> I for one find the discussion of the Celtic A and B theory
> fascinating, as I have often wondered about the origins of the La
> Tene culture and artistic style, and why it is *both* a culture
> and art style; similarly the origin of the Druids.
These were almost exactly the same questions that led to my original
investigations into these matters. I saw that the La Tène style did not
exactly "behave" like an art style. Let's take a more recent artistic
style that has a vegetal content -- Art Nouveau. The defining part of this
style is its "gesture" -- the flowing, tendril-like lines. It lacks the
strength of an inner structure and this flowing nature is applied, not
only to plant-forms but to people and other objects. La Tène art never
loses sight of its original subjects: the palmette and ivy-scroll.
Instead, it builds its variations around these elements and they are
always it its "centre". By that I do not mean geometric centre as they are
more holographic, being present everywhere, in any given composition. They
are the "soul" of the composition. When a human being is depicted, the
form of the person does not take on a flowing nature as it does in Art
Nouveau, instead, the real subjects of variations on these are often
superimposed on the human form, or the human form becomes a part of the
Take a look at these three La Tène objects:
In the first one, the human figure is dominant, but look at the lobes on
his head, the design on his forehead and the shape of the neck-ring.
In the second example the face becomes part of a greater composition.
In the last example, the human figure does not appear at all, but look at
the shapes and you see the examples of the shapes applied in to the human
element in the other two. See how the bottom part of the main design on
the pot is both the shape of the face inverted, and at the same time
echoes both the neck ring and the forehead design in its internal motif.
See how the lobes at the top right and left of the pot echo the
"leaf-crown" of the two heads and between these lobes and the central
trefoil design, the shape of the space becomes two other lobes.
> This theory helps to explain some things.
> For instance, many believe the original Indo-European word for
> "priest" was identical with or close to the Sanskrit word:
> Since "Knowledge of the Oak" is part of the base meaning of the
> term "druid" perhaps there is a similar Greek mystery religion
> which might shed some light on the beliefs and practices, to the
> extent possible, of historic Druidism. Perhaps someone with a
> knowledge of ancient Gaulish, as it has been reconstructed to some
> extent, could inform us as to what the Gaulish word for "priest"
> might have been.
Take a look at Xavier Delammare's messge and Chris Gwinn's quoted message
below it in the con-celtic list:
Xavier also provides a link to a Indo-European World-Tree article.
This article places great importance on honey, honeydew and the manna
secreted by trees. Kerényi devotes an entire chapter to honey and mead,
explaining how it was the forerunner of wine produced by the vine and he
mentions an Orphic fragment where it is told "about the cruel guile of
Zeus who surprised his father Kronos, when he was drunk on the honey of
wild bees, and castrated him." He also says "it was said that honey
dripped from the thyrsos staffs that the maenads carried [Euripedes,
Bacchae, 711]. Before the feeding of the infant Dionysos, a privilege of
his non-animal, sacred nurse, his lips were sprinkled with honey
[Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica IV 1136]." He aslo mentions a rite told
by Virgil where a bovine was sacrificed and all of the openings of its
body were plugged and it was contained in a square structure aligned to
the cardinal points. After four weeks and ten days (the approximate
brewing time for mead), clusters of bees filled this hut. This ushered in
a New Years festival which was "raised to the level of a myth of zoë: an
awakening of bees from a dead animal."
The square structure aligned to the cardinal points is very important. a
large number of Jung's patients had dreams or visons that centred on a
square and a mandala (circular). Both of these images appeared at about
the same time in his process and had many "variations on the theme". He
says of one of these patients,(Psychology and Religion, p. 79) "The circle
appears also combined with the quarternity, as a silver bowl with four
nuts at the four cardinal points; or as a table with four chairs. The
center seems to be particularly emphasized. It is symbolized by an egg in
the middle of a ring; by a star consisting of a body of soldiers; by a
rotating star in a circle, the cardinal pints of which represent the four
seasons; by the pole; or by a precious tone, and so on." Later he says
"The inclosure, as we have seen, has also the meaning of what is called in
Greek, a "temenos", the precincts of a temple or any isolated, sacred
place... As I have mentioned, the inhabitant of the temenos was the god.
But the prisoner, or the well protected dweller in the mandala, does not
seem to be a god, in as much as the symbols used,... but rather an
apparently a most important part of the human personality. One might say
that man himself, or at least his innermost soul, was the prisoner..."
Jung elswhere explains that it was this recognition, by Nietzsche, of the
identity of the individual "at the centre" as himself and not God, that
led to his final breakdown from which he never recovered. He began to
refer to himself as Dionysos and sign his letters "Zagreus". Prior to this
vision, he was devoutly Christian. We might wonder why the atheist should
not be similary affected, but I think, at the centre of the atheist lies
not a god, of course, but a concept of a "no god" -- which, of course, is
just a god wearing a disguise and the atheist is just as "devout" and
dependent on his faith as is any Christian -- something I find rather
Getting back to the mead from the corpse, this is the life force, zoë, or
is none other than the second-born Dionysos as the god of the vine! --
remember, he was sacrificed as a bull. In Christianty, we thus recognize
the vital importance of the quarternity which is represented by the cross,
and the sacrificed Christ and His ultimate resurrection. Now the Gnostics
went in a different direction --away from the idea of monetheism and more
to the idea of pantheism and Gnosticism eventually transformed itself into
This was a problem that I had looking for continuity in the ancient Celtic
religion which would then become contained in the stories of Arthur and
especially in the Holy Grail. While the same principles are involved, I
could not find a direct route from the Celtic that could not also be
explained by the Gnostic intervention. In a sense, it does not matter,
because the gnostic and magic influences must have resonated with whatever
was left of the Druidic influences to have been adapted in those regions.
But it did mean that an entire, planned section of my book could not be
used and could only be replaced by these and a few other comments about
> But otherwise I heartily concur with Mr. Hardwick's sentiments
> about our existence as a people, that the Celtic peoples were the
> indigenous people of Europe north of the Alps (excluding
> Scandinavia), and there seems to be an academic movement to assert
> that the Celts have never really existed, and certainly don't
> exist now.
Yes, and I hope that my Celtic A and B can take much of the wind from
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