Tag Archives: Celts

Polemical topics for polytheists (part 16): The Celts and Celtic polytheism

First view: The Celts and their traditions are restricted to their current populations and languages in the British Isles, Ireland and France, and has been mostly replaced by Germanics.

Second view: The Celts and their tradition should be restored to its largest historical extent, which covered most of Europe.

Balanced view: The Celtic tradition and identity ought to find its historical places beyond current populations, but without repeating unnecessary imperialism. (see illustration of fair extent) 

mapexpansionThe Celtic peoples and traditions once had a plentiful and noble presence mainly in Central and Western Europe, but what remains of it is unfortunately little and often treated with contempt. Having been conquered first by the Romans and then again by Germanic tribes, the identity and culture of these peoples has suffered greatly, sometimes with deliberate persecution. Julius Caesar waged a bloody and unjust war in Gaul for 10 years, in order to increase his dwindling income and expand the territory of Rome for personal ambition. In doing so, he destroyed and colonized the Celtic heartland, which was only to be worsened by his despotic successors’ persecution of the druids. The excuse was ending human sacrifice, a hugely exaggerated practice that the Celts (among others) practiced, but the real purpose was to put an end to their warlike resistance, a noble example of which is well known. Through continuous colonization and attempted assimilation, the Celtic identities, cultures and languages began to wear off, and worse influence came after the Roman Empire adopted Christianity. The Celtic reputation for human sacrifice and war was very contrary to Christian (aka. intolerant Roman) “morality” and “civilized ways”, which placed a stigma on the speakers of the language as being uncivilized like the Germans. The Celts were dealt a final blow after the Germanic tribes, which had managed to escape Roman domination, expanded to conquer what remained of their colonized homelands and traditions in Britain, France, North West Spain and Central Europe. The beautiful old Celtic language (lately reconstructed), once spoken in many dialects, now became extinct except for isolated areas which are still shrinking today. It is extremely interesting (and at the same time very unfortunate) to observe that descendants of these marginalized peoples, who long had an inferiority complex about their identity, were (beginning from 1000 years later) mostly responsible for the colonization of the Americas. Settlers from Western Britain, Western France, Portugal, Western Spain, and later South Germany (central Europe) led the effort in obtaining a new future and settling new lands. It was these descendants of oppressed people who then oppressed others in a world that had long been oppressive; just as children who are bullied and humiliated, they grew up to do the same. This is the very sad story of the “white people” in the Americas, most of whom today are unaware of their Celtic identity, after having tragically lost it. It also saddens me to see so many people, whose ancestors were undoubtedly Celtic, choosing rather to follow the Roman and Germanic traditions of their colonizers. “I am an Anglo-Saxon/Heathen/Roman polytheist” a British or American person will tell you, and “I am a Heathen/Roman polytheist” a Gaulish* person will tell you. Then you have many Celtic people also extremely attracted to the Hellenic tradition, for reasons that can be understood but not quite justified. I know that the Celts have little mythology that is left, and I know it is such powerful stories that often bind us to a tradition. Yet ancestry is a much stronger claim that ought to overcome fascination or inclination. An ancestor that brought us life and whose image is stamped on our faces will always have a stronger and more natural claim that a foreign myth, however well written, that has struck our fancy. You noble Celts, do not succumb to the urge of following the Germans, for you are equally warlike; nor the Romans, for you are equally civilized; nor the Greeks, for you are equally wise**. Do not follow “Wicca” in order to make up for losses that are now being rediscovered and reconstructed. This is the perfect time in history, the first time since Late Antiquity, for a Celtic revival. May Ogmios give the druids the wisdom to reconstruct their mythology and their traditions ever more accurately and bind*** all those Celtic peoples unaware of their beautiful identity to their noble ancestors again!

 

 _______________________

*France, anciently called Gaul, got its name from Germanic invaders called the “Franks”, much like Britain, which was called England after the Angles from South Denmark.

**Actually, I think the druids were far wiser than most Greek philosophers, in spite of appearances.

 ***Ogmios, the Celtic God of speech and eloquence, is depicted with chains, because of his power to bind people through his wisdom. See a list here of other Celtic Gods. 

Good and bad polytheists (part 8): Vercingetorix and Brennus

VERCINGETORIX

Coin_VercingetorixThe Celts were a large ethnic group of peoples that inhabited what is today France, Britain, Western Spain, Austria, Bohemia, South Germany, North Italy, Belgium, Slovenia and parts of Croatia and Serbia. They were a warlike and fertile people who increased their numbers, expanded and migrated from time to time in search of land to accommodate them. Their culture, already beautiful, also benefited from trade and exchange with the south, and therefore by the 1st century BCE, we hear of large and prosperous cities in Gaul (the ancient word for France). By that time, they had already clashed several times with Rome in the north of Italy, because of pressure from expanding Germanic tribes to the north, and the Germans were also interested in expanding beyond the Rhine river. Unfortunately for them, not only the Germans were interested in expansion, but also the Romans, who had defeated the Carthaginian empire 100 years before and taken all their lands. The Celts thus fell between two powers and pressures. To make matters even worse, Rome in 59 BCE was under the power of two ambitious men of different parties: Pompey, who had lately returned from conquests in the east, stood with the senatorial faction, and Caesar, jealous of his victories, opposed him on the plebian side. Pompey was rich from conquests and new provinces, but Caesar was in debt from his consulship, because (among other reasons) he spent vast sums of money to feed the poor to increase his popularity. At first, Caesar, who was governor in North Italy, considered conquering Dacia (today Romania) in order to get out of debt and get into fame, but he found a better opportunity with the Celts to the North. In 58 BCE, the Helvetii, a confederation of five Celtic tribes inhabiting modern Switzerland, prepared for a migration to the west in order to avoid pressure from the Germans. There was news that their leader Orgetorix intended to rule all Gaul, but this may have been a rumor from Caesar to justify war. When the Helvetii requested peaceful passage through Roman territory in south Gaul, Caesar (the governor of the province) deliberately refused, knowing this would provoke war.

Continue reading