To be a Celt would have been an honor, though their way of life could not survive with the introduction of “civilization”. They weren’t a homogenous culture, but a vast network of people’s spread across Europe that possessed similar cultural traits.Romans often wrote of these “barbarians”, referring to them as Celts generally, but also by the names of a given region’s tribes. As the Celts left no written accounts, it’s not always certain what is correct in these accounts and what are words applied to a forign people by outsiders. The word comes from the Greek Keltoi and they were greatly feared by their neighbors, particularly for their prowess and danger in battle. I was originally going to write about riastadh, the Celtic battle frenzy, but found a website that covered it far more succinctly than I could. If you are interested, I will include a link at the end of the post.
Why am I so fascinated by the Celts? I carry a smidgen of their blood through my Irish and Scottish ancestors. I was drawn into studying decades ago, although I cannot recall how the topic first caught my attention. The Irish Brehon Laws were transcribed by monks and included marriage protections for women, dictated how to measure the proper physical conditioning of men, and is, overall, a fascinating subject. Over time, particularly in the Nineteenth century, they became romanticized to the point that today a slew of misconceptions and outright fabrications exist. Care must be taken in selecting research materials. One of my deepest loathings on what people claim to be research on any topic is to use Google and find a few sites that sound appealing. Research requires far more effort than convenience. In the near future a blog post will include a list of some of my most admired works on various aspects of the Celts, some having also been used as textbooks in the past.
An unexpected source containing little bias in their recording were the Irish monks who penned much of what we know regarding the Irish. They recorded oral traditions regarding culture, law, social structure, and more, choosing not to cast the material in too many elements of their faith, or outright condemning these people’s lives.
I was going to write a few more points, but will stop for now. In addition to a reading list, I also intend to write about popular misconceptions and perhaps the Druids. I hope to see you all later. Until then, be kind to yourself and remember that you are loved.