The Religion of the Ancient Celts (Celtic, Irish)

The Religion of the Ancient Celts (Celtic, Irish)

Language: English

Pages: 432

ISBN: 048642765X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Scant records remain of the ancient Celtic religion, beyond some 11th- and 12th-century written material from the Irish Celts and the great Welsh document Mabinongion. This classic study by a distinguished scholar, first published in 1911, builds not only upon the valuable hints supplied by the surviving texts but also upon the still-extant folk customs derived from the rituals of the old cults. A masterly and extremely readable survey, it offers a reconstruction of the essentials of Celtic paganism. The Celt is portrayed as a seeker after God who links himself by strong ties to the unseen, eagerly attempting to conquer the unknown by religious rite and magic art. The earliest aspect of Celtic religion lies in the culture of nature spirits and of life manifested in nature, and this book offers fascinating glimpses into primitive forms of worship, depicting Celtic rites centered on rivers and wells, trees and plants, and animals. The Druids maintained an optimistic view of the afterlife, and the author presents the subject from the comparative point of view, drawing upon evidence from Celtic burial mounds to elaborate upon ancient beliefs and customs related to the culture of the dead, including rites of rebirth and transmigration.

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the older belief, modified by Christian teaching, since the Bretons suppose that purgatory and hell are beneath the earth and accessible from its surface.[1181] Some British folk-lore brought to Greece by Demetrius and reported by Plutarch might seem to suggest that certain persons—the mighty dead—were privileged to pass to the island Elysium. Some islands near Britain were called after gods and heroes, and the inhabitants of one of these were regarded as sacrosanct by the Britons, like the

Religions, xxxviii. 295 f., and a similar paper by Gomme, Arch. Rev. 1889, 217 f. Both writers seem to regard these cults as pre-Celtic. [746] Gomme, Ethnol. in Folklore, 30, Village Community, 113. [747] Dio Cass. lxxii. 21; Logan, Scottish Gael, ii. 12. [748] Joyce, SH ii. 529; Martin, 71. [749] RC xxii. 20, 24, 390-1. [750] IT iii. 385. [751] Waldron, Isle of Man, 49; Train, Account of the Isle of Man, ii. 124. [752] Vallancey, Coll. de Reb. Hib. iv. No. 13; Clément, Fétes, 466. For

the story of The Children of Tuirenn, in which they perish through their exertions in obtaining the eric demanded by Lug.[254] Here they are sons of Tuirenn, but more usually their mother Danu or Brigit is mentioned. Another son of Brigit's was Ogma, master of poetry and inventor of ogham writing, the word being derived from his name.[255] It is more probable that Ogma's name is a derivative from some word signifying "speech" or "writing," and that the connection with "ogham" may be a mere

tradition. A date cannot be given to the beginnings of the saga, and additions have been made to it even down to the eighteenth century, Michael Comyn's poem of Oisin in Tir na n-Og being as genuine a part of it as any of the earlier pieces. Its contents are in part written, but much more oral. Much of it is in prose, and there is a large poetic literature of the ballad kind, as well as Märchen of the universal stock made purely Celtic, with Fionn and the rest of the heroic band as protagonists.

ghost of the child was supposed to supply the other spirits with water from these cups.[542] In Ireland, after a death, food is placed out for the spirits, or, at a burial, nuts are placed in the coffin.[543] In some parts of France, milk is poured out on the grave, and both in Brittany and in Scotland the dead are supposed to partake of the funeral feast.[544] These are survivals from pagan times and correspond to the rites in use among those who still worship ancestors. In Celtic districts a

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