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Celtic

Category: Mystic groups and systems

Celtic territory showing Halstatt, the centre of a thriving Celtic culture
in the Early Iron Age; it is now believed that the Celts actually spread from
the North and spread out to the South, which means that this map
is wrong - Britain and Ireland would have been Celtic too
 

The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and pre Iron Age Europe.

There are anthropologists who date the rise of the Celtic language and peoples to before 3000 BC even as far back as 6000BC. The end of the last glacial period was about 10,500 BCE.  Northern hemisphere glaciation during the last ice ages produced ice sheets which were  3 to 4 km thick, but this also caused a sea level lowering of at least 120 m, exposing land we do not see today.  The Celts came from the West and one of the many theories is that they were living on some land mass in the Atlantic and were forced east as sea levels rose. Some of the more spiritually minded have even added that this land mass was the mythical lost city of Atlantis.

Colour coded topographical map of the Atlantic showing the mid Atlantic ridge
and abyss, light colours denote shallower water
 

Although we may smile at such speculation, a glance at a topographical map of the Atlantic shows that Britain and Ireland are on a shallow plateau with an off shore, now submerged, 'island' close to this plateau.  A considerable amount of land might have been exposed by the last glacial period which disappeared in 'the flood', known in Celtic myth as 'the deluge'.

Celtic 'helmet' From the Marne region
of France, 3rd century BC, the shape of the
helmet is symbolic and significant, follow
the link

Celtic culture blossomed in the Early Iron Age (1200 BC-400 AD) in Central Europe (Hallstatt period, named for the site in present-day Austria). But Halstatt was not the centre of growth, just the centre of a thriving off-shoot of the culture at that time.  

By the later Iron Age (La Tène period), Celts had expanded over a wide range of lands: to the Iberian Peninsula, to Italy and as far east as Galatia (central Anatolia).  Paul's letter to the Galatians in the New Testament was addressed to Celts.

Galatians 3:1
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

Thus the Celts were essentially Atlantic peoples from the very far West, 'Atlanteans'. 

There is even speculation - and it is entirely speculation - that the Greek gods were Celts and that legendary figures like Orpheus were Celts, who brought their music and skills of healing with them.

Later spread of celtic peoples

Celtic mysteries

The Celts participated in the Mysteries

The Hibernian Mysteries, for example, was the generic name for all the mystery sites and ceremonies in Ireland - the land of Hibernia.  Hibernia is the Classical Latin name for the island of Ireland.

Many well known sites of Initiation still exist, Stonehenge, Avebury and Carnac, for example, but many other sites are buried beneath Christian churches and Cathedrals, simply because they were 'auspicious sites'.  Many many smaller churches, for example, Câtel and St. Martin's Churches on Guernsey, Channel Islands are built on celtic sacred sites.

One of the greatest of the Druid  centres was where the Cathedral of Chartres now stands and for hundreds of years, Chartres was perhaps the greatest centre of culture and learning of the spiritual life to be found in Europe.  Chartres retained the last echoes of the Mystery wisdom until well into the 12th century.  The current cathedral, mostly constructed between 1194 and 1250, is the last of at least five which have occupied the site since the town became a bishopric in the 4th century.

The Celts were familiar with the symbolism of the levels and layers, and incorporated this symbolism into all their structures.  Thus any ringed structure is based on the four elements and a mystic centre, or in the more complex structures, the Map of the Egg.  and any mounds and artificial hills such as Silbury Hill or Glastonbury also have the 5 levels.

Eleanor C Merry – The Flaming Door
The Arthurian-Druid Mysteries consisted in the search for illumination ... in the four Elements of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth.... there was included, as in all initiation, a profound knowledge of man and the attainment of purity in the soul; and in the Arthurian Mysteries, the practise of chivalry.

The name Einigen [in the Bible Enoch] means an Adept, a very accomplished 'graduate' from the Mysteries.

New Grange barrow, Ireland

The Mysteries, as with all the Mysteries, consisted of two main parts. 

Stage One - The first was a descent into the symbolic Underworld [or Hell] enacted physically via Barrows, cairns and so on that were constructed to replace caves, if caves were not available.   The objective was to provoke  a rebirth experience - purgatory. 

This ceremony was known as the Doctrine of Annwn - Annwn being the Underworld.  Even today this experience is known in modern shamanic rituals as 'doing the dive', or as Lewis Carroll might have said - Down the Rabbit Hole.  These days no one is locked up in a totally dark cave, barrow, mine, tunnel, pyramid or hole for days and days, but in the days of the Mysteries they were.  This is a world-wide practise - The Native American Indians, for example, used the 'Vision Pit.

Interior New Grange barrow, Ireland

The candidates' preparatory trials of the soul enabled the Initiator finally to induce in them a state of deathlike trance, during which their spiritual senses were opened, by the loosening of their whole spiritual nature from the physical body they could, for the rest of their lives continue to extend these experiences

In other words they not only had visions, but out of body experiences.

If you are interested in what it is like to be locked in a 'cave' and suffer a rebirth experience, Paul Brunton provides a very good description of his experience when he was locked inside the Pyramids at Giza - an Egyptian site of the Mysteries.

Stone head from Mšecké Žehrovice, Czech Republic,with his
bulging eyes - a sign of spiritual experience.  He wears a torc

Stage Two - Once they had been through this forced ordeal of terror and initiation [the midnight hour], they then went through the later purification stages on the spiritual path above ground as it were, which is where the henges and above ground monuments were used.  The underground ordeal was the ordeal to conquer Darkness, the above ground rites and ceremonies were the path of Light and ascension, mainly carried out away from the sites, but they were intended to 'purify' the candidate, ridding him or her of desire, and selfishness and producing someone with both courage but a loving nature.

As Lewis Carroll might have said - Through the Looking Glass.  This latter stage is split itself into two - purification or purgatory and then the final ascent.  Interestingly in Dante's three part work we have the stages of Initiation quite well described - Inferno, Purgatory and Paradiso. One aspect of this was the gradual removal of old beliefs and the fostering of an openness to wisdom - achieved via spiritual experience.

celtic caduceus with hand at top

But by what mechanism was the later form of experiences obtained?  The presence of the caduceus, the abstruse references to kundalini energy and the large number of sexual references all point to the use of  sexual stimulation, sex magick and so on as a means of achieving kundalini experiences and making 'gods', all of which was part of the later stages of the Mysteries.

Confirmation of this can be found in the existence of Church altars which are remnants of earlier religions [follow the link for more detail].  There is also the symbolism of the horse

The Celts had an entire cult based on the worship of horses.  A horse symbolically is a means of transport.  When a person ‘mounts’ someone in order to raise their energy levels, they are in effect riding the person much as one would a horse and the person they are making love to then becomes the means of transport.  The pelvic bone of the other person is the ‘saddle’ or it can be referred to as the bow.

The White Horse at Uffington

From Celtic goddesses
Epona is the Celtic [and Saxon] Horse Goddess of Iron Age Britain. Her alternative name is Rhiannon.  Her cult stretched throughout Europe, from Spain to Eastern Europe and northern Italy to Britain. Irish kings were symbolically united with a white mare up to the 11th century. The Divine Horse still stands on a hillside at Uffington, 370 feet long, carved in chalk. She has the power to appear as a lively woman or a horse. She was a fertility Goddess.  Her waters are a source of healing and She watches over dogs and horses. She symbolizes wild freedom. Her dark counterpart is the Black Mare or Night Mare (Melanippe). It was the Great Mare Goddess who granted sovereignty over the land to the continental Celts.

 Druids and bards

Ceremonial helmet with levels and layers and at the
top the Higher spirit at the top of the cone
from Agris, France. 350 BC

The Celts’ spiritual leaders were the druids of which there were two kinds - the priests and the bards.

  • The druid priests - were principally hierophants. He or she was a member of the priestly and learned class and held the cultural repository of knowledge in an oral tradition, using poetic verse and song as a mnemonic device.  They combined the duties of priest, judge, scholar, and teacher. But many of the more legendary ones were also magicians.
  • The druid bards - were principally sages and seers.  They were equivalent to the Hermit.  Druids were able to use summoning and were also able to prophecy - making them into 'prophets' in the true meaning of the word.  The later bard poets were said to derive their inspiration from Awen.

The Romans later recorded that Celtic society was governed by sacrifice of animals and humans, on the other hand they also spent a good deal of time trying to stamp out the religion and their priesthood and learned class. So whether we can believe them is in great doubt.  This may be yet another example of the conquered writing the history books to suit their purpose..

 
Celtic twin horned helmet -

The horned Waterloo Helmet in the British Museum

Diodorus Siculus asserts that a 'sacrifice' acceptable to the Celtic gods had to be attended by a druid, for they were the intermediaries. Diodorus remarks upon the importance of prophets in druidic ritual:
"These men predict the future by observing the flight and calls of birds...."
Diodorus divided the learned classes into bards, soothsayers and druids (whom he said were philosophers and theologians). Strabo echoed this division, labeling them druids (philosophers), bards, and vates (soothsayers).

The Celtic cross - an alternative for the
caduceus

Anyone who underwent the Mysteries was symbolically speaking 'sacrificed'. 

There was historically a Merlin or Merddin of the 6th century AD who was a bard.  He knew the Mysteries that had been taught at Stonehenge.  But the term Merddin is actually a generic name meaning a bard, a sort of description of bardism as a whole.  According to some records there have been several Merddins.

Merddin and his sister were associated symbolically with the Morning and the Evening stars - in effect we not only have the symbolic association with great stars, but a gentle reminder that much of the most important spiritual experience occurs in dreams just before we go to sleep or just before we wake. 

photo Oleg Oprisco

Bardic poem 6th century


Knowest thou what thou art
In the hour of sleep
A mere body - a mere soul
Or a secret retreat of the Light?

 

The Higher spirit may be symbolically described – when it is part of the living being, - as a diamond, but once it has been set free after death, it may be symbolically described and ‘seen’ as a ‘star’.  But anyone who has achieved annihilation is also in a sense a star.  Thus the bards were 'gods'.

Music

Music played an absolutely key part in the Celtic Mysteries and in the lives of ordinary people.  The harps and lyres were strung to the 12 note system of music and were thus a reflection of celestial music - 'heard' music, not present day tuning.

Eleanor C Merry – The Flaming Door
The Bard felt that he was looking back from the heights upon the cosmic instrument in its twelve and sevenfold order, and he played upon it and extracted its melodies and harmonies.  It was not his lower personality that could command this heavenly music, but his Higher self and the name for the Higher Self, identified with Divinity was IAU called the 'younger'.

Boars and bees

 

Just like the Nordic and Norse peoples, the Celts venerated the Boar or 'hog' for its symbolic associations.  The Boar is symbolically equivalent to the Bull – see Bull and Cow.  Its tusks are equivalent in this context to horns.  For many Celtic cultures it was the most powerful symbol.  This is recognised still in the Scottish celebrations of Hogmanay.  Hogmanay is celebrated on the last day of the year and is part of a celebration that lasts through the night until the morning of New Year's Day (1 January).

Symbolism and sacred geography were incorporated into the system of gods. Brighid and The Morrígan, for example, were associated with holy wells and the River Unius and skills such as blacksmithing and healing.  The Smith was a revered figure in most ancient cultures.

Bees are an almost universal symbol in all shamanic and mystery cultures, for numerous reasons - the humming and buzzing which can occur prior to an out of body experience, the correspondence between honey and spiritual input and again the fact they 'fly' - out of body experiences again.

Cerridwen with piglets and cauldron

From Celtic goddesses
Cerridwen - Triple Goddess. The Great Sow. The Old White One - Sow Goddess of ancient Wales who gave gifts of grain, bees and piglets. A fertility Goddess. Birch Her tree.

Intelligence hierarchy

The Celts believed in quite a comprehensive Intelligence hierarchy with the use of both Mother and Father symbolism as well as Sun and Moon symbolism.  The Planets are recognised as are the Signs of the Zodiac. In the Welsh Triads, for example, Saturn is called Seithenin and in Welsh mythology he is regarded as the door keeper - a guardian - which if we look at the Map of the Egg, in a sense 'he' is, because the Planet is closest to the Inner court.

John Duncan (1866-1945) - Fand and Manannan

The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, by W.Y. Evans-Wentz, [1911]
To the Celtic mystic, the universe is divisible into two interpenetrating parts or aspects: the visible in which we are now, and the invisible which is Fairyland or the Otherworld; and a fairy is an intelligent being, either embodied as a member of the human race or else resident in the Otherworld. The latter class includes many distinct hierarchies and lower orders. Some, like the highest of the Tuatha De Danann, who are the same in character as the gods of the Greeks and Hindoos, are super-human; others are the souls of the dead; while many are subhuman and have never been embodied in gross physical bodies. These last include ….nature spirits (leprechauns, 'pixies, knockers, corrigans, lutins, little folk, elves generally), which are the elementals of mediaeval mystics.

One of the more intriguing aspects of the celtic theology is that there is a direct association between one of their gods and Hermes Trismegistus

Colin Wilson - Mysteries
Hermes, known to the Egyptians as Thoth, was to the Gauls [Celts] Theutates, the name surviving in the numerous Tot or Toot hills all over England. ..... Hermes was the Greek god of fertility. In Egypt  he was Thoth, the god of learning, who later became transformed into Hermes Trismegistos, the legendary founder of magic and alchemy, to whom is attributed the most famous of magical sayings: 'As above,
so below.' In Celtic mythology he is Theutates, after whom the tuttimen are named. The tuttimen carry staves; Hermes carries a caduceus, a staff with two serpents twined around

                       Tuttimen with staves of flowers  similar to a thyrsus.  Older carvings
on stone pillars show ivy twining up the stem, which is symbolically more accurate
 

 Songs and spells

The Celts used Runes and were able to sing spells.  There is considerable emphasis in all the descriptions of Druids of their musical ability and the importance of music in their ceremonies.  Bards in the UK came later and were more like musicians and not magicians.......

Cerne Abbas Giant

Musical Myths and Facts Volume II – C Engel 1876
Bardus, a king of Gallia is said to have introduced music into Western Europe and to have been the first of the singers known as the bards [this is dated at around 1000 BC]

but the true bard from Europe was a magician using songlines and spells and music, and the true bard knew the Word notation system

 

Professor Joscelyn Godwin – Music, Mysticism and Magic
Guy Lefevre combined an interest in ancient languages and in speculative music with an ambition to reconstruct the historic past.
La Galliade – a Gallic Aeneid, as the name suggests – is the spiritual history of the French nation.
It claims that the bards of ancient Gaul, under King Bardus, were the fountainhead of all arts and philosophy, and especially of the knowledge of cosmic harmony which only later flowed from them to Orpheus and Plato.
D P Walker, one of the few who have discussed it, felt obliged to write that ‘The Galliade is an entirely serious poem in spite of the preposterous history of culture which is its main theme’.
But perhaps it is not so absurd when one considers the extraordinary astronomical and mathematical knowledge shown by the Megalithic civilisations of France and Britain and the legend of the Hyperborean origin for the arts of Apollo.

Co Wicklow Ireland

So maybe, just maybe, the ancient civilisation of Greece was founded on that of the Celtic nations and their predecessors, knowledge went south not north.

And maybe, but just maybe, the gods so revered by the Greeks, curly haired and blonde, were Celts and northern races who had travelled south to spread the word.  Just a thought.

The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, by W.Y. Evans-Wentz, [1911]
Of all European lands I venture to say that Ireland is the most mystical, and, in the eyes of true Irishmen, as much the Magic Island of Gods and Initiates now as it was when the Sacred Fires flashed from its purple, heather-covered mountain-tops and mysterious round towers, and the Greater Mysteries drew to its hallowed shrines neophytes from the West as well as from the East, from India and Egypt as well as from Atlantis;  and Erin's mystic-seeing sons still watch and wait for the relighting of the Fires and the restoration of the old Druidic Mysteries. Herein I but imperfectly echo the mystic message Ireland's seers gave me, a pilgrim to their Sacred Isle.
And until this mystic message is interpreted, men cannot discover the secret of Gaelic myth and song in olden or in modern times, they cannot drink at the ever-flowing fountain of Gaelic genius, the perennial source of inspiration which lies behind the new revival of literature and art in Ireland, nor understand the seeming reality of the fairy races.

I hope this site helps.

Map around 1st century AD showing shrinking celtic territory - in green, Germanic territories in pink and expanding Roman influence in yellow  

The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, by W.Y. Evans-Wentz, [1911]
The fact of ancient Celtic cults of stones, waters, trees, and fairies still existing under cover of Christianity and the persistence of the ancient Celtic cult of the dead, as illustrated in the survival of Samain in its modern forms, goes far to sustain the opinion of Ernest Renan, who declared in his admirable Essais that of all peoples the Celts, as the Romans also recorded, have most precise ideas about spirit. Thus it is that the Celts at this moment are the most spiritually conscious of western nations. To think of them as materialists is impossible. Since the time of Patrick and Columba the Gaels have been the missionaries of Europe; and, as Caesar asserts, the Druids were the ancient teachers of the Gauls, no less than of all Britain. And the mysteries of life and death are the key-note of all things really Celtic, even of the great literature of Arthur, Cuchulainn, and Finn, now stirring the intellectual world.

 

References

  • wiltshire-heritage-museum - bush barrow lozenge
    it has 5 levels and layers - like a pyramid or mandala

Eleanor C Merry – The Flaming Door

Nearly all that has been written about the Druids is based on what has come to us through Greek and Roman historians, and on various collections of Bardic documents and poems; and we glean a little here and there from fairy tales, myths and old customs …..  The difficulties attendant upon all archaeological research are increased in the case of the Druids because there is so little in the way of material evidence of their cultural life.  Moreover most of the documentary evidence was produced during a time when the great Druid-Hibernian wisdom was in its decadence, when its glory was past and its vision clouded, when the Islands were distraught by invasions and strife and violence and the sanctuaries were profaned.  Only the Bards – and of these but a few – could pass on in song and rune, some of the wisdom of the past and conceal it in allegory and image.

Bronze Celtic statue of a man, with his
bulging eyes - a sign of spiritual experience.
Notice the crossed leg pose.  He wears a torc
 
  • Barddas is book of material compiled and written by the Welsh writer Iolo Morganwg.   It is a fascinating book, but one of its problems is that it is unclear which parts are genuine ancient Welsh bardic and druidic theology and lore, and which parts are Iolo's  interpretation.  It is condemned by academics, but even if Iolo made his own interpretations, they do seem to tie in well with other Mystery religions.  The work was published by John Williams for the Welsh Manuscripts Society in two volumes, 1862 and 1874.  The following also is important

Mr. David Williams, J.P., of Carmarthen
About the years 1780--1820 there lived an old bard in Glamorganshire who was actually a Druid, though he professed to be a Christian as well. His common name was Edward Williams (Iolo Morganwg); and he [with Owen Jones and William O. Pughe] edited the famous Archaiology of Wales.

  • Rites and Mysteries of the Druids - Edward Davies
  • CELT - an online database of texts compiled by UCC Ireland
  • The Poems of Ossian - by James Macpherson [1773]; Ossian purports to be a translation of an epic cycle of Scottish poems from the early dark ages. Ossian, a blind bard, sings of the life and battles of Fingal, a Scotch warrior.
Ingres: The Dream of Ossian

Ossian caused a sensation when it was published on the cusp of the era of revolutions, and had a massive cultural impact during the 18th and 19th centuries. Napolean carried a copy into battle; Goethe translated parts of it; the city of Selma, Alabama was named after the home of Fingal, and one of Ingres' most romantic and moody paintings, the Dream of Ossian was based on it.
James Macpherson claimed that Ossian was based on an ancient Gaelic manuscript. There was just one problem. The existence of this manuscript was never established. In fact, unlike Ireland and Wales, there are no dark-age manuscripts of epic poems, tales, and chronicles and so on from Scotland. It isn't that such ancient Scottish poetry and lore didn't exist, it was just purely oral in nature. Not much of it was committed to writing until it was on the verge of extinction. There are Scottish manuscripts and books in existence today which date as far back as the 12th century (some with scraps of poetry in them), but they are principally on subjects such as religion, genealogy, and land grants

  • The Welsh Triads (Welsh Trioedd Ynys Prydein, literally "Triads of the Island of Britain") are a group of related texts in medieval manuscripts which preserve fragments of Welsh folklore, mythology and traditional history in groups of three. The earliest surviving collection of the Welsh Triads is bound in the manuscript Peniarth 16, now at the National Library of Wales, which has been dated to the third quarter of the 13th century and contains 46 of the 96 triads. Other important manuscripts include Peniarth 45 (written about 1275), and the pair White Book of Rhydderch (Welsh: Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch) and Red Book of Hergest (Welsh: Llyfr Coch Hergest), which share a common version clearly different from the version behind the collections in the Peniarth manuscripts.
  • Reconstructin of Silbury hill being built, it has 5 levels
    and layers like a pyramid or mandala
    The Book of Taliesin - Taliesin was a poet whose work has possibly survived in a Middle Welsh manuscript, still available from the National Library of Wales. A maximum of eleven of the preserved poems have been dated to as early as the 6th century.  Taliesin was a renowned bard who is believed to have sung at the courts of at least three Brythonic kings - King Urien of Rheged, his son Owain mab Urien, and King Brochfael Ysgithrog of Powys and possibly his successor Cynan Garwyn, either before or during his time at Urien's court.  His name means "shining brow" in Middle Welsh. In legend and medieval Welsh poetry, he is often referred to as Taliesin Ben Beirdd ("Taliesin, Chief of Bards" or chief of poets). Canu y byd mawr – the Song of the Great World is one of his more famous symbolic poems
  •  Preiddeu Annwfn or Preiddeu Annwn (English: The Spoils of Annwfn) is a cryptic poem of sixty lines found in Middle Welsh in the Book of Taliesin.
ballard long stone Armagh, Ireland

Eleanor C Merry – The Flaming Door
The whole of this poem must be regarded as an account of the experience of an initiation, but presented, purposely, in the most obscure language.  The difficulty of interpreting it is probably all the greater owing to the fact that it was written down long after the greatest period of the Celtic Mysteries and it is not possible to be sure to what extent later transcribers or translators may not have thought they knew better than earlier ones.

  • The Mabinogion - is the title given to a collection of eleven prose stories collated from medieval Welsh manuscripts. The tales draw on pre-Christian Celtic mythology, international folktale motifs, and early medieval historical traditions. While some details may hark back to older Iron Age traditions, each of these tales is the product of a highly developed medieval Welsh narrative tradition, both oral and written. Lady Charlotte Guest in the mid 19th century was the first to publish English translations of the collection, popularising the name "Mabinogion" at the same time
  • Evans-Wentz in later years  with
    studies on the celtic culture directed
    the course of the rest of his life
    The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries [1911] – Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz completed his initial study on Celtic culture from 1907-9 and it was successfully presented to the Faculty of Letters of the University of Rennes, Brittany, for the Degree of Docteur-ès-Lettres.
    He joined the Anthropology department of the University of Oxford, as a Fellow of Jesus College and collected a large quantity of fresh material.  The scope of his original research was limited to the four chief Celtic countries, but was then expanded to include all of the Celtic countries.  The result was this book. 
    It was a brave book for its time being in parts “in conflict with orthodox views, whether of the theologian or of the man of science”. But his field work was extremely thorough, his aim being “to make the exposition of the belief in fairies as completely and as truly Celtic as possible, without much regard for non-Celtic opinion”.  This aim garnished him a great deal of support from people in Ireland, Scotland, Isle of Man, Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany. 
    Amongst these were six distinguished Celtic scholars:--Dr. Douglas Hyde (Ireland); Dr. Alexander Carmichael (Scotland); Miss Sophia Morrison (Isle of Man); the Right Hon. Sir John Rhy^s (Wales); Mr. Henry Jenner (Cornwall); & Professor Anatole Le Bras (Brittany).  It is probably the only book to have captured the beliefs and folk memory of Celtic people before those beliefs were finally lost by the devastation of two world wars and the influenza pandemic.
  • Co Armagh, Ireland
    Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland - Thomas Crofton Croker (15 January 1798 – 8 August 1854) was an Irish antiquary.  Croker devoted himself largely to the collection of ancient Irish poetry and Irish folklore.  He and his wife's testimonies about funereal customs, particularly the tradition of keening the deceased are among the earliest and most significant contributions to the understanding of the Irish language lament and the accompanying traditions. His work Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland went to six editions, and was translated into German by the Brothers Grimm
  • Brennos II and Celts/ Keltoi sack Delphi 279 BC

    the raven helmet actually exists and is in a

    museum

    The World Guide to Gnomes and fairies etc - Thomas Keightley (1789 – 1872) was a historian, educated at Trinity College, Dublin, who wrote works on mythology and folklore.   He wrote a number of extremely useful and well researched books on the ‘terrestrial hierarchies’  - that is fairies, dwarfs, elves and so on and was an authority on many ancient myths and legends
  • Dindsenchas - is a set of about 176 poems and prose commentaries recounting the acts of mythic and legendary figures, and is an important source for the study of Irish mythology.  The manuscripts on which they are recorded date from around 11th and 12th century.  Edward J. Gwynn compiled and translated dindsenchas poems from the Book of the Dun Cow, the Book of Leinster [12th century], the Rennes Manuscript, the Book of Ballymote, the Great Book of Lecan and the Yellow Book of Lecan in The Metrical Dindshenchas, published in four volumes between 1903 and 1906, with a general introduction and indices published as a fifth volume in 1935.  Although they are known today from these written sources, the dindsenchas are believed to be a product of the pre-literary tradition.  There is some similarity between these and the Songlines of the aborigines – acts of naming are included.
The first stage of Initiation to the Celtic Mysteries - buried alive in a tomb or barrow
  • Silva Gadelica – (two vols, 1892) is a collection of tales from ancient Irish manuscripts, put together by the Irish antiquarian Standish Hayes O'Grady (Irish: Anéislis Aodh Ó Grádaigh; 1832 – 16 October 1915). As a child, he learnt Irish from the native speakers of his locality and used this to create the collection, he was educated at Trinity College Dublin.  He became a founding member of the Ossianic Society - an Irish literary society founded in Dublin on St Patrick's Day 1853, which took its name from the poetic material associated with the ancient narrator Oisín. His also compiled a Catalogue of the Irish Manuscripts in the British Museum which was unfinished on his death, but was completed by Robin Flower
  • The Voyage of Bran - Immram Brain (maic Febail orFeabhail) is a medieval Irish narrative. The content derives from Irish mythology, but was recorded in the 8th century. It is an allegory of the spiritual path and contains spiritual experiences. It may have influenced the later story of Saint Brendan's voyage.  One day while Bran is walking, he hears beautiful music, so beautiful, in fact, that it lulls him to sleep.He embarks upon a quest to the Other World.  Versions are available from CELT – see above.
Celtic knight with shield and the
 bulging eyes of spiritual experience
  • AE - George William Russell - has his own entry on his site, he was an Irish poet and writer.  AE, as he was known, documented and wrote about a number of Celtic heros, gods and goddesses.  The Enchantment Of Cuchullain by him and ‘Aretas’  (James M. Pryse) is included in this section as it is essentially Celtic in feel

Many go to Tir-na-nog in sleep, and some are said to have remained there, only a vacant form is left behind without the light in the eyes which marks the presence of a soul - AE

  • W B Yeats - also has his own entry on this site.  Very many of his poems were inspired by Celtic legend and history

W B Yeats - In Ireland, this world and the world we go to after death are not far apart

 

 

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