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03 May 2006 @ 10:54 am
Beta Post of FAQ questions and answers - Post 5  
This is the "Intermediate questions" section of FAQ answers. As noted previously these are copyright © 2006 the group of us writing it.

What is the Celtic lore, and where can I find it?

When we refer to "the Celtic lore", we mean the collections of ancient manuscripts, the folklore gathered from the Celtic lands, and the many traditional tales, poems and songs.

There are differences in the level of accuracy and authenticity of the materials available. To get technical for a moment, material is generally characterized as one of the following: primary, secondary, and tertiary.

Primary source materials are the actual documents in the original language, usually found in museums, specialized libraries, and curated collections. These documents are often referred to as manuscripts, or MSS for short. Also considered primary material is folklore that was recorded exactly from the living sources, during the time these practices were still part of the living tradition, without being filtered through the interpretation of the interviewer.

Secondary material is the primary material in translation, along with what is written by those examining these documents, doing research and drawing conclusions. To do this sort of work takes some skill and training in the proper methodologies. Skilled amateurs may be able to do this sort of work, but because of the lack of peer review, their conclusions may not be valid.

CRs generally consider tertiary research unreliable. Tertiary research does not look at primary sources at all. It only looks at secondary sources of varying quality and draws conclusions from that material. The further away from the source documents and evidence you get, the less certain you can be of the conclusions.

There are also various compiled manuscript bodies called recensions, in which a scholar has compared several manuscripts claiming to tell the same story, closely examined all the evidence, and selected what they believe to be the single most coherent and likely version of the original. Due to the editorial nature of the process, there is some uncertainty and potential bias introduced when this occurs, and there will be differences between manuscript recensions produced by different scholars. This process is usually only attempted by accomplished and erudite scholars after many years of study, due to the high level of background knowledge that good compilation requires. Many CRs will study different recensions of ancient manuscript texts in an effort to gain a fuller and deeper understanding of the source material.

See the booklists and other resources sections.

Do you have to speak a Celtic language (Gaelic/Welsh/etc.) to be CR? How important is language? Are you all fluent in a Celtic language?

It's not necessary to speak a Celtic language fluently to be CR. We do encourage people to understand particular words in the Celtic languages that are, so to speak, the technical vocabulary of CR, and to immerse themselves as much as they are able in the language of the culture on which they are focused. The Welsh have said "no country without a language," and we tend to agree with this philosophy. Unless we understand something of how different languages work, we can't understand the worldviews of the people who speak them, and Celtic languages present a different worldview than English or German or Russian.

For some of us, learning and speaking a language is a more personal and profound project. It can be important to offer at least a few words in prayer in a Celtic language, particularly if one of your Deities has requested this of you. Some of us even began our study of a Celtic language after dreams or visions in which we believe a Deity asked us to speak to Them in the language, or spoke to us in that language, and we set out on a quest to see what They were asking of us. A number of us learn songs and poetry in Celtic languages as a way to help preserve the cultures we're working within -- or just because it's fun and exciting -- in much the same way that we might study Irish dance or Scottish piping.

It is also useful to note that even though the Deities may understand English perfectly well, it is the language of those who oppressed many of Their people. It may not always be the best idea to address one's Deities in the language that accompanied cultural genocide.

It's also important to realize that some concepts can't be easily or completely translated from a Celtic language into English, and so for a proper grasp of the idea, learning to think in the language becomes important. If you're just starting in CR, nobody is going to make you learn an entire ritual liturgy in a foreign language. Though many of us have fluency as a goal, most of us aren't actually fluent, even if we've been studying Celtic languages for years.

What's the difference between a warrior path and a poet's path?

People come to CR for many reasons. Some feel a pull toward the more mystical side, while others feel called to public service of Deity and community. Some people feel called to follow warrior Deities, while others are interested in the Deities of the arts and crafts. Those who are dedicated to Deities of making might study metalsmithing and jewelry, weaving, or woodworking.

There is a place for each type of person and for those who are interested in more than one of these paths. Historically, some people were both warriors and poets, or druids and artists. Sometimes mastery of one path included study of another, such as the requirement for members of Finn's warrior fianna to be able to memorize, compose, and present poems. The arts of the warrior required physical discipline like that of Asian martial artists, and could take a lifetime to master, just as the arts of the druid do. What all of us have in common is a dedication to Celtic cultures and Deities, with a love of Celtic music, arts, and languages. Any well-rounded living culture will have a place for many diverse kinds of people and their different talents and abilities, and it is this diversity that CR fosters.

People may study warrior arts for self-defense, for self-discipline, or to understand themselves more deeply. Some of those who embrace the warrior path bring this into their lives through working in law enforcement, fire fighting and rescue, emergency medical services, search and rescue, or military service. Those called to a poetic path might be more interested in ecstatic states and traversing the mysteries of the mists between the worlds to bring back knowlege for the community. People on the druid's path create ritual and study history and the tales to be able to share them with others, providing continuity within the CR community. Those who are more involved with their own home and hearth participate through keeping personal altars and honoring the ancestors and the land spirits of the place where they live and by hosting feasts in their homes on holy days. And while specialization and focus can be very important, especially in a time when we are working to flesh out a number of these traditions, many will find themselves drawn to creating a unique path that combines aspects of a number of these approaches.

Can women be warriors too?

The existence of women warriors in Celtic cultures is highly debated. Although many CRs and scholars believe there is evidence, we must note that the evidence is circumstantial and arguable at this time. Until a clearly identified Celtic woman's body is discovered buried with weapons, this is the best we have to work with. Whether or not there were professional women warriors among the Celtic ancestors, there is definitely a place for women warriors in CR, as we are not recreating the past.

As the ancient Celts were a warrior culture, our modern ideas of who is and isn't a warrior may not be applicable to the way the Celtic ancestors lived. Women were, and are, expected to be willing and able to fight, especially at times of extreme crisis. This is something we know from historical times. For example, although it would not have been considered appropriate for Scottish women of the late 18th century to become soldiers, when the need arose during the Highland Clearances many women did take up the battle physically. Women were also known to join in the Irish Faction Fights, which could be anything from mild skirmishes to full-out, bloody battles. While it is unclear to what extent professional women warriors were common at any time in Celtic history, it is clear that Celtic women were prepared to fight -- whether in defense of themselves, their people or their territory.

There are instances of early Celtic women who fought and led armies in battle, as attested by the Romans. The most famous of these is Boudicca, queen of the British Iceni who led a multi-tribal rebellion against the Romans after her husband's death, the rape of her daughters and her own flogging in the first century c.e. This was recorded by the Roman historians Dio Cassius and Tacitus. It is often noted that there is no evidence that she had actual training in arms or that women were amongst her warriors, however, it should be noted that if the mind set of a warrior people does not include women as capable warriors the men are not likely to follow one into battle. Ammianus and Diodorus Siculus both described Gaulish women as being as large as the men and indicated that they were better fighters than their men. Tacitus as well as Caesar remarked on women at least being present to cheer the warriors on, and who were often killed or wounded in battle, although they do not mention women actually fighting; Plutarch, on the other hand, noted Gaulish women staying behind the battle lines to kill their own men if they retreated.

Based on new evidence, some of us are considering that we may now have to rethink our belief that the Romans would have noted women warriors in the battle field. Perhaps the women who are often seen as "just cheerleaders" were remarkable in that, despite their presence on the field of battle, they were not fighting. It's possible the Romans simply did not note the women who might have fought. In 2004, the discovery of graves at a Roman fort in Cumbria included several women burned and buried with horses and weapons, indicating that the Romans themselves had female mercenaries (Sarmatians?) among their troops. There is no written record of these women so, if we now have this hard evidence and they didn't bother mentioning it, would they mention women fighting among their enemies as being odd? However, we do not yet have any reports of Celtic women's graves.

The mythology contains a number of references to Goddesses of war and slaughter. In some of these tales the Goddesses, or what may have been priestesses of these Goddesses, are seen on the battlefield spurring the warriors on, or depicted in animal form joining the battle. Actual accounts of Goddesses and women who took up arms and ruled by right of conquest are less common, but they do exist even if some are debated. For instance, in the Cath Maige Tuired when the Morrígan exclaims that She will kill as Her contribution to the battle, many choose to interprete this as by magic even though it's never stated if She will act by arms or magic. More clear is the story of Macha the Red, who ruled by right of conquest, having defeated a series of other claimants to the throne (all men) in battle. Medb and Carman led armies into battle, much as Queen Boudicca did historically. The woman warrior Scáthach trained Cú Chulainn, and he was challenged to a fight by the neighboring warrior woman Aoife, whom he defeated only by cheating. Fionn Mac Cumhail was also fostered by a woman or women who taught him to fight. It is among the Outsiders, the Fianna, that we see many accounts of women warriors, including Ness who led a Fianna band for a period of time and Créidne who, after her father raped her and she bore three sons, went Outlaw until she won inheritance right for her sons. As often is the case, even if women warriors are not welcome in mainstream culture, women drawn to the path find roles Outside of it.

This attitude has survived to some extent into modern times, in that many women who are descended from these fierce ancestors were raised with the attitude that, when called for, we must be willing and able to fight. In this spirit, CR women often study martial arts and some work in professions that could be considered modern expressions of the warrior path. See also What's the difference between a warrior path and a poet's path?

What is this UPG thing I keep hearing about?

UPG = Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis. This is a label used to identify information gained through meditation, intuition, visions, and other spiritual work. Often this information may not be verifiable through primary or academic sources but seems to be usable in personal ways. CRs consider it highly important to label UPG which cannot be substantiated by lore or research as such, as this helps prevent misunderstandings about verifiable sources and preserves intellectual honesty.

Variant phrasings of UPG are Unverified or Undocumented Personal Gnosis.

Though it is unclear exactly who first coined the term UPG, consensus holds that the term and its variants originated in the Ásatrú communities some time in the 1990's. These terms have been gratefully adopted by many Reconstructionist traditions and further refined and applied in our communities.

Related terms:

SPG (Shared Personal Gnosis) - indicating a hypothesis or mystical vision shared by a number of people; preferably, one arrived at independently of one another and arising from people who are otherwise unconnected. For instance, a vision shared by the members of a small household may have more validity to it than a vision by a sole individual, but it is debatable whether it truly qualifies as SPG. A vision experienced by geographically separated people who have never met one another is more in tune with what we consider SPG.

CG (Confirmed Gnosis) - indicating that substantiating evidence for an incidence of UPG or SPG has later been found in the lore. This is also sometimes referred to as CPG (Confirmed Personal Gnosis). These instances are highly valued, and have served to bolster individual and community faith in the Deities, spirits or ancestors from whom the information was received.

These "Laws of UPG" can serve as a useful guide for how to handle such information:

1) No UPG should contradict known facts about the associated Pagan culture or stand as more than a modern invention. Such gnosis is only useful if you're not striving for historical accuracy.

2) If an instance of UPG does not contradict known facts, but cannot be verified within the same body of knowledge, it remains a modern invention.

3) If an instance of UPG fits rule 2 and also fills a gap in known tradition, it is worth pursuing further.

4) If an instance of UPG that meets the second law is arrived at by people who have had no real contact with each other, it remains modern but is Shared. This means the group just may be getting somewhere interesting.

5) If an instance of UPG becomes SPG, and said SPG is adopted outside of the groups who first thought of it, it becomes a modern tradition.

6) There is no way for UPG to become ancient lore unless it is kept mostly intact for at least 1,000 years.

How much UPG is acceptable in CR? How do you know?

CR, like all traditions with a mystical, ecstatic side, needs to have checks and balances in order to remain healthy. Those who work with trance states, journeying, and other forms of interacting with Deities need to have a solid support system that they can turn to for feedback, grounded discussion of similar or shared experiences, and reality checks against the known Celtic lore and cultural knowledge.

While CRs living all over the world have sometimes experienced unpredictable things, such as local spirits appearing in a Celtic guise, or spirits who claim to be Celtic Deities appearing in unusual forms or with unusual messages, every mystic worth their salt knows these things have to be tested against the lore and the perceptions of other mystics before they take them as anything more than imagination. It is not uncommon for our minds to create projections of our expectations. If you find yourself dealing with an entity that's offering you the wisdom of the universe, chances are very good that it's your mind you've met, and not a spirit or Deity.

It's very important to consult with other mystics, visionaries, seers, and lore-keepers about the information that you receive in your trance and ecstatic work. This is also why our reading in the traditional lore and texts is so important -- it allows us to compare new information against a known cultural matrix to see if it fits. It also helps to bear in mind that just because the Ancestors are dead doesn't mean that they're any wiser than they were in life. Always test answers and information you gain from spiritual work against common sense and the known facts. It's well known that some of the Deities are tricksters as well, and while we may respect them, we cannot always trust them completely. It is vital to examine everything you learn before using it in ritual or bringing it to the community as anything other than your own UPG.

Remember also that the agendas of the spirits and the Deities are not necessarily our own. If they ask you for something you cannot reasonably provide, tell them so and explain why. Be extremely cautious if you receive messages of any sort that suggest you harm yourself or others. Not everyone in the Otherworlds has your best interests at heart.

When approached cautiously, with a firm support network and a good grounding in tradition and lore, UPG can be a very useful part of CR practice. Some UPG eventually becomes accepted within CR as a whole as valid and valuable group practice as well as being useful to the individual receiving the insight. Remember that all of us have to throw out lovely ideas from time to time because there's contradictory evidence in the lore and traditions or because facts stand against it. Such insights may be useful in personal practice, but don't have a place in CR as a whole.

See What is this UPG thing I keep hearing about?

In regards to relating to a deity, how much should one be in concordance with the myths? With history?

See How much UPG is acceptable in CR? How do you know? and That's not how my (insert family member here) taught me to honor (insert figure of choice here)!

How do you decide what aspects of Celtic culture to keep and what to discard?

Since the basic purpose of CR is to reconstruct what Celtic Pagan religions could have become in the modern age, we must, with great respect for the ancient and living traditions, adapt ancient spiritual practices to fit within modern society's legal and ethical structures. In other words, it's more dishonorable to break socially just laws of the country we live in than it would be for us to set aside those practices which are now illegal, ethically inappropriate, or impractical to the point of impossibility in a modern context. Carrying home the severed heads of worthy enemies is a poor idea for modern CR practice.

Iron Age tribal social structures are an impracticality that we have laid aside. CR has no High Kings, no Tribal Chieftains. There are not enough of us to qualify as actual CR nations or tuatha (a tuath was actually thousands of people - the size of a town or small city), and those are political titles that are inappropriate for a spiritual-social community living within the laws of the sovereign nations where we reside. It is also offensive to the living Celtic cultures to attempt to radically redefine what these terms and titles already mean, and as we are involved in the living Celtic cultures, it would not even occur to us to do something so offensive. While we may strive toward the better ideals of tribalism, community and collectivism, we do not believe it is our place to claim a region of the country as our "territory" and attempt (or pretend) to rule over it in any way. It is our desire instead to interact with the spirits of the land, the ancestors and the Deities in a respectful way, and to coexist peacefully and constructively with our human neighbors, no matter their background or religion.

We encourage people to contemplate what is good and useful about early Celtic cultures. We all attempt to cultivate a personal and communal sense of Celtic virtues such as Truth, Honor, Justice, Loyalty, Courage, Community, Hospitality, Strength, and Gentleness and to implement these values in our modern lives in ways that work for us. For some, this leads to community service in either a personal or a professional capacity. Others find in it a call to political activism for peace and justice. Some of us simply find it a way to help us live our lives as better, more compassionate individuals.

Do you borrow from other cultures to "fill in the gaps"?

Borrow? No. Steal? One certainly hopes not. Use broad as well as deep study, especially of closely-related cultures, to help form a working hypothesis of how the Celtic ancestors may have done something? Yes, sometimes.

When we speak of studying other related cultures for ideas on how to elaborate on some of the Celtic religious practices for which we have scant information, we are not advocating simply importing rituals, practices or beliefs from other traditions. Often, we are only going as far afield as looking at Welsh or Gaulish lore for hints to the missing pieces in the Gaelic. Others may look at the common elements found in a number of other Indo-European cultures for signposts for what we may be missing, especially to the Norse, which has historically interacted rather extensively with Celtic cultures in both the Islands and on the Continent.

However, many CRs are fine on keeping the tradition simple, sticking with the practices we have, and not attempting to elaborate anything.

CR was developed to provide an alternative to those "Celtic religions" that were really just putting knotwork on ways foreign to the Celtic cultures (namely Wicca, generic Neopaganism and "core shamanism") and that were pillaging Celtic cultures for a few exotic bits to spice up an otherwise eclectic practice. Therefore, a key element of CR is the deliberate avoidance of mixing our practice with other cultural practices. If we must "fill in the gaps," we would be more likely to use ideas from other Celtic cultures, or at least other Indo-European cultures, to help us develop something Celtic to fill the gap. It is crucial to understand that instead of just forcing foreign practices into a Celtic framework, we use them as "hints" -- "okay, this was done in an ancient Norse ceremony, and it bears a strong resemblance to this ceremony found in a Vedic text, and here’s a reference in this Irish text... oh, wait, maybe a similar thing was done among the Celts but it would have been more like this instead."

In doing reconstruction work, it is vitally important to first have a thorough grounding in the particular Celtic culture whose practices we are reconstructing. Without that, it is too easy for people to try to bring in things that are not only disharmonious with Celtic culture, but even for them to unknowingly try to unnecessarily replace things for which we already have working, Celtic examples. This is another area in which Celtic Reconstruction requires patience and years of study. Thankfully, as the movement matures, the years of study are being somewhat distilled so new folks don't have to continually re-invent the wheel, as it were. But they must also understand that even those of us who've been doing this for many years are still making sure all of our wheels work.

When sufficient hints cannot be found in closely-related cultures, some feel that it is appropriate to look further afield to other tribal and animistic cultures, such as the Afro-Diasporic traditions, in order to flesh out the tradition. However, this is an area of some controversy in CR. Different individuals and CR sub-traditions sometimes have divergent opinions on how appropriate this is; but even among those who look to wide-ranging sources there is still agreement that this is only for hints to how to do something in a Celtic way. It is a quest for adaptable "technologies" and not for replacement beliefs. One example of this would be the "exchange student" approach some have undertaken to learn how to safely manage ecstatic trance techniques. This began separately among several unrelated members of the community because these things were already happening sometimes in Celtic ceremonies. Our Deities seemed to be demanding that at least some of us perform this trance function, so this necessitated looking to experienced elders of living traditions for advice on how to safely ride out these experiences. Rather than deny the Deities, we wanted to find a way to safely deepen our connection and communication with Them - not only for ourselves, but also in service to the larger community. But among those who have been deeply affected by cross-cultural studies, and who are on speaking terms with Deities of other cultures, there is still the shared principle that as we develop our various CR traditions, non-Celtic practices should not be imported whole cloth. We want a vibrant, Celtic tradition, not an eclectic one.

Does CR include syncretisms?

In considering this question, it is crucial to recognize the difference between ancient syncretisms and recent ones, as well as the differences between syncretism and eclecticism.

Ancient syncretisms, which reflect longstanding parts of the living Celtic cultures and their historical interactions with other cultures, may be acceptable within a CR practice. However, syncretisms which are recent impositions of foreign ideas are not seen as CR.

While recent syncretisms are not accepted as part of CR, some CRs feel that historical syncretisms, which occured as ancient polytheistic cultures interacted over a long period of time, have become a legitimate part of the living traditions. A common example of this is the presence of some Nordic customs and deities found among the Scottish traditions, and the many other examples of the ways these cultures historically intermingled and influenced one another. These sorts of ancient, polytheistic syncretisms that grew out of lengthy cultural interaction are seen as different from the syncretisms of oppression which were instituted with the aim of co-opting and eventually eclipsing the native religions.

Eclecticism involves the combination of diverse beliefs and practices from a variety of unrelated cultures. The only "authority" generally recognized by eclectics is their own sense of "what feels right." Syncretism is somewhat different. Syncretism involves a main culture that one is rooted in, but which also incorporates some elements from an outside culture that seem to be harmonious with the syncretist's main cultural focus.

Eclecticism is absolutely not part of CR. Recent syncretisms are not accepted as CR.

The only syncretisms that most CR elders seem to agree are acceptable are those which have become a longstanding part of the living Celtic cultures, due to long-term cross-pollination. This includes the cross-pollination with Norse culture, some aspects of Celtic Christianity, and the overlap between related Celtic cultures such as the Gaelic and Gaulish.

There are some CRs who are doing cross-cultural studies, or who have backgrounds in a variety of cultural approaches to religion. However, CRs agree that such studies are meant to help form a better understanding of Celtic cultures in context, rather than to confuse or dilute the Celtic cultural focus of CR.

Can I be CR and still worship non-Celtic deities?

Yes, but with caveats.

Worshipping non-Celtic Deities is regarded as outside the purview of CR, and should in no way be considered a part of CR practice. While it is acceptable for people involved in the CR community to have non-CR practices in their personal lives, it should be kept firmly in mind that they are just that -- non-CR practices. The cultures and rites of non-Celtic Deities should be respected, just as we expect Celtic cultures and Deities to be respected, and these rites should be kept separate from your CR practice. If you worship Deities of other cultures, separate altars should be maintained for Them, and offerings and other rites should be undertaken in the ways of that Deity's culture.

If you feel a particular pull to Kali, for example, it is highly recommended that you worship Her through a local Hindu temple, or at least in traditional Hindu ways, rather than attempting to bring Kali into your CR practice. She is not a Celtic Goddess and would probably resent being treated as such. She already has Her own formulated and traditional rites and practices, Her own preferred offerings, and Her own holy days. To ignore those things in an attempt to fit Her into a CR practice would be doing violence to both CR and Hinduism.

The only times when it might be acceptable to worship non-Celtic Deities in a CR format would be in the cases where long-standing, historical interactions betwen related cultures created a hybrid cultural environment that traditionally included these Deities. For instance, in the cases of some Highland Scotland and coastal Irish communities that adopted some of the Norse Deities and customs. If the cultures had enough similarity, and it is clearly evident that these two cultures did meet and mingle and create an historical tradition, it is often considered acceptable to continue to include these long-standing syncretisms as part of that tradition. See also Does CR include syncretisms?

Is it Samhain, Samhuinn or Samain? Why all these different spellings?

This can be a bit confusing to the learner, as we are sometimes discussing Old Irish sources, other times Scottish ones, other times other Celtic languages entirely. Just as modern English is different from the English spoken in Shakespeare's time, so have the Celtic languages evolved over time.

Therefore, spellings and pronunciations will vary depending on the specific Celtic language (Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Gaulish, etc), and the time period during which the material was recorded. As "Celtic Reconstructionism" has become an umbrella term, which encompasses many individuals and groups, of a variety of Celtic cultures and approaches, we see no need to force any standardization of these words. Usually, one will use the spellings/pronunciations that make most sense in context of a particular discussion, or those of the language which they know the best. For example, when explaining our tradition to someone from the broader, Neopagan community, we may use the most commonly understood name for a festival or Deity. But when referring to an ancient manuscript, we are more likely to stay true to the spellings used in that manuscript.

For the sake of introducing a bit of consistency to this FAQ, we have tended to standardize terms to Modern Irish. CR is a modern community, so some CRs feel strongly that we should use contemporary terminology, except in cases where no modern word exists for the concept we are trying to name. Also, Modern Irish is probably the most widespread of the Celtic languages, and therefore easier to find classes in than some of the others. This is in no way intended as a slight to those on Scottish, Welsh, Gaulish or other paths, but merely a way of making this document more understandable to those who speak none of the Celtic languages.

Here are some examples of different spellings used for the same terms and concepts:

 Old IrishModern Irish (Gaeilge)Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig)GaulishWelsh (Cymraeg)
FestivalsSamain; Samhain Oíche ShamhnaSamhuinnTrinouxtion Samonii; SamoniosCalan Gaeaf
 Imbolc; Imbolg; OimelcLá Fhéile Bríde; ImbolcLatha Fhèill BrìghdeOuiamelgtisGwyl Ffraed
 BeltainLá BealtaineBealltainnBeloteniaCalan Mai
 Lughnasa; Lughnasad; LughnassadhLá LúnasaLùnasdaLugunassatisCalan Awst

This all sounds like a lot of work. Why would anyone want to work that hard when they could just join an established religion?

Yes, at this stage in its development, CR does tend to be a lot of work. It's not for everyone.

Though we are at a place where people who don't want to do lots of research or pioneering mystical experiments can join an existing CR group, and participate on a much more informal level, the truth is that functioning CR groups that are willing to take in new members are still few and far between. So if you're alone, you may feel that it is difficult, especially if you are just getting started. Right now CR favors pioneer species, so to speak.

One of the main reasons we began this work was we believe the Celtic Deities and Ancestors were asking it of us. Independent experiences by unrelated individuals have led to Shared Gnosis that several Deities in particular were eager to see CR happen. So a number of people sworn to these Deities found ourselves becoming very driven to create a functional, authentically Celtic tradition in order to better serve Them. A number of us were also inspired by our experiences in other living cultures and wished for something that full and vital, not only for our own Deities and Ancestors, but also for ourselves. It will be a while till we are as fleshed out as the traditions that inspired us, but that is our goal.
Current Mood: accomplished
Kathryn of Nigheanan nan Cailleach: Bridge Crew Closeupcaitriona_nnc on May 3rd, 2006 06:16 pm (UTC)
wrangling them cut-tags we go
Thanks for doing the posting, B!
Blackfyrblackfyr on May 3rd, 2006 06:53 pm (UTC)
Re: wrangling them cut-tags we go
Well, I had a few minutes. As it was, I missed the bold & italic tags in the chart and had to go back and re-edit that section.
urthurthlvr on May 3rd, 2006 06:45 pm (UTC)
Also considered primary material is folklore that was recorded exactly from the living sources, during the time these practices were still part of the living tradition, without being filtered through the interpretation of the interviewer.

how can you guarantee that the recorder of folklore accurately (exactly) wrote down what was being pass on?

how do we know that the person writing them didn't decide that one story was too racy, or another to grotesque and edited them to make them more safe?

Blackfyr: Buddha Ranger (Sinfest)blackfyr on May 3rd, 2006 07:14 pm (UTC)
Guarantee? What's that? We can tell that many of the oldest tales were modified from the oral form when they were written down, and we have know ay of knowing what they were change from. That said, it's what we have to work with, and we have to start somewhere. There are no unbroken transmission paths, which is why we're having to reconstruct.
(no subject) - urthlvr on May 3rd, 2006 11:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blackfyr on May 4th, 2006 12:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - urthlvr on May 4th, 2006 12:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blackfyr on May 4th, 2006 04:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - urthlvr on May 4th, 2006 06:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blackfyr on May 4th, 2006 08:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - urthlvr on May 4th, 2006 09:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blackfyr on May 5th, 2006 01:53 am (UTC) (Expand)
Blackfyr: Buddha Ranger (Sinfest)blackfyr on May 3rd, 2006 07:19 pm (UTC)
That being said, there are a number of texts out there that were recorded in the manner described, at least as closely to that as a human can be expected to do.
macnacaillimacnacailli on May 3rd, 2006 07:55 pm (UTC)
more personal gnosis
Great post! Though I do have one comment:

If a gnosis is shared by a household, grove, tribe, or what have you, can not be labeled as SPG, then perhaps we need a term for that sort of PG, born of imbas and accepted by people who work together, as opposed to erupting independently in people separated in time or space. These are often the things that define a groups particular approach, establish a theological focus, and (secondarily) contribute to shared identity.

Maybe something like TPG, ‘transmitted personal gnosis’?
Of course, this would need to be further labeled as whose TPG it is, like it is the ‘TPG of clan-such-and-such’
(Deleted comment)
Re: more personal gnosis - caitriona_nnc on May 3rd, 2006 09:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
Re: more personal gnosis - caitriona_nnc on May 3rd, 2006 11:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: more personal gnosis - eumelosdrizzle on May 4th, 2006 12:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
放縱瘋狂的結wire_mother on May 3rd, 2006 11:06 pm (UTC)
Re: more personal gnosis
"Locally-Shared Gnosis"?
Re: more personal gnosis - caitriona_nnc on May 3rd, 2006 11:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: more personal gnosis - eumelosdrizzle on May 4th, 2006 12:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: more personal gnosis - macnacailli on May 4th, 2006 01:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: more personal gnosis - eumelosdrizzle on May 5th, 2006 01:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
Madrun: toonmadrun on May 3rd, 2006 09:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you to everyone putting such a huge amount of effort into this FAQ!!
Blackfyr: Buddha Ranger (Sinfest)blackfyr on May 3rd, 2006 09:29 pm (UTC)
And the scary part is - we're not quite halfway through all the entries in the FAQ. *whew*
(no subject) - caitriona_nnc on May 3rd, 2006 09:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Michaeleumelosdrizzle on May 3rd, 2006 09:38 pm (UTC)
So does that mean I'm not CR because I'm a Roman-Celtic syncretist? Just curious more than anything.
Kathryn of Nigheanan nan Cailleach: reporting for duty (bridge crew)caitriona_nnc on May 3rd, 2006 10:13 pm (UTC)
Good question :-)
I am honestly not sure. We have a later question where we discuss that not everyone agrees about the Romano-Celtic stuff. Yet at the same time, there aren't a lot of people doing Romano-Celtic, so it's not like this has really been discussed all that much. The fact that the cultures did interact historically, and created a hybrid culture over time in some areas, would certainly make some (many?) see it as a valid syncretism. At the same time it could be argued that the Roman and Insular Celtic views of Deity are too different to be synthesized, and that one culture or the other would wind up being primary, with the other being a syncretic element added to that main culture. And of course the politics of any conflicts between the historical peoples would also come into play in various people's ideas of whether the syncretism is one of cooperation or oppression.

I think that without knowing every detail of how one is resolving those issues, it is hard to say. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but my impression has been that you're still researching and experimenting with a lot of this yourself. So the answer may lie in what you eventually come up with. It's obvious what you're doing is polytheistic reconstructionism, but whether it winds up being more accurate to call it a variety of CR, or a variety of something else, or a new thing entirely, may be too soon to say :-)
Re: Good question :-) - eumelosdrizzle on May 3rd, 2006 10:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
放縱瘋狂的結wire_mother on May 3rd, 2006 11:09 pm (UTC)
well, it's related, yes, but isn't it more accurate to call your faith R-CR (for "Romano-Celtic Reconstructionist")? the Romano-Celtic culture is, after all, somewhat different than either the Roman or the Celtic ones.
(no subject) - caitriona_nnc on May 4th, 2006 12:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eumelosdrizzle on May 4th, 2006 12:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wire_mother on May 5th, 2006 03:19 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eumelosdrizzle on May 5th, 2006 11:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wire_mother on May 5th, 2006 07:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Itinerant hacker adventuress: heron dark watersthewronghands on May 4th, 2006 03:43 am (UTC)
I wouldn't go that far. (All this my personal judgement, I don't represent anyone but myself.) I've never heard you say anything that made me react in a "whoa, that's not CR" way. You seem like you're functioning in a mostly integrative/borderlands way, focusing on the overlap between Roman and Celtic cultures, rather than in an "all your Belenos are belong to us, and the Celtic gods are just analogues for the more correct Roman deities" way. The former is okay, the latter I would not call CR. So IMO, you seem to be operating in a parallel recon approach to my own. Some different deities and a slightly different focus, but similar methodologies. (I don't know any CRs that I share my full deity set with.) What I've seen of your path also seems similar in approach to the CRs who integrate some Norse syncretisms.
(no subject) - eumelosdrizzle on May 4th, 2006 12:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
All Your Deities Are Belong To Us!!!! - caitriona_nnc on May 4th, 2006 08:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
You see a boundary, I see a sidewalklysana on May 4th, 2006 04:28 am (UTC)
Considering one of the people doing the FAQ work is a Celtic-Norse syncretist of the borderland variety, I think completely ruling you out of the group would be a bit ironic. :)
(no subject) - eumelosdrizzle on May 4th, 2006 12:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - caitriona_nnc on May 4th, 2006 08:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eumelosdrizzle on May 5th, 2006 12:59 am (UTC) (Expand)