At a great settlement of theirs, Golasecca, in Cisalpine Gaul, interments were found. In each case the body had been burned; there was not a single burial without previous burning. This people entered Gaul not according to Bertrand , for the most part, as conquerors, but by gradual infiltration, occupying vacant spaces wherever they found them along the valleys and plains.
Finally, we have a third group, the true Celtic group, which followed closely on the track of the second. It was at the beginning of the sixth century that it first made its appearance on the left bank of the Rhine.
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While Bertrand calls the second group Celtic, these he styles Galatic, and identifies them with the Galatae of the Greeks and the Galli and Belgae of the Romans. The second group, as we have said, were Celts of the plains. The third were Celts of the mountains.
The earliest home in which we know them was the ranges of the Balkans and Carpathians. Their organisation was that of a military aristocracy — they lorded it over the subject populations on whom they lived by tribute or pillage. They are the warlike Celts of ancient history — the sackers of Rome and Delphi, the mercenary warriors who fought for pay and for the love of warfare in the ranks of Carthage and afterwards of Rome. Ireland alone escaped in some degree from the oppression of this military aristocracy, and from the sharp dividing line which it drew between the classes, yet even there a reflexion of the state of things in Gaul is found, even there we find free and unfree tribes and oppressive and dishonouring exactions on the part of the ruling order.
Yet, if this ruling race had some of the vices of untamed strength, they had also many noble and humane qualities. They were dauntlessly brave, fantastically chivalrous, keenly sensitive to the appeal of poetry, of music, and of speculative thought. Posidonius found the bardic institution flourishing among them about. The culture of these mountain Celts differed markedly from that of the lowlanders. Their age was the age of iron, not of bronze; their dead were not burned which they considered a disgrace but buried.
The territories occupied by them in force were Switzerland, Burgundy, the Palatinate, and Northern France; parts of Britain to the west, and Illyria and Galatia to the east, but smaller groups of them must have penetrated far and wide through all Celtic territory, and taken up a ruling position wherever they went. He locates them roughly, the Belgae in the north and east, the Celtae in the middle, and the Aquitani in the west and south. The language of the other Gaulish peoples, he expressly adds, were merely dialects of the same tongue. This triple division is reflected more or less in all the Celtic countries, and must always be borne in mind when we speak of Celtic ideas and Celtic religion, and try to estimate the contribution of the Celtic peoples to European culture.
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The mythical literature and the art of the Celt have probably sprung mainly from the section represented by the Lowland Celts of Bertrand. But this literature of song and saga was produced by a bardic class for the pleasure and instruction of a proud, chivalrous, and warlike aristocracy, and would thus inevitably be moulded by the ideas of this aristocracy. But it would also have been coloured by the profound influence of the religious beliefs and observances entertained by the Megalithic People — beliefs which are only now fading slowly away in the spreading day-light of science.
These beliefs may be summed up in the one term Magic. The nature of this religion of magic must now be briefly discussed, for it was a potent element in the formation of the body of myths and legends with which we have afterwards to deal. The ultimate root of the word Magic is unknown, but proximately it is derived from the Magi, or priests of Chaldea and Media in pre-Aryan and pre-Semitic times, who were the great exponents of this system of thought, so strangely mingled of superstition, philosophy, and scientific observation.
The fundamental conception of magic is that of the spiritual vitality of all nature. This spiritual vitality was not, as in polytheism, conceived as separated from nature in distinct divine personalities. It was implicit and immanent in nature; obscure, undefined, invested with all the awfulness of a power whose limits and nature are enveloped in impenetrable mystery.
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In its remote origin it was doubt-less, as many facts appear to show, associated with the cult of the dead, for death was looked upon as the resumption into nature, and as the investment with vague and uncontrollable powers, of a spiritual force formerly embodied in the concrete, limited, manageable, and therefore less awful form of a living human personality. Yet these powers were not altogether uncontrollable.
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The desire for control, as well as the suggestion of the means for achieving it, probably arose from the first rude practices of the art of healing. Medicine of some sort was one of the earliest necessities of man. The whole subject has been treated by Pliny in a remarkable passage which deserves quotation at length. Nor need it surprise us that it has obtained so vast an influence, for it has united in itself the three arts which have wielded the most powerful sway over the spirit of man.
Springing in the first instance from Medicine — a fact which no one can doubt-and under cover of a solicitude for our health, it has glided into the mind, and taken the form of another medicine, more holy and more profound. In the second place, bearing the most seductive and flattering promises, it has enlisted the motive of Religion, the subject on which, even at this day, mankind is most in the dark. To crown all it has had recourse to the art of Astrology; and every man is eager to know the future and convinced that this knowledge is most certainly to be obtained from the heavens.
Thus, holding the minds of men enchained in this triple bond, it has extended its sway over many nations, and the Kings of Kings obey it in the East. I have noticed that in ancient times, and indeed almost always, one finds men seeking in this science the climax of literary glory — at least Pythagoras, Empedocles, Democritus, and Plato crossed the seas, exiles, in truth, rather than travellers, to instruct themselves in this. Returning to their native land, they vaunted the claims of magic and maintained its secret doctrine … In the Latin nations there are early traces of it, as, for instance, in our Laws of the Twelve Tables'[Adopted B.
In fact, it was not until the yeay after the foundation of Rome, under the consulate of Cornelius Lentulus Crassus, that it was forbidden by a senatus consultum to sacrifice human beings; a fact which proves that up to this date these horrible sacrifices were made. The Gauls have been captivated by it, and that even down to our own times, or it was the Emperor Tiberius who suppressed the Druids and all the herd of prophets and medicine-men.
But what is the use of launching prohibitions against an art which has thus traversed the ocean and penetrated even to the confines of Nature? Magic was not — so Pliny believed — indigenous either in Greece or in Italy, but was so much at home in Britain and conducted with such elaborate ritual that. Pliny says it would almost seem as if it was they who had taught it to the Persians, not the Persians to them. The imposing relics of their cult which the Megalithic People have left us are full of indications of their religion.
This monument was explored in by M. At the entrance to the rectangular chamber was a sculptured slab, on which was graven a mysterious sign, perhaps the totem of a chief. Immediately on entering the chamber was found a beautiful pendant in green jasper about the size of an egg. On the floor in the centre of the chamber was a most singular arrangement, consisting of a large ring of jadite, slightly oval in shape, with a magnificent axe-head, also of jadite, its point resting on the ring. At a little distance from these there lay two large pendants of jasper, then an axe-head in white jade, [Jade is not found in the native state in Europe, nor nearer than China.
All these objects were ranged with evident intention en suite, forming a straight line which coincided exactly with one of the diagonals of the chamber, running from north-west to south-east. In one of the corners of the chamber were found axe-heads in jade, jadite, and. There were no traces of bones or cinders, no funerary urn ; the structure was a cenotaph.
There were found here-as commonly in other megalithic monuments in Ireland and Scotland — a number of stones sculptured with a singular and characteristic design in waving and concentric lines. Now if the curious lines traced upon the human hand at the roots and tips of the fingers be examined under a lens, it will be found that they bear an exact resemblance to these designs of megalithic sculpture.
One seems almost like a cast of the other. These lines on the human hand are so distinct and peculiar that, as is well known, they have been adopted as a method of identification of criminals.
Can this resemblance be. Nothing like these peculiar assemblages of sculptured lines has ever been found except in connexion with these monuments. Have we not here a reference to chiromancy — a magical art much practised in ancient and even in modern times? The hand as a symbol of power was a well-known magical emblem, and has entered largely even into Christian symbolism — note, for instance, the great hand sculptured on the under side of one of the arms of the Cross of Muiredach at Monasterboice.
Another singular and as yet unexplained feature which appears in many of these monuments, from Western Europe to India, is the presence of a small hole bored through one of the stones composing the chamber. Was it an aperture intended for the spirit of the dead? Holed stones, not forming part of a dolmen, are, of course, among the commonest relics of the ancient cult, and are still venerated and used in practices connected.
Here we are doubtless to interpret the emblem as a symbol of sex. Besides the heavenly bodies, we find that rivers, trees, mountains, and stones were all objects of veneration among this primitive people. Stone-worship was particularly common, and is not so easily explained as the worship directed toward objects possessing movement and vitality.
Possibly an explanation of the veneration attaching to great and isolated masses of unhewn stone may be found in their resemblance to the artificial dolmens and cromlechs. The celebrated Black Stone of Pergamos was the subject of an embassy from Rome to that city in the time of the Second Punic War, the Sibylline Rooks having predicted victory to its possessors.
It was brought to Rome with great rejoicings in the year Compare the myth in Hesiod which relates how Kronos devoured a stone in the belief that it was his offspring, Zeus It was then possible to mistake a stone for a god. Yet a drawing, here reproduced, which was lately made on the spot by Mr.
Myths and Legends 2
Arthur Bell, shows this very act of worship still in full force in Brittany, and shows the symbols and the sacerdotal organisation of Christianity actually pressed into the service of this immemorial paganism. According to Mr. Bell, the clergy take part in these performances with much reluctance; but are compelled to do so by the force of local opinion.
Holy wells, the water of which is supposed to cure diseases, are still very common in Ireland,. Another singular emblem, upon the meaning of which no light has yet been thrown, occurs frequently in connexion with megalithic monuments. The accompanying illustrations show examples of it. Cup-shaped hollows are made in the surface of the stone, these are often surrounded with concentric rings, and from the cup one or more radial lines are drawn to a point outside the circumference of the rings.
Occasionally a system of cups are joined by these lines, but more frequently they end a little way outside the widest of the rings. These strange markings are found in Great Britain and Ireland, in Brittany, and at various places in.
MEGALITH - Definition and synonyms of megalith in the English dictionary
India, where they are called mahadeos. Except that the design here is richly decorated and accurately drawn, it closely resembles a typical European cup-and-ring marking. That these markings mean something, and that, wherever they are found, they mean the same thing, can hardly be doubted, but what that meaning is remains yet a puzzle to antiquarians.
The guess may perhaps be hazarded that they are diagrams or plans of a megalithic sepulchre. The central hollow represents the actual burial-place. The circles are the standing Stones, fosses, and ramparts which often surrounded it; and the line or duct drawn from the centre outwards represents the subterranean approach to the sepulchre.