Theses  on  Celtic  Religion 3

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 animistic component is a kind of shamanism and will be called so here. Certain typical concepts are to be attributed to it: The idea of an Otherworld to and from which there are entrances, transitions and exits; the ideas of transformation, shapeshifting, metempsycho­sis, comprising also several – though not arbitrarily chosen – animals; the system of divina­tions, predictions and conjectures, in­clud­ing messengers of bad luck and evil, which again often appear in animals' bodies or as natural forces. Furthermore we have to subsume here certain symbols as there are: the severed head, the boar, the horse, the raven, symbols for otherworldly beings and phenomena. It is here, where we have to place druids.

Druids are not the priests (flamen) or the philosophers, they sometimes appear to be – they are this too, to be sure, but these functions comprise just parts of a large dru­idical complex. Druids are endowed with connections and relations to any kind of supernatural, mysterious, incomprehensible and inaccessible phenomena and forces and therefore they are historically late expressions of shamanism. (It must be said here aside that Clemence of Alexandria men­tioned among the philosophers-magi­cians of the antiquity the druids as well as certain Sama­nians from Bactria – are those the shamans of inner Asia?) 

The thesis of druidism and Celtic religion being rooted in shamanism presupposes a continu­ity with other shamanistic cultures. Several Eurasian and Siberian nations had conserved shamanism up to our days (being themselves possibly in touch with Mon­golian or Turkish nations of Central Asia). From Neolithic times on there might have been connections between Eurasian, Indo-European and other central European cultures.

Shamanism of those Eurasian and Siberian nations will have been subject to changes and sev­eral influences since the days of the Neolithic period. Therefore, any congruencies between La-Tène-druidism and 20th century shamanism should not be expected to be great. The more valuable are those similarities actually found.


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