Religions Ancient and

Modern

CELTIC RELIGION

RELIGIONS:
ANIMISM. By Edward Clodd, PANTHEISM.
Universe.

ANCIENT AND MODERN.
Author of Tht Story of Creation.
of The Religion of the

By James Allanson Picton, Author

THE RELIGIONS OF ANCIENT CHINA.
By Professor Giles, LL. D.
of Cambridge.
,

Professor of Chinese in the University

THE RELIGION OF ANCIENT GREECE.
By Jane Harrison, Lecturer
Author of Prolegomena
to

at

Newnham

College, Cambridge,

Study of Greek Religion.

ISLAM. By Syed Ameer

MAGIC AND FETISHISM.

Ali, M.A., C.I.E., late of H.M.'s High Court of Judicature in Bengal, Author of The Spirit of Islam and The Ethics of Islam..

THE RELIGION OF ANCIENT EGYPT. By Professor W. M. Flinders Petrie, F.R.S. THE RELIGION OF BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA.
By Theophilus G. Pinches,
late of the British

By Dr. A. C. Haddon, F.R.S., Lecturer on Ethnology at bridge University.

Cam-

Museum.

BUDDHISM.
HINDUISM.
By

2 vols.

By Professor Rhys Asiatic Society.
Dr. L. D.

DAVIDS, LL.D.,

late Secretary of

The Royal

Barnett,
British

of the

Books and MSS.,

Department of Oriental Printed

Museum,
Joint Editor of the Oxford English

SCANDINAVIAN RELIGION.
By William A. Craigik,
Dictionary.

CELTIC RELIGION.
By
Professor

Anwyl,

Professor of

Welsh

at University College,

THE MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN AND IRELAND.
By Charles Squire, Author of The Mythology of
the British

Aberystwyth.

Islands.

JUDAISM.
By Israel Abrahams, Lecturer in Talmudic Literature in Cambridge University, Author oi Jewish Life in the Middle Ages. SHINTO. By W. G. Aston, C.M.G.

THE RELIGION OF ANCIENT MEXICO AND PERU. By Lewis Spence, M.A. THE RELIGION OF THE HEBREWS.
By Professor Yastrow.

CELTIC RELIGION
IN PRE-CHRISTIAN TIMES

By

EDWARD ANWYL,

M.A.
AT

LATE CLASSICAL SCHOLAR OF ORIEL COLLEGE, OXFORD
PROFESSOR OF WELSH AND COMPARATIVE PHILOLOGY

THE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF WALES, ABERYSTWYTH ACTING-CHAIRMAN OF THE CENTRAL WELSH BOARD
FOR INTERMEDIATE EDUCATION

CHICAGO

THE OPEN COURT PUBLISHING COMPANY

Printers to His Majesty . and A.1. . Constable. Edinburgh : T.

1906. Anwyl. Aberystwyth.u It is FOREWORD only as prehistoric archaeology has come to throw more and more light on the early civilisations of Celtic lands that it has become possible to modern The author cordially acknowledges viewpoint. . Fehniary 15. facts. It is to E. but his researches into some portions of the interpret Celtic religion from a thoroughly field especially have suggested to him the possi- bility of giving a new presentation to certain facts and groups of disclosed. his indebtedness to numerous writers on this subject. which the existing evidence be hoped that a new interest in the religion of the Celts may thereby be aroused.

PAGB 1 II. Celtic 19 IV.CONTENTS CHAP. Religion and the Development of 29 36 44 Individualised Deities. Civilisation. . The Humanised Gods of Celtic Religion. Introductory : The Celts. The Chief Phases of Celtic 8 in.. The Celtic Other-World. . V. . VII. I.. . 57 . .. The Celtic Priesthood.. The Correlation of Celtic Religion with THE Growth of Celtic Civilisation. VI.. ..

in historic have been at one time or other mainly of Celtic speech. in Gaul and Britain. a tongue Indo-European family. man had lived for ages before the introduction of any variety of Aryan or Indo-European speech. It does not follow that all the races of the which spoke a form of the Celtic tongue. same Indeed. in the case A I . for example. and this Avas probably the throughout the whole of Western and Southern Europe. It will be used in reference to those times. were all of the stock. countries and districts which. Further.CELTIC RELIGION CHAPTER INTRODUCTORY : I THE CELTS ' ' In dealing with the subject of Celtic Religion to ' duty of the writer is sense in which the term Celtic first ' the explain the will be used in this work. ethnological and archaeological evidence tends to establish clearly that.

in all probability. Celts and Italians and their success in extending range of their a talent for languages was largely due to their skiU in arms. of which family Latin is clear that the forms of the best From some this it follows that known we are representative. the modern Carniola. Armenia and Greece. etc. to look for the Aryan Celtic speech in that could have been the Europe natural centre of dissemination also for the Italic centre of dissemination of district of languages. through and the commercial intercourse which conquest followed it.CELTIC RELIGION light of comparative philology. combined. The conquering Aryan-speaking formed a military the aristocracy. occupied by them The common centre of radiation for Celtic and Italic speech was probably in the districts of Noricum and Pannonia. and the neighbouring parts of the Danube valley. it has now become abundantly Indo-European speech which we call Celtic are most closely related to those of the Italic family. not to speak of the original speakers of the Teutonic 2 . with administration. the tribes which spoke the various Italic forms of Celtic and districts speech spread into the in historic times. This military aristocracy was of kindred type to that which carried Aryan speech into India and Persia. Carinthia. From this common centre..

as well as AVestwards. doubtthe Danube. from the Danube along valley. of Europe to-day are of the Aryan or Indo- media European type. Some branches less of the tribes which spoke these Europe.INTRODUCTORY: THE CELTS and Slavonic tongues. so that the in their resultant populaIn most cases. whence the Indo-European could have or Aryan languages in general radiated Eastwards. the families of the original conquerors. In view of the necessity of discovering a centre. however. in the form of kindred dialects of a common speech. amount of Aryan blood war and a certain instinct of government. conquerors to conquered was not uniform in all the countries where they held sway. succeeded in making their own tongues the dominant of of communication in the lands where they with the result that most of the languages ruled. and. follow necessarily from early religious ideas or the artistic civilisation of countries now 3 the . the tendency to-day is to regard these tongues as having been spoken originally in some district between the Carpathians and the Steppes. It this does that not. extended their conquests together with their various forms of dialects penetrated into Central ern and Western Aryan speech into SouthThe proportion of Europe. by their skill in the art tion varied greatly.

nay. however. their religious ideas. and its investigation appertains to the sphere of itself the philologist. has necessity followed the lines either of racial or of linguistic development. Language. critical were of Aryan investigation has. in which the word 4 . too. again. essential features of their civili- sation. In the wide sense. The physical history of race. forms a problem by more and must be studied by anthropological and ethnological methods. then. has often spread along lines other than those of race. In the last century it was long held that in countries of Aryan speech the tions. for instance. and the search for its ancient trade-routes not of may be safely left to the archteologist. and its investigation must be conducted by the methods and along the lines of the comparative study of religions. their social institu- more. Material civilisation. their inhabitants themselves. enabled us to distinguish clearly between the de- A more velopment of various factors of human life which in their evolution can follow and often have followed or less independent lines.CELTIC RELIGION Aryan in speecli came necessarily from the con- querors rather than the conquered. in religion Similarly the spread of ideas on lines and thought is one which has advanced of its own. origin.

compared with that of their predecessors nor is this surprising. or the victory of the earlier faith. But the Aryan conquerors of Gaul and Italy 5 . and the result in else the end was doubtless some compromise.INTRODUCTORY: THE CELTS ' ' Celtic religion will be used in this work. which. they whose conquests were often only partial could not eradicate the inveterate beliefs of their predecessors. it will of religious thought prevalent in the countries and districts. ideas contributions have been sources. in course of cover the modes time. but their quota appears to be small . in view of the immense period during which the lands of their conquest had been previously Nothing is clearer than the marveloccupied. whatever face of conquest ideas on religion the Aryan conquerors of Celtic lands may have brought with them. and. It made from many affirm would be rash to that the various streams of Aryan Celtic conquest made and of no contributions to the conceptions of life the world which the countries of their conquest came to hold (and the evidence of language points. to some such contributions). lous persistence of traditional and immemorial modes of thought. were mainly characterised by their Celtic To the sum-total of these religious speech. indeed. even in the and subjugation.

are far than they ever were before to the complexity of the contributory elements that have entered into the tissue of the ancient alive more religions of mankind. by Italians compared with^Greek. the more complex do its contributory factors become. In the long ages before history there were unrecorded conquests and migrations innumerable. too. as Aryan tongue. and we know not what pre-Aryan tongues may have contributed them. to-day. and the more the relics of Celtic religion are investigated. suggests men of different speech. Among of Celtic gods. fail to is no historian The more the scanty remnants 6 of Celtic religion . of Central Europe. body of ideas which modifications of the and Celts the alike.CELTIC RELIGION themselves were not the Danube in one generation. and ideas do not spread because there to record them. Scholars. like those of other countries. men who had advanced up Those men of poured into the Italian Gaul were doubtless in Aryan speech who into peninsula blood not unmixed with the older inhabitants and and had entered into the formed the religious beliefs of the men of the Danube The common valley. we find roots that are apparently irrecontact with names ducible to any found in Indo-European speech.

for example. and religion. that is fundamental groundwork a body of ideas. Man's religion from his social experience.INTRODUCTORY: THE CELTS are examined. in the names its survivals in folk-lore its and legend. life. have left their indelible impress on the mind of man in Western Europe. the clearer its characteristic features it becomes that many of had been evolved during the vast period of the ages of stone. During these millennia. as they We are thus compelled. have in every land. its rites. similar to those of other lands. philosophy of traces of every land where this kind of working which are found in form of civilisation has a can never be dissociated prevailed. men had evolved. to come to the conclusion. from the indications which we have of Celtic of its deities. and to illustrate these relations will of the following chapters. concomitantly with their material civilisation. be the aim -^ . and the painful stages through which man reached the agricultural life. which were the natural correlatives of the phases of experience through which man passed in his To demonstrate emergence into civilised life.

Some antiquarians have thought to detect such earlier types in the stones that have been named eoliths found in Kent. Britain and Ireland. though these ' ' may possibly of their history question It is ' ' eoliths show human is use. the cave-bear. have been evolved from still more primitive types. now extinct.CHAPTER II THE CHIEF PHASES OF CELTIC CIVILISATION In the chief countries of Celtic civilisation. the Ice Age paleolithic man survived in Britain has not so far been satisfac- Whether 8 . example. the far from being settled. and other animals certain. Gaul. too. but the forms even of these rude implements suggest that they. that man succeeded in maintaining himself for ages in the company of the mammoth. but. Cisalpine and Transalpine. In Britain. however. paheolithic man has left numerous specimens of his implements. abundant materials have been found for elucidat- ing the stages of culture through which man for passed in prehistoric times.

or in that of man of the question is by the cave The feature in Stone Age. as M. however. is a standing reminder to us of the scantiness of our data for estimating the lines of man's religious suggests. or to the artistic mere and other development in the vast epochs of of prehistoric time. In Gaul. of the indications of continuity. How he came to do so. Salomon Reinach has also 9 . object. A feature such as this. there is fair evidence of continuity between and Neolithic periods. Salomon Reinach of 'sympathetic impulse. whatever ' may have been its whether it arose from an effort by means magic to catch animals. as M. Some of the drawings and carvings of these men reveal a sense of form which would have done credit to men of a far later age. and by what motives he was actuated. is still a mystery. having learned to tame animals. It may be.PALAEOLITHIC MAN torily decided. artistic skill shown the remarkable New men of the Dordogne district. and this continuity must Still in the Palaeolithic spite obviously have existed somewhere. know that from the We life hunting man passed into the pastoral stage. the civihsation of primitive is man in Gaul presents one aspect that without any analogues in the life of the palaeolithic men of the River Drift period.

he was buried with liis kin in long mounds of earth called barrows. he could obtain the necessary flint for his implements. In death. the pig. the goat. the sheep. polishing. From the pastoral life again after long ages into the Kfe of passed agriculture. essentials we have here the beginnings of the agricultural civilisation of man all the world over. and the remains of neoHthic man in Gaul and in Britain give us glimpses of his life as a farmer. or more probably.CELTIC RELIGION suggested. In life. in chambered cairns and cromlechs or dolmens. covered with a roof of branches supported by a central pole. which he made by chipping and and he could also make pottery of a In its rude variety. lO . as the present writer some sense of a need of the alliance of animals against hostile spirits. that it was some curious and inde- finable sense of kinship with them that led him to do so. mind mind man of early man was like the unfathomable of a boy. and the dog were his domestic animals . and could supplement the produce of his farm by means of hunting and fishing. The ox. he could grow wheat and flax. neolithic man dwelt sometimes in pit-dwellings and sometimes in hutcircles. Neolithic man could spin and weave. In all probability it was no motive which we can now fathom. The thinks.

geological. In their graves the dead were buried in a crouching attitude. and the uninterpreted stone circles and pillars of the world are a standing witness to the religious Be. stones cap-stone by stony skeleton of a grave that has been exposed to view after the mound of earth that covered it covered a standing forming the has been washed away. the signi- ficance of unknown. is Some- times the cromlech there is double. Graves of the dolmen or cromlech type are found in all the countries of Western Europe. and in this we have a striking illustration of the way in which lines of develop- ment in man's material civilisation are sooner or to later correlated his and other surroundings.J zeal of a mind that was haunted by stone. and occasionally a hole in one of the stones.BURIAL IN LATER STONE AGE The latter usually consist of three . North Africa. which is and elsewhere. wherever stone suitable for the purpose abounds. proceeding to exemplify this thesis the subsequent trend of Celtic civilisation may be fore briefly sketched. geographical. and fresh burials were made as occasion required. The religious ideas of | man in neolithic times also came into correlation with the conditions of his development. II . unless it may have been for the ingress and egress of souls.

bronze weapons and implements began to find their way. this race are usually found in round barrows. In Britain the Bronze Age begins at B. Aryan conquerors of Celtic from the nearest part of the continent. 12 . speech must have arrived some time previously. from Central and Southern Europe into Gaul. probably along the Rhine valley.C. About the beginning of the Bronze period are found evidences in this island of a race of different type from that of \ man. and by general indications of a martial The remains of bearing. or earlier.. and thence into Britain.C. which certainly used bronze skull neolithic weapons. about 2000 B. that the introduction of bronze into Britain was not by way of commerce alone. being characterised by a round and a powerful build. This race. it has not unreasonably been thought that this must have been the type that arrived in Britain first. As the type of where it generally believed to have been the that reached Britain of is first wave Celtic speech that has penetrated farthest to the west is that known as the Goidelic or Irish. about 1500 or 1400 and it some itself.CELTIC RELIGION Through the pacific intercourse of commerce. however. archteologists that bronze thought by was worked at is this period by the aid of native tin in Britain There are indications.

' ' Welsh U sound pronounced the German ti and also to a ' ' like the variety changed French u or QU to P.TYPES OF CELTIC SPEECH There are indications. QU owing east tribes to the influx from the East and North- of an overflow from the Rhhie valley of . the P type of Celtic was carried. and has survived in Welsh and Cornish. that it was this type that penetrated furthest into the west of Gaul. too. time went on. tended Into Britain. There are cogent reasons for thinking that ultimately the dominant type of Celtic speech over the greater part of Gaul came to be that of the P rather than the type. There is a similar line of cleavage in the Italic languages. We know. that 13 . from the name Eporedia (Yvrea). Avas doubtless continuous through these various channels. too. and Oscan and Umbrian to Brythonic. the remnants of the tongue of ancient Britain. speaking that dialect a dialect which. Transalpine Gaul was probably invaded by Aryan-speaking Celts from more than one direction. when it had once begun. as farther and farther West. where Latin corresponds to Goidelic. by to spread force of conquest and culture. too. Its most marked characteristic is its preservation of the pronunciation of while the Brythonic or ' ' U as ' oo ' and of QU. and the infiltration and invasion of new-comers.

as M. but the changes in the civilisation of Gaul and Britain. The same. The prominence of war in Celtic tribal life at one stage has left us the names of a large number of deities that were identified with all Mars and Bellona. though originally such. was the probable history of some of the Celtic deities. Alexandre Bertrand held. as will be shown later. The latter district may have Cisalpine received its first Celtic invaders direct from the this dialect Danube but it valley. who were 14 . as prominence the also was the case with the ancient Romans. themselves an agricultural and at the same time a predatory race. to would be rash assume that all its in- vaders came from that direction. is the war-gods were not In the Roman calendar there abundant evidence that Mars was at one time an agricultural god as well as a god of war. The predatory expeditions and wars for of conquest of military Celtic tribes in search for new homes their superfluous populations brought into deities of war. however. which reacted on religious ideas or which introduced new factors into the religious development of these lands.CELTIC KELIGION of Celtic must have spread into Gaul. In connection. with the history of Celtic religion it is not the spread of the varying types of Celtic dialect that is important.

type derives it name from the striking specimens of it that were discovered at La Tene on the shore of Lake Neuchafcel.C. and this.C. have been introduced into Britain about 300 B. that this characteristic culture of Gaul reached its zenith. Caesar tells us that Mars had at one time been the chief god of the Gauls. It was during the third century B. and that in Germany that was still the case. also..THE IRON AGE IN GAUL identified in Roman times with Mars and Bellona.C. resulting in the form or teristic lines of its now This known as the La Tene Marnian type. we find that there were several deities identified with Mars. too. The Gauls have made great strides in military appear matters and in material civilisation durinsr the of religion to Iron Age. the burials of which cover a period of from 350-200 B. and in the extensive cemeteries of the Marne valley. In Britain. notably Belatucadrus and Cocidius. points in the direction of a development under military influence. and the designs of Late-Celtic Art are here Excellent specimens of represented best of all. Hallstatt The culture of the Early Iron Age of had been developed in Gaul on characown. and gave to definite shape to the beautiful curved designs Iron appears known as those of Late-Celtic Art. Late-Celtic culture have been found in Yorkshire 15 .

i6 . as Csesar tells us. of the districts It is no accident that one most conspicuous for this worship was the territory of the Allobrogic confederation. had attained to a material ci\^lisation of no mean character before the Roman conquest. the districts that were in touch with continental commerce had. Prehistoric archaeology affords abundant proofs that. Limavady. like the Rhone valley. also developed in the same direction. Aesica. high pitch of perfection. too. in countries of Celtic speech. metal-working in bronze. the deities of sation civili- and commerce. and possibly from Etruria. as attested by Ceesar and by many inscriptions and place-names. iron.CELTIC RELIGION and elsewhere. The religious counterpart of this development in civilisation is the growth in many parts of Gaul. and important links with continental developments have been discovered at Aylesford. and other places. In Britain. and gold reached a remarkably' and this is a clear in- dication that Celtic countries and districts which were on the line of trade routes. from Greece (via Venetia). of the worship of gods identified with Mercury and Minerva. Into the development of this typical Gaulish culture elements are believed to have entered by way of the important commercial avenue of the Rhone valley from Massilia (Marseilles).

CIVILISATION NOT HOMOGENEOUS
where the commerce of the Rhone valley found its most remarkable development. From this
sketch of Celtic
seen
civilisation
it

will

readily

be

how here as elsewhere the religious development of the Celts stood closely related to the
It development of their civilisation generally. must be borne in mind, however, that all parts of

the Celtic world were not equally affected by the material development in question. Part of the

complexity of the history of Celtic religion arises from the fact that we cannot be always certain
of the degree of progress in civilisation any given district had made, of the ideas

which

which

pervaded it, or of the absorbing interests of its life. Another difficulty, too, is that the accounts
of Celtic religion given by ancient authorities do

not

always harmonise with the indisputable evidence of inscriptions. The probability is that the religious practices of the Celtic world were

no more homogeneous than its general civilisation, and that the ancient authorities are substantially true in their statements about certain
districts, certain periods,

or

certain sections of

society,

while

the

inscriptions,

springing

as

they do from the influence of the Gallo-Roman civilisation, especially of Eastern Gaul and
military Britain, give us most valuable supple-

B

17

CELTIC RELIGION
mentary evidence
for districts

and environments

of a different kind.

The

inscriptions, especially

by the names of deities which they reveal, have afforded most valuable clues to the history of
Celtic
earlier
religion,

even in

stages

of

civilisation

which they themselves In the next chapter the correlation of belong. Celtic religious ideas to the stages of Celtic
than those to
be further developed.

civilisation will

i8

CHAPTER

III

THE CORRELATION OF CELTIC RELIGION WITH THE GROWTH OF CELTIC CIVILISATION
In dealing with the long vista of prehistoric time, it is very difficult for us, in our effort after perspective, not to shorten unduly in our thoughts
the vast epochs of its duration. We tend, too, to forget, that in these unnumbered millennia there

be possible over certain areas of Europe to evolve what were practically new races, through the prepotency of particular
for
it

was ample time

to

stocks and the annihilation of others.

During

these epochs, again, after speech had arisen, there was time enough to recast completely many a
of history language from change than it is now, and in these immense epochs whatever ideas as to the world of their surroundings were vaguely felt by prehistoric men and formulated for them by their kinsmen of genius, had abundant time in which

language, for before the
free

dawn

was no more

win supremacy. There must have been asons before the dawn even of conscious
to die or to

19

CELTIC RELIGION animism. but when viewed at the same time historically. however. and at the same time to the errors into which it fell. and so they are when judged critically. Frazer has abundantly shown is in his This uniformity fact that not. and the experiment of trying sympa- magic was. bear testimony to the mind's capacity for religious agricultural stage. probably regarded as a master-stroke of genius. they of prehistoric in a glimpses genius world where ment. Golden Bough. The Stone Age itself was a long era of great if slow progress thetic in civilisation. J. but to a great extent to the it represents the state of equilibrium arrived at between minds at a certain level and their environment. and the evolution of the practices and ideas which emerge as the concomitants of its closely regarded. due to necessary uniformity of origin. as Dr. when first attempted. life was of necessity a great experi- The folk-lore of the world reveals for the same stages of civilisation a wonderful uniformity and homogeneity. afford many unhistorically. when progress in the light of experience and intelligent experiment. The Stone Age has left its sediment in in all the folk-lore of the world. along lines of thought directed 20 . G. the casual observer it many of the ideas To embedded may seem and a mass of error.

and the survival who carefully regarded them. In dealing with Celtic folk. others have often survived from a real or supposed harmony with new experiences. after long epochs of vague unrest. however much we may guess at their Many of these ancient prohibitions have origin. when he was too preoccupied with his material cares and wants to consider whether he was haunted or not. that have arisen in the course of After passing through a stage man's history."^ it is very remarkable how it mirrors the characteristic local colouring and scenery of the districts 21 . in which he played a part. came to realise that he was somehow haunted in the daytime as well as at night. but of the local Universe. early man in the Celtic world as elsewhere. some explanation of his Primitive man came to seek a solution not of the Universe as a whole (for of this he had no conception).lor e. have their roots in ideas and experiences which no speculation of ours can now completely fathom. and it was this sense of being haunted that impelled his intellect and his imagination to seek feelings. The apparently J ' unreasoned prohibitions often known as taboos/ man)^ of which still persist even in modern civilised life. vanished under new conditions.MAN AND by the HIS PROBLEMS given by the traditions of in history of the men momentum millennia.

here as elsewhere. mountains.' that other world is either on its ' ' ' an island or or a river. and in these he knew not what monsters live. might lurk or unknown beings might Celtic folk-lore the belief in fabulous In monsters has nob yet ceased. Wales. of the Celtic world the primitive hunter grounds knew every cranny of the greater part of his it is environment with the accuracy born of long familiarity. approachable only through some In the huntingcave or opening in the earth. but there were some peaks which he could not scale.CELTIC RELIGION in In a country like has originated. Knowing 22 . some jungles into which he could enter. reflect unmistakably the land of its origin. some caves which he could not not penetrate. Where it depicts an other world. lakes. and the forms of which it imagination. but also new terrors from it. or it is a land beneath the sea. caves. Man was surrounded by dangers visible and invisible. islands. for example. and man derived from it a new sense of kinship with his world. once adopted. made great headway when some prehistoric all from the various centres where it originated. a lake. it is the folk-lore of springs. and the time came man of genius propounded the objects around him were no the view that This animistic view of less living than himself the world.

Litavis. like Esus. some hostile. Even in the neolithic stage the inhabitants of Celtic countries had attained to the religious a source of fresh terrors. 23 . in view of these beings. Bormanus. he thought in course of time that other living things were somehow double. ideas in question. the men of Celtic lands. Grannos. As in all countries where the gods were individualised. but it was none the less The world swarmed with invisible spirits. had toiled along the steep ascent from the primitive vague sense of being haunted to a belief in gods who. whether aborigines or invaders. but with other selves of these things. some friendly. Here. and.SPIRITS IN CELTIC RELIGION seemed able from the experience of dreams that he himself to wander away from himself. as is seen not only by their folk-lore and by the names of groups of goddesses such as the Matres (or mothers). but by the fact that in historic times they had advanced well beyond this stage to that of named and individualised gods. had names of a definite character. again. and the world around him to be occupied. life had to be regulated by strict rules of actions and prohibitions. Teutates. this new to prehistoric philosophy gave an added interest life. that could remain in them or leave them at will. not merely with things that came were aUve.

Damona Mullo (the ass). It does these countries any rate of the tribes reckoned kinship not follow. There are indications. regarded their original ancestors as human. as in fact continued to be the case among the Picts of Scotland into historic times. bull). or indeed the Aryan tribes themselves in their earhest stage. but how far this system was elaborated in the 24 . was that directed against the shedding of the blood of one's own kin. all point to the fact that in these countries as elsewhere certain animals were held in supreme respect and were carefully guarded from harm. Moccos (the pig). as elsewhere. according to Cassar. that the pre-Aryan tribes of Gaul and Britain. preserved the hen. that some at inhabiting through the mother. Epona (the of horses).CELTIC RELIGION Among themselves the prohibitions which had estabhshed among the races of Celtic lands. the goose. Judging from the analogy of kindred other countries. too. but did not kill and eat them. and the hare. goddess of as well as the fact that (the the ancient Britons. Certain names of deities such as Tarvos (the goddess cattle). as we know from other countries. the practice of respecting certain animals was often associated with the belief that all the members of certain phenomena in clans were descended from one or other of them.

when we know have them in historic times. not easy to explain the beginnings of totemism in Gaul or elsewhere. and it is to the credit of the Celts that. widely known suggested by the prominence given to the wild boar on Celtic coins and ensigns. as totemism. Salomon Reinach. but it should always be borne in mind that early man could not regard it as an axiomatic truth that he was the To reach that superior of every other animal. suggests that totemism was merely the hypertrophy of early man's social sense. It is not always ' remembered how great a tion is implied when step in religious evoluthe gods are clothed with human attributes. possibly be the case. in his account of the vestiges of totemism among the Celts. M. which extended from This man to the animals around him. appears to be assigned on some inscriptions and bas-reliefs to the figure of a horned snake as well as by the effiofies of other animals that It is have been dis- covered. inasmuch as the human form is given to their deities. but it is not improbable that man also thought to discover in may 25 .TRACES OF ANIMAL WORSHIP Celtic world it is hard to say. and by the place which is This phenomenon. proud consciousness is a very high step in the development of the human perspective. they appear to attained to this height.

CELTIC RELIGION certain animals of the visible much-needed allies against some and invisible enemies that beset him. and where they were not physically stronger. Roman times could have come into Certain of the divine names of the historic period. had a cunning and a subtlety that seemed far to surpass his own. Here it is only indicated as a necessary stage in relation to man's civilisation in the hunting and the pastoral stages. Moccus (the 26 . he might well have regarded certain animals as being in some respects stronger combatants against those powers than himself. and as being descended from that animal as their common ancestor. like Artio (the bear-goddess). has not yet been fully proved for the Gaulish system. may well The place of animal-worship in the Celtic religion will be more fully considered in a later chapter. some of them. like the snake. In course of time certain bodies of men came to regard themselves some one animal. which had to be passed through before the historic deities of Gaul and Britain in being. The existence side by side of as being in special alliance with various tribes. and have been a developed social arrangement that was not an essential part of such a mode of thought in its primary forms. In his conflict with the malign powers around him. each with its definite totem.

the usefulness of domestic animals from a material point of view was only a secondary consideration for man. It may well be that. In all stages of man's history the alternation of the seasons must have brought some rudiments of order and system into his thoughts. pig). there is much difference of opinion. and when the alliances and friendships. and the consequent protection of these animals by means of taboos from harm and death. and a happy discovery after unsuccessful totemistic attentions to other animals. the sense of order came to 27 . might be found in that sphere. The stage of mind which it implies would suggest that it reflects a time when man's mind was pre- occupied with wild beasts. which he would value in life. though for a long time he was too preoccupied to reflect upon the regularly recurring vicissitudes of his life. and Damona As for the stage of civilisation at which totemism originated. In the pastoral stage. that the domestication of animals itself implies a totemistic habit of thought. bear the unmistakable impress of having been at one time those of animals. Epona (the mare). We know not how many creatures early man to associate tried with himself but failed. There is much plausibility in the view put forward by M. Salomon Reinach. after all.TOTEMISM AND ANIMALS (the sheep).

Whether he is the Gaulish god depicted with a hammer. of whom Csesar speaks as the ancient god of the Gauls. and there are abundant indica- tions that the earth as the Mother. The earth came to be regarded as the Mother from whom all things came. 28 . trees. and corn. the Long-lived one. to whom the dead returned in death. mountains. etc. and [quickened the mind to fresh thought. Her names and titles "^were probably not in all places or in all tribes the same. the Queen. has not yet been established with any degree of certainty. forests. But it is in the agricultural stage that she entered in Celtic lands. found her natural place as a goddess among the Celts.. and this aspect of Celtic religion will be dealt of vegetation. or as a huge dog swallowing the dead. and the one folk-lore. as she did in other countries. Dis. was probably regarded as her son. into her completest religious heritage. with more fully in connection with the spirits This phase of religion in Celtic is one which appears to underlie some countries its of most characteristic forms.CELTIC RELIGION be more marked than in that of hunting. spirits. rivers. appears to have supplied most of the grouped and The individualised gods of the Celtic pantheon. which has survived longest in Celtic The Earth-mother with her progeny of of springs.

Salomon Reinach suggests. animism by a who belonged to trees. that we have names of the type of Brannothus the genos (son of the raven). found at Neuvy-en-SuUias. animal and human. March (horse). as M. mountains. springs. rocks. 29 . too. animals. have been times. abundant evidence that the Celt regarded as spirits taking upon themselves a variety of forms. and the like. those of the Celtic earlier Europe supplemented the belief in spirits. not to speak of simpler names like Bran (raven). rivers.CHAPTER CELTIC RELIGION IV AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF INDIVIDUALISED DEITIES Like other lands of religions. which were. and other natural and in folk-lore there still survives phenomena. of a horse and a stag (now in the Orleans museum). It was this idea of spirits in animal form that helped to preserve the memory It is of the older totemism into historic times. surviving into historic Bronze images. provided with rings. Artogenos (son of bear).

The bull of the Tarvos Trigaranos bas-relief of Notre Dame was also in all likelihood originally a totem. as bas-relief which is Compiegne. which was also found with her. The name Moccus. especially in Belgic territory. The wild boar. at ' and which Dalmazzo. on inscriptions. At Bolar. and similarly the horned serpents of other basAvell as the boar found on Gaulish and coins. found at Muri near Berne. In Britain. In Italy. riding on horseback. One of the most important monuments of this kind is a figure of Artio. the boar is frequently found on the coins of the Iceni and other tribes. horse). the Ossola and the Borgo san undoubtedly the philological equivalent of the Welsh mock (swine). was a and there is extant a bronze figure of a Celtic Diana riding on a boar's back. the bearat a bronze mule. a bear). there was discovered favourite of Gaul. In the museum goddess (from Celtic Artos. Epona (from the Gaulish Epos = L£it. ensigns There is a representation. according to 30 . Trobaso.' identified with Mercury. In front of her stood a figure of a bear. equus. too. emblem Mayence is a bas-relief of the goddess of horses.CELTIC RELIGION probably used for the purpose of carrying these images in procession. too. too. near Nuits. is the valley of is found inscribed at Langres. of a raven on a reliefs.

as the of tlie oak-spirit. finds an honoured place. ass. the name identified Les Provencheres near Craon). too. whose worship was widely spread. there widespread use of the pig as a symbol in the may be some ancient echo of it a connection between diet of acorns. even in historic times. also. and Avith ' probable that Mullo. meant originally an ass.clearings. Damona. In the legends of the Celtic races. the In addition to the animals aforementioned. mentioned on inscriptions (at Nantes. either from the root dain=lY.SURVIVALS OF ANIMAL WORSHIP Mr. so that in the Celtic world. dam. was probably at one time an animal goddess in the form of a mare. the pig was an appropriate deities of the earth. the . and of a it is not im- god Mars and regarded as the patron of muleteers. too. Warde to offering Fowler. and especially the boar.' The goddess Epona. or Welsh daf-ad (sheep). was probably at one time venerated in one of the districts of Gaul. and the earth-spirit. Craon. the pig. While the chase and the pastoral the mind's attention on the 31 life life concentrated of animals. in the early days of life animal embodiment in forest. may similarly be that of an ancient totem sheep or cow. and the name of another goddess. it Its may have marked out. (ox). Nor was it in the animal world alone that the Celts saw indications of the divine.

and all that grew upon it. to the more conservative parts fact that The main 32 . Nor could he forget the things trees of the forest. xvi. 95). had provided him with their fruit as food in time of need. all Frazer and others. the mention of Dervones or Dervonnae on an inscription at Cavalzesio near Brescia. Druidism {Nat.CELTIC RELIGION I growth of agriculture fixed man's thoughts on the life of the earth. commercial in some districts and in The development of martial and any rate civilisation in later times tended to restrict its typical and more primitive developof the Celtic in Caesar's time its ments world.. the statement of Maximus of Tyre that the representation of Zeus to the Celts was a high oak. while at the same time he was led to think more and more of the mj^sterious world beneath the earth. and the abundant evidence of survivals in folk-lore as collected by Dr. contributed point to the fact that treeoak. like the from which oak. and especially that of the its full had share to the development of Celtic religion. The name Druid. J. inscriptions to the numerous Silvanus and Silvana. as well as that of the centre of worship of the Gauls of Asia Minor. all all things came and to which returned. G. worship. at \ some epochs. especially those which. Drunemeton (the oak-grove). Pliny's account of Hist.

were placed and burnt. the cruelty of whose rites is mentioned by Lucan. too. On the side of civil administra- and education. Caesar tells us that it was into customary to make huge images of wickerwork. The use of wickerwork. This.DRUIDISM centre in Gaul was in the territory of the Carnutes. in more inhuman rites were the Scholiasts on Lucan seem tion suggest. that the to to suppressed. a substitution of animal victims for men. as the successors of the primitive medicine men and magicians. suggests that its chief votaries were mainly in that part of the country. indicates a combination of the ideas of tree-worship with those of early agricultural life. When the Emperor Claudius is said by Suetonius to all J have suppressed Druidism. which human beings. before finding the same view expressed by M. that the worship of Esus in Gaul was almost With regard to the~l entirely local in character. It had occurred to the present writer. what probabiHty. Salomon Reinach. doubtless varied greatly C 33 in different . and in some degree of Teutates. rites of the Druids. the functions of the Druids. and the suggestion that the rite was for purifying the land. was the district of the god Esus (the eponymous god of the Essuvii). the tribe which has given its name to Chartres. as is meant is. usually criminals. leading.

The belief in corn-spirits. It is for the protection of the fields and the vines. and this heterogeneity of civilisation must have had its was very far influence on relisjion as well as on other social phenomena. whose name occurs on an inscription at Volnay in the same district of Gaul. and of these we catch a glimpse in Gregory of Tours. progress that had been made of functions in social life. The more according to the in the differentiation we investi- gate the state of the Celtic world in ancient times. too. that in civilisation it from being homogeneous. whether associated with com- munal or propitiatory sacrifice. or compulsory as sympathetic magic. when he Autun the goddess Berecyntia was her image being carried on a wagon worshipped. show. so as to be linked keenest emotions. tells us ihat at not impossible that by Berecyntia Gregory means the goddess Brigindu. The natural conservatism of agri- cultural life. by their persistence in Celtic as well as other folklore. perpetuated many practices even into comparatively late times. whether directed 34 .CELTIC RELIGION parts of Gaul and Britain. in whether persuasive as in prayer. Here the rites of religion. and other ideas connected with the central thought of the farmer's life. how deepl}^ they had entered '' into the inner tissue of the agricultural to its mind. the clearer it becomes.

but one most intimately associated with the daily practice of life. in a greater or less degree. above all in the agricultural ing. and Gofannon. and was not a matter merely of imagilife. is Even in late Welsh legend Amaethon (old Celtic (Welsh Amhactonos). all in its purview rivers. forests.PRACTICAL IN CHARACTER had an intensely due to man's practical and terribly real character. man's existence/ And what is true of agriculture true also. religion nation or sentiment. into the 35 . ot monsters. of the life of the Celtic metal-worker or the Celtic sailor. the pastoral. the patron god of the metal-worker (Welsh gof. constant preoccupation with the growth and In the huntstorage of food for man and beast. the patron god Amaeth). Irish gobha). practical interest included and all the setting of springs. which each trade and each land locality felt for the deity who had rid the and who had brought man comparative calm of civilised life. and this to the earth or to the heaven. and the prominence of the worship of the counterparts of Mercury and Minerva in of farming Gaul in historic times vv'as due to the sense of respect and gratitude. were not quite forgotten. mountains.

the Western and the North-Western districts being very sparsely represented. for the most part votive tablets. usually that of health. In Gaul. In the present brief sketch it is impossible to enter into a full discussion of the relations of the 36 .CHAPTER One of the V THE HUMANISED GODS OF CELTIC RELIGION most striking is it facts connected with the Celtic religion deities the large which includes. we are on surer the Roman walls ground in associating certain deities with certain districts. to us almost entirely tablets are chiefly found in the neighbourhood of and camps. in acknowledgment of some benefit. number of names of These names are known from inscriptions. however. conferred In Britain these votive by the god on man. but we cannot be always certain that the deities mentioned are indigenous. inasmuch as the evidence of placenames is often a guide. These inscriptions are very unevenly distributed over Gaulish territory.

whence Camulo- (Welsh Belyn). however. some. Camulos. In Britain ' the goddess' ' Deva (the Dee). and Belisiima (either the Kibble or the Mersey). in the process of evolution. Mapunos (Welsh Mahon). like Lugus. A \ have Adsalluta. Occasionally a name like Lugus (Irish Lug). Out' of these deities. a goddess associated with Savus (the river Save). Segamonas). by its existence in Britain as well as in Gaul. suggests that it was either one of the ancient deities (Colchester). a name meaning the most warlike 37 . the is local character of the deities most marked. | very considerable number are the deities of In Noricum. of the to dunum Belenos Aryan Celts. or one whose worship came extend over a larger area than its fellows. Segomo (Irish. we springs and rivers. Apart from a few exceptional considerations of this kind. for example. gained a wider field of worshippers. may even have been at one time more widely worshipped than they came to be in later times.LOCAL AND NON-LOCAL DEITIES names found but on inscriptions to particular localities. light thus thrown on Celtic may be here stated that investiga- tion tends to confirm the local character of most[ of the deities which the inscriptions name. in the genitive. while others. and the it religion . it is true. Litavis (Welsh Llydaw).

but beyond these there are few. We numerous nymphs and many other deities of Doubtless many other names of local fountains. Aerial phenomena appear very few clear traces on the of Celtic deities. or Apollo. About fourteen inscriptions mentioning him have 38 . deities are to of this left kind. Leucetios. if phenomena on of the heavens. was probably a god of the wind. the goddess of the river Aisne. clear mercial and civilised As already that the growth of comlife in certain districts had phenomena. Taranucus. Sequana. The gods who came to be regarded as culture-deities appear from their to be of various origins some are humanised totems. identified with Mars. Sulis (of Bath) a sun-goddess. appear have favoured deities like Belatucadros (the brilliant in war). names Vintios. the goddess of the Seine. brought into prominence deities identified with Mercury and Minerva as the patrons of civilisation. a god of lightning. reflections of the Of the gods named inscriptions nearly all are identified with Mercury.CELTIC RELIGION have again Axona goddess. any.' are of this type. especially in Britain. Mars. to Military men. others are in origin deities of vegeta- names tion : or local natural it is indicated. a god identified have with Mars. a god of thunder. Rituna of the river Rieu.

Caturix (battle-king). are identified with Jupiter among Aramo (the 39 . Belatucadrus (the god of lightning). is identified : mentioned on thirteen while another popular god appears to have been Silvanus. inscriptions: Cocidius. Ollovidius (the all-knowing) Vintius (the wind-god). in the North of England and the South The goddess Brigantia (the patronis deity of the Brigantes). Mullo (the mule). but not found on any inscription. Dumiatis (the god of the Puy de Dome). too. following gods others. the most interesting ! name The is Ogmios (the god too. Caletos (the hard). Among the most noticeable names of the Celtic gods identified with Mercury are Adsmerius or Atesmerius. Several deities are identified with Mars.DEITIES IDENTIFIED been found of Scotland. Teutates (the god of the people). lovantucarus (the lover of youth). and of these some of the most noticeable names are Albiorix (world-king). brilliant in war). Dunatis (the god of the fort). Leucetius (the The large number of names identified with at prominent place! one time O' given to war in the ideas that affected Mars reflects the i the growth of the religion of the Celtic tribes. Of the gods identified with Hercules. and Moccus (the boar). and Vitucadrus (the brilliant in energy). mentioned on four with Mars. : of the furrow) given by Lucian.

There remains another striking feature of Celtic religion which has not yet been mentioned. /Maponos (the great youth). Uxellimus (the highest). piamely ' the identification of several deities with Apollo. the This name is Indodeity of certain hot springs. Bussumarus (the large-Hpped). We Mogons. this that in historic times at any rate Jupiter Celtic religious did not play a large part in ideas. These deities are essentially the presid- ing deities of certain resorts. and was given to the local fountain: god by the Celtic-speaking invaders of Gaul it simply means 'the Boiler. Celtic Apollo is Borvo (whence Bourbon). heahng-springs and healthof their worship into and the growth is further striking index to the popularity of religion side by side with certain development One of the names of a aspects of civiHsation.' Other forms of the name the find are also found. At AquiB Granni (Aix-la-Chapelle) and elsewhere name also identified with Apollo is Grannos. the patron ( Moguntiacum (Mainz). and Mogounus. and. It would seem from gentle).CELTIC RELIGION Ambisagrus (the persistent). The essential feature of the Apollo worship was its association in 40 deity of . Taranucus (the thunderer). as Bormo and Bormanus. once or twice. a European.

through the revival of the worship ^sculapius. several problems these goddesses some are known us by groups Proximoe (the kinsDervonnse (the oak-spirits). Matres or Matrse to — (the mothers). Of the goddesses. the god of the lower world. that Celtic religion. Deities of have been popular in Britain. Niskai (the women). an idea which. Matrse. of beginning the year with practice of the Gauls the night rather than with the day.AKln dealing with the deities of the Celtic world we must though not. in itself any rate. and Matronse are roads). affected religious views very It was strongly in other quarters of the empire. Mairse. 41 . is thus typified in their religious history. Quadrivise (the goddesses of cross The Matres. often qualified by this type to some local name. however. emerging into a measure of light after a of long and toilsome progress from the darkness some districts at shows What Csesar says of the prehistoric ideas. Matronse. water-sprites). in this conception of the gods as the guides of of civilisation and the restorers of health. appear in the neighbourhood of Cologne and in Provence. and their ancient belief that they were sprung from Dis. .CELTIC GODDESSES Gallo-Roman civilisation with the idea of healing. forget their history presents of great difficulty.

in others that of brother and sister. It is an interesting parallel to the existence of these grouped goddesses. sometimes with a god name. appear to have emerged into greater individual prominence. when we ' find that in some parts is of Wales for ' Y Mamau fairies. The relationship in some have been regarded as that of mother may and son. spread after it had once begun. being the names of springs or rivers. the earth-spirits or the corn-spirits had not yet Of the indi- vidualised goddesses many are strictly local. Of these associated pairs the following may be noted. again. which. and of these we find several associated on inscriptions. (the mothers) the name the These grouped goddesses take us back to one of the most interesting stages in the early Celtic religion. the data are cases not adequate for the final decision of the question. Others. in others that of husband and wife. and the fashion may have been a later one. like other fashions. when been completely individualised. It is by no means certain that the of Celtic names so linked together were thus associated in early times. Mercurius and Rosmerta. but sometimes with his Latin counterpart. Mercurius and 42 .CELTIC EELIGION In some cases it is uncertain whether some of these grouped goddesses are Celtic or Teutonic.

appear to have been ancient names of goddesses these are Rhiannon (Rigantona (the great queen). more fully treated by another writer in this series in a work on the ancient mythology of the British . Bormanus and Bormana. the The other British deities will be great mother). One of these names. and Modron (Matruna. by their structure. probably meant the longlived one. Borvo and Damona. In Welsh one or two names have survived which. enough to say that research tends more and more to confirm the view that the key Isles. Savus and Adsalluta. It is to the history of the Celtic deities is the realisa- tion of the local character of the vast majority of them.WELSH SURVIVALS OF NAMES Dirona. Sucellus and Nantosvelta. Cicolluis (Mars) and Litavis. 43 . Mars and Nemetona. and was applied to the earth-mother. Sirona. Granniis (Apollo) and Sirona.

an oak. To some philosophical and theological writers of antiquity their doctrines and their apparent affinities with 44 . which we find in the Greek word driis. has been questioned by such a competent Celtic scholar as M. ceremonies. do not always the make it sufficiently clear in what it districts rites. and functions which they were describing prevailed. but on this point it cannot be said that his criticism is conclusive. The writers of the ancient world who refer to the Druids. the association of the name with the Even Indo- European root dru-. yet there is no section of the history of Celtic religion that has given rise to greater fahiiliar to the discussion than that relating to this order. Nor was so much the priestly character of the Druids that produced the deepest impression on the ancients. d'Arbois de Jubainville.CHAPTER No name more VI THE CELTIC PRIESTHOOD in connection with Celtic religion is average reader than that of the Druids.

or supposed doctrines. was the resemblance of their doctrine concerning the immortality and transmigration of the soul to the views of Pythagoras.THE TRANSMIGRATION OF SOULS Pythagoreanism were of miicli greater interest than their ceremonial or other functions. however. but must be interpreted writers. and this was enough to give the Druids a reputation for philosophy. that the Druids and their doctrines. however. such as the historian Diodorus Siculus and the Christian theologian Clement of Alexandria. did i in its in history in which whole context in relation to its development and in the social life of the community it has flourished. To some of the between ancients the superficial resemblance the Druidic doctrine of the soul's future and the teaching attributed to Pythagoras was the point. Ancient not always remember that a religious or philosophical doctrine must not be treated as a thing apart. One thing at any rate is clear. so that essential 45 . had made in a frasf- a deep impression on the writers of the ancient world. The prominent feature of their of interest as teaching which had attracted the attention of other writers. be genuine) that assigning them a place in express terms both among the Celts and the Galatse. There is a reference to them ment of Aristotle (which is may not.

observ^ation of the attitude in which he the contortions of the limbs. had also seers. he states. the philosophers of the Celts Diodorus Siculus calls attention to the Druidic doctrine that the souls of men were immortal. was an ancient and established 46 . he subjection to them. Celts. was these priestly seers who had According to him it the masses in In great affairs they had. the ChaldiBans of the Assyrians. of a human victim.CELTIC RELIGION a writer like Clement of Alexandria goes so far as to regard the Druids of the Galatee along with ' ' the prophets of the Egyptians. This. the philosophers of the Celts. He says that there were certain 'philosophers and theolo- number gians' that Avere called Druids who were held In addition to these. the practice of divination by the slaughter says.' ' ' ' and the Magi to of the Persians as the pioneers of philosophy among the barbarians before it spread the Greeks. and the like. he says. the in exceptional honour. The reason ' for the distinction drawn is in this passage ' between the 'Druids of ' the Galatse and not clear. the spurting of the blood. the soul then entering into another body. who foretold the future from the flight of birds and by means of the offering of sacrifices. and that after the lapse of an appointed of years they came to life again. and the fell.

to whom other apparently* the light of his readmg and philosophical meditation. but also by those of the eneni}''. it was the custom. these able. The moral which Diodorus draws from this is.THE DRUIDS AS THINKERS practice. of information supplied and the Druids. Moreover. and were consulted not merely by the men of their own side. that even among the wildest of barbarians the spirited principle of the soul yields to wisdom. in His narrative is an expansion. 47 . Even when two armies were on the philosophers had says. the Bards. and that Ares (the god of war) even there respects the Muses. to make no without the j ! presence of a philosopher (apparently a Druid in addition to the sacrificing seer). the theory being that those | who were authorities on the divine \ nature were to the gods intelligible mediators for the offering of gifts and the presentation of These philosophers were in great repetitions. had charmed wild beasts. the Seers. point of joining battle. quest. to step into the space been Diodorus between them and exactly as if they to stop them from fighting. together with their poets. It is clear from this account that Diodorus had in mind the professional men ancient writers also refer. three classes of non-military among the Celts. in war as well as in peace. according sacrifice to Diodorus. namely.

The men so punished were treated as outlaws. Moreover. However. were the judges in public and private disputes it was they who awarded damages and : penalties. they were the teachers of the country. with religious matters. the to speak of the Druids. The account which he gives is important. Druids and the Knights. too. but Caesar does not indicate the triple appear expressly to division here in question. says. To them the young men congregated for knowledge. and the degree of variation (if any) of religious practice in different districts. and the pupils held their teachers in great respect. and would be even more valuable than it is had he told us how far what he describes was written from his own personal information. the severest punishment among the Gauls. he proceeds These were occupied.CELTIC RELIGION The notably Posidonius. in addition to his own observaby previous writers. they attended to public and private and interpreted omens. tion. closest to calling division of the Gaulish aristocracy into two After attention the main sections. They. he sacrifices. . Any contumacy in reference to their ! i judgments was punished by exclusion from the This sentence of excommunication was sacrifices. Cesar's statements deserve the consideration. too. appears to have been Julius Caesar's chief authority. latter. and / 48 .

and some went so far spend twenty years in their course of preThe Druids held it wrong to put their paration. or. that the doctrine of the Druids was discovered in Britain and thence carried over into Gaul. the district which was regarded as being in the centre of the whole of Gaul. Over these Druids there was one head. those it who wanted to make a profounder study of training. ing for the profession. While as to in training they were said to learn by heart a large number of verses. At that time. It was thought. The of the Druids. Csesar says. Druids met at a fixed time of the year in a consecrated spot in the territory of the Carnutes. of their own accord. the election of a successor was made by the vote Sometimes the primacy was not decided without the arbitrament of arms.CiESAR'S cut off' ACCOUNT OF THE DRUIDS all from human society. This assembly of Druids formed a court for the decision of cases brought to them from everywhere around. resorted thither for their The Druids had immunity from military service and from the payment of These privileges drew many into traintribute. who wielded the highest influence among them. some others at the instance of parents and relatives. too. D 49 . On his death the nearest of the others in dignity succeeded him. with its rights and privileges. if several were equal.

To this from his own knowledge. the one person for nothing. promised to offer. though. that they discouraged writing lest their teaching should become public property on the other. They carried on. the nature of things. or seriously stood in who were engaged peril. lest reliance upon writing should they made use of Greek letters. and made use of the Druids such sacrifices. the strength and power of the immortal their knowledge to their gods. Gauls as a to people were extremely devoted religious ideas ill. jTheir cardinal doctrine was that souls did not perish. and this they regarded incentive to valour. since. . whether public or private affairs.CELTIC RELIGION in almost religious teaching in writing. sacrifices. Men who were in war. the srreatness of the universe and the lands. else. with the supreme fear of death counted prospect of immortality. or who any human was. many discussions about the stars and their motion. as their agents for that the immortal a appeased unless human 50 life gods were given for a could Their theory not be . everything Caesar thought on the one hand. and practices. offered. and communicated In another passage Csesar says that the pupils. but that after death they passed from to as a another. moreover. lessen the cultivation of the risk Csesar could testify memory.

they had also similar human sacrifices of a public Cassar further contrasts the Germans with the Gauls. The study of nature and of the heavens is here attributed to 'bardi. saying that the former had no Druids to preside over matters of religion. character. refers to the profession which the Druids made of natural science. The highest class. he says. and instances the case of the ^duan Diviciacus. and by acquiring a certain loftiness of mind from their investigations into things that were hidden and exalted. too. and drasidse (a mistake for druidse '). and of the power of foretelling the future. in accord- ance with the rule of Pythagoras. his brother's guest and friend. and that they paid no attention to sacrifices. We see here the view expressed that as well as socially intellectually the Druids lived according to the Pythagorean philosophy. closely linked together in confraternities. In his work on divination. Origen 51 . that of the Druids. Nothing is here said by Cicero of the three classes imiilied in refers Diodorus. they despised human affairs and declared the soul immortal.' the second class of seers (vates). were.THE DRUIDS AND PYTHAGORAS human life. In addition to these private sacrifices. but Timagenes (quoted in Ammianus) to the three classes under the names ' ' ' 'euhages' (a mistake for 'vates'). Cicero.

the servant of Pythagoras.CELTIC RELIGION was prevalent in his that Zamolxis. and the Gauls abstained from human sacrifices. and on this account were intrusted with the settlement and pubhc disputes. prevail. They were regarded as the justest of men. in addition to natural science. According Strabo. Sacrifices were never says.). who here follows Posidonius. practised also moral philosophy. Strabo the Druids. also refers to the view that had taught the Druids the philosophy goras. and were especially of private means intrusted with the judgment of to cases involving human life. time. while the Druids. i The three classes are the Bards. some traces of their former practices 52 . writers and poets. and Druids. though the ancient savagery was no more. the Greek geographer.D. 44 A. of Pytha- He further states that the Druids The triple division of the practised non-military aristocracy is perhaps best given by Strabo. the Seers sacrificers and hymn- i men of science. but that fire and the and water would sometime made. the Seers I / The Bards were (ouateis=vates). without the intervention of Pomponius Mela says that in his time (c. sorcery. They had been the of preventing armies from fighting when on the very verge of battle. they and their fellow-countrymen held that souls universe were immortal.

but says nothing as to the entry of souls into other bodies. he says. to their " that it mortality. Lucan. The Gauls. and says was carried on in caves or in secluded Mela speaks of their doctrine of imgroves. in had an spite of their traces of barbarism. As a proof of this belief he speaks of the practice of burning and burying with the dead things appropriate to the needs of the living. partly by personal observation. and the will of the gods. to have noticed phases of Celtic S3 . the Latin poet. Avas an indefatigable Pliny compiler. to face with another. and had the Druids as their teachers in philosophy. though perhaps a distorted. we seem to be face of their kind. the motions of the sky and He refers. eloquence of their own. 249). in his Pharsalia. as stars. after the little manner our to History (xvi. work in education. and appears partly by reading.THE DRUIDS AS TEACHERS remained. tradition. however. refers to the seclusion of the Druids' groves and to their doctrine of immorThe Scholiasts' notes on this passage are tality. These to know the size and form of the earth professed and of the universe. and add very In Pliny's Natural knowledge. Caisar does. notably in their habit of cutting a portion of the flesh of those condemned to death still after bringing them to the altars.

The historian Suetonius. Another suspicious circumstance in Pliny's account is his reference to the serpent's egg composed of snakes rolled together into a ball. probably refers to the prohibition of human sacri- of fices. Pliny. 54 in his account .' of about the an apple.CELTIC RELIGION religious practices which other writers had over- \ place he calls attention to the veneration in which the Gauls held the looked. 'egg. Frazer and others. it might well have been suspected that Pliny was here quoting some writer who had tried to argue from the etymology of the of tree name Druid. In the iirst \ \ mistletoe and the tree on which that that tree was the oak. that Tiberius Ca?sar abolished by a decree of the Senate the Druids and the kind seers and physicians the Gauls then had. This statement. remarks on the consonance of the etymology of the name Druid for as interpreted even through Greek (the Greek dr€ts). provided their pre- Hence I oak groves and their requirement Pliny here this practice with ' of oak leaves for all religious rites. Were not this respect for the an oak being oak and for the mistletoe paralleled by numerous examples and plant-worship given by Dr. dilection for it grew. He states states that he himself had seen such size of an too. when read in its context.

is doubtless the abolishing of its human sacrifices. In later Latin writers there are several references to Druidesses. Roman of the description given of Druidism. they Avere the priests of the oak-ritual. Avhence their name Avas derived. To Ctesar it is the general name non-military professional class.A^ARYING USE OF THE of the NAME DRUID of Emperor Claudius. Avhether priests. What is here also meant. laAvyers. in view (which. seers. and the Avord derwydd in medicieval Welsh Avas especially used in refer- ence to the vaticinations Avhich Avere then popular in Wales. and are disTo tinguished from the seers designated rates. Ave see in the first place that to different minds the name con- noted different things. teachers. abolished it. it is not 55 . druad) meant a magician. but these were probably only sorIn Irish the name drui (genitive ceresses. he says. To others the Druids are pre-eminently the philo- for the sophers and teachers of the Gauls. others again. In vicAv of the variety of grades of civilisation then co-existing in Gaul and Britain. or judges. also ' states that had to prohibited ' the Avas religion the Augustus Druids ' one of fearful savagery ') but that Claudius had entirely citizens. such as Pliny. When Ave analyse the testimony of ancient writers concerning the Druids.

56 . one at Le-Puy-en-Velay (Dep. we find in Aulus Hirtius' continuation of Coesar's Gallic War (Bk. viii.. well be that the oak and mistletoe ceremonies. xxxviii. 2). as well as on two inscriptions. gutuater. lingered in tricts remote agricultural to interest dis- long after they had ceased men The alongf the main routes of Celtic civilisation. bucolic mind does not readily abandon the prac- tices of millennia. for example. and the other that of a ' at Macon (Dep. as elsewhere. ' Saone-et- Loire)..CELTIC RELIGION improbable that the development of military professional class varied in different districts. and forms of its evolution could not have proceeded pari passu where the sociological conIt may ditions found such scope for variation.' but of is special features nothing known. the Celts.' At Macon its the office is gutuater Martis. HauteLoire). the office of the primitive tribal medicine- man was all the capable of indefinite development. c. another priestly title. In addition to the term Druid. the non- and that all very considerably the aspects of Druidism which the ancient writers specify found their appropriate places in the social system of In Gaul and Britain.

and this was regarded as a confirmation of the view I ) that the immortality of souls was to the Celts an The stud}^ of Archasology on the object of belief. The food and the weapons that were buried with the dead were thought to be objects of genuine 57 . f one hand. The holed cromlechs of the later Stone Age were probably designed for the egress and ingress of souls. Roman point out the undoubted fact. certainly leads to the conclusion that in the Bronze and the Early Iron Age. the idea prevailed that death was not the end of man. attested by Archeology. \ able to the living were buried with the dead.CHAPTER VII THE CELTIC OTHER-WORLD In the preceding chapter we have seen that the behef was widely prevalent among Greek and writers that the Druids taught the immortality of the soul. and of Comparative Religion on the other. Some of these writers. that objects which would be servicetoo. and in all probability in the Stone Age.

drawn between like the and beneficent ghosts and the unsatisfied and hostile Manes. By long it difficult familiarity with the explanations of these things. the head. To the ghosts like the Lemures and Larvae. the name. and of man's death. \ 1 who had his thinkers and like ourselves. Celtic mind. and for their pacification by the offer of food. these solutions the breath. and man was sufficiently self- conscious to reflect upon himself. when its analytical powers had satisfied come to birth. in some of its rites provided means for the periodical expulsion of hungry and and its hostile spirits of the dead. that within •him there was another which could live a 58 . too. scientific or quasi-scientific we find to realise fully their constant fascination for early ]nan. Roman religion. of disease. A tomb adjuncts were meant not merely for the honour of the dead.CELTIC KELIGION need. but also for the protection A clear line of distinction was of the living. of of madness. epileps}^ and his reflection. of man's shadow part. and even the hair generally played a but these would not in themselves explain the mysterious phenomena of sleep. One very widely accepted self philosophies solution of early man in the Celtic Avorld was. the blood. the problem of In his own nature pressed for some solution. of dreams.

' ' shade. not taking necessarily human. but it Avould be a mistake to assume that the ideas embodied in them had remained entirely unchanged from remote times. the Latin anima and the Welsh 'enaid. Sometimes this inner self was associated with the breath. preferably that of some winged creature. legend. 59 . beyond the statement that the Druids taught the doctrine of their re-birth.' the English ' amples in his Welsh soul as callable was to regard the a visible form. These give fair indications as to the types of earlier popular belief in these matters. and which survived even death. to breathe. and folk-lore.' both meaning the soul. and burning.EARLY IDEAS OF THE SOUL life of its own apart from the body. of which Principal Rhj^s has given numerous ex- the are Welsh ysgawd. burial.' the Latin 'umbra. whence. too. from the ' ' root an-. In ancient writers there is no informafolk-lore. of tion as to the views prevalent among the Celts the forms or the abodes of the regarding spirits of the dead. We are thus compelled to look to the evidence afforded by myth. Another tendency.' There abundant evidences. employed for the second man's shadow the Greek : At other times the term self had reference to ' skia. for example. that the life-principle was frequently regarded as being especially associated with the blood.

The 'annwfn' ' Welsh was distinctly conceived in the folk-lore embodied in mediseval poetry as being ' the world). tended to the subtlety and mobility of the soul as contrasted with the body. again. Sooner or later the primitive philosopher was emphasise his conception of bound of to consider whither the soul went in dreams not at first or in death. such as the spirits of vegetation in or have thought own normal home of the suggest. Whether this world was further pictured in imagination depended largely on the poetic genius of any given people. (beneath In medieval Welsh legend. The folk-lore of the Celtic races bears to their belief that abundant testimony beneath this world of the there was another. him before. too. He may any other sphere than that of his life.CELTIC RELIGION of man at certain levels is quite capable of evolving new myths and fresh folk-lore along the lines of its own psychology and its own logic. The mind The forms which the tricts soul could take doubtless varied greatly in men's opinions in different dis- and in different to folk-lore tends mental perspectives. would thought had not occurred men. even to if this under the earth. that the spirits of had entrance to the world below. 60 elfydd is . but other questions. but confirm the view that early man. in the Celtic world as elsewhere.

To those who puzzled over the fate of the souls of the dead the idea of their re-birth in his was a very natural solution. and Mr. 6i It . however. a river. This was no doubt a traditional idea in those families that migrated to Wales in post-Roman times from Strathclyde.THE HOME OF THE DEAD this lower world is regarded as divided into kingdoms. The lower Avorld could be even plundered by enterprising heroes. some of the blessings of civilisation. Irish and Welsh legend combine in viewing it at times as situated folk-lore contains on distant islands. and among them the much prized gift of swine. to have been always pictured as beneath the earth. and Welsh several suggestions of another world situated be- neath the waters of a lake. In one or two passages also of Welsh mediseval poetry the shades are represented as wandering in the woods of Caledonia (Coed Celyddon). has called attention to the occurrence of this idea in Irish legend. The other-world of the Celts does not seem. like Arawn and Hafgan in the Mabinogi of Pwyll. and its kings. like this world. Voyage of Bran. or a sea. Alfred Nutt. are represented as being sometimes engaged in From this lower world had come to man conflict. Marriages like that of Pwyll and Rhiannon were possible between the dwellers of the one world and the other.

As Mr.' lost aft'wys. a term which Welsh. Alfred Nutt points out.' ' sometimes caUed the latter term meaning the place whose rim is turned back. whose rim or lip is curved back so as to ' falling over into the difant. has its stories of the inter- 62 .' prevent In modern Celtic folk-lore or the rimless place. some intermixture of reminiscences of the earlier inhabitants of the various districts. ' elfydd.CELTIC RELIGION does not follow. such as anghar.' Christian times in addition ' the loveless place for ' ' . like mediaeval legend. and in these traditions there may possibly be.' we have other names for the world below. as Principal Rhj^s has suggested. seems to mean the 'Not-world. difancoU.' the land invisible. however.' The upper-world sometimes adfant.' the unrimmed ' ' place (whence the modern Welsh word ever) .' the abyss is . Apparently it implies a picture of the earth as a disc. men from the various local other-worlds are the abodes of fairies. affan. It is of interest to note the curious persistence of similar ideas as to death and the other-world in literature written even in and by monastic scribes. Modern folk-lore. difant. that the souls of all men would enjoy the privilege of this re-birth. In to Annwfn. Irish legend seems to regard this re-birth only as the privilege of the truly great.

which means the White Spectre. their islands. their caves. hero. The name of Arthur's wife. other-world which we meet in Celtic legend are joyous lainn. as other-worlds of these lands The we might have expected. their their lakes. 63 . a story which has several of contact with the narrative of the meetpoints ing of Pwyll and Rhiannon in the Welsh Mabinogi. and their mountains. The curious reader such Avill find several examples of stories in Princi^^al Rhys's collection of Welsh i In and Manx folk-lore. . by their mounds. often located underneath a lake.CELTIC COXCEPTION OF OTHER-WORLD marriages of natives of this world with those of the other-world. In all these and similar narratives. have been coloured by which the the geographical aspects of these two countries. the most classical of these betrothal legend one of stories is that of the Irish of Etain.' also suggests ' that originally she too played a part in a story of the same kind. bear. local seas. in Britain and in Ireland. for example. the clear impress of their On the whole the conceptions of the origin. it is important to note the way in Celtic conceptions of the other-world. it is a land of youth and beauty. is Cuchubrought the Irish to is in a boat which there an exceedingly fair island round a silver wall and a bronze palisade. Gwenhw}^ar.

In the Welsh poem called Y Gododin the poet Aneirin is represented as cooked. One Irish story has a naive description of the glories of the Celtic Elysium in the words Admirable — ' was that land bearing fruit. the vagueness and variability of these conceptions in different minds and in different moods.' The salient features. proved an admirable stimulus and provided excellent material for the development of Celtic narrative. and another ' Occasionally.CELTIC RELIGION In one Welsh legend the cauldron of the Head of Annwfn has around it a rim of pearls. therefore. as pacific or hostile. the scenery the Celtic absence of any ethical considerations beyond the incentive given to bravery by the thought of immortality. from the loveless land. and the weird and romantic effect was further 64 . Such we see from Celtic legend. of the Celtic conceptions of to the other. whether conceptions. : there are three trees there always one pig always alive. from the abode of death. we find ready a different picture. however. and the remarkable development of a sense of possible inter-relations between the / two worlds.world are their consonance with the suggestions Celtic made by imagination.' ' expressing his gratitude at being rescued by the son of Llywarch Hen from 'the cruel prison of the earth.

mythology. his mountains. ICeltic religion bears the impress of \ E 65 . and the of observation thus drawn to the horizon are for the Celt continual temptations to the thought of an infinity beyond. the' poetic Celt the love of country tends become almost a religion. j^In dealing with Celtic religion. was in thorough keeping with the tenour of his mind. it is not so much the "^ varying local and temporal forms that demand our attention. his lakes.CELTIC SCENERY AND CHARACTER heightened by the general beUef in the possibiUties of magic and metamorphosis. and legend. the association with innumerable place-names of legends of this type gave the beautiful scenery of Celtic lands an added charm. which shows its essential character even through the scanty remains of the ancient Celtic world. his springs. The preoccupation of the Celtic mind with the deities of his scenerj^. his seas. when tuned to its natural \ surroundings. which has attached their inhabitants to them with a subtle and unto conquerable attachment scarcely intelligible To to the more prosaic inhabitants of prosaic lands. cannot remain indifferent to The Celtic mind lands and seas whose very beauty compels the eyes of man to gaze lines upon them to their very horizon. as the all-pervading and animating spirit. Moreover. his rivers. his forests.

points in the same 66 . counting their time not by days but by nights. The to life be associated with the that vicissitudes of her and the spirits were her children. but every student of Celtic religion must feel jthat the main and characteristic elements are I associated with the earth in local all the variety of its phenomena. so that first its second half-year commenced with the of May. festivals of his year. the from the god of the lower world. that the Gauls believed themselves descended Dis. and began year with the night. May. The life. too. and there are some traces of a religious interest in the sun and the god of thunder and lightning. For the Celt the year began in November.CELTIC RELIGION nature on earth far more than nature in the heavens. The sense of the heaven above has perhaps survived in some of the general IndoEuropean Celtic terms for the divine principle. and August were doubtless meant Midsummer. varied her Celtic The great earth-mother and to vieAv in offspring ever come under many names. were associ- ated Avith the decay and the renewal of her annual bonfires of November. and the religion features even of the other-world could not be dissociated for the Celt from those of his mother' earth. The idea to which Csesar refers.

AND NATURE'S LIFE earthl namely that the darkness of the a greater hold on the mind than the brightness of the sky. or m the islands on the distant horizon. It was this intensity that gave the Druids at some time or other in the history Western Celts the power which Csesar and others assign to them. that they behoved that loans contracted in this world would be repaid there. with her rivers. though^ these led to the inhumanity of human sacrifices. The Welsh terms for a week had and a fortnight. wythnos nights) (eight nights) and jn/thefnos (fifteen Caesar's respectively it confirm statement. were extremely devoted to religious ideas. "^ and seas.CELTIC RELIGION direction. even with their military aristocracy. The whole people o| of the the Gauls. j where earth and sky met. This predominance of the earth in religion was in thorough keeping with the intensity of religion as a factor in his daily pursuits. 67 . To us now may seem~[ i more natural to associate religion with the con- templation of the heavens. At one time their sense of the reality of the other- world was so great. but for the Celtic lands at any rate the main trend of the evidence is to show that the religious mind was mainly drawn o to a contemplation of the earth and her varied life. and that the Celt looked for his other-world either beneath the earth. lakes.

how important sociological religions. much further All these considerations tend to show it is. In conclusion.CELTIC RELIGION and than practical belief could not go that. the hopes that this which is based on an independent of the main evidence for the religious study ideas and practices of the Celtic peoples. Avill help brief sketch. for think he was trying to grope towards the 68 . The thought — of early man on the problems of superstitions reveal in his efforts to light. for after all his — thought deserve respect. to interest students of religion in the dominant modes of thought which from time immemorial held sway in these lands of the West of Europe. and which in folk-lore and custom occasionally show themselves even in the midst of our highly developed his being and complex civilisation of to-day. to investigate in the comparative study of each religion in its whole and geographical environment as well as in the etymological meaning writer of its terms.

Joyce. Reinach. les Druides et le Druidisme. The Social History of Ireland. Welsh and Manx. Les Druides celtiques et les dieux a forme cVanimaux. Enwogion Cymru. Campbell. Cultes. Frazer. Mythology of the British Islands. Gaidoz. WiNDiscH. Cyviru Fu. Popular Tales of the West Highlands.SHORT BIBLIOGRAPHY Rh^s. D'Arbois de Jubainville.. Mythcs et Religion. Irische Texte mit Wbrterbuch. Ruts. Bertrakd. FouLKEs. La Religion des GavJois. Esqiiisse de Mythologie ganloise. Hibbert Lectures on Celtic Heathendom. 69 . Cynddelw. NuTT. Alfred. S. The Golden Botigh. Squire. The Voyage of Bran. Celtic Folk-lore.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful