Theses  on  Celtic  Religion 11

difficulties in the state of the sources

our prejudicial denotations

animistic component

fairy tales and legends as legitimate sources

shamanism and druidism

the stratum of divinities


polarity Death / Mothers

changes in material existence

Mabon vab Genoveva

interface of Death and Mothers

isolated themes 

the realities of the world 





The realities of the world

Everyday life is predominantly determined by the sequence of the seasons and by pertinent processes, changes and repetitions met with in forests, fields and in gar­dens and those human activities dependent of them. Day and night, dark and light season, growth, ripening, harvest and fallow, the cycles of the celestial bodies and the times of feasts at the turning points in these cycles set the frame, set the condi­tions for human activities.

Into this world and mediated by it, numerous forces and powers exert their effects. They have their origin in another world, an otherworld, one that surrounds and pene­trates this here world, one that comprises everything of unknown and mysterious character, but also every­thing that is dominant and decisive. There and from there superior beings exert their influ­ence, some of them represented here as the Country where mankind lives in, and the Ground they live on. They may as well be the Ancestors of the clan, of the people or the entire man­kind. Other ones are visible as for example the Sun, or the Water in all its appearances, or Trees or Animals. The most varying shapes can be assumed by them, strange and monstrous ones. But they can as well hide behind the outer appearance of familiar animals or even human beings, magically gifted men or women. They bring blessing or disaster, govern war and welfare.

The otherworldly regularities though incomprehensible to the average man, are reli­able, even so that superior human beings can learn those regularities or some of their effects. Those men, wise men or druids, offer an interpreting help to other people. Certain signs emanate from the Otherworld which can and should be read and obeyed. There are good days and bad days and a wealth of rules about how to act and behave. Predetermined places are used by the inhabi­tants of the Otherworld to enter and leave this terrestrial world. At certain dates, at the turning points be­tween dark and light season this is performed with greater ease. Numerous incredi­ble and incredibly numerous tales are told – mostly by druids - which reveal a little bit of what happened in the Otherworld and under its impact in This World. 

For human beings from this here world there is an entrance into the Otherworld: death. He or she who enters the Otherworld by ways of soil, water, fire or air can ex­pect to continue life yonder there.

Since Otherworld beings can change more easily into this terrestrial world, one can never be sure of a dead person not to return. This happens rather frequently, be it that the dead one comes to conclude an affair, be it that he comes to fetch the next one to die, be it for other reasons. Reanimation can be prevented by separating the head from the deceased body and providing that they cannot come together. If how­ever the head is separated from the body before death, it must be expected that the head remains alive. This is not a usual event and always worth to be notified. Life is housed in the head, more exactly in its blood.

The saying goes about some people taking up another body or shape even before death and beginning a new life. Some even do so several times. Of course this is no less than usual, and it may well be doubted that they are human beings and not rather of otherworldly origin.

Death leads into the Otherworld, new life emerges from there. Anything that is in­volved in production and reproduction, in growth, ripening and wealth, the rising waters of rivers and lakes and the prodigious sun – all this is in the might of Other­world beings. They are conceiv­able or are met with as women, mothers, old women, and ruling female persons. Many among those who led the people to their country or founded a ruling clan were otherworldly mothers. They display a special predilection for human beings.


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