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Brittany - Seeing the dead on November Eve (La Toussaint) and on Christmas Eve

Identifier

014031

Type of spiritual experience

Hallucination

A description of the experience

The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, by W.Y. Evans-Wentz, [1911]

There is a strong conviction ….. that the souls of the dead can show themselves to the living, and a vigorous belief in apparitions, phantom-funerals, and various death-warnings. As Professor Anatole Le Braz has so well said in his introduction to La Légende de la Mort,

 'the whole conscience of these people is fundamentally directed toward that which concerns death. And the ideas which they form of it, in spite of the strong Christian imprint which they have received, do not seem much different from those which we have pointed out among their pagan ancestors. For them, as for the primitive Celts, death is less a change of condition than a journey, a departure for another world.'

And thus it seems that this most popular of the Breton folk-beliefs is genuinely Celtic and extremely ancient. As Renan has said, the Celtic people are
'a race mysterious, having knowledge of the future and the secret of death'.

The Breton Celt makes no distinction between the living and the dead.

All alike inhabit this world, the one being visible, the other invisible.

Though seers can at all times behold the dead, on November Eve (La Toussaint) and on Christmas Eve they are most numerous and most easily seen; and no peasant would think of questioning their existence.

The source of the experience

Celtic

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image

Activities