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CELTIC-L  June 2000

CELTIC-L June 2000

Subject:

Re: Solstice Review 4

From:

Lois Chadwell Cruz <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Lois Chadwell Cruz <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 29 Jun 2000 01:24:54 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (204 lines)

Francine wrote:
> Or is your "logic" mre important than archaeological evidence?

Unworthy. Rude.

> > 2. For a culture with so many different solar deities, it would be odd
to
> > think the Celts *didn't* observe solar festivals, or that their solar
> > festivals *weren't* tied to the actual (apparent) movement of the sun.
> >
>         Odd? From your perspective, perhaps, which seems to be that of
> someone expecting the Celts to have deities similar to those of the Romans
> or Greeks.

My perspective is based solely on what I have studied concerning the Celts.

In fact, *many* of the Celtic deities were credited with the
> ability to harness the power of the sun--but the sun itself was not a
deity.
> It was a natural power, an element, like the wind, storm, etc. with
> independent consciousness and will. The deities of the ancient Celts were
> those with sufficient knowledge and power to subject the elements to do
> their bidding.

"As it is difficult, if not impossible, to draw really meaningful
conclusions concerning the Celts' view of their gods and goddesses portrayed
in human form, so it is difficult to determine their attitude towards
deities worshipped in animal form."--p. 160, _The Celts_, Nora Chadwick,
1971.

Please give me a source for your assertions about the sun's  "independent
consciousness and will".

> > 3. In the pre-Christian era, when we know the Celts had intercultural
> > contact and when we know that the solstices/equinoxes were widely
> > observed, it would seem to be underestimating their abilities (both
> > intellectual and spiritual) to think that they remained only interested
in
> > pastoral/agricultural holy days and that the druids, at least, didn't
see
> > any value or "magic" in the "movements" of the sun when they were
exposed
> > to the concepts from other cultures. Again, this is assuming that they
> > weren't intelligent or sophisticated enough to determine or appreciate
the
> > solstices/equinoxes on their own. I just have trouble accepting that
> > notion.
> >
>         I have trouble accepting your notion that intelligence and
> sophistication are tied to worshipping the sun. Marking the sun's
> movements--along with those of every other element in the sky--does not
> require worship.

Intelligence and sophistication are tied to *understanding* and *measuring*
the apparent motion of the sun. Another, and perhaps even higher, expression
of intelligence and sophistication is the ability to create complex symbols
and to think symbolically. There is ample evidence of this ability in the
archaeological record of the Celtic culture. These abilities would
demonstrate intelligence and sophistication far beyond that of the common
person. Remember, we are not dealing with modern day people here, where most
are afforded at least a rudimentary education in the sciences, mathematics,
etc. Everything that is known about the druids indicates that they highly
valued knowledge and that they closely guarded what was at the time "hidden"
knowledge. I did NOT state at any point that they "worshipped" the sun.

> You seem to want the Celts to be like the Romans and the
> Greeks in the classical era. Why?

You are much mistaken in your impressions and assumptions, both in this case
and elsewhere in your postings.

> > There is evidence for this "drifting", or it is simply someone's
> > speculation? You make it sound like this is a cut-and-dried matter of
> > fact, but somehow I doubt that it is.
> >
>         Who said cut and dried?

You said:
>Pre-Christian Celts didn't celebrate solstices and equinoxes. In
> other areas, solstice and equinox feasts were associated with Christian
> saints, such as John the Baptist with midsummer. Christian Celts adopted
> some of these Christian feasts. Their Christianized customs, once
associated
> exclusively with the quarter-days, in many cases drifted to the solstices
> and equinoxes.

No qualifiers, no "according to the following evidence...". That's as
cut-and-dried as it comes.

> > It is simpler to postulate that the days under consideration were
> > *already* important to the Celts. If they weren't, they would simply
have
> > been generally ignored.
> >
>         Simpler, perhaps, but wouldn't there be evidence of such
> celebrations and names for them other than the Christian era ones?
Wouldn't
> there be myths associated with those feasts? Your assumption goes against
> the evidence.
>
> > Every day is not a feast day in the Catholic Church,
> >
>         Actually, that's true only of the modern calendar. Earlier
calendars
> did indeed have a saint for every day. And we know that Irish liturgical
> calendars had at least one saint for very day.

There's a difference between a Common Feast Day and a local saint's day.
There's also a difference between remembering the saint in the Mass and
having a community celebration for the Feast day. Here is an excellent
online calendar of saint's days prior to 1500 C.E.:
http://members.tripod.com/~gunhouse/  Only those saint's days followed by
the notation "common" were universally observed by the Church.

> > Either the Day sprang up as a grass roots devotion to a particularly
> > revered saint, or it was imposed by the church on an already celebrated
> > day in order to divert attention away from pagan wickedness to more
> > acceptable, Christian devotion.
> >
>         And St. John the Baptist's feast was imposed on the Irish and
other
> Celts. Since they didn't already have their own midsummer celebrations,
they
> adapted some of their Beltaine and Lughnasa ones.

And the Church Fathers said, "Look, you Irish and other Celts, we *insist*
that you celebrate this feast day, because we don't think you have enough to
do. You *will* celebrate it, and you *will* have fun!!" See comment on St.
Nicholas below.

>         There's another factor which you have ignored, but I fear you will
> find it too complicated or require "drift" that you cannot accept,

Really, Francine, how catty.

despite
> the hundreds of pages Ma/ire MacNeill filled documenting it: as varieties
of
> plants changed (and required shorter growing cycles), as other types of
> crops replaced wheat as primary, and the date of first harvest changed,
> first harvest (Lughnasa) was celebrated closer and closer to midsummer so
> that customs from Lughnasa became increasingly

You didn't finish the thought....

>         And yet one more factor: the Christian church *encouraged* the
Irish
> and other Celts to adopt "replacement" holidays for both the usual Celtic
> celebrations (All Saints (1Nov.), Brighid (1 Feb), Lady Day (1May)) and
the
> celebrations adopted elsewhere to replace the solstice/equinoxes:
Michaelmas
> (fall), Christmas (midwinter), Annunciation (spring), and St. John the
> Baptist (midsummer). Such "encouiragement" was part of the continuing
> efforts to get the Irish practices--whether holidays or laws about
> divorce--to fall in with "standard" Roman custom (by which I mean, the
rules
> issued by the Pope and advisors).

No kidding. That was exactly my point, except that if the Celts did not
celebrate solstices/equinoxes anyway, then there was no need to encourage
them to celebrate the saints' days associated with those solar days. See
comment on St. Nicholas below.

> > I don't think the Feast of St. Nicholas, so important in Germany, has
ever
> > become a festival of great, widespread celebration
> >
>         Germany? I believe it was initially important in the Netherlands
and
> spread to Germany because it was fun.

Could be, I was speaking from personal experience of the holiday in Germany.

> > for the people of Ireland, nor has the Feast of St. Patrick become so in
> > Germany. Yet your explanation for the Celtic observance of
> > solstices/equinoxes suggests that this is just the kind of thing that
> > happened in Ireland and Britain.
> >
>         There were reasons to encourage the replacement of solstices and
> equinoxes on the Continent and in Anglo-Saxon Britain. Once the feasts has
> been adopted by the church as standard, it became a matter of imposing
> standard practice on the Irish.

If you investigate the link I provided above, you will note that just as the
Feasts of the Purification of the Virgin, the Annunciation, St. John the
Baptist, St. Michael the Archangel, et al associated with the 8 days under
investigation were "common" (i.e. universal) feasts, so also was the feast
of St. Nicholas. Why, then, didn't the church insist on the Celtic people
celebrating that day as well? For that matter, since it was so much fun, why
didn't it become popular in Ireland and Britain as well as in the
Netherlands and Germany? St. Nicholas, if he even existed, was supposed to
have been from Turkey, so it wasn't regional affiliation that sparked the
celebration of his feast.

> > This subject has captured my interest--I'll be doing some digging in the
> > next couple of days!
> >
>         I'll be interested to see what "evidence" you come up with.
>
>         Francine Nicholson

 Lois

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