Chapter 4

 

 

SOCIAL STRUCTURE

 

 

 

 

SOCIETY

 

 

       The structure and nature of Celtic society had more in

  common with that of the ancient Hindus of India than it did

  with the society of the Greeks or Romans.  The Celts were a

  tribal warrior class society in which women played as

  important a role as any man, a trait that was spread to the

  east and west by the Aryan culture.  The culture enjoyed

  the spacious life afforded by rural living and, depending

  on the sub-culture, ranged from single farmsteads to small

  villages, both using a seat of power as the trading and

  feasting center.

       Celtic society was divided into three major groups.

  The nobles were the ruling class at the top and served as

  warriors, aes dána (intelligentsia) and chieftains.  The

  nobles were also the land owners and the patrons of the

  arts.  The second level of the society consisted of free

  people who served under the nobles in various roles such as

  farm hands, minor craft workers, servants, laborers, foot

  soldiers during wars, etc.  The lowest level of society

  were the slaves, victims of fate or of their own doing and

  responsible for taking care of all the drudgery work.  It

  was possible for a slave to regain his or her freedom and

  there was always a chance that a noble could become

  someone's slave.  In Celtic society, a person was not fixed

  in his or her place.

       In the noble class everyone seems to have trained as a

  warrior to some extent; even the pampered court beauties

  were known to throw spears once in a while.  There seems to

  have been a distinction between female warriors and

  breeders.  The fosterage system allowed a female warrior to

  bear a child and to continue on as a warrior after the

  child was born.  Research has shown that the physicians of

  the time had an expertise that would allow women to prevent

  and and also terminate pregnancies.

       During the expansion of the early Bronze Age Celts,

  society revolved around the herding of cattle by lowland

  and highland people.  The Celtic herders followed a very

  nomadic way of life, slowly moving with their herds of

  semi-wild animals in search of land to settle.  The

  constant fighting of combats and the importance of

  education among the nobles produced a healthy breeding

  stock who were mentally and physically enriched, unafraid

  of death and full of travel-lust.

       During the Late Iron Age, farming became a more

  sought-after way of life for the lowland Celts.  With the

  superior iron axes and heavy iron plows, they were able to

  clear and sow large tracts of the heavy lowland soil for

  grain-growing.  The farming society needed a massive

  population for its way of life which led to frequent

  overpopulation of an area.  This was handled by winter

  warfare and swarming: sending large bodies of the younger

  male and female warriors in search of new lands, taking

  their workers and slaves with them.

       Lineage in Celtic society followed the matriarchal

  system, in which lineage was chosen through the female side

  of the family, and patriarchal, where the lineage was

  chosen through the male side.  In a matriarchal family such

  as in the Pictish culture, a woman would sometimes be

  married to a number of males in her family.  They would

  most likely be the brothers of her first husband and any of

  their sons born by another woman.  All the children would

  be credited to the first husband as long as he remained

  head of the family.  This type of family structure is

  thought to have been prevalent with the cattle people who

  did not need huge populations.

       The children were usually raised by the parents until

  the age of seven, when they were sent to be fostered by

  other members of the family, a chieftain, a druid or other

  noted persons.  Many people had a number of foster-parents

  and therefore many foster brothers and sisters.  In many

  cases, the fosterage ties were stronger than blood.  In a

  mixed marriage between a couple from matriarchal and

  patriarchal tribes, the female children were fostered to

  the patriarchal family and the males were fostered to the

  matriarchal family.  The obligations of the foster-parents

  included teaching the children the code of ethics of the

  people, long tracts of history to be memorized, the arts of

  combat and hunting, and the skill for playing board games

  such as fidchell and team sports such as hurley.

       The Celts were an exceptionally clean people and were

  constantly bathing and washing with soap, an invention of

  theirs.  Guests and visitors were invited to a tub of hot

  water, sauna (sweat hut) or a dip in a holy hot spring if

  one was in the vicinity.  The presence of a spring was an

  important factor in the selection of a hillfort site. Celts

  frequently had their clothing washed and took considerable

  care in how they looked, especially for combats, festivals

  and sacrifices.  Bath, laundry facilities and drainage

  systems were built into the forts and excavations in

  Cornwall, Spain and Portugal have uncovered some elaborate

  systems.  The Celts must have found the Romans a dirty

  people, as they simply oiled their bodies then scraped the

  dirt off with a spatula, then cleaned their clothing with

  clay and human urine to rid it of the oil from their skin.

       Diodorius, a Greek born in Sicily around BC 1st

  century, described the Celts that he encountered as tall,

  light-skinned and very muscular.  The Celts used a mixture

  of clay and lime in their hair which they then combed back

  like a horse's main.  The men were usually clean-shaven but

  sometimes had a moustache or mutton chops, seldom a beard

  though they were not unknown.

       Both sexes dressed similarly, wearing rings, armlets

  and bracelets, ornamental buckles on their belts, and often

  pins and brooches.  Their cloth was woven into stripes or

  checks, and the warriors wore brightly-colored kilts,

  trousers and embroide red shirts.  Over this they wore heavy

  cloaks in winter and light cloaks in summer which were

  fastened at the shoulder with a fibula (ornamented safety-

  pin brooch).

       The number of colors a person could wear was connected

  to the individual's station in life.  A slave could only

  wear a single-colored garment.  Peasants could wear

  clothing with two colors and hirelings or battle-line

  soldiers could wear 3 colors.  The noble had a choice of 4

  colors and a chieftain could wear 5.  A person of the

  druidic order had the privilege of wearing 6 colors and the

  high chieftain of Ireland was entitled to wear 7 colors in

  his or her garment.

       The warriors of the Celtic nobility were known for

  their elegant speech as well as for their acts of bravery.

  The history, laws, genaeology and stories were of the oral

  tradition and the tellers had to memorize them word for

  word so that they could pass on for hundreds of years or

  more without any change or variation.  The people of

  cultures that practiced oral traditions were continuously

  and constantly in touch with the rites of the tribes and

  its traditions by the participation in their festivals and

  events.  On the other hand, cultures like the Greeks and

  Romans wrote significant information down but the vast

  majority of their citizens could not read or write.

       The Celtic language had two divisions: the older

  Goidel Q-Celtic, and the Brythonic or P-Celtic.  Hubert has

  suggested that the labialization of the hard Q sound to the

  soft P sound happened at the same time and place as the

  identical phenomenon separated Italic languages from Greek,

  in late 2nd millenium in central Europe.  The catalyst for

  this change may have been the return of Celtic warriors

  from the Near East after their raids on the Hittite and

  Egyptian empires.  The Q-Celtic language is preserved in

  the Gaelic countries of Ireland, Scotland and Isle of Man,

  while the P-Celt is preserved in the languages of Wales,

  Cornwall and Brittany.

       The Celts took care of their old, infirm and sick, and

  had numerous laws associated with wounding, injury and the

  associated responsibilities.  In some places hospitals were

  built but at most the tribal center would be the main

  medical center.  Medicine, law and codes of conduct were

  under the jurisdiction of the druidic order.

       The Celts were great inventors and artisans.  They

  improved the spoke wheel, invented copper enamelling,

  improved material dies and weaving proccesses.  All their

  weapons, chariots, clothing, cauldrons, pouring flasks,

  wooden posts in their homes and even their bodies were

  covered in designs, both geometric and natural.  Many of

  the carvings for votive offerings were very minimal and

  were most likely done by the individual making the

  offering.

       The Celts have been described as intuitive, mystic and

  impulsive.  They had a love of entertainment and

  entertaining, were easily induced to laugh and weep and

  were drunk with words.  Celts by nature loved to

  exaggerate, boast, argue and show off.  They were

  considered a people of high principle who enjoyed a good

  fight.

 

 

 

 

DEITIES

 

 

       Celtic society venerated a diversity of deities.  The

  two most important were the eyes of heaven, the Moon

  (silver/female) and the Sun (gold/male).  They were

  sometimes represented by the red and white dragons.  The

  planet Venus (copper/female) was the goddess of love. Along

  with these solar deities were the nature deities of the

  earth who were mostly female as was the calm ocean, while

  the rough ocean and the sky gods were usually masculine.

  One of the most important deities was the fire goddess who

  was the link between heaven and earth.

       Nature deities of rivers, lakes, springs, forests,

  etc.  were usually female with a sun god consort.  The

  original deities were the spirits of chosen sacrifices who

  inhabited the site.  The domination of the Celts by the

  Romans, with their male-oriented society, placed many male

  deities in traditionally female roles.

       Other deities personified natural phenomena such as

  earthquakes, hurricanes and volcanic eruptions as well as

  snow, rain, growth and decay, etc.  Another kind of deity

  protected against disease, bad luck, infertility, etc.  and

  there were also gods and goddesses of professions such as

  artificer, artisan and brewer.

       There were other types of deities who could guide a

  person, whether through a storm, a migration or a dilemma.

  Some of the most important deities were those of health,

  war and success as well as those who protected the tribe,

  crops and animals.  Some deities were the idealization of

  heroes whose actions were so admired that they provided

  excellent models for emulation.  The concept of ancestor

  worship formed a connection with their past and the future.

       The Celts related to their deities in numerous ways.

  This depended on the deity being invoked, the status of the

  Celt, and the particular situation.  The druids had

  privileged communication channels, while the chieftains had

  extra responsibilities to maintain proper relationships as

  the tribal welfare depended on the benevolence of the gods.

  Any wrong action on the part of any member of society could

  result in retaliation from any particular deity.  This

  emphasized the need for proper codes of conduct for all

  tribal members.

       Behavior during festivals was especially crucial as

  the deities were invited to walk among the mortals in the

  body of a chosen representative.  The knowledge of

  reincarnation helped enforce the will to behave in a heroic

  fashion, as such behavior would ensure a return for more

  glorious deeds in the next life.

       The Celts knew that they had to give in order to

  receive.  This was exemplified by the rite of sacrifice.

  Sacrificing took place on the top of mountains or hills, in

  groves, by springs, lakes, caves, over fires, etc.  The

  first products of harvest, the first fruit of the orchards,

  firstborn of the herd, firstborn of the tribe, etc.  were

  considered prime offerings to the gods.  The triple

  sacrifice was reserved for special occasions in honor of

  specific gods and in times of particular needs.

       The characteristics of natural phenomena and life

  forms and the characteristics of humans were

  interchangeable to the Celts.  The Danann warrior Manannan,

  for example, was later considered to be a god of the sea by

  the Goidel Celts of Ireland.  A thunderstorm was considered

  to be the result of an angry sky god who could be calmed

  and appeased with sacrifice.  The concept of a tribal totem

  evolved from the association of the tribe with a particular

  species and its characteristics.  The Celts subscribed to

  the concept of metempyschosis which gave the possibility of

  being reborn in non-human form, such as an animal or as the

  essence of a volcano or the sea.  Deities were involved

  with all aspects of life, whether physical, mental or

  spiritual.

 

 

 

 

WARRIORS

 

 

       The Celtic warrior was of noble blood and preferred

  single combat, to achieve honor for his or her name and

  family, and to give the bards new material to sing their

  praise and thus achieve the immortal recognition of a god.

  Fair play in combat was the Celtic warrior's code of honor.

  A youth had to be blooded in an honorable way to become a

  warrior.

       Warriors fought for fun, honor, vengeance, territorial

  gain, glory of the tribal god, etc.  In a combat, the

  warriors would praise themselves, their ancestors or gods

  and denounce their opponent and his or her ancestors.  Like

  wolves, they would feed fuel to their flame by using the

  rebel yell, jumping into the air, banging their shields

  with their swords, blowing horns and many other tricks of

  the trade to pump the adrenalin throughout their bodies and

  drive themselves into a frenzy.  All the while they would

  be aware that their performance was being watched by others

  who would judge the outcome, and a win with dishonor would

  not receive praise.

       The truth of the Celtic warriors was the strength in

  their arms, the sharpness of their tongues, the fire in

  their souls and the honor achieved from fair play. Warriors

  who excelled in these traits were on their way to becoming

  heroes.

       Heroes exelled in all the characteristics of the

  warrior, dedicating their lives to practicing and

  developing their arts.  Heroes abducted or eloped with

  their mates and more than often died young leaving no

  heirs.  Cu Chulainn represented the hero within the tribe

  and Fionn was a good representative of a hero outside the

  tribe.

       Warriors took the heads from those they had killed in

  combat.  They would hang them from their horse, along the

  poles of their chariots, place them around the entrance to

  their homes and in rare instances, in the case of a famous

  foe they had defeated, they would embalm the head in oil.

  Although warriors were allowed to keep the head of an

  opponent, the weapons, jewelry, chariot and horses were

  sacrificed to the gods of the conquering warrior's choice.

       Among the nobles there were two modes of

  transportation: the horse and the chariot.  Chariot

  warriors were driven to battle by their charioteer (a

  fighting chauffeur).  During a battle, the warrior was then

  free to throw javelins but when an opportunity came to

  fight a combat with another warrior, they would dismount

  and fight with spears or swords on foot while their

  charioteers waited for them, yelling encouragement.

       Horse warriors would ofter fight with spears or swords

  from horseback but would dismount for a major combat

  between two people.  The horse warriors often had one or

  two helpers who ran alongside the horse.  The battle-line

  warriors were mostly from the class of free people but not

  of noble blood.  They fought on foot and were rarely

  involved in combats, a privilege of the noble class.

       Hunting was a pastime of the nobles and considered

  sacred.  The warriors hunted wild boar, deer and wild cows

  with spears and on foot, sometimes using dogs.  Constant

  hunting kept the warriors in shape for warefare.

       In combat, the professional warriors wore helmets,

  chain mail or oxhide armor, especially in winter.  There

  were instances where combats were fought without armor or

  clothing and an observer reported a group of battle-line

  soldiers who were fighting the Romans with spears, carrying

  shields and wearing only smiles.  The term naked warrior

  meant without armor, a situation more common among the

  battle-line soldiers.  The professional Celtic warrior may

  have fought for glory and honor but it took many combats to

  achieve the status of hero.

       History, mythology and archaeology have shown that

  female warriors played as important part in Celtic society

  as their male counterparts.  The Ulster cycle which

  revolves around the Goidel warriors of Ireland BC 1st

  century is sadly lacking in its mention of the female

  warriors.  The most likely explanation is that the

  Christian monks who wrote down the accounts in manuscripts

  either eliminated their roles, changed the sex of the

  character or wrote in such a way that later generations

  assume that they were all males.  The Roman religion was a

  male dominated religion that conquered the Celts from the

  top down.  Fierce-fighting females who were wholly

  independent did not fit into the dogma of this monotheistic

  religion nor its new societies.  It is an unforgiveable act

  of vandalism and one can only hope that the fighting female

  will someday return.

       The elaborate descriptions of the way the males

  dressed for combat in the stories of Da Derga's Hostel and

  the Cualgne Cattle Raid were exceptionally well done and

  one can only assume that the females must have dressed in a

  similar fashion.  It would have been interesting to know

  how many female champions Cu Chulainn fought and defeated

  during the cattle-raid or to have listened to the bragging

  of female warriors during the feast of Mac Da Tho's Boar.

  All the evidence indicates that the Celtic female of the

  noble class would be unlikely to miss either of these

  adventures.

 

 

 

 

CHIEFTAINS

 

 

        Tacitus said that the Celts of Britain made no sexual

  distinction when choosing their leaders and the selection

  was a very serious matter.  The chieftain was the

  representative of his or her people to the deities of

  nature and if he or she failed, then the tribe might fail.

  A chieftain was responsible for having a succesful union

  with nature so the tribe would be blessed with abundance.

  The people would be fertile, the crops would have high

  yield, the trees would be heavy with fruit and nuts, the

  herd would bear healthy calves and everyone would be free

  of disease.

       The chieftain's mating with the bull / stallion (sun)

  or the cow / mare (moon) was thought to give the tribe its

  virility and vitality.  As the chieftain grew old, the

  goddess became a hag and the tribe lost strength.  On some

  occasions the chieftain was ritually sacrificed in a

  prescribed triple death by suffocation, drowning and

  burning which purified the victim by air, water and fire.

  The sacrifice was then bled to fertilize the earth and

  replaced with a younger chieftain.

       The chieftain had to be unblemished; physical and

  mental perfection was the guarantee of his or her virtues.

  The Danann replaced their chieftain Nuadha when he lost his

  hand in battle.  When Cormac macAirt lost his eye he had to

  step down as high chieftain of Ireland.  On the other hand,

  when Fergus mac Leti's face became disfigured, his people

  hoped it was temporary and hid all the mirrors.  The people

  had to make a decision on their survival.

       Most chieftains were elected by the clan or the tribe.

  The druids performed rituals of divination and their

  opinions held enormous weight.  Some chieftains took their

  position by force and sometimes it worked for the better

  but usually it failed.  Without the people and the gods

  behind him or her, the chieftain was nothing and if he or

  she failed, a ritual death was certain.  Most did as

  Boudicca and committed suicide, an honorable payment toward

  personal failure.

       On the other hand, if the chieftain proved to be good

  he or she had the privilege of mating with all the newly-

  weds of the opposite sex (Ring Tax).  When a chieftain

  visited, he or she was offered the best of the household

  with whom to mate.  The chieftain always had to have a

  mortal wife or husband as well as the heavenly ones.  The

  chieftain was not permitted to work at any slavish labor or

  to raise pigs.  The chieftain also had to act as the father

  or mother for those who had none.

 

 

 

 

Aes Dana (intelligentsia)

 

 

NAME         Druid

EPITHET      Far-Seeing / Master of all Talents / Oak Knower

             / Oak Seer / Person of Great Knowledge

ALTERNATIVE  druad [si] / drauidth / derwydd / druid

             {droo'-idz} [pl] / druids / druidh / druii [si]

             / druith [pl] / druwides / dryw

CATEGORY     scholar-teacher (paranormal/philosophy/knowledge)

             / engineers (builders of boats/forts/roads) /

             astronomer (heavens/calendars/navigation) /

             physician (surgeons/plants/leechcraft) /

             scientist (physics/chemistry/metallurgy) /

             mathematician (pure math/geometry) / negotiators

             (interpreters/advisers/ambassadors/councillors)

REMARKS      Like most things Celtic, the druidic order was

  divided into 3 sections.  The sects were the druids

  (science/research/philosophy), the filidh (law/history/

  shamanism), and the ollamh (music/poetry).  The druids,

  like the brahmins of India, were allowed to marry and hold

  land.  Applicants to the 3 divisions were accepted from

  males and females of the noble class and the initiates were

  judged on their individual abilities.

       It is believed that the name druid (Oak Knower) or

  druii [si] was derived from Drus (Greek for "oak"), and Wid

  (Indo-European "to know").  The Welsh names Derwydd,

  Druwides or Dryw [si] mean "Far Seeing".  The Manx name

  Drauidth means "Oak Seer".  An old Irish term for druidism

  is Maithis which was used by the Egyptians and relates to

  knowledge of previous times.

       The druids had counterparts in the magi of Persians,

  the brahmins of the Hindus, and the Chaldeans of Babylon.

  They all derived from the Vedic teachings of the wandering

  tribes of the Kurgan culture (Aryans) from southern Russia.

  As late as AD 1700, parallels to the sacred texts of the

  Indian brahmins could be found in Ireland.  A triad

  followed by both the ancient Celts and the Hindus was to

  honor their gods, do no evil and exercise bravery.

       The druids as a whole venerated nature, practiced

  ancestor worship and taught animism and metempsychosis. The

  Celts thought that death was the center of continuous life,

  and that the essence of life (Nwywre) was an invisible

  force that was attached to the body by the umbilical cord.

  The concept was represented by the snake.

       The order of the druids concerned themselves mostly

  with the study of natural science and scholarly pursuits.

  An initiate of the druids could specialize in the study of

  the science, humanities, religion, law or the arts.  It

  could take 20 years before an initiate earned the right to

  wear the druidic striped cloak (breacans) of six colors

  including the white cowl of a druid.

       Some descriptions of druids indicate that their hair

  was shaven from the front of their head to a line that went

  from ear to ear, while the back was allowed to grow long.

  They wore traditional Celtic costumes and males would have

  followed the Celtic custom of shaving their faces except

  maybe for a moustache, but it is doubtful that a druid

  would have a full beard because this was not a custom of

  the Celtic people.

       In Gaul, there was a head druid who had the supreme

  authority over the organization.  The head druid was

  elected and in case of a tie vote, the matter might be

  resolved with fists or swords.  The major druidic center of

  Gaul was Chartres in the territory of the Carnutes where

  they met once a year to settle disputes.  There were also

  major druidic sites at Tlachtga in Ireland and Mona in

  Britain.

       Initiates from Gaul travelled to Britain to finish

  their training.  The island of Mona (Anglesey) may have

  been the head European center for the training of druids.

  This idea was reinforced by Caesar, who thought that the

  birthplace of the druids was not in Gaul but in Hyperborea.

  The theory is also supported by archeological evidence of

  the British sacrificial shafts which predate those on the

  continent.  Ireland, Britain and Gaul were under the

  guidance of the order of druids but their influence waned

  east of the Rhine and the Alps and south of the Pryennes.

       The druids as a whole were a sacred people and could

  travel anwhere without fear of harm from another human.

  They were free from taxes, civil obligations and military

  service, although they were trained in the art of combat

  and were not above settling their differences with swords

  or fists.

 

 

NAME         Filidh

EPITHET      To See the Invisible

ALTERNATIVE  brithem / faidh / faithi / faith / fili [si] /

             filid [pl] / gutuatri / gwawd / ovate / vate

CATEGORY     teacher / lecturer / philosopher / historical

             poet / lawmaker / judge / witness to contracts /

             negotiator / advisor / ambassador / councillor

             / interpreter of tongues / sage / prophet /

             soothsayer / wiseperson / satirist / lampooner

             / jester / fool / interpreter of sacrifice /

             diviner / seer / magician / wizard / sorcerer /

             conjurer / shape changer / enchanter /

             clairvoyant / levitator

REMARKS      The filidh were divided into two main areas of

  concern.  The ecstatic filidh were the shamans and shamanka

  concerned with divining, interpreting dreams and using

  their paranormal talents.  The other area was more

  concerned with techniques, mythology and function of the

  different spirits and the methods of intercourse with them.

  They studied the genealogy of the clans, secret languages

  and law.

       Any initiate who was studying to become a Brithem

  (judge) first had to study as a historical poet and

  memorize the lore of Prominent Places (Dinnshenchas), thus

  contributing to the accumulation of the mythological

  history of the land.  The initiate had to memorize the

  legal system as well as a secret language called Berla na

  Filed.  It could take 12 years of study before reaching the

  level of a judge.  The Brithem would arbitrate a case,

  whether it was a murder, boundary or inheritance dispute,

  determine the appropriate compensation or punishment, and

  if necessary seize property or goods.

       If the settlement was not accepted by one or both

  parties they suffered "The Rod of Excommunication," which

  barred them from sacrifice, a privilege that was necessary

  for life itself.  A person excommunicated from a sacrifice

  was in a situation similar to death in that he or she

  became a non-entity in the community.  Anyone failing to

  treat them as such faced the punishment themselves.  A

  person caught stealing objects from a sacred site or

  keeping objects that should be sacrificed to the gods was

  executed with extreme torture.  Murderers were also put to

  death to appease the gods who would be angry at the taking

  of a life in a dishonorable way.

       A branch of the filidh were the interpreters of the

  sacrifice.  The death throes of the sacrifice and their

  entails were studied in an attempt to divine the future.

  Sometimes a human (usually a volunteer) was consecrated to

  a sacred death and a dagger was driven into the belly above

  the abdomen.  Conclusions were then drawn about future

  events by the spurting of the blood.  An outgoing chieftain

  who had failed to communicate with the nature deities, was

  stabbed in the back and the filidh studied the squirming

  and twitching to help them make a decision on the

  appointment of a new chieftain.

       Other forms of divination or augury performed by the

  filidh involved the use of throwing the bones, scrying,

  studying the flights of birds, studying liver spots, etc.

  The filidh made use of wands (Slatnan Druidheacht) made

  from specific trees depending on the purpose of the ritual.

  They also used rods, arrows, stocks of wheat, specific

  stones, etc.

       Divining rods (twigs from fruit-bearing trees) were

  made with a personal mark on each one.  They were tossed

  into the air 3 times to land on a white garment or cloth.

  The diviner would draw his/her conclusions from the pattern

  in which the individual twigs landed and their position in

  relation to each other.  A person of the order had to

  perform the divination for the public, but the head of a

  household could divine for the family.

       Curses were hurled by the use of specific stones,

  Coelbreni, omen sticks or talking sticks.  These had carved

  symbols or ogham inscriptions and were usually covered with

  the blood of the diviner.  Curses were recited while the

  diviner walked the magic 3 circles backwards around the

  divining sticks in a counter-sunwise direction.

       Filidh also divined by interpreting dreams.  Sometimes

  for a special event the filidh would have a Bull Feast

  (Tarbfeis).  A filidh would stuff him or herself on the

  flesh of the bull, soak in its juices or become sewed up in

  its flesh and then dream the answer to the future event

  such as the picking of a new high chieftain.  The

  interpretation of the dreams experienced while sleeping in

  sacred places such as beehive huts, tumuli or other grave

  sites had very high value.  Sometimes, divination was

  accomplished by sleeping beside the ashes of the sacrifice.

  This was called oracular incubation.

       Hypnosis was also a tool of the filidh and was used to

  reach the sacred space between awake and asleep.

  Clairvoyants used this state to send and receive messages

  from each other and to and from the spirit world.

       The Druid's Foot was another sacred space used by the

  filidh.  A pentangle was drawn on the ground where the

  filidh remained while he or she fasted (a little bread and

  water once a day was important) for 9 days before starting

  the ceremony.

       Most filidh developed the ability to influence

  people's emotions so they could calm them down or work them

  up into a fighting frenzy.  This faction also had conjurers

  who used mass hallucinations to cause the enemy to see

  other that what was before them.  Some had the ability of

  astral projection, and used thought intervention.  An

  initiate had to conquer the sacred fire and become a master

  of the magical heat.

       This sect of druids also had its own poets who

  developed the ability to call up blemishes or cause death

  by the use of satire alone.  The Gutuatri (Master of The

  Voice of Inspiration) were filidh who were connected to a

  particular sanctuary or site.  These devotees were

  responsible for the cleaning of the statues and seeing to

  their garments.

       A faction of filidh called Dryades were priests of the

  oak and during the sacrifice of the waxing sun god they

  were the ones who cut the tree into a T cross (Tau) for the

  sacrifice.  There was a male group of sun priests called

  Belec (servants of Bel {Baal}) and there was also a

  sisterhood called Inghean audagha (virgin daughters of the

  fire) who guarded the sacred fire.  Another female sect of

  the filidh were the Bean Sidhe {banshee} who keened and

  wailed for the souls of the dead, especially at burial

  sites.  The filidh were some of the most powerful and

  revered of the druidic class of nobles in Celtic society.

       Many chose to become initiates but few withstood the

  rigorous tests inflicted on them.  The initiates themselves

  were chosen from the best the population had to offer and

  any degenerates or malefactors were quickly rejected or

  eliminated.  Candidates had to show above-average self-

  control and superior intellect.

       For those who did survive the rigorous tests and hard

  years of study, there was the most important of all tests,

  that of death and resurrection.  The few initiates who

  succeeded in making it to the end were allowed to wear the

  druidic striped cloak (breacans) of six colors including

  the black cowl of a filidh.

 

 

NAME         Ollamh

EPITHET      Master Bard / Master Poet and Philosopher

ALTERNATIVE  baird / bardd / bardi / bardus / oilave / ollamh

             / ollav / ollave / poet

CATEGORY     teacher / philosopher / healer / chanter of

             satire and eulogy / lampooner / entertainer /

             story-teller / popular poet / minstrel / singer

             / musician / harpist / lyrist / piper / flautist

REMARKS      The bards (singers of praise) were the

  entertainers of the Celtic world and sought to enlighten,

  promote harmony and encourage virtue by singing the deeds

  of their gods, heroes and warriors as they played their

  instruments.  A Master Bard was sufficiently proficient at

  the art to cause his or her audience to weep, laugh or fall

  into a trance-like healing sleep.

       For an initiate to become a Master Poet and

  Philosopher took from 9 to 12 years.  They had to memorize

  250 prime stories and 100 secondary stories.  A good poet

  could arrange the stories to fit any occasion.

       The stories were divided into major tales (prim-scéil)

  of navigations, cattle raids, battles, sieges, destructions

  of fortified places, slaughters, tragic deaths, feasts,

  love stories, elopements, adventures, expeditions and

  concealments; and minor tales (fo-scéil) of exiles, water-

  eruptions, pursuits and visions.

       Most initiates would have to acquire a knowledge of

  mathematics, acoustics, harmonic theory, rhyming schemes,

  music theory, composition and philosophy.  He or she would

  also need enough understanding of materials, tools and the

  principles of acoustics to build instruments and to

  understand the mathematical relationship between notes.  As

  well as these and more subjects, the initiates would have

  to be accomplished in the weapons of war.  Although they

  were free from military duty and taxes, they were after all

  Celts of noble blood and sometimes could not refain from

  becoming involved in combats, battles and, above all, using

  their swords to settle disagreements among themselves.

       There were 4 divisions of knowledge while studying to

  become a bard or a poet.  The first was called Cana (5th

  year), then Cli (6th year), Anruth (7th-9th year) and

  Ollamh (10th-12th year of study).  The Ollamh was roughly

  equivalent to a modern-day professor and had the privilege

  of wearing the striped cloak (breacans) of six colors of

  the druidic order including the blue cowl (Tugen) of a bard

  or the green cowl of the poet.  Although their advice was

  taken very seriously, the Ollamh spoke only after the

  chieftain, who wore the 7 colors.