Celtic MythologyAlexandra Bueno and Emily Drake
The Celts? Who?• The Celts were/are a linguistic group in the Indo-European languagefamily. Their unifying language was known as old Celtic, and was theclosest cousin to Italic- Latins precursor.• Perhaps the best known Celtic language remaining is Gaelic.• Historically, Celtic tribes inhabited most of the European continent, andCeltic languages were spoken from Spain to Austria, from Belgium toTurkey.
What is "celtic mythology?"• Unlike the formalized pantheons of Greek, Roman, and Egyptiantraditions, Celtic religion relied on the gods and goddesses known toworshippers in one localized area. It really depended on what part ofEurope the tribe was in.• References have been found that identify more than 400 Celtic gods andgoddesses, some of whom were recognized only by small cults.• It is therefore difficult to summarize the whole of Celtic belief withoutdividing it into subsections such as Gaulish vs. Irish mythology.
Gaulish Mythology• Gaulish mythology began as an early Celtic religion, and eventually mergedwith Roman polytheism into the Gallo-Roman religion.• They worshipped a common pantheon as well as many tribal deities. Theydid not write about their own religion, so what is known comes fromRoman writings. The Gauls themselves were the ancestors of the French.• Ambisagrus: a later version of a Celtic thunder god associated with theRoman Jupiter.• Cernunnos: the Horned One. A god of agriculture and fertility, depictedwith antlers and surrounded by animals.• Toutatis: a protector deity, worshipped as "father of the tribe." Related toMercury.
Irish Mythology• Irish mythology was a primary part of the beliefs of the Irish beforeChristianity took hold.• Most knowledge of Irish Mythology primarily comes from the four cycles:the Mythological Cycle, the Ulster Cycle, the Fenian Cycle and theHistorical Cycle. (all are based on surviving manuscripts)• Mythological Cycle: comprised of stories about the former gods and originsof the Irish.• Ulster Cycle: comprised of heroic tales about the King of Ulster and hiscompanions.• Fenian Cycle: comprised of other heroic tales, with strong links toScotland. Written in verse.• Historical Cycle: the collected historical/mythological records made byIrish bards to record the family history of those they served.
Irish Mythologys ImportantFigures• The Morrigan: is a goddess of battle, strife, and fertility. Her nametranslates as either "Great Queen" or "Phantom Queen." Associated withravens and sometimes depicted as a trio of goddesses.• The Dagda: The god of earth and treaties, ruler over life and death. Leaderof the Tuatha Dé Danann.• Tuatha Dé Danann: "People of the goddess Dannu." A race of gods whoperfected the use of magic.• Danu: goddess of the earth and mother of many gods.• Brigid: the "three-fold goddess." Fire of Inspiration, Fire of the Hearth,Fire of the Forge.
How about those Druids?• There seems to be a bit of confusion about the Druids, who are oftenassociated with the Celts in modern fictional literature.• It is actually believed that this priestly group pre-dated the Celts!• Celtic myth was never passed on through writing, but instead traveledthrough the generations by way of their elaborate memorization and oraltransmission. Therefore, the Celts and druid areboth ill-documented beyond Roman writings,which may have been exaggerated.• The very organized hierarchy of druids was incharge of memorizing and keeping the mythsof the Celts alive through their oral tradition.
"Neo-paganism"• Celtic Paganism isnt dead yet!• There are certain reconstructionist groups that haverevived the pantheons used by the Celts. They have apresence in both the Celts original home of Europe and our own continent.But if becoming a neo-pagan doesnt seem like its for you, you should knowthat many celebrations we take part in today are just Celtic festivals for themodern era.
FestivalsThere are many important Celtic Festivalsthat take place to this day• Samhain• Imbolc• Beltain• Lughasadh• Solar Festivals
Samhain• Occurs on October 31, which isstart of Celtic New Year• Time when barrier between life and deathis thin• Origins of Halloween• Jack OLanterns originated when Celtsused to put skulls of ancestors on porches
Imbolc• Around January 31st• Celebrate End of Winter• Became Christian Feast of Bridgid• Celebration lasted into 20th century forCeltic Christians• Still celebrated by Pagans
Beltain• May 1st• Fire Festival• sacred to god Belenos "The Shining One"• Origin of May Day
Lughnasadh• lasted as long as two weeks• centered around July 31st• introduced by god Lugh• also associated with goddess Macha
Solar Festivals• celebrated solstices• midsummer celebrations• Important Art Motifs from festivals:o sun diskso swastikas (showing spinning sun)o solar chariot wheels• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUFDmw_ahmk