Celts' Religious Beliefs

Celts' Religious Beliefs

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Celts' Religious Beliefs

The Celts originated in the 1st century from much of western, central, Eastern Europe, and Asia Minor. “ The Celts were a group of tribes speaking Indo-European dialects. Armed with iron weapons and mounted on horses, they spread rapidly over Europe, crossing into the British Isles, moving S over France, Italy, and Spain, fighting the Macedonians, and penetrating into Asia Minor, where they raided Hellenistic centers,”( Columbia encyclopedia Online). Many of the Celts lived in the Western Europe, which was also the Normandy region. The Normandy is a small region in the north of France. In 1500 BC they spread to France, Portugal, Spain, and the British Isles. The Celtic tribe that dominated central Europe during the Iron Age was bound together by common speech, customs, religion, and culture. When looking at the Celtic religion, one must consider their different aspects and ceremonies of their religion.
The Celts took part in many religious festivals that included Imbolc, Beltaine, Lugansa, and Samhain. The Imbolc festival celebrated fertility and growth. . This celebration was held in February. The Beltaine, held in May, was associated with the fertility of cattle and crops, which honored the Druids. During the Beltaine, the Celtic tribes drove herds between bonfires to purify and protect themselves against the evil spirits. The third festival that the Celts took part in is known as the Lugansa. Lugansa honored the gods and the harvest. The Lugansa also known as the harvest festival, celebrated from mid July to mid August. (Pierce Online) Lastly, the Samhain is the start of the New Year. The Samhain in the present day is known as Halloween. “During this celebration the division between this world and the other world dissolved and the spirits roamed the earth” (Pierce Online). According to Druidism, the spirits of the deceased roamed the earth on Samhain evening (Encarta Online). The four festivals were similar to the seasons and the important transitions.
Furthermore, the animals held an important part in the religious beliefs of the Celts. For example, the hare thought to bring good fortune. “Swans in particular, if portrayed wearing gold or silver chains were supernatural, often Gods in bird form.” (Pierce Online) The Raven which were “ special favorites as messengers of the gods and their calls were considered prophetic.” (Pierce Online). The boar was perfect example, which illustrated the strength and power of the Celts. The fish symbolized clairvoyance and the serpent signified the divine wisdom.

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Other examples included the horse and dragon, which represent sovereignty and the guardian spirit. Animals only played a small role in lives of the Celts. . Thus, animals played a small but important role in lives of the Celts.
The Gods played the most important roles in the Celts life. The Gods that were of great significance were Lugh, De Dagda, and Cernunnos. “ Lugh was a very versatile god” (Pierce Online) Lugh is the God of son, war, games, and commerce. “He [Lugh] is the most universal of the Celtic Gods,” (Pierce Online). De Dagda is also known as the Good god because he was the Celtic God of earth, heavens, and magic. Cernunnos was the ruler and the protector of the animals. “ Most commonly known a single God with stag antlers, he [Cernunnos] was intimately linked with fertility and prosperity, especially of herds and flocks, but also of men,” (Pierce Online). Overall, there were many gods that the Celts believed in that led them through their daily lives.
The Druids held much of the authority of the Celtic Religion. “ Druids, priests of ancient Celtic Britain, Ireland, and Gaul and probably of all ancient Celtic peoples, known to have existed at least since the 3d century BC,”(Columbia Encyclopedia Online). The Druids were also known as the human form for their Gods. “ Druids were a major power within the Celtic empire, with all public and private affairs subject to their authority,”(Mcloed). Many druids performed human and animal sacrifices and practiced many forms of magic. “The Druids of Gaul were both judges and priests who sacrificed criminals to their gods,” ( 242). The druids were of high knowledge in which many Druids were teachers, doctors, and lawyers. The Druids were also thought to be teachers for the young and generally for the community. “ ... they taught by oral transmission, and their courses are said to have lasted as long as 20 years,” (Columbia Encyclopedia Online). Druids were, in turn, one of the most respected of the Celts.
In conclusion, the Celtic religion is one that is based on various aspects and ceremonies. Similar to all other cultures, the Celts had their own religion, tradition, and culture, and it makes them who they were. The Celtic tribes combined their religious beliefs with almost everything they did, which is what gave them bravery and the strength to live their daily lives.
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