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From: Suzanne Compton <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Suzanne Compton <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 28 Jun 2000 11:11:24 -0700

text/plain (116 lines)

>         The neopagans who created the terms and
> practices they espoused did
> not work in a vaccum. They looked to sources from
> *many* ancient cultures,
> including Celtic ones. HOWEVER, they were not
> attempting to re-create or
> reconstruct specific Celtic practices.

I agree with that. And it is a good thing that they
did not try to re-create or re-construct any specific
Celtic practices, because, perhaps especially with the
Celts, where you have the one-sided portrayals
espoused by the "conquerers," any such effort would,
in my opinion, be doomed to failure. We cannot presume
to speak for the Pagans of the past in matters of the
present, not when the Pagan resurgence has been
propelled in part by unscrupulous people who do not
mind making up what they cannot find evidence for. I
am not saying that all such Pagan leaders fall prey to
this sort of arrogance, but it is a difficult and
murky landscape to trounce through, because at its
root, the Neo-Pagan resurgence was fostered by many
such people. Many examples of that have been offered
up on this list within this thread.

>They were
> working on the ideas of
> James Frazier and his ilk who contended that one
> culture is basically the
> same as the next, just using different terms for the
> same thing. This
> ignores the innovations and uniqueness of each. It
> also imposes a modern
> perspective on ancient mindsets AND encourages
> misappropriation of culture.

Definitely. It is the height of arrogance to assume
that because our modern mind interprets a certain
mythos in a particular way, it must have been that way
to the native peoples who gave rise to that mythos.
That can be as general as the way most people tend to
misinterpret Celtic deities, or as specific as those
who look to a singular (usually modern-influenced)
explanation for the artifacts and monuments that have

>         Agreed. But pagans who spread misconceptions
> also do a disservice by
> reinforcing those misconceptions.

That is very true. I have studied Paganism (religion
in all its forms, really) for the past ten years and I
would say that most religions fall prey not to those
outside the religion, but within it.

In short, I think about the only thing we can do when
it comes to saying "for certain" what the ancient
Celts did or did not do in regards to the solstices or
any other aspect of their mythos, is admit that we do
not, in fact, have a clue. We have some good guesses,
we have some archaeological clues, we have a few
theories, but we really do not know. The greatest
danger for any religion or person to fall into is that
they are possessed of the "one true way to

I think the debate on the whole has been enlightening;
I've enjoyed reading evidence from both sides. I do
not feel equipped to offer my own opinion on the
matter, but I will say that so far neither side has
managed to convince me. The only thing I am fully
prepared to say is that just as the Neo-Pagans who
began working to reconstruct a belief system did not
work in a vacuum, neither did the ancient Celts, and
it is fallacy to assume that they were not influenced
by the religious practices of other cultures,
including the Greeks, the Romans, and the many other
Gaulish populations inhabiting the same area of the

History has borne this out time and again-- mass
migrations of populations, invading nations,
intermarriage and evangelism have worked to ensure
that no matter the exact language, deities, or
rituals, similarities-- sometimes amazing similarities
despite long distances-- exist between most, if not
all, of the religions I have studied.

Of course, another good explanation for this would be
somewhat Jungian, in that we attempt to identify and
personify the same archetypes no matter the age or
culture of a population. The human species as a whole
tends to lend importance to the same symbols and

Again, who can say for sure?

>         Francine Nicholson

Suzanne Compton
And feel the pain it gives / But do not ache . . .Dylan Thomas

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