Welcome to Everything you want to know about The Celts


Hello there! We are a modern day Northern European Style tribe called Maers Khohias. We are of both Norse and Celtic decent here. Come sit. Warm yourself by our fire!! We want you to feel at home as we share some of our Celtic tribe's hospitality. Come. Join in our sitting circle, round the central cauldron and have something to eat, in our Celtic round house. Once fed, sit back, relax, read and listen to some of our stories. Here you will find great information, taking you back in time to meet the ancestors.

If you have the opportunity to come in person to Crawford Bay, BC and take in our courses taught at our school, you'll hear more information, on the Celts and the Vikings, not shared here, as well as live music. We'd love to hear your stories too!!

In no time, you'll be dancing, sharing some good mead or ale and adding to the rooms boasts and toasts.
We Northern European Celts and Vikings are waiting for you.

Having and event? We offer lots of props to choose from as well as great musicians and entertainers. This will be the icing for your Celtic or Viking medieval style event. Need some costumes or warrior gear? We shall help you there too. ... Or Maybe you are the studious type and want to study Celtic ritual, dance, music and beliefs, or have a you have a gift. If so you might want to take a course from our Druid/Bard schools. See here.

Slainte!!!

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Creation of Gods

Gods

Year 1 Lesson 3.

Before I start you can write notes at anytime through out the lesson except for the final result of our own Gods. And a reminder that you can come and read any of the full lessons yourself any time and as many times.
As said before trying to find the 'religion' & practices of the Celts & trying to umbrella it under this concept of 'Celtic Spirituality' or 'Norse/Heathen spirituality' is just plain stupid. Its like lumping all the tribes of native Americans together and say you follow “Native Spirituality”. Each tribe is distinctly unique from any other, so quit bickering with each other and get to what is important, your own tribe, not what others are doing. To be a M.K. Tribe, you must only have the main beliefs in common, agreed to pre-tribe. All the rest of the mumbo gumgo out there are only differences in perception and choices of the individual. One of these major disagreements are over what is a God and what is not in the tales, including with the new 'heathen', Odinists or Asatru groups. We've been groomed over that last few hundred years to think of religious writings as literal & therefore for some the mythologies seem too far fetched to be real, others say this is a god but this is a hero, and this is a mythical giant etc. It is the same with the bible, yet people seem to have no problem believing that. Celtic mythology, especially the Arthurian mythos, had become confusing & inconsistent as these stories are told and retold.
I decided to based our tribe on the mythologies contained in the Mabinogi, mostly The red book of Hergest text containing references to Arthur or writings by the Talieson of the 6th century. However they are very loosely based and from there became our own with the first members contributing. We are not here to debate what is and what isn't Celtic practice because although we use the word Celtic, again I must stress we use it to mean not a race , thus M.K.is open to all persons regardless of race, colour or sexual preference. We are not a religion but a tribe with its own spiritualty. We believe we are still honouring our roots no matter who we are and we made an updated version and our own unique modern day tribe. So for the ancient mythologies they to have an updated view of how we look at them. The characters of Arthurian traditions have been overlooked as medieval stoies and sometimes not included as the research of other nature Gods. In my own research I found that Arthur and his Knights are the only stories that have kept going through time but he and his knights, underneath alll their shining armour of modern day, are giant effigies in the earth Een the cauldron and Arthurs other symbols are all bodies of nature.
Most people tend to have an inability to put themselves into a pagan mindset, even though some claim to be pagan, and view things with Christian overtones, although its unknowingly done in innocence. One major one Christian overtone is how they the Gods. Although they can speak and read the words written even in the Wiccan books, that the ancient Gods were tangible and terrifyingly close, they still seem to think they are somewhere out there. They call to them like they are far away and 'might' listen to us little people. The other problem is that they are reading literary as said above. I even had students who said I just can't see myself using Arthur or any other character as a God because they are thinking of the Hollywood versions. Being from the Scandinavian areas doesn't make a difference as their were Arthurian cults all through that area as well as up in Scotland. This immediately tells me they think of the Gods as somewhere out there and that they are somehow invisible beings that we cannot touch. It is very and have very obvious that they've never read any of the Celtic mythologies and that they have done very little, if any, research on the Gods, other than the romantic blurbs on the net. Again misguided book witches reading pagan author garbage. Some so called mentors might have even taught them as told them to read the Eddas or a mythology story or poems, and this mentor innocently repeating the same nonsense.
One of the first things to put our of your mind is to remember not to compare them to Classical Greco-Roman Gods as Celtic / Norse Gods are darker in nature. You cannot understand ANY of these mythologies without understanding the people of the time, their laws, and doing a comparison study of the cultures around the world during this same period. Romans were always attempting to relate Celtic Goddesses to their own and many pagans have followed suit. Don't buy in to this practice or you will read something into the God that is not there. In the beginning before Roman influence, I've read that they were very reluctant to put up fixed images of their gods and believed so much in the power of a name that they kept the real names of their gods secret. In fact, a very common oath was “I swear by the Gods of my people”. By not naming them aloud they left them wild and untamed like the mysterious nature they were. Also keep in mind that it is only during Romano-Celtic times that they began to write down inscriptions to them.
I read somewhere that you can never truly understand the mythologies until you've totally embraced an initiatory or ordeal like tribal tradition. When I decided 10 years ago that I wanted to create a tribe, & in writing out the beliefs & traditions I can say I really understand now what that statement means. I have learned more in this process than any pagan research prior in my life. I apologize for not giving dues to the author who said this line but I've read so much I really don't remember. If anyone knows, I would be happy to give them credit here.
Eventually you too will get your own insights into the why and when, if you begin to read our mythologies & compare them with the others. You'll bring these spiritual intuitions and different perspectives to add to our tribe's knowledge or possibly change a belief as we grow. Follow the procedure for changing the traditions shown in the law books of the Speera.
Now I am going to attempt to sum up my 3 year study exclusively on the Gods into this brief lesson. Whether new information shall come later is irrelevant as this is how is shall be until our traditions & beliefs are challenged to a vote by a member, but I will explain how I came to these choices for the tradition. We will start with the History of Gods & changes in the peoples perception;

GOD PHASES

From all the Northern European mythology stories, most of the characters are matched with a totem, or a few. How did these totems get in the stories? Totems are animals, later trees, plants & places that each tribe adopted as their own. These are not the same as a power animal. These are virtues used to describe a geis or clan style. But how did this tradition start? Waaaaay back, in nomadic times, animals were thought to be Gods & were worshipped for the things they gave to the humans. Animal spottings & behavioural attributes were considered sacred & people were in awe of this Mother Goddess. Mother was anything that gave food, clothing and nourishment, as a human mother would, but might also leave them in awe or she could be terrifying too. The more common the animal in their area, thus the animal was considered their original Mother, & they the descendants. Rivers and lakes also provided nourishment and water as well as sacrificial lessons (an accidental drowning might have happened) therefore is considered a Goddess. Mothers were first before any male God. Did you all know that originally, it was the female who was sacrificed every year and that males were most likely NOT allowed at any spiritual ritual.
The Gods also had a tool or weapon totem attached to themselves. This could have been the instrument used to identify the way in which the animals were hunted, the way they fished, the instruments used in that area & later the or tool became connected to it. This first phase above is called the totemic era.


The second phase of Gods; As new ways of life and knowledge came, these stories changed and start to become a little confusing. The Gods were adapted as people changed and grew in knowledge. As each new Bardic generation received the passed down information, each adapted the tale to match the sense of beliefs their own era. This is the time the tribes were focused on learning to read the sky for information. The way the stars twinkled and got our attention, humans believed they were watching over us. Then we found shapes and movement of certain star patterns and they became the animals and symbols in the sky. They developed symbols to match their legends. They could see 5 planets with the naked eye and many constellations, some would move and some spiralled round what is called a pole star. The first tower to the heavens knowledge was a pole that shamans would climb. They developed rituals to match these happenings and the pole was very much a part of that.
This way of life eventually led into the agricultural / husbandry era or third phase of Gods. Their were animal shapes in the sky, eventually female Goddess shapes which slowly changed into the pantheons, zodiac and constellations we have today. We know that as males had more responsibilities then protection & hunting, they began getting involved with the new agricultural rituals & it became the male that was sacrificed each year instead of the female. Here we also see where the confusion of male and female deities come in the sun and planet phase. It really depended on the tribe as to which was female and male and in some instances the sun could be both. In one season the sun could be female and in another male. Another confusing aspect of the mythologies is the fact of where the 3 came from. So the stories of the two males who fight over one female reflects the old belief of 3 seasons, winter summer fighting over spring maiden. Earth spirits or gods were so important that Children would often be conceived on a special piece of earth or earthen mound. Offerings would be made at standing stones and sacred areas.
The fourth phase; In the early stages of Northern European Christianity, before it became oppressive from Rome, the Gods changed into the Hero era, their ancestors whose stories were handed down forever became linked with these Gods. For us it hid the fact that these stories were Gods. The Great Goddesses were reduced to mere fairies and other Gods were beings from the Otherworld, or heroes with special powers. The Celts had a way of keeping their traditions alive with every new era and belief they embraced. These stories in the hero phase, were then also slightly altered to adjust to Christianity in the dark goddesses become sorceresses and that is the short of it. To read these stories, you will find that the original totemic phase was kept in these oral stories finally written down but the other phases were added as times changed and the stories revamped to suit these times so reading these stories becomes very confusing.
(Mentor say to seekers - "QUESTIONS, SHARING OR THOUGHTS??"). Now lets study these types of Gods in a little more detail from the mythologies themselves;

ANIMALS GODS

When we dig through the romanticized mythologies, we can still find the traces of Celtic Gods from more primitive times, because they were simply animals, some retained in the stars. Both The Irish Cuchulain, and later tales of Arthur and the knights, are romanticized versions. You can see the British and Welsh Arthurian tales, are a little better but still hold a Christian gloss. The Animal names held by these romanticized deities show up frequently in many cultures as well. To me, it doesn't take genius to figure out that the Celts would have done the same. As the tribes settled into one area or 'kingdom', Tribal Gods became tied to the terrain where that particular tribe lived. Tribes chose totems that matched what the mother would give as sustenance to survive. So if it was acorns on an oak tree, their main God might be in the tree that gave that sacred item. If they were by a river and provided with drinking water, fish and this also helped their plants to grow, this would become their mother. One day the water might have drowned a victim, spawning the idea that the mother was angry that she gave so much but nothing was given in return. Therefore the annual sacrifice was done, to appease her. They noticed the water froze every year, symbolic of her dying. She died and was reborn every year. Yes, I am speaking of female sacrifices. It was originally women that were killed every year. In the Golden bough, it states there is much evidence to show that Men were excluded from these rites. As more men began getting more involved in agriculture and staying put, rather than out hunting, these rites then switched to the man having to be sacrificed.
Proof of the Mothers being all important is the water totems are so abundant. The totem of many areas was usually a fish. Up to the 17th century Highlanders held fish to be so sacred that no one dared catch them. The totem was two fish at Nant Peris. Ireland's sacred fish were believed to have the ability to change size, become invisible and take the form of beautiful women. Brittany had an eel totem, as well as Wales at the St. Cybi's well. There were also sacred Salmon, a sacred frog (which was turned into the fairytale of the frog groom), a horse, and serpents or dragons are some others. A fly was at the well of St. Michael's in Banffshire.
Horses were another very sacred creature. Epona, most likely was originally a Spring or river Goddess & we know that horses were sacrificed to river divinities. There are also many Christianized legends of horse like beings coming out of the water to terrorize people. I see this most likely stemming from the new religions fear of these old gods wrath having been ignored. These divinities slowly diminished to being called, fairies, giants, leprechauns & so on. In these tales, reviling tribes became fantasy goblins & faeries like the Tuatha De Denaan and the Fomorians. There was even a branch of the Fomorians called the Goborchinn, which means 'horse-headed'. Most likely an ancient tribe whose totem was horse, or wore horse masks, or that carried out rituals involving the wild horse. Traces of these rituals survived into the high point of the tribes as both Celts and Teutons sacrificed a horse at Midsummer and Samhuinn. If you read the Teutonic accounts, you shall produce more light on this subject. We do have fragments of horse rituals from ancient sources, like their Kingship ritual. The Teutonics placed the sacrificed horses head in the fire, instead of the river, it now represented the corn spirit at end of season. Funny how Romans balked at this ritual when there is evidence that Romans did the same.
We also know there was widespread Bear cults in these ancient tribes. You can see this also in the 13th warrior. Plenty of both bear Goddesses and Bear Gods everywhere, even Berne, a Celtic place name, means 'bear'. Dea Artio means “bear Goddess”. Snake and Bird Goddesses were more popular with the astronomer tribes. Enlacing snakes were believed to produce a magick egg, the Druids egg, yet this serpent worship was not connected to the egg. Most serpents were horned, as in the dragon, or constellation Draco. The snake also symbolic of shedding of the old skin to begin a new life. Birds molting to begin anew as well as the dramatic change in their feathers from baby to maturity. Stag cults some say grew from the embodiment of the corn spirit, but I think because of the same idea continued of appeasing the dark and scary forest God, and the concept of what you take you must return. It was a give and take relationship with nature. It was the Elk in Ireland that was more popular. The Goddess Damona was a sheep. Bran and Branwen were most likely originally from a bird cult, and Rhiannon yet she became associated with the horse as well some say yet only rides a white horse in the tale of Pwyll.
Sometimes the animal totem would be put on the individual person or entire tribe, with a geis attached. For example, some Galatian Celts were forbidden to eat swine, some Highlanders had a prejudice against eating its flesh as well. The Irish, however, loved eating swine and was a staple at many of their feasts. Whether this was because of the bible religion or not I do not know. The Welsh include a story about the swine being the immortal food of the Gods who brought it to earth. This could be an attempt to explain the origin of its domestication. Once animals became domesticated, these restrictions died away. In Welsh mythology, Twrch Trwyth is hunted by Arthur which is reminiscent of Bear and Boar divinity battle or the battle two tribes. Bones of boars have been found both alone or in graves with people, which may have been a sacrifice given to the God of the Underworld, which was across the sea, not the pit of the earth. Celtic underworld was not hell as the Christians believed, nor was it evil so there was a lot of misunderstanding when translating the stories to paper. You also must remember that the Underworld was not the only Otherworld, but we will discuss this in another lesson.
There is another reoccurring theme, throughout the Celtic tales, & that is the birth of the Divine Twins. According to Alexei Kondratiev, who says “The only literary survival of these important Indo-European divinities consists of Nisien & Efnisien” but this is simply not true, neither is the insinuation that Celts were from Indo-European descent. Divine twins were also born to Cerridwen, & Arianrhod just to name a few. They are seen throughout Celtic mythology & thus evidently important as Sky Gods. One twin was is heavenly Beautiful & the other is flawed in appearance & of the Underworld (sea), both retaining the link to animals.
Another interesting point is that although in the stories the Fomorians have been demonized from Christian Scribes, they and the other tribe give the twin aspect but of instead with two races. The mothers of these two tribes are sisters in the Irish myths, and could be viewed as divine female twins, one is mother Danu of the Tuatha De Danaan from the heavens and her sister of the Formorians of the sea or Underworld. Its important to note the twins connect sea and heavens which there is an original meaning for Gemini in there somewhere. We can see that because the Celts write their history and practices in poetic or mythological form that these two families, at one time, were actual tribes claiming to be the descendants of these two leaders turned Goddesses. These two families, the Christian monks scribed into mythological demons and fairies instead of Tribal Gods that needed to be erased in order for their new belief to be welcomed and their mass of oral history to be maintained. This point of view can be backed up regardless, because we see from their very names, both personal and clan, that Northern European tribes believed they were had direct lineage from the Gods. Clan names clearly show being descendant from bear, bull, pig, horse and so on. We will talk more on this in Chieftain and Royalty Gods. We do know that among Celtic tribes, and in many cultures, a hostile tribe would insult the other by killing the sacred animal they kept. Before animals were domesticated, abstinence led to a greater food supply so the animals remained sacred.
Other cultures also had families that claim direct descent from animals or plant Gods. Not only do we see Bull cults in Pyrenees, Scotland and Ireland, they are also in Northern Italy, a bull God named Medros they worshipped at Haguenau and else where. Vague echoes are heard in the Irish sagas, with magick cows and bulls. As time went on all Celtic peoples, especially the Elite families, kept the use of animal symbolism on their Coats of Arms to represent their totem. At one time clans thought they were actual descendants of the animal itself. Old memory of evolution....who knows. Celtic Pubs often took their names from animals renowned for their strength. Today, Irish coins are minted with animal symbols such as peacocks, salmon, and stags on their faces. Groundhog Day first arose from Imbolc -- the ancient Celtic celebration of the world awakening from its winter slumber.
The Celtic animal symbols, having lost their God status, took a myriad of forms and meaning. The graceful curves of the crane. The stalwart might of the bull. The slow, coiled menace of the snake. The early Celts believed the animals arose from the Otherworld. With their feats of flying, swimming, phenomenal speed, keen sight and smell, and great strength, they soon became messengers of the gods instead and still seemed beyond the power of man.

Water Gods

There is tons of evidence that the Celts Gods were the Rivers, fountains, sacred springs, waterfalls and wells themselves. In Gaul alone, the water Gods can be counted by the hundreds. Water deities before Roman Catholic influence were friends of mankind. Later, as said prior, these Gods were changed to fairies, mermaids and nymphs, with the coming of Christianity, and sometimes a Saint was put in their place along with this a mythological being instead of an animal or fish. Some of these creatures include the Niskas, later called Nixies, the Peisgi, which might be the Piskies. We even find water dwarfs called the Luchorpain, which are descended from the Fomorians and Goborchinn. Christianity even kept the rituals at the healing wells intact so we can be grateful for that.
Sanctuaries were erected at springs, rivers & at many wells they held the festival of Midsummer day & sacrificed to them. Water Gods seem mostly about healing. Treasures troves have been found at these places along with, food, wax, votive offerings, inscriptions. Animals were sacrificed there, as bones have been found & there are many contemporary witnesses. At the definite healing springs, money, ingot, silver or gold, & models of limbs were found. These models were a form of sympathetic magick to heal the part of the body that ailed them. At the shrine of Dea Sequana, there was over a hundred of these items & another contained over 800. These Gods, mostly Goddesses, were yearly appeased for 3 days & on the 4th day, it is said that there came rain, thunder & lightning, without fail.
Travelling to Europe, you just have to look at the river or lakes name & you will find a Goddess name from one of the stories. Bormanus, Bormo, Borvo, Boyne (meaning white ox), Danuvous (now the Danube), & Luxovius – all Gods. Male Gods seemed to preside over healing springs more than any other body of water. They are usually depicted as consorts, husbands or sons of the water Goddesses. The Romans, because the Celtic Gods were fewer in number, equated all of the water Gods with Apollo, but they did not do this to the Goddesses as theirs was a male dominated society. Acionna, Aventia, Bormana, Brixia, Carpundia, Clutoida, Divona, Deuona, Dyonne, Sirona are found in Gaul, Ura, Icauna, Matrona, the Moder, the Madder, Maronna, Modron in Wales and Sequana. These were Mother Goddesses of the tribes who had built their clan home by the river. Many personal names included the God or Goddess in it such as (son of Dubron etc) ap, or Mac. The three Goddesses that start with a 'D' above, their name means divine. The names beginning with 'M' mean mother. Rivers mothers are bestowers of life, health, and plenty and must be taken care of in return for Her gifts. There are many more, but too many to list. My original list for this lesson was 472, & that was just the names of a few legends, that could have been Gods or not.
To take water from a sacred well for some women was or became taboo, because certain branches of knowledge, were taken over by men. Prior to Christianity, it was women who claimed the lore, then the wells were put under the protection of Saints. Besides healing, these places also gave fertility to women & had the power of ejecting demons from the person. Whether this practice was done prior to Christianity is unknown, but there wells found used for cursing. Victim names were thrown in, by the Priestess in a ritualistic way. Lastly, these wells were used for Oracle divination, whom saw answers in the bubbles once an offering was given, or in the floating or length of time the object took to sink.
Earth Gods -Tribal, Tree, Agricultural Gods & the Sacrificial King
As we spoke about earlier, water was no longer the main source of food anymore and men became more interested in agriculture so the knowledge and rites transferred to a male sacrifice. Now no one else has spoke of it that I read but I believe that is why in the hero stories, the hero still needs to pass the ordeals of the female Goddess / fairy to carry this Divine power. My theory is that is because plants, crops and trees could not live nor grow on their own without water. The Royalty of the tribes are thought of as Gods themselves. They are the descendants of a certain line & though of as Earth Gods. Divine Royalty were thought to be immortal, & there great sacrifice would live on forever. Ancient tribes killed this King yearly. Having said that, there are just as many who seem to die in the stories, but the symbolism here is that they are connected to the spirit of vegetation who is reborn every year in spring season. So they would be born again to someone in their tribe. The Queen on the other hand represented the land and thus was not sacrificed, but could choose many consorts who would protect her & fight in her name always.
Planting a tree for someone who has passed away is not a new concept. An ancestor or god can live in such trees. The Celts had a ritual which linked a Royal to a tree, or part of a tree like a branch or a fruit on it. To me, this might explain the origin & the importance of naming the Druid's wand or tools such as a staff or sword & so on. The names of their tools are all through the stories but we will also speak more on this subject in a later lesson. This tree, or tree part, carried his soul & vitality, thus the tree became protected at all times, as to save the people from starvation. As the King & the part of the plant remained vital, so did the tribe and the land fertile, hence the King was always married to the land as many rituals known reflect this.
In more primitive times, when an ancient King became to old, became blemished in anyway, or could no longer have sex, it was though he could no longer defend against all corners, he was then sacrificed. In later Celtic life, when the King became blemished or old, a new one was elected from the noble families. It was not handed down in the same family as the English, with Norse influence did. Thus there was no fighting among the clan families as everyone had equal chance. Sometimes, a slave or criminal would be given the title and play a mock king for a time, probably around a 9 day period or longer and then he was sacrificed. The King and the tree would die together, most likely a ritual concerning the removal of the sacred branch or sacred plant growing on the tree that was thought to contain his soul, would be done or the tree was to be cut down. Could this be similar to the Druid rite for mistletoe? This ritual may have come about, once human sacrifice became against the law and the sacrifice became symbolized by the killing of the tree, that the King was tied to, and some oxen. No hand was to touch the tree in the meantime other than the person assigned to guard it. Their belief was so strong that if a King was not slain, it would bring misfortune to the land so their deaths would benefit the people. We can see this in the movie 'The Wickerman', which was quite scary to a modern Christianized society in its time.
Trees also had other types of Gods associated with them besides Royalty. Some trees like bear these names like the Fagus Deus, which means divine beech, & some Gods represented whole forests like Dea Abnoba of the Black forest. Daur, which means oak, was an early name for 'god' which became 'dea' or 'dia'. The Celts gathered in these forest's dark sacred groves. On the trees they hung heads, on altars performed human sacrifices. The tribe's who came from the oak, lived on its acorns and its foliage provided protection from the elements as well as camouflage. Its wood was used as fuel and warmth. According to Pliny, mistletoe was the most sacred, then came the oak woods. He said they believed everything that grew on the oak was sent from heaven. There is evidence that the oak was honoured at the Midsummer rites. Others had apple trees which turned into many apples legends we know today including Avalon. There are some that argue that the original sacred centre for Stonehenge was a tree. Other trees sacred trees include yew, rowan, ash, alder, hazel and cypress. Each had their own specific ritual, I'm sure, and if your tribe has these you will learn them next year.
Fians – are, in origin, an example of Celtic gods from ancestral lore or actual people who were warriors or another one of my theories again is that the mythology stories reflected their way of life such as boys coming of age trials. The clue - Fiann are massive height like giants. As said, most heroes have magickal power and God like abilities beyond human capacity.
Bile means tree in Irish. In a poem it clearly described the tree as a 'good, strong, God'. Others stories also contain references to tribe's being descendants of Gods in tree form. The Fir Bile = “men of the tree.” The Eburones (yew tree tribe). The Bituriges are thought to be of the mistletoe. Bile is also mentioned in Celtic mythology & says that Bile was an ancestor of the Milesians. The Milesians could either be the race of man or a tribe. We see literature that still reflected this horror, of burning down another tribe's tree, like the Maeloehlen act. In Arthurian myths, Gawain tries to get a holly bough guarded by Gramoplanz.
Trees held the persons spirit in death as they were planted on grave sites. They were also brought into houses for protection. The Christians fought hard to get rid of the cult of the tree but failed miserably. We still see its evidence today in clan badges. Christian take over even even tried to lay heavy fines but the practices continued. Eventually, the virgin Mary was hanged in the trees, instead of animal heads. They might have tore down pagan temples but were stopped from cutting down the tribal tree. Amator, a Bishop of Auxerre, tried to stop the worship of a pear tree in the centre of the town with no luck. St. Germanus came along and destroyed this same tree but it cost him his life.
There are plenty of legends of beautiful women living in the trees, as female images hung from the branches, prior to the Madonna. Forest Gods could appear in the forests at midday or at midnight, unexpectedly. We know the Celts had orgiastic rites, in both wooded areas & in fields, as did most earth religions that centred around agriculture & fertility Gods. The Vedic religion or Hindu model can be very useful in helping us understand the Celtic view of goddesses, because it was quite similar. Virtually all the Celtic goddesses can be said to be sovereignty goddesses, Land-goddesses, etc, but they take on different names and attributes when required by specific circumstances.
Sometimes Chieftains, were considered to be God-like, if they succeeded in doing any acts of heroism. They to would be considered descendant from a God & a mortal mother. For Celts, if a personal name had genos or gnatos following, it meant “born of” or “son of”. If it had ap or Mc or Mac preceding the descendants name it also meant the same thing. If could also have meant the their personal guardian, some scholars say so but I still believe it was linked to a God originally. My fellow scholars sometimes reach a consensus & other times will differ in opinion greatly. There are many references to son of Gods that is shown when we became Christianized, but only the new myth of Jesus was allowed to maintain God status using the words 'son of' God afterwards. Personal names used in both Welsh & Irish of the descendants were Arthmael, Arthbiu & Arthur – from the bear people. Welsh – Arthgen. Irish Artigan or Artigenos or Matugenos = “son of bear,” MacMahon comes from Mac-math-ghamhain -”son of the bears son.” or “of the bear.”. Gaul – Matu. More evidence to back up my beliefs are in the first names of Guidgen ( from Viduo-genos, meaning “son of tree”), Dergen (Dervo-genos, “son of the oak”), and Guerngen (Verno-genos, “son of the alder”), Ebur (yew), Derua or Deruacus (oak). Genos was used to relate to the male gender & venos the female in one area. Thus Cwmevos would means daughter of the glen, as Brahva Cwmevos was born in Glendale, LA County. More on our naming will be in a later lesson.
Tree, landmark or animal, these leaders were believed to be representatives or incarnations of Gods & continued to be revered after their deaths. Irish Kings used the name Nuada or Bran a lot, where as Welsh Kings used Nudd (Nodons) or Bran. This is found in both inscriptions & documents galore. King Conchobar was considered a terrestrial God. There is no reason to believe otherwise as this is found in many cultures around the world.
In the Welsh areas, these gods possess both God and human attributes so were the tales are most likely tribal gods or they were once ancestors and their status now God. Hero gods are spotted because usually they are of earthly mother & a Divine Father. They have existing rites to match this belief, like the theme of linking marriage of the sky to the earth goddess was incorporated into the rite of marrying the King (considered Divine) to the land (in some cases, a Horse Goddess). Thus more evidence that Royalty were considered Divine.
The male both human and Divine is equally as important as the females, for he was the hunter, had more physical strength, and he was the caregiver and keeper of animals, and over all others, he protected all the tribe from harm. Let’s not forget that he also provides vital semen, the spark for new life.
If one is not willing to give a Chieftain or King in a tribalist path this respect, this path is definitely not for them. If the Northern European tribalist path is still something someone wishes to follow, you'd be best make your potential member first explore the Celtic Reconstructionist path to make sure, as there are a lot of similarities but some major differences as well.

Sky Gods and the Seasons

The Sky Gods were right there where you could see them, not elsewhere like in the case of Greek Olympus. The Celts once laughed at the Greeks for having human images as their Gods, according to Diordorus Siculus who wrote the Celtic leader ‘Brennus the Younger’ laughed when he saw the Gods in statue form at the Greek temple. The Tuatha De Danaan coming from 'heaven' is another Christian bastardization of the more ancient tale. In fact, a conception of the sun & the moon as Gods is found worldwide so we can speculate the same philosophy as it's seemingly strewn throughout the Celtic stories, but honestly its all perception. All scholars take an educated guess. We do know that the Celts did know much about the movement of Stars, Planets & Comets and there is many references about their uncanny abilities to read the skies and the Coligney calendar found, also reflects that knowledge. It is more accurate than ours is today.
Some of these sky gods stem from what was once called the Watchers. The legend states that these watchers are Guardians of an old race who have gone past the need for physical bodies. Watchers I found in many cultures and religions, including Christianity. They are said to be made of light and watch from the 'heavens' - in other words, constellations. These are constellations were thought to be ancestors, the most ancient of all who've taken their place as Gods and as such, they are associated with serpents and birds, like the vulture, whom were the Bridges to the Otherworlds and scavengers of all floating knowledge is the cosmos. There is said to be a royal bloodline of descendants from the 'watchers........maybe, just maybe it is our tribe who has been called..........ponder.....................
So The watchers are single stars. Watchers would adorn themselves with feather capes & in my opinion was the origin of 'angels' bearing wings. Druids were well-known to dress in these feathered robes to mimic these ancestors. They awaken sleeping parts of you to help remember your purpose.
There are four major watchers that actually reside in four directions. These were the origins of the watchers but versions of the watchtowers that Wiccans & ceremonial magicians use today are not the same. See list of Gods used prior to the the rebuilt M.K. Tribal choices, for their description. The greatest example of Celts having the four directions is medieval illuminated manuscripts. The Book of Kells, has the four Evangelists frequently depicted along with their Celtic animal symbols: Matthew the man, Mark the lion, Luke the calf, and John as the eagle. These four would be the leading tribe in Ireland's watcher's.
So from this knowledge we ask “Is there physical Watchtowers then?” Yes, there were actual towers, called Ziggurats, which means 'cosmic mountains'. – Sorry, couldn't find any other cultures words for them thus far) but these were man made and built as a form of worship to these stars. Each tower bore the symbols of that Watcher. I did find however, that during ritual celebrations of the Europeans – Roman, Greek and most likely the Celts the symbols were traced in the air with torch flames or wands. Did you know that the name **"Magdalene" is said to mean, ‘watchtower’ or ‘tower of the flock.’ Makes you really wonder if any of the people spoken about in the bible were real people.
So to recap, the Watchers were the original first race (enlightened, light beings) who created (or birthed, if you will) our human ancestors and thus became gods who guarded the heavens and watched earth. Lunar and eventually the Solar cults replaced the Star cults and then the Gods became the Sun, Moon and planets. I believe the First Christians actually kept the pagan watchers & towers and changed them to guardian angels. We see that the Hebrews taught that all angels, were known to them as Watchers, were ruled by four "higher" angels. They became the "Archangels" to the Cabalists. It is the later oppressive and abuse of Christianity, which turns the watchers into Fallen Angels, Sons of God and Demons.
In the Skyworld, the Sun & Moon were seen as cosmic expressions or physical models of the same forces that empowered the Goddess & God, for they followed the same cycles as man & woman. Depending on which area you lived in, or era, some had a Sun Goddess & some had a Moon Goddess. Today, some of the modern pagans like to have the Sun representing the male for it reflects more male qualities but not all tribes. The Sun in particular is connected to dramatic changes in light the sky therefore became connected to the seasons & its return.
Very little is known according to most pagan authors but when you read the mytholgies there is ample evidence in repeating themes as to their beliefs, rituals and secrets, if one quit reading ancient writings literally and finds the symbolism in it. For exampleit is very obvious to me, that these Kings (Gods in disguise) had to die & be reborn with the new sun. It is in all the mythologies. Lleu Llaw Gyffes – welsh sun god = dies and is revived and kills his rival Gronwy Pebr, the dark lord of the hunt. They both fight for the hand of the Flower bride or Spring maiden. Also in oak and holly king story. Some totems were trees. Another versions is an ageing contender, and a new young one – same with a stag deer they fight to lead the tribe and if the older beast is no longer strong enough he is killed or subservient to younger buck – in nature. Irish – Diarmuid, Grainne and Finn King of Fianna band of warriors. Deidre, King Conchobar and Naoise. Arthur, Lancelot and Gwenessffar. We know she is of the flower because she is abducted by the King of the Summer lands. And of course the most obvious is Blodeuwedd, in Welsh tales. This is all 3 persons if you notice.

Horned Gods and the Number Three

There are many Gods depicted with three horns found in the Celtic regions and we can only speculate that this meant that it was a divine animal, a God or a God symbol lasting from the ancient totemic faith. There is the three antlered stag in the Fionn saga. There is horned bulls, horned swine, and horned Ram's heads on serpents. The horned serpent usually today tied to Cernunnos and Loeg who sees a two-headed serpent.

Mother Gods

The Mother goddesses are the embodiment of the forces of the land and/or water in a specific territory of a tribe. They are always linked to a sacrifice or death. Always the mother grieves (even Virgin Mary). Therefore Mothers always play a role in an Initiatory theme of their sons. These mothers, who challenge their sons, are a metaphor of kicking a boy out of the nest by slowly giving them challenges so they can stand on their own two feet as a grown man with maturity, and receive the wisdom of adulthood. In other tales it is their husbands or mates. It is women who give men something to fight for or achieve or could be symbolic of the Goddess ordeals for the male. The Mother Goddess was most respected as she was considered the mother of the tribe and thus well looked after by Her people. Tuatha de Denann WRITE THIS NAME ON THE BOARD AND ASK CLASS IF THEY HEARD OF IT, AND ASK THEM TO SAY IT). This alone makes up a great part of the Irish mythology and is a great example of how they named themselves in honour of their mother Goddess. Tuath means tribe and is pronounced “TOO ‘ha dA Dah n’n” - th is always d sound. Translated means Tribe of Danu.
The attributes of the ancient feminine powers reveal deep insight into their reality, not merely reality of nature with human life relating to the land, but to the reality relating to the human mind, imagination & spirit. The Goddesses are linked to the human psyche, the collective imagination & the vital relationship between the people & the land. One of the major differences is the female Goddesses. Celtic women were both feminine & warriors. No Celtic man had a problem with women leading a battle or council. Because our Goddesses are considered much more powerful than the Gods, perhaps this is why the Christians feared a woman's power. They even disallowed their own God to keep His original wife, Lillath.
In Celtic legends, women also had a major role around the tribal base & sometimes as leaders in battle as well. Her husband was equal to her but each person had their own responsibilities according to their strengths. Without women there would be no birth, calming or passive thinking before jumping to action. There would be no softness or natural milk & it is a fact that women can stand more pain & endure trouble better, therefore the Celtic Goddesses are considered more powerful than the Gods. But, lets not sell the men short. See Tribal Gods. Females, especially among queens and princesses, had a special sanctity because they were thought to be the descendants of the Goddess, just like the Pharaohs in Egypt.
The attributes of the ancient feminine powers reveal deep insight into reality, not merely reality of nature and human life relating to the land, but to the reality relating to the human mind, imagination and spirit. The Goddesses relate to the human psyche, the collective imagination and the vital relationship between people and the land. Celts did not have Goddesses of Love and so on like the Greeks or Romans, just nature ones. The mistake people make is trying to compare them. Their culture did not focus on the same things at all and therefore it cannot be compared and does not make sense to try. One of the major differences is the female Goddesses were both feminine and warriors. No Celtic man had a problem with women leading a battle or council. Celtic Goddesses are considered much more powerful than the Gods, perhaps this is why outsiders feared their women’s power. Christians even disallowed their own God's original wife, Lilath.
Virgin Maidens
These figures are always guarding something. A mystery to penetrate if you will excuse the pun but the hymen is exactly what they are symbolic of and therefore used in ritual to protect as well – sympathetic magick or like produces like. Sometimes there were 3 maidens and sometimes there were 9 living on sacred lands. Its important to understand that in ancient times, virgin to the Celts was a women that had no chosen husband and so was free to exercise her sexual choices. A Virgin Queen or huntress, meant self-ownership, not sexual-purity. Notice that Christians spoke of Brigid in her virgin aspect, playing down her darker side when she was made into a saint. Brighid was no virgin, and her children are mentioned in Celtic mythology, she was a triple goddess. There are many virgin goddesses with children. Now think again on the Christian 'Virgin' Mary story, the style of writing & word meanings during the time it was written.
Horse Goddesses
Epona – worshipped across Europe and surprisingly go adopted in Rome. Horses are thought to be threshold guardians and these goddesses protect them. Shrines of her were found in stables. There are quite a few horse Goddesses or stories connected to horse. For some tribes they were used as their honour-price, for others they were so important in battle, and were believed to be connected to the warrior himself. They were powerfully strong, graceful and swift creatures and a honour to ride one. Horse is used as a representative of the land and coming from the sea - most likely brought over and became myth. Thus Kingship rituals are related to 'marrying' the horse.
One Eyed Gods
One eyed Gods are hard to tell of their nature and the same tale is told in the bible only it changes to David and Goliath. From my studies, as far as I can tell, it must have somehow made it into the myths by watching the stance of the magicians of the time. Druids or wizard like characters who stand on one lake like the crane, heron or stork and cover or close one eye. Only then can magick work.
Tribal Gods
Tribal Gods are the Gods of your own tribe, not anothers. They cannot be because they are ancestral in nature, and the others are confined to the tribal or home area and cannot move. You cannot choose someone elses Mother and father to be your own nor can you 'worship' Goddess Cerridwen in Canada, because she is not there. That is a Wiccan concept, not a Celtic belief. Tribal Gods reflect the tribe's main occupations. Gods of nature are usually fertility divinities, often chaotic and independent of the concept of tribal order. They were nevertheless necessary to the tribe's survival and needed to be appeased for the continuance of the agricultural cycle.
Norse
Norse Gods follow the same as above in the 3 worlds, which in turn are also sometimes divided by 9. The 3 Norse God groups are - The Aesir and the Vanir. The Vanir are the oldest family of Gods. The Aesir lived in Asgard their stronghold. They were younger & stronger. And the third though misunderstood by those who are not well read, are the giants. Here you see Sky, Hel or bottom of the world tree, and earth world.
Himinbjorg is the Hall of Heimdallr, the watching God, sometimes called the "White God." Scholars often say that it is his duty to watch the "gates" to make sure that that evil giants or trolls do not enter into either Midgard or the sky realm. Again we see the original stars or 'watchers' and the four directions coming in to play among these Northern tribes. Where this hall is located was very interesting to me. It is said to be at the point where the three realms come together which could mean that its the same bridge as Bifröst. Spiritual thought might have been that the rainbow, as is also considered by some others was used as both the Asbrü, and the Brig o' Dread. This is just another example of the same beliefs with different names as the Celts and they all came from the 7 mothers, talked about in the DNA strands of ages past, and were at one time one people.

Children of Light and Dark or Divine Twins
Lineage used to come through the female's name, for sure in what is now Northern Scotland, and no man would know if He fathered the child, at the sacred rites, as the females were masked, and in Goddess form, and if he did, he could not claim it aloud. Children born of sacred rites were thought to be the son of a God. This is also another theory of mine, and a good possibility, that Gods became half mortal and half divine, heroes in the stories, because of these rites. Men Kings had to marry the ‘Goddess’ in sacred great rite before he could claim rulership of the land he had to protect at all costs. In some tribes, no child was claimed by either of the birth parents, for all children were the Gods children. The whole tribe reared the child. This is what I believe the first followers of Christ meant. They wrote their God had NEVER claimed to be the 'only' child of God, nor did he claim to be King or any other title, someone else gave him those titles in order to condemn him.
The Ruling Primal Goddesses, often dark & terrible, bore sons or daughters of light. These sons of light bear a remarkable similarity to the story of Christ, yet honoured way before Christianity. Hmmm? No coincidence, just another story that somehow became literal truth. Lets name some of these sons; Esus, Mabon, Lleu, Lugh, & the most famous and most similar is a God whose more famous name is now Merlyn. Keep in mind that most of these sons of light, also had a dark twin.

Weeding through the Christian Adaptation of the Celtic legends

As the old Gods moved into the Christian era, the Celts still loved their traditions that had been maintained for hundreds of years, so in keeping with the times, the stories needed to be changed and updated. So instead of blaming Rome, as is the sob story being passed down with all the newbies in paganism, we have to really evaluate why something was changed. What most seem to be forgetting, or most likely don't know, is that the Celts, in many areas, embraced Christianity and it was quite popular. Celtic Christianity was very different in its development & practice as was each sect developing elsewhere. We never lost what the Celts might have practised, there is a wealth of information out there. One only needs to travel to Europe to find much of the traditions, especially in remote areas still being practised. Celtic Christianity kept many pagan traditions in its practice. If you have the patience to read and compare mythologies, read history books of each section of Celtic and Scandinavian Europe, and even read books with pictures of the landscapes you can be sure to find tidbits of information and when they are put together you can unmask the many disguised Gods, that were reduced to Heroes or fairy and the like. There is absolutely no evidence that fairies existed within the ancient Celtic world. Because of laws and Christian values of the times, it makes total sense that they were a proud people and wanted to keep their own oral traditions & history so they simply changed the characters to people and creatures that were current in the times of their new religion. Once you understand the meaning of the names and symbolism in these stories, you will discover they are really Gods, and some can even be matched to a place name still in existence today.
Our tradition is based off of the Arthurian tales because its tales are still told today and therefore still inspire each generation, as it did our founder, thus will include many cultures into that belief. Arthurian cults were found all through the Celtic lands, from Scotland, England, Wales and in Germanic, Scandinavian & Norse areas, each claiming that Arthur was tied to their own lands, therefore they are the 'true' descendants. Having said this, Arthurian legends are one of the hardest mythologies to find the Gods in, because of the period it was written down in, so is not a recommended place to start your study but I shall help with correcting some of the misinformation circling.
The first & most important thing to know is that just because Geoffrey & Chretien were the first published authors with a collective of Arthurian tales together does not mean they made up the tale, nor were they the first to include him & his knights in a Celtic mythos. There is mention of Arthur from back in the 500's but more so in the 800's with Nennius. Most scholars agree that he & his knights are not mere mortals as of each had unworldly power. We also see that these tales share exactly the same themes as all the rest. They include the battle between Summer & Winter Gods for the Spring Goddess. They connect to vegetation & the sacrificial King, & even state the God will come again, like King Arthur. This statement refers to the Pendragon line. To understand this, we must look to how they viewed our soul & death. Celts believed in ancestral-incarnation, meaning you could be reborn in your tribal family or children's children some day, just as everything in nature dies but lives again. Many knights are definitely Gods, modernized & written in a time when there was knights galore around royalty. People could relate to the mythologies again. Arthurian tales can be rewritten every era. In fact, a very modern novel about Arthur that most have not read about has been written by Deepach Choprah, & in this tale Arthur is a policemen. Maybe one day a Bard in our tribe will be inspired to rewrite the tales to match our own times.
Although it is hard to find out which were Gods and which persons were not, once you find the formula, you can usually spot the God. I say God because in the time they were written down, it was the male warrior Heroes that were most popular to read about as to be a Knight was a glamourous position. Also, keep in mind that because their was only one male God in Christian times, the power of the Goddesses had to be reduced to sorcery or witchcraft. So even though the role of the Goddesses was changed, she was still needed by the hero in order to accomplish his ordeals or tasks. Now back to finding the Gods; He or she will be the owner of a magickal item or it will be given to the rightful owner. Manannan's swine, Arthur's sword, Goibniu's feast of age, immortal ale or brew, apples of Elysium, the cauldron of plenty, are all clues to their divinity. Another clue to find the Gods is their great stature. This is because some were the shape of the landscape. They don't fit in houses, some of them had skulls that could hold several men, some wore rings as thick as three ox goads. In some tales these Gods are blatantly reduced to being called giants, faerie, selkies, and so on. In fact the Great Irish Hero God Lugh was reduced to a leprechaun status. The reason being that they were afraid that by not honouring these Gods, they would take revenge and so over the years, they became stories of fear and hence the stories like the Tuatha De Denaan race going went underground reflects the dropped beliefs.
Most of the Celtic stories follow a matriarchal lineage but the latter stories have the other way round. In the Irish mythologies, St. Patrick was added to them. Don't get confused when historical figures come in to play, Saints also replaced Gods in the stories and were given God-like powers. Not many female Gods were able to become Saint Status, I haven't studied too many Saints to date and so at this time can only speak of the Irish Goddess Brighid who story changed to St. Brighid and she was given a abbey under her name and the story that she was the foster mother of Jesus and who baptized him with three drops on his forehead. Note the three drops is in all the tales of inspiration brew, also called awen, which could have been a mead or a brew that produced a hallucinogenic state.
It's extremely clear just how large a role the Church actually played in any of the Celtic collection’s when you read them. It's quite clear, the church changed the sexual desires to sins and the terrible consequences for them. So it is very hard to look beneath the surface and find what might have been told. So I've taken the stories and changed them to suit our times, as those have done before us, and give the women back equal power. But what were the original Gods, lets take a look at their change throughout history.

SUMMARY
When we read the sagas, we have to be able to find the Pre-Christian concepts by comparing the stories to other ancient tribal societies. What I've found is quite different than meets the eyes. Just like the bible, which we will speak of in a later chapter, you must compare it to historical evidence around it and the beliefs, concerns, laws and views of societies of that particular time, other than the scriptures or stories, to truly understand and decide for yourself why it could have been made and what they did. Each author who wrote the stories, changed it to his own time, added his own heroes religious or otherwise and it became a mix of actual historical figures mixed in with their stories to explain creation, their history, family history and their existence. Arthurian stories have been used the most and they are great because as the story has changed and evolved over time, so can a religion thus evolve. Paganism did not become stagnant by remaining the same, there is evidence of its growth over the years, especially as they gained more knowledge or adopted a new perception. Since I have 29 years of study on Occult, and European culture, and a few other religions, I urge you to always note that each scholar can only speculate and give you our opinion, not one of us has been 'proven' correct but there are many who have had pretty close guesses. And remember, there will always be those who think their knowledge, better and have nothing better to do than to pick on scholars or pioneers. These are called bullies, so whether cyber or not, hold your head up high and instead of participating in destructive and abusive behaviour, just weighing what each person has to say & decide your own opinion without dissing others.
Always look at the colours and descriptions used, as these are key to figuring out what might have been, what might have been added, and where that God or tribe resided. The more you read the more aha moments you'll discover. I have learned over the years, to read the published scholars work, and although I and everybody owe a great deal to these authors, we also need to feel confident in our own abilities to see things they might have missed and thus add to the knowledge. In doing so, make sure you've learned enough to have material to support your own ideas. There are too many people, and most are those led around by the nose, who dispute and make fun of certain authors ideas instead of really researching themselves and seeing how it could be possible, or even how they might have come to that conclusion. Just because you are not a published author doesn't mean you are not wise, and just because you are a published author doesn't mean they are right.
Too many famous people get knocked down once society builds them up, because they are not like they are. Really, in the end, it doesn't matter how your tribe is, because every single tribe was different then so why are the new 'Celtic' pagans so concerned with what is or isn't the way they were. As long as it isn't blatantly theft from an entirely different culture or religion, its okay. M.K. Tribes will be the same way, each tribe having the main beliefs that bind us together but each having their own uniqueness as well. That is why we are all different, and our world instead of scoffing at the ways of others, should spend more time admiring the ways we are the same, and using the differences as a way to open up your mind to new possibilities, learning and understanding. Then you will know what true hospitality is.
13 MINUTE STRETCH BREAK

by Brahva Cwmevos
2010

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