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CELTIC-L  May 1999

CELTIC-L May 1999

Subject:

Re: *Gaelic* Good and Evil?

From:

"Mag.phil. Raimund Karl" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Mag.phil. Raimund Karl

Date:

Fri, 21 May 1999 14:33:58 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (98 lines)

Shae wrote:
>
> > Are war, murder, infanticide, revenge considered 'good' or 'bad'?
>
<snipped>
> fine was determined by the status of the victim.  I haven't come
> across any mention of infanticide, although there are references to
> infant sacrifice to Crom Cruach that are generally regarded as
> Christian propaganda.

Crimes against children are treated like those against adults, until
they are fully adult, they are worth half the honour-price of their
father (until the age of 7 they even are treated as clerics in regard to
crimes against them, but this has been interpreted as an influence of
christianity). See for this Kelly, a Guide to Early Irish Law, pp.83.
>
> > What of the concept of appeasing the gods with sacrifices?
>
> Animals were sacrificed fairly regularly and there is little doubt
> that humans were sacrificed from time to time.  I think it is
> generally accepted that at least some of the 'bog bodies' were sacrificial
> victims, although I know of only one such from Ireland and it still
> hasn't been established if he was a sacrifice.  A number of
> 'foundation' burials, either in or at the entrance to ringforts, have
> been found in Ireland and these are generally regarded as
> sacrificial.

A few words should be said to this sacrifical victims thing - while we
have good evidence that the Celts practiced human sacrifice, not every
burial that is "irregular" (i.e. not in a graveyard), and especially
those usually called "foundation" burials necessarily have to be those
of sacrificial victims. Walls of fortifications, and especially the
doorways of them, have liminal aspects, i.e. they form a "border" of a
kind, and thus are, probably, quite close to the "otherworld". As such,
while such burials may be those of sacrificial victims, they might very
well also be burials of naturally deceased persons - as only few of them
show signs of violent death. Often enough, reasons might have existed as
to why not to bury such a person in a "regular" graveyard - for
instance, because they might have been too young to allow for such a
burial, or because they were somehow different in life - disfugured, or
considered to be "especially sacred" and therefore the community wanted
to keep them near even in death, or for similar reasons - there could be
plenty of them.

As an example for a very similar practice one can quote evidence from
the Celtic village on the Duerrnberg at Hallein in Salzburg, one of the
mayor Celtic salt mines. There, skeletal remains of five neonates
(newborn babies) have been found in the drainage canals that existed
there (the area where the settlement was is still a wetland site today)
- seemingly "thrown into" the canals according to the excavators. Given
the high infant mortality rate, and given the fact that these are
definitly not "foundation burials", it might well be that they were
deposited after having either been born dead or having died soon after
birth, being too young to be buried in the regular graveyard, but still
having been deposited in the water of the channels (water also being
such a liminal area with close association to the otherworld) to be
"near" their families. Of course, the option is that they simply were
thrown away, which, however, is unlikely in my eyes as else these
channels are not especially filled with dirt from the settlement. This,
at least that's what I think, makes it quite likely that they were
actually deposited there intentionally.

<snipped>
> how much was taken from it.  There have been some attempts to link
> the cauldron to the Arthurian Grail, but I don't know how successful
> they are.

Quite a lot. Actually, the Grail mythology has been shown to quite
definitly have been built on Celtic mythology. Probably, Pamela can tell
us a lot more about this.
>
> > What of curses?
>
> No examples come to mind but maybe somebody else can think of some.
> Satire was more feared than anything else, often leading to the death
> of the person against whom it was directed.
>
Well, quite famous are the inscriptions found at Larzac, France, which
contain a Celtic curse formula.

RAY
________________________________________________________________________

RAY - Mag.phil. Raimund KARL
Universität Wien, Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte
A-1190 Wien, Franz Klein Gasse 1
E-Mail: <[log in to unmask]>
Internet: <http://www.unet.univie.ac.at/~a8700035>
________________________________________________________________________

Visit the Celtic-L Resources Page at
<http://www.unet.univie.ac.at/~a8700035/celtrese.html>
________________________________________________________________________

Privat: A-1120 Wien, Hasenhutgasse 7-11/9/4
Tel/AB/Fax: (+43 1) 8103629 oder mobil: (+43 676) 3048830
________________________________________________________________________

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