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Colin Wilson - Mysteries - Celtic gods and beliefs



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Colin Wilson - Mysteries

The Celts were one of the most remarkable races in European history-as remarkable, in their way, as the Greeks and Romans; if historians have shown less interest in them, it is because of the absence of written records. (The Celts acquired writing only around 500 AD.)

They originated somewhere in central Europe, probably in the regions that are now Czechoslovakia and Bavaria. It has been suggested that they may have settled in lreland as early as 1500 BC. But the great Celtic 'explosion' occurred after 500 BC, at the end of the Bronze Age.

In fact, it was the Celts who were responsible for the end of the Bronze Age, since they brought the use of iron to the countries they conquered. They invaded Gaul (France), Italy, Greece, Asia Minor, and spread along the Danube as far as the Black Sea. Their warriors were tall and fair, although another variety of Celt was dark-haired and round-headed. The historian Lewis Spence describes them as 'that race of artists, poets and aristocrats'. They were formidable fighters but, as the Greek historian, Strabo, pointed out, 'boasters and threateners, and given to bombastic self-dramatisation'. They were also dreamers, intelligent, temperamental and pessimistic; Plato mentions that they were inclined to drunkenness.

The religion of the Celts was Druidism. … their sacred places were groves of trees. Wells and rivers were also worshipped. Their chief deities were Lug and Matrona, the nature goddess and earth mother. But there were some four hundred gods and goddesses in all, including Epona (or Eoponos), the horse goddess, Moccos, the boar god, Taruos, the bull god, and Cernunnos, the horned stag god. The oak was their sacred tree (the word druid probable comes from the Greek drus, an oak). So was the mistletoe. The latter is, of course, a parasite that usually grows on apple trees; when Druids found mistletoe growing on an oak, they regarded it as a gift of the gods, and cut it with a golden sickle. It was then used in their religious rituals.

One of the great linguistic discoveries of the nineteenth century was that most European languages had their origin in Sanskrit, the language of the primitive tribes of India, who began to break up around 2000 BC. Celtic is in many ways close to Sanskrit, and the Celts belong to the racial group known as Indo-Europeans. So it is highly probable that the gods of the Celts derive from the gods of lndia, and that Druidism is a descendant of the old Hindu religion expressed in the Vedic hymns.  Like the Hindus, the Druids firmly believed in life after death and in the transmigration of souls.

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Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Sacred geography

Activities and commonsteps