Celtic religion and mythology
Because the Welsh tales were transcribed later than the Irish ones--mainly in the Middle Ages--they display more influence of Christian writers and less love for the Celtic, pre-Christian past ; the Irish tales, although written earlier and therefore more faithful to the originals, suffered from the Viking purges.
Normal rules of human conduct do not apply and one may "run wild". Such burials were reserved for the influential and wealthy in Celtic society.
These four fire festivals are tied to the agricultural cycle as follows: Samhain is celebrated on October November 1 our Halloween.
The Continental classical writers are an additional resource, despite the fact that they rarely give detailed accounts of Celtic beliefs.
In my view the legends of the Celts offer something just as fascinating - more so in fact - than the much better known tales from Classical Mythology. Nevertheless, the combination of various sources still provide a body of data which allow for interpretation and continued discussion of Celtic culture, both insular and continental.
However, the lack of centralised deities meant that there was not a great deal of consistency among Celtic gods; "relatively few of the names from Gaulish inscriptions reappear in Ireland. On the one hand, there is the mighty, ferocious Celtic warrior, famed and feared throughout the Roman empire, fighting naked or painted blue, screaming like a Berserker, and cutting off the heads of the enemy.
The historian Ronald Hutton however cautioned against automatically equating all Irish and Welsh mythological figures as former deities, noting that while some characters "who appear to be human, such as Medb or St Brigitprobably were indeed once regarded as divine
Merlin in his tall hat turning Wat into a fish or a squirrel. The particular character of the Dagda was as a figure of burlesque lampoonery in Irish mythology , and some authors even conclude that he was trusted to be benevolent enough to tolerate jokes at his own expense. Or could the solar celebrations pre-date druidism, belonging to the Stonehenge builders, and falling slowly into disuse? Across Celtic Europe, many of the constructed temples, which were square in shape and constructed out of wood, were found in rectangular ditched enclosures known as viereckschanzen , where in cases such as Holzhausen in Bavaria votive offerings were also buried in deep shafts. Today, the Scots put most of their merry-making efforts into Hogmanay , the New Year's celebration. One delightful character is a magical and capricious cauldron encountered by Arthur on a raid to the Welsh Otherworld of Annwfn. Early Irish Myths and Sagas. Although early Gaels in Ireland and parts of modern Wales used the Ogham script to record short inscriptions largely personal names , more sophisticated literacy was not introduced to Celtic areas that had not been conquered by Rome until the advent of Christianity. So, did the "classic" Celtic religion originate in the British Isles and slowly replace the older, bloodier, more pantheistic and less refined religious beliefs the Celts had originally brought to Europe? In contrast, Irish mythology has been preserved through manuscripts of early Christian monks. There is so much more in the stories than can be mentioned here. May Day traditions includes young people picking flowers in the woods and spending the night there , and the dance around the May Pole, weaving red for the god and white for the goddess streamers round and round. At Lammas, the Corn King dies to be reborn at spring , ensuring plenty for the winter. Still, inscriptions are invaluable, if for no ot her reason than that they provide scholars with the names of many Celtic gods that would otherwise have been lost. Most of the inscriptions are in Latin, although the earliest are in Greek, as the Gauls' first contact with letters were via the Greeks.
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