for deities in this area. Northumberland was one of the first areas to convert to Christianity, and much detail about how these people perceived and honoured their gods, was lost in the process. You'll most likely find that in the bulk of the titles recommended in this thread, the authors will point mainly to existing Celtic regions such as Ireland and Wales, with much less said of the Brythonic Celts.

As Tylluan points out, we know from archaeology that societies as close as Northumberland and Yorkshire likely had differences in their cultures, and so it can be argued that their precise methods of venerating the gods will have differed. However, one thing I have discovered, is that the gods themselves went on quite a journey, with inscriptions in Sunderland matching those found in France of Belgium. To assume that these deities travelled from Gaul in name alone, seems a bit strange to me. Certain rites and cultures must have surved intact too, with regional variations arising as a kind of Chinese whispers. Or, to put it another way;


there's as much similarity as difference between all of the Indo-European originating religions when you look at them from the big picture.


Not only throughout England, but also the British isles and mainland Europe, it's quite possible that the vast array of pagan faiths actually did share common characteristics. So I am perfectly comfortable to look to a variety of pagan traditions for inspiration. From that, I simply take what feels the most logical to me, and go with that, refining my practices as I learn more.

It would be nice to be able to point to specific historical evidence for my practices, but it doesn't particularly bother me that I can't. My experiences with the spirits I work with continuously validate my path for me, and that's all I need.

sionnach
01 Aug 2015, 12:53
I do agree with you about the problems understanding the pre-Christian religion of the Celts. I think one of the first issue for me was to first unlearn what I had been taught about pagan religions. In the US the is an emphasis on Greek/Roman mythology. There is a slight introduction of late Norse mythology and nothing that I can remember about Celtic mythology. The world of the Romans was a very ordered society with clear social rank and division of duties/crafts. Their mythology reflects this along with residual older beliefs mixed in. The world of the Celts was completely different and thus the view of their gods/goddesses also different. There are I believe over 370 different inscriptions of celtic gods matched to a few Roman gods. We also know there were many clans and I do agree they had their own deities for their tribe or clan. In addition the title of Dagda is the good god and he had other titles Eochaid Ollathair, father of all, Ruad Rofhessa, lord of great knowledge and other titles. These titles may have been applied to different gods of different tribes. In the writing of the irish Celtic tales these distinctions may have been lost.
Despite this there is information available for us to at least get a working impression of their beliefs. There are some things that give us some direction. The supernatural and the natural seem to be interwoven and the ability to shape shift shows a close connection to the natural world. The gods/goddesses live within the same world with times during the year that the separation thins and the two worlds are even more connected.

SonoftheWaters
13 Aug 2015, 22:02
There is a lot of misunderstanding and conjecture when it comes to the Pre-Christian faiths. First you need to understand that the Celts or Gaelic people stretch from Ireland to India at one point. There is even some language evidence to show that they may have had a lot of influence on the original stores of the Hindu. Many of the deities can actual draw comparisons to the Hindu deities. Minus the multiple limbs anyways.

Knowing this you also need to understand that while the Celts didn't have gods in the traditional since other then a very small handful. There is a lot of conjuncture here as far as who those small handful are but for your area the main deity would be Brigid who was the first born of Danu (One of the original Gods of creation, some minor conjuncture on if it was 7 or 9. I still haven't been able to find all their names, I have only been able to 100% confirm Danu and Donma). What makes it more confusing is the concept of land deities though land deities weren't really deities (this was a Christian monk concept) they were spirits of great heroes of that area. A great concept of this is the story of Macha.

You can not really compare Roman deities to Celtic ones because of the concept of land deities. I am hoping the recent discovery of the 4 wooden statues that were full of Ogham will give more insight on the issue, unfortunately my connections are not as they use to be so I will have to wait like the rest.

sionnach
14 Aug 2015, 19:40
It is my conjecture that Bridget is a more modern conceptualization of a female deity and may have had more influence from a later period just as Dagda seems a more ancient deity that Lug. To me the female is most associated with the land and natural features while male gods more with the tribe. It is the union of the Male God of the tribe with the Female Goddess of the land or water whose union ensures the fertility of the land with the protection of the tribe. Therefore I see the female deities representing the natural elements of the land do be goddesses. Each tribe would have a god of the tribe and goddesses of the land where they lived. Thus for the Sons of Mil to enter and live in Ireland they must promise to honor by name the goddess representing the land. Thus they left the gods/goddesses of the land the left and accepted Eire in exchange to enter and live in Ireland. In their attempt to come ashore Amergin (Amorgen) call on the land if Ireland and it power to allow the Sons of Mil to enter. This I think shows the importance of nature and the source of power in nature which is were the natural and supernatural coexist. The Gods and Goddesses are not in some far of location but in close association with the natural world and one certain days the barriers between the natural and supernatural come the closest in contact.

SonoftheWaters
14 Aug 2015, 19:55
It is my conjecture that Bridget is a more modern conceptualization of a female deity and may have had more influence from a later period just as Dagda seems a more ancient deity that Lug. To me the female is most associated with the land and natural features while male gods more with the tribe. It is the union of the Male God of the tribe with the Female Goddess of the land or water whose union ensures the fertility of the land with the protection of the tribe. Therefore I see the female deities representing the natural elements of the land do be goddesses. Each tribe would have a god of the tribe and goddesses of the land where they lived. Thus for the Sons of Mil to enter and live in Ireland they must promise to honor by name the goddess representing the land. Thus they left the gods/goddesses of the land the left and accepted Eire in exchange to enter and live in Ireland. In their attempt to come ashore Amergin (Amorgen) call on the land if Ireland and it power to allow the Sons of Mil to enter. This I think shows the importance of nature and the source of power in nature which is were the natural and supernatural coexist. The Gods and Goddesses are not in some far of location but in close association with the natural world and one certain days the barriers between the natural and supernatural come the closest in contact.

Debating Brigid as an later adaptation would be a hard press debate. Though I can agree with the idea that the god represented the tribe and the goddess the land. As for Dagda being one of the oldest and older the Lugh, I would agree 100%, Dagda was the first male child of Danu and Bile. Also an interesting take on the Son of Mil, it was the three queens that gave them the keys to land.

thalassa
15 Aug 2015, 13:34
What makes it more confusing is the concept of land deities though land deities weren't really deities (this was a Christian monk concept) they were spirits of great heroes of that area. A great concept of this is the story of Macha.

You can not really compare Roman deities to Celtic ones because of the concept of land deities.


Are you trying to say that the Romans didn't have deities of the land? Because that isn't true for the whole history of Roman religion.

Jembru
15 Aug 2015, 14:25
Sorry if this is too far off topic. I'd gladly take this somewhere else, although I'm anticipating a 'yes/no' answer..

First I need to clear something up though. This phrasing of 'land deity' is confusing me. Sonofthewaters has stated that these are 'spirits of great heroes of that area'. I'd understood this the complete opposite way. That the local deities (predominantly male), which changed from tribe to tribe, were often immortalised heros. The spirits which were of physical features, what I'd term 'land deities', were beings in their own right. Have I got this mixed up, or are we using the terms differently?

With that out of the way, here is my main question; It it is possible for a mortal person to become a god, does this mean my own conclusion, that there is little distinction between a deity and any other type spirit, was a view shared by your average Celt?

thalassa
15 Aug 2015, 14:54
Sorry if this is too far off topic.

I think its close enough to the topic for me...




First I need to clear something up though. This phrasing of 'land deity' is confusing me. Sonofthewaters has stated that these are 'spirits of great heroes of that area'. I'd understood this the complete opposite way. That the local deities (predominantly male), which changed from tribe to tribe, were often immortalised heros. The spirits which were of physical features, what I'd term 'land deities', were beings in their own right. Have I got this mixed up, or are we using the terms differently?

I consider those to be cultural deities, or deified "ancestors" (though not necessarily kin) and deities of the land to be the land itself deifiend or akin to an elevated (in stature) land spirit...both of which can be found in the Roman and Greek religions (if one goes back before the time period most people are familiar with), and pretty much (at some point in the history of) nearly every PIE culture that I am familiar with.

thalassa
15 Aug 2015, 15:10
to add...since I went to the bathroom and a kid sent this before I was ready...



With that out of the way, here is my main question; It it is possible for a mortal person to become a god, does this mean my own conclusion, that there is little distinction between a deity and any other type spirit, was a view shared by your average Celt?

The Druids (and considering they were essentially the priesthood of the Celts, probably themas well) probably believed in the immorality of the soul--Ammianus Marcellinus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammianus_Marcellinus), compared them to the Pythagoreans, "Between them (the Bards and Ovates) came the Druids, men of greater talent, member os the intimate fellowship of the Pythagorean faith; they were lifted up by searchings into secret and sublime things, and with grand contempt for mortal lot they professed the immortality of the soul" and also (Diodorus Siculus) "The Pythagorean doctrine (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pythagoreanism/) prevails among them (the Gauls), teaching that the souls of men are immortal and live again for a fixed number of years inhabited in another body..."

(quotes from The Earth, The Gods and The Soul: A History of Pagan Philosophy...by Brendan Myers, a Pagan and philosopher)


I'm not precisely sure how being a deified hero in actuality would work with reincarnation.

SonoftheWaters
15 Aug 2015, 15:13
Are you trying to say that the Romans didn't have deities of the land? Because that isn't true for the whole history of Roman religion.

By all means no, I am saying the concept of deity for a Celt and for a Roman were complete different, if you study the folklore enough you begin to get a better feel for how the Celts looked at deity. It is oddly more comparable to how Catholics view saints then the Romans viewed gods.

Jembru
15 Aug 2015, 15:25
I'm not precisely sure how being a deified hero in actuality would work with reincarnation.

This works pretty well for my own view of the spirit, but I'd be willing to wager a substantial amount of money, that my view of spirit from the point of death, is completely different to how Celtic societies, or any polytheistic society ever viewed it.

SonoftheWaters
15 Aug 2015, 15:56
Sorry if this is too far off topic. I'd gladly take this somewhere else, although I'm anticipating a 'yes/no' answer..

First I need to clear something up though. This phrasing of 'land deity' is confusing me. Sonofthewaters has stated that these are 'spirits of great heroes of that area'. I'd understood this the complete opposite way. That the local deities (predominantly male), which changed from tribe to tribe, were often immortalised heros. The spirits which were of physical features, what I'd term 'land deities', were beings in their own right. Have I got this mixed up, or are we using the terms differently?

With that out of the way, here is my main question; It it is possible for a mortal person to become a god, does this mean my own conclusion, that there is little distinction between a deity and any other type spirit, was a view shared by your average Celt?


I think its close enough to the topic for me...

I consider those to be cultural deities, or deified "ancestors" (though not necessarily kin) and deities of the land to be the land itself deifiend or akin to an elevated (in stature) land spirit...both of which can be found in the Roman and Greek religions (if one goes back before the time period most people are familiar with), and pretty much (at some point in the history of) nearly every PIE culture that I am familiar with.

It is actually very on topic because it goes to how the Celts view deity and this is highly important to understanding the concepts Celt Faith.

The form of land deity you are thinking of does exist but is more a Roman/Grecian concept of a land deity then a Celtic one.

To get a better idea of this let me tell you one of the old legends(I apologize my memory is going faulty on the specific name of the saint, so for reference, you can find the story in "The Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom by Caitlin and John Matthews" with the original referenced story.)

There was a saint that wanted to create a monastery on a remote island. He was told by the locals that the spirits of the land would not allow him too, for the island was cursed. Believing that he could succeed were others failed he setup camp and began building. Nothing went wrong on the first of building and the saint thought surely the lands spirits will can do nothing. When the workers left for the night, all was well. However when the saint and the workers returned in the morning all the work they had done the day before was gone as if they had done nothing. The saint walked the island, exorcising evil spirits from island and praying for three days to rid the island of evil so that he may build the monastery. After completing this, we returned with the works for another day of building. Again after the builders and saint left for the day all was well and again upon returning all the work that they had done was wiped away as if they had done nothing the day before. The saint once again spent three days on the island attempting to rid the island of the spirits and again for the third build day the process repeated itself. After the third time, the saint went to the local druid and asked what he could. The druid told him that he couldn't build there until a willing person took up guardianship of the land. The saint asked how this could be done and the druid told him that he must bury alive a willing person to become the guardian of the island to appease the land. The saint ferreted over this for many days, when one day his brother came to him and said he would be willing to do this as long as the didn't actually bury him just cover him up. The saint taking to the idea accepted his brothers idea and they went back to the island and dug a large hole big enough for his brother to be comfortable and covered the whole so it would appear as if he was buried alive. The saint went back to work on the monastery and after the first day of building everything was still standing, the same for second and again the same for third. Upon the third day, the saint said to himself that surely he could recover his brother now. So the workers help the saint to uncover his brother and upon doing so his brother leaped out of the hole and said two things. The first was "I've seen hell and it's not all that bad" the second was never recorded, however upon hearing the second comment the saint and workers pushed the saints brother back into the hole and this time actually buried him alive. To this day the spirit of the saints brother guards the island and monastery.

This land guardian is what the christian monks confused as land deity when writing the history of the Celts.

- - - Updated - - -


to add...since I went to the bathroom and a kid sent this before I was ready...


The Druids (and considering they were essentially the priesthood of the Celts, probably themas well) probably believed in the immorality of the soul--Ammianus Marcellinus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammianus_Marcellinus), compared them to the Pythagoreans, "Between them (the Bards and Ovates) came the Druids, men of greater talent, member os the intimate fellowship of the Pythagorean faith; they were lifted up by searchings into secret and sublime things, and with grand contempt for mortal lot they professed the immortality of the soul" and also (Diodorus Siculus) "The Pythagorean doctrine (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pythagoreanism/) prevails among them (the Gauls), teaching that the souls of men are immortal and live again for a fixed number of years inhabited in another body..."

(quotes from The Earth, The Gods and The Soul: A History of Pagan Philosophy...by Brendan Myers, a Pagan and philosopher)


I'm not precisely sure how being a deified hero in actuality would work with reincarnation.

To the Druids, the soul is immortal, this is correct. To a Druid you die in this world and are born in the next and vis verses.

There were three levels of Druids, Bards = Historians, Ovates=Priest, Druids=Ambassadors, now this is the generic version and each group contain a lot more sub-groups but this gives you a good idea.

The fixed number of years concept, I have not found in reference to nor I have I been able to find the ultimate end game to the cycle in the Celt faith, though I know there was one; the same applies on how one goes from a everyday hero to a land deity, though I have found enough references in enough folklore to be that this is how 'most' the "gods" of the Celts became gods.

sionnach
15 Aug 2015, 22:34
The Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom by Caitlin and John Matthews is an interesting book but I do not think it is historically accurate. The druids were the religious leaders who were in direct opposition to the Christians and who ultimately were removed. It was the fili or filidh (poets, teachers, counselors, associated with legal issues and maybe even involved with magic) who passed the information down which would be written into the account by monks in the Irish tales and gave use what we know about pre-Christian Gaelic Celtic beliefs and myths. The problem is that in writing the tales the monks clearly modified the tales or even confused the information not to mention that the fili had and oral culture which after the loss of the druids influence may have combined different beliefs. There was also increasing influence from the continent which may have altered some of the myths too. I believe the monks in part created this family of the Tuatha De Danann connecting multiple gods and goddesses of different clans or tribes in an effort to describe the pre-Christian gods and goddesses as a family as seen in the Roman concepts at the time of Caesar entering the British Isles.

There is a very interesting study of the Norse gods and goddesses in a symposium and later book 'Old Norse Religion in Long-Term Perspectives'. They use literature, history archeology and linguistics to show how Norse Religion changed over time and how it was influenced but other cultures especially Roman and Christian. The Norse mythology written in Iceland (as Celtic in Ireland) was written by Christians who attempted to preserve what they understood. What the book (with multiple authors looking at different aspects) shows is the original Norse beliefs and practices changed over time. By the year 1000 we again have a very organized view of the Norse gods and goddesses having similarities to the late Roman presentation. I am not that familiar with Roman or Greek beliefs beyond the organized an late presentation but I agree with Thalassa that Greek and Roman beliefs changed over time which as I learn more about other religions is a normal aspect of religion. Thus even when we discuss Celtic beliefs there may be differences based on time. That's why I say Dagda is more ancient a concept than Lug and not from Lineage. I still believe that each clan/tribe had a god and goddess associated with their own location rather that each tribe picking out one of the family of the Tuatha De Danann. Anu is clearly associated with one area of Ireland where Macha or at least one of the Machas is associated with another. Each river is associated with a different goddess. I believe he monks and maybe even the later fili connected them into a family. Another reason for this may have also been a genealogical reason to trace ancestry and try to connect it as much as possible to the mythical past and in that case the family presentation is more helpful. The older pre-Christian beliefs appear more nature based where nature had both the natural and the supernatural in a close proximity. Later pre-Christian becomes more focused on the heros both of the tribe and outside the tribe.

The connection of the gods and goddesses being connected with the land certainly does not die out with Christianity but lives on in the folklore which clearly continued on even becoming incorporated into he evolving Christianity if Ireland. The spirits of the land change no longer seen as the gods and goddesses but become the spirits of the sidhe, The fairy folk. The fairy mounds (mounds of the sidhe) which were divided between the gods/goddess change to be the otherworld which became the fertile ground for the Romantic restoration of the pre-Christian beliefs.

thalassa
15 Aug 2015, 23:09
The Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom by Caitlin and John Matthews is an interesting book but I do not think it is historically accurate. The druids were the religious leaders who were in direct opposition to the Christians and who ultimately were removed. It was the fili or filidh (poets, teachers, counselors, associated with legal issues and maybe even involved with magic) who passed the information down which would be written into the account by monks in the Irish tales and gave use what we know about pre-Christian Gaelic Celtic beliefs and myths.

I second this...



The problem is that in writing the tales the monks clearly modified the tales or even confused the information not to mention that the fili had and oral culture which after the loss of the druids influence may have combined different beliefs.


But not so much this, and I think "There was also increasing influence from the continent which may have altered some of the myths too. " is ultimately unimportant, because I think there was a lot more interchange between cultures before this point anyhow--- I don't think cultural exchange ultimately matters when it comes to authenticity because the religion (any religion) is not static. It changes with the people...it has to, or it becomes irrelevent. There is nothing that makes this less authentic than it would have been 200 years or 2000 years prior. (sorry if I seem to be harping onthis point, I just think it crucial for people to take it into account)

I'm of the opinion (based on copious research over the years) that the early Irish monks are more accurate than most contemporary Pagans (who may or may not be swayed by teir own issues and biases) give them credit for. There is too much that they didn't censor that they should have, if they were truly concerned with being good Christians. The Irish monks had incredible leeway, they wrote in their own language (not Latin), and they did so before their culture shifted from pre-Christian ideals, which is why it (while not wholly unaltered) a pretty darn good source of information.

SonoftheWaters
16 Aug 2015, 08:07
The Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom by Caitlin and John Matthews is an interesting book but I do not think it is historically accurate.

I would agree that it is not 100% historically accuate but that doesn't change that the myths and legends that they used are real.
The reference for my beliefs are based upon the these myths and legends


'Old Norse Religion in Long-Term Perspectives'

I will need to look for this and pick up a copy.

**Ok, I was trying to respond to the rest of this but someone forgot to send out the maintenance notice and apparently no can understand that there is maintenance every Sunday and I keep getting interrupted.

Tylluan Penry
16 Aug 2015, 08:35
I would point out that when we talk about myths they are subject to many variances over time and place. If we want to prove they are real, then real in what sense?

History is what myth isn’t. What history tells is true or else it would not be history. What myth tells is in some way false or else it would be history. Yet even within mythology there are graduations of credibility. (And this comes from Ken Dowden, The Uses of Greek Mythology, Routledge, 2000 - and he is, historically speaking, very reliable).

Forgive me for seeming a bit pedantic, but at this point it's worth looking at the word ‘Myth’ and what it really means. Back in the days of Homer, at the beginning of Greek literature, a mythos was not necessarily false. Later, by around the 5th century BCE, mythos was usually applied to fiction. (Logos was used then for non fiction).

By the mid 80's BCE, mythos was translated in Latin by fibula (which is where the words fable and indeed fib come from).
Basically we can say that myth deals with how a lost and powerful past created the present, i.e. it tells us about gods, heroes, beginnings and explanations.

However, the word legend comes from the Latin word, legenda, meaning ‘things to be read’ and includes stories based on real characters. Over time these stories developed to make them more significant and interesting for each new audience.

SonoftheWaters
16 Aug 2015, 12:44
I still believe that each clan/tribe had a god and goddess associated with their own location rather that each tribe picking out one of the family of the Tuatha De Danann. '

As far as, the evolution of religion, this is very natural and occurs over time with all religions and we will never truly be able to reconstruct the old Celtic faiths because of the hodge podge that became of the Celtic histories.

Though I believe we will find more of the original beliefs if we look closer at some of the old Ogham writings that date back to before the Christian influance.

Interesting concept of the family lineage being set by the Christians and not one I thought of, because even the basic lore I have read about from average people points to a family/clan/tribe type concept for the Celtic deities. Is there a specific story or set of myth/legends/history that brings you to this concept?


I still believe that each clan/tribe had a god and goddess associated with their own location rather that each tribe picking out one of the family of the Tuatha De Danann. '

From my understanding you are correct and incorrect. That each clan within the tribe held one ancestor above others and this was the god/goddess of the location, as well as, higher primary gods.


Thus even when we discuss Celtic beliefs there may be differences based on time.

I agree with this 100%, I believe there are at the very least three Celtic faith periods for Druids and that is just for the isles (Ireland, Scotland, Anglo, Saxon, Welsh, Cornish) as well as regional difference but the regional difference would be more like diaglect difference, an example of this would be Danu-Don variance even though by most evidence they are the same deity.

The three time frames are the Son of Mil, the Dannan and the Fir Bolg (Fir Bholg being in the time frame of the rule of the giants though there are some vague referrence to druids in that time this very will could be nothing more then implacation then truth, though I do believe that at least the predecessor of druidism did exist.


Each river is associated with a different goddess.

This is very true however the name Danu is an older name, you can see this by the fact that the name is proment in the lore(even if never goes into detail about Danu her self) and even the main river that it appears the Celts originally followed was the Danube, which still carries her name even today.


The older pre-Christian beliefs appear more nature based where nature had both the natural and the supernatural in a close proximity. Later pre-Christian becomes more focused on the heros both of the tribe and outside the tribe.

This is true as the stories get closer to christian times you find them getting closer and closer to man rather than nature. This I see as part of the change over from the Dannan to the Son of Mil varities of Celtic faith.


The connection of the gods and goddesses being connected with the land certainly does not die out with Christianity but lives on in the folklore which clearly continued on even becoming incorporated into he evolving Christianity if Ireland. The spirits of the land change no longer seen as the gods and goddesses but become the spirits of the sidhe, The fairy folk. The fairy mounds (mounds of the sidhe) which were divided between the gods/goddess change to be the otherworld which became the fertile ground for the Romantic restoration of the pre-Christian beliefs.

This also appears to be a change form Dannan to Son of Mil, as more and more of the "deities" become less nature and less personal and more supernatural in the stories.

- - - Updated - - -


I'm of the opinion (based on copious research over the years) that the early Irish monks are more accurate than most contemporary Pagans (who may or may not be swayed by teir own issues and biases) give them credit for. There is too much that they didn't censor that they should have, if they were truly concerned with being good Christians. The Irish monks had incredible leeway, they wrote in their own language (not Latin), and they did so before their culture shifted from pre-Christian ideals, which is why it (while not wholly unaltered) a pretty darn good source of information.

This original writing are still a good source of information. One must understand that you should always take them with a grain of salt but considering the are one of the only few writings we have left, we really can't dismiss them and have to take them as they are. Though I see know issue with taking the folklore and filling in some of the blanks or correcting some of the Abrahamic influenced areas. Peter Ellis makes a great comparison using language as a link to the Hindu faiths and used the Hindu faiths instead of the Abrahamic faiths to recreate the creation myth for the Tuatha de Dannan which I found very interesting myself and I personal thinks a lot more sense then what you get from the Christian influenced versions.

- - - Updated - - -


I would point out that when we talk about myths they are subject to many variances over time and place. If we want to prove they are real, then real in what sense?

History is what myth isn’t. What history tells is true or else it would not be history. What myth tells is in some way false or else it would be history. Yet even within mythology there are graduations of credibility. (And this comes from Ken Dowden, The Uses of Greek Mythology, Routledge, 2000 - and he is, historically speaking, very reliable).

Forgive me for seeming a bit pedantic, but at this point it's worth looking at the word ‘Myth’ and what it really means. Back in the days of Homer, at the beginning of Greek literature, a mythos was not necessarily false. Later, by around the 5th century BCE, mythos was usually applied to fiction. (Logos was used then for non fiction).

By the mid 80's BCE, mythos was translated in Latin by fibula (which is where the words fable and indeed fib come from).
Basically we can say that myth deals with how a lost and powerful past created the present, i.e. it tells us about gods, heroes, beginnings and explanations.

However, the word legend comes from the Latin word, legenda, meaning ‘things to be read’ and includes stories based on real characters. Over time these stories developed to make them more significant and interesting for each new audience.

Couple of things, first "What history tells is true or else it would not be history." this is not actually a fact, history is written by the victor and only vary rarely will you find it to be completely true, though it is getting better today you still have this problem with todays history. The older you get in history the more true this holds. A great example of this would be the stories of the druids from the Romans.

For years people thought Roman depiction was true and that druids were blood thirsty barbarians and yet when you look at the times and what was happening in Roman you can tell that most of what was written by the Romans was propaganda not history even though it was taken as so for centuries and by many even today. When you look at what stories of the Celtic people have too say about themselves, even the vague stories left you can tell that what the Romans what was bumpkis.

You also have to take into consideration that what we have to go off of is only legends and myths. I wish I had the funds to Roam the isles just researching the old sites and translating the Ogham writings to get a better understand or going through all the old legends and myths that haven't even been translated little alone put out to the public, but that is a dream and would take a team of fetted people to be able to complete.

anunitu
16 Aug 2015, 12:52
You know I am not at all into this discussion,but you peeps kinda remind me just why I detached myself from Christian belief,it was the absolute dogma that had no place for wiggle room ever...

If I read this and did not read the names of the deity's,I might mistake it for an argument on dogmatic concerns in a christian group.

SonoftheWaters
16 Aug 2015, 12:56
You know I am not at all into this discussion,but you peeps kinda remind me just why I detached myself from Christian belief,it was the absolute dogma that had no place for wiggle room ever...

If I read this and did not read the names of the deity's,I might mistake it for an argument on dogmatic concerns in a christian group.

LOL, considering that we are basically talking dogma I can see that. Pre-Christian Celtic faith covers a ton of ground and no clear paths. So everyone has a tendency to add their own personal flare to it.

anunitu
16 Aug 2015, 12:59
And I am Eclectic in my approach to spiritual things....but then I am just kind of free and easy in my approach to everything..Free your mind,and your ass will follow...from Funkadelic

Tylluan Penry
16 Aug 2015, 13:26
I agree with this 100%, I believe there are at the very least three Celtic faith periods for Druids and that is just for the isles (Ireland, Scotland, Anglo, Saxon, Welsh, Cornish) as well as regional difference but the regional difference would be more like diaglect difference, an example of this would be Danu-Don variance even though by most evidence they are the same deity.

The three time frames are the Son of Mil, the Dannan and the Fir Bolg (Fir Bholg being in the time frame of the rule of the giants though there are some vague referrence to druids in that time this very will could be nothing more then implacation then truth, though I do believe that at least the predecessor of druidism did exist.




Would you help us all out here please with a few dates for these 'Celtic faith periods'?

SonoftheWaters
16 Aug 2015, 13:47
Would you help us all out here please with a few dates for these 'Celtic faith periods'?

Woo now that is a hard question, I am sure others would have their own ideas.

By myth the Dannan lived hundreds if not thousands of years. Going by myths not hard facts, I would put the Son of Mil first appearance somewhere around 1200-1500BCE, the Dannan first appearance would be somewhere around the 8,000-12,000 BCE, the main reason for this is because many of the description of Fir Bog remind me of Neanderthal, the Fir Bog would be lost in time.

sionnach
17 Aug 2015, 21:40
There are periods of time where patterns seen in archeology change as in the case of the stone circles and wooden circles. These megalithic structures occurred through a period of time then stopped. But this does not tell us if there was a change or people or what factors changed the behavior. There are the changes in burial patterns from complex structures such as those in Newgrange which were connected with sun position, in this case with the winter solstice. The building of the long barrows some of which had celestial orientations while some did not. Causewayed enclosures also had a time period before falling out of favor. These changes have tried to be aligned with our Notion of stone age, bronze age, and iron age but my understanding is that there is a great deal of overlap. Even the arrival of the Celts seems very unclear. There are opinions I have read that there were multiple successive immigrations and blending of cultures making time lines very difficult to pinpoint. Now trying to match the mythological history of Ireland to the archeological history seems impossible. I did read some books from the past trying to equate the fomorians with the invaders from the Norse lands ( no the Vikings for they come much later) and there are some interesting amber votive depositions along a line which peoples from the Scandinavian lands could have traveled but again the book of invasion I still believe must be seen as a mythological cycle and not a precise historical cycle and blended different myths of different tribes together.

SonoftheWaters
18 Aug 2015, 14:06
There are periods of time where patterns seen in archeology change as in the case of the stone circles and wooden circles. These megalithic structures occurred through a period of time then stopped. But this does not tell us if there was a change or people or what factors changed the behavior. There are the changes in burial patterns from complex structures such as those in Newgrange which were connected with sun position, in this case with the winter solstice. The building of the long barrows some of which had celestial orientations while some did not. Causewayed enclosures also had a time period before falling out of favor. These changes have tried to be aligned with our Notion of stone age, bronze age, and iron age but my understanding is that there is a great deal of overlap. Even the arrival of the Celts seems very unclear. There are opinions I have read that there were multiple successive immigrations and blending of cultures making time lines very difficult to pinpoint. Now trying to match the mythological history of Ireland to the archeological history seems impossible. I did read some books from the past trying to equate the fomorians with the invaders from the Norse lands ( no the Vikings for they come much later) and there are some interesting amber votive depositions along a line which peoples from the Scandinavian lands could have traveled but again the book of invasion I still believe must be seen as a mythological cycle and not a precise historical cycle and blended different myths of different tribes together.

True no matter how hard we try we will never really know unless someone invents a time machine. What we can do is take the folklore, myths and legends and apply them to the archaeological findings and use these to get as close to the truth as we can.

thalassa
18 Aug 2015, 14:43
DNA indicates that the first settlers of the British Isles were Basque...there are a couple of studies for this, but the best compilation of data and historical/archaeological/linguistic info that I've found is the book Britain Begins, which I mentioned *somewhere* in this thread or another one.

sionnach
19 Aug 2015, 18:59
DNA indicates that the first settlers of the British Isles were Basque...there are a couple of studies for this, but the best compilation of data and historical/archaeological/linguistic info that I've found is the book Britain Begins, which I mentioned *somewhere* in this thread or another one.

That is a very tempting idea given the Irish tales of the milesians and their origin from the Iberian peninsula but I do not think we can conclude this any more that anything else about the Celts. I remember S. Oppenheimer discussing that there is a very high percentage of the R1b haplotypes in common with the Irish, welsh, and Basque people but there are sub types that are not. I have read recently an alternative view on the genetics of R1b in Europe with the people carrying this haplotype migrating from around the alps and then down to Spain and over to Britain and Ireland. The other possibilities on why they share many of the same genetic markers may have been social (closer clan affiliation/language/other social aspects) or due to isolation of geographic barriers after the spread of the Rib haplotypes had established in the area. There is a recent survey "People of the British Isles" printed in nature that did show an interesting division of Wales into two groups by north and south suggesting two separate migrations to Wales and the influence of the Anglo/Saxon genetics compare to little of the Roman or Viking genetic influence.

..

SonoftheWaters
19 Aug 2015, 19:52
DNA indicates that the first settlers of the British Isles were Basque...there are a couple of studies for this, but the best compilation of data and historical/archaeological/linguistic info that I've found is the book Britain Begins, which I mentioned *somewhere* in this thread or another one.



That is a very tempting idea given the Irish tales of the milesians and their origin from the Iberian peninsula but I do not think we can conclude this any more that anything else about the Celts. I remember S. Oppenheimer discussing that there is a very high percentage of the R1b haplotypes in common with the Irish, welsh, and Basque people but there are sub types that are not. I have read recently an alternative view on the genetics of R1b in Europe with the people carrying this haplotype migrating from around the alps and then down to Spain and over to Britain and Ireland. The other possibilities on why they share many of the same genetic markers may have been social (closer clan affiliation/language/other social aspects) or due to isolation of geographic barriers after the spread of the Rib haplotypes had established in the area. There is a recent survey "People of the British Isles" printed in nature that did show an interesting division of Wales into two groups by north and south suggesting two separate migrations to Wales and the influence of the Anglo/Saxon genetics compare to little of the Roman or Viking genetic influence.


..


Interesting that they DNA shows Spain as a point of origin. In the 5th century the Greek historian Herodotus said the Celts were "Those who lived beyond the pillars of Hercules" (Spain) and had their rising was from Danube. Wonder how much the DNA from the Danube area matches that of the Isles.

Jembru
19 Aug 2015, 21:29
Interesting that they DNA shows Spain as a point of origin. In the 5th century the Greek historian Herodotus said the Celts were "Those who lived beyond the pillars of Hercules" (Spain) and had their rising was from Danube. Wonder how much the DNA from the Danube area matches that of the Isles.

I saw a really cool documentary on what we've learnt about our (the English and our neighbours), heritage from the DNA evidence. I don't remember the name, but I posted about it at the time in the 'what I learnt today' thread.. to a decidedly underwhelmed reception... So it's nice to see I'm not the only person who was surprised, or bothered. I had been fed the 'we're Anglo-saxons' tripe in school, so I was really interested to learn the typical Englishman is around 70% Celt!

Tylluan Penry
20 Aug 2015, 01:47
I saw a really cool documentary on what we've learnt about our (the English and our neighbours), heritage from the DNA evidence. I don't remember the name, but I posted about it at the time in the 'what I learnt today' thread.. to a decidedly underwhelmed reception... So it's nice to see I'm not the only person who was surprised, or bothered. I had been fed the 'we're Anglo-saxons' tripe in school, so I was really interested to learn the typical Englishman is around 70% Celt!

I agree. As a great fan of the Anglo-Saxon period of history, I think it's quite wrong to think that's all there ever was. There were huge chunks of the country where they really never had a foothold (Wales, for example) and there was massive interaction in various ways between them and the others. Nor were the rest of the country entirely Celtic. There were a number of different races, some from the Roman occupation (and I don't mean they were Roman. There is epigraphic evidence of many different races who came over as traders, soldiers, slaves etc.)

And the Anglo-Saxons didn't actually want to wipe out everyone. There is good evidence of fusion between the various cultures and also that they managed to co-exist in many areas. The problem is with some of the headline grabbing early writers, who portrayed them entirely as savages. Even now I find myself grinding my teeth when I read about 'barbarian Anglo-Saxons' or 'civilised Romans.' It was never that simple.

Though - when asked - Mr Penry claims to be Cheddar Man.

Jembru
20 Aug 2015, 18:40
I agree. As a great fan of the Anglo-Saxon period of history, I think it's quite wrong to think that's all there ever was. There were huge chunks of the country where they really never had a foothold (Wales, for example) and there was massive interaction in various ways between them and the others. Nor were the rest of the country entirely Celtic. There were a number of different races, some from the Roman occupation (and I don't mean they were Roman. There is epigraphic evidence of many different races who came over as traders, soldiers, slaves etc.)

And the Anglo-Saxons didn't actually want to wipe out everyone. There is good evidence of fusion between the various cultures and also that they managed to co-exist in many areas. The problem is with some of the headline grabbing early writers, who portrayed them entirely as savages. Even now I find myself grinding my teeth when I read about 'barbarian Anglo-Saxons' or 'civilised Romans.' It was never that simple.

Though - when asked - Mr Penry claims to be Cheddar Man.

I know there are different listings in Wales, but did you happen to see the Horizon, 'First Britons' on BBC2 earlier (or last night actually, as it's gone 3:30 here now)? It was fascinating. I was really surprised to see just how much we can learn about a society, who left so little behind. One thing that peaked my interest was that they said farming spread (and quite rapidly too), from the Middle East into what is now Europe, and eventually England. If societies were sharing such sophisticated information as how to farm, then it makes me all the more convinced that religious practices could have been shared too. The Celts may have been widely spread about, but I don't think they lived in bubbles, suspicious and fearful of their neighbours. Otherwise, they wouldn't have been so quick to adopt the technologies used by other tribes. It all makes me less quick to accept that clues left by, say, people in Wales, have no relation to the lives of those in Northumberland around the same time. Sure, it's not concrete evidence either, but, for lack of anything better, I wouldn't be too quick to disregard it now.

Tylluan Penry
20 Aug 2015, 22:17
I know there are different listings in Wales, but did you happen to see the Horizon, 'First Britons' on BBC2 earlier (or last night actually, as it's gone 3:30 here now)? It was fascinating. I was really surprised to see just how much we can learn about a society, who left so little behind. One thing that peaked my interest was that they said farming spread (and quite rapidly too), from the Middle East into what is now Europe, and eventually England. If societies were sharing such sophisticated information as how to farm, then it makes me all the more convinced that religious practices could have been shared too. The Celts may have been widely spread about, but I don't think they lived in bubbles, suspicious and fearful of their neighbours. Otherwise, they wouldn't have been so quick to adopt the technologies used by other tribes. It all makes me less quick to accept that clues left by, say, people in Wales, have no relation to the lives of those in Northumberland around the same time. Sure, it's not concrete evidence either, but, for lack of anything better, I wouldn't be too quick to disregard it now.
Unfortunately I missed the program, but I have alwaysx been interested in the very ancient past - hence my book Sacred Shadows, which tries to uncover spirituality from the Ice Age. It was mind blowing research! I also did a podcast on Doggerland (which I think was covered in the same program). You can find it here : http://tylluanpenry.podbean.com/e/lost-lands-and-sunken-cities/

The missing or magical islands around Britain are another fascination of mine, particular since a distant family member was actually named after one of them!

sionnach
23 Aug 2015, 20:39
How much different were the Saxon's from the Celtic people of the British Isles? I ask this in reference to a book I read 'Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World' by Philip Shaw. The recent genetic profile of Great Britain showed how the Saxons blended with the Celtic population whereas Roman and later Viking did not remain as a significant population. In his book he looks at the goddesses Eostre and Hreda using linguistic research. In his conclusions he warns of pan-Germanism in worship of the gods and goddesses. His research pointed towards the tribal, the local, and perhaps the familial/personal worship of deities. He argues that the notion of common religious patters across the entire northern Europe may have been similar but the gods and goddesses were more local in nature. There may have been less differential between what has often been seen as a division of the Celtic an Germanic beliefs.
What I remember from reading in the past on the Conversion of the Saxons to Christianity was that one of the greatest issues in the conversion was the concern of abandoning their ancestors or the ways of their ancestors. In Germany Charlemagne murdered thousands of Saxons because they did not want to abandon their ancestors n favor of the new religions. I also remember that their was less concern about the names of Gods and Goddesses that there was about other pagan beliefs and rituals which is why the days of the week in England were named after Germanic gods and goddesses. Ancestor worship/respect was probably important in both groups and there were enough similarities for the blending of the two cultures. There seems to have been less force used in the Christian transformation of the Irish which resulted in the translation of many more of the pagan beliefs, rituals and important places into the local Christian practice. At least that is what I have read from some sources. Thus Brigid is translated to St. Brigid.

Tylluan Penry
23 Aug 2015, 23:40
It's an interesting idea, sionnach. I think there is probably quite a bit of truth in it too, since places we think of as Germanic, are often also thought of as Celtic - the La Tene culture being a good example. And that's without taking into account any theories of an indo-european link between them.

One of the most interesting things about the Anglo-Saxon conversion is that it was never totally complete. There was a lot of mind-changing. And in the early Christian missionary period, it was a lot more anti-heathen than in the later period. Which is why prominent church leaders blamed the much later Viking invasions on clergy listening to heroic heathen sagas (I kid you not!)

I too, believe that Hreda and Eostre were regarded as goddesses, and see no real reason to doubt Bede's account of them. He would have known older monks who would certainly have known about them, and since he Bede is regarded as accurate for many other things, it seems strange to single out these two goddesses and say he made them up. When we think about it it would have been easier for him to have disregarded them altogether.