Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ancient Civilisations: Celts

I'm doing some research at the moment for a paper that's due in in around a month's time. I thought that writing some of my findings up here might make me do a little bit more work on the actual project, or at the very least, help me come up with some more interesting ideas.

In the 3rd century AD, the Gauls were taken over by the Romans and given the name Cisalpine Gaul, meaning 'Gaul this side of the alps'. Before that time, the Celtic Gauls were a race of people whose laws and stories and religious rituals were passed on by oral tradition. Priests and lawgivers were the druids and if a boy wished to become a druid, he had to train for 20 years to grow up to that level. Most of that time would be spent learning things by heart. Druids were the most highly respected and important part of the Gallic society. Their secrets were well guarded to utmost secrecy. They were the ones in charge of defining aristocracy; they also had the right to determine war and peace.

The Celtic Gauls worshipped in sacred groves and sanctuaries that were built of stone. Their worship was to the earth, and to the living spirits who lived in and of the earth. They practiced the belief that all objects are inhabited with a soul. In accordance to their religion, lakes, streams, mountains, etc, were imbued with human characteristics and almost divine status. The worship of animals was not uncommon; indeed, it is only a recent development in culture that says we must not be able to respect or worship the animals which are killed for us to eat.

Many of the gods the Celtic Gauls gave worship to were related in some way to the gods worshipped in Greece at the time. The primary god that was worshipped at the arrival of the Romans was Teutates; the Gallic equivalent to the Greek god Hermes.

Of course, as with most ancient -and some less than ancient- cultures and religions, their belief in trees and rivers being imbued with soul and divine spirit was stamped out near the beginning of the Roman takeover.

Nikki Watson.