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 Rath Grainne, Tara. Click to view lartger photo


The Irish Celts

In Irish Gaelic culture the Mother of the Gods is Danu, and her mate is Bile. From that union came Dagda and Bride, who themselves are described in some articles of lore as mates. The Gods were born of that union.


When Celtic culture entered an area, the Celtic gods of the Upper Realm went in with them. These then intermarried with the local goddesses of the land. The ancient Gaels believed that they originated with those unions, so that the Gods of the people are their First Ancestors.

In Celtic religion, there were three basic spheres. These are the Sky, ruled by the Sun; the Sea, ruled by the Moon, and the Land, ruled by the Earth. The Sun and the Moon are feminine and are sisters, but they can change gender. The nurturing, warm Sun who promotes growth is feminine, the light, as personified by Lugh, is masculine, and the scorching Sun just before Harvest is represented by Balor. Their morality was rooted in concepts of personal honor, responsibility and fulfilment of duty, summed up by the Gaelic hero Caelte as, "truth in our hearts, strength in our arms and fulfilment in our tongues".

The very foundation of Gaelic culture was the home, with the hearth the cornerstone of the spirituality of the people. In all Gaelic religions great emphasis was placed on the sanctity of the home and strength of the family. For traditional Celts, "family" included people who had adopted each other.

It was the history of a place or some other distinguishing thing that caused religious use of particular places. Related to this concept of the land was that the Gods taken by Celts into a new land (Sky Gods/Gods of the People), mated with the Land Gods already in that land. Out of those unions came the Gaelic families.

The Celts did not use the four Greek elements - earth, air, fire and water. Their concept of the four winds [airts] influenced their buildings' floor plans, but their architecture was round, often consisting of concentric circles. In Celtic religion, mythological stories were a central feature. These formed the core of magical practice, teaching and ritual. The only generally recognised initiations were those of life itself, with the two most important being birth and death, followed by marriage, parenthood and grand-parenthood.

Celtic views towards women were quite progressive and close to modern views. Much to the irritation of other powers of the time, such as the Romans, women had

  • the right to possess and disburse property
  • the right to inheritance, and to choose their own mates
  • ascendancy to the throne, even, in some places, ahead of men
  • the right to keep and bear weapons

It was not until Christianity was firmly implanted that women lost these rights and their equality under the law. When Christianity arrived in Ireland [traditionally through St Patrick's missionary efforts], the Celts happily adapted their Goddess tradition to the Christian notion of Mary as the Mother of God.

The Celts left many monuments all over Ireland, mainly meeting places, burial sites and fortified hills. Their tradition was oral, so most of the knowledge of their ways that has been preserved in writing was authored by Christian scholars.






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