Celtic

The spiritual development of the Celtic folk soul - Part 6

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(To part 5)

Spirituality

In the Celtic Mysteries one taught about reincarnation and it pointed to a constant change of states of being in which death was seen as the middle phase of a very long life. Therefore, the Pythagorean teachings were held in high esteem by the Druids, who believed that the human soul was immortal and that in time it incarnated again in another body.

Over the course of many incarnations, man gains new experiences and undergoes numerous trials that can strengthen him to ultimately become his goal, the True Man.

Taliesin, a poet from Britain (AD 534-599), who was initiated into the mysteries of Ceridwen, once wrote:

I went through many forms,

before I took my true form.

The Celtic Druids were therefore normative for religiosity and the social order.

According to Rudolf Steiner, we must seek the roots of the mystery wisdom of the Druids in the vicinity of the Black Sea. This spiritual wisdom eventually made its way from the East to the West. What did this wisdom contain, one might ask.

It was an unconscious memory, an unconscious reverberation of everything the earth shared with the sun and moon when they were still connected.

Therefore the initiation of the Druids was really a solar initiation and connected with lunar wisdom.

Druid culture covered much of northern and central Europe for 3 to 3 1/2 thousand years, when writing was not yet known. (The exact time of the origin of the Celtic people remains a mystery to scholars to this day, and scientists often disagree.)

Then came the Odin culture that brought the runic script. It could be said that this Odin culture brought the very first intellectual streak; to the sun and moon which were then already revered, the planet Mercury had now been added. However, the solar initiation continued with the Celts for many hundreds of years.

We see this initiation in the story of King Arthur and his Round Table. King Arthur's castle was originally at Tintagel on the Cornish coast. Arthur was like the sun in the midst of his dozen knights. From here the civilization of Europe developed. King Arthur and his twelve knights absorbed the solar powers and carried the tracks further into Europe. The knights fought against the powers of the demonic dragon forces ruling there, which were still present among the then population of Europe. Thus they civilized the people and taught their culture.

That is why this knightly army is compared with the warrior against the dragon: Michael, and is therefore also called the Michael army.

This Round Table existed until the time of Queen Elizabeth and was dissolved for political reasons. The Arthur Castle Tintagel fell into disrepair at the same time, around 1580.

The militant Celts at the meeting of Christianity were very pleased with the Archangel Michael; this is evident from the many hymns. Linguistically, these represent a certain pinnacle of the integration of Christian content into Celtic vocabulary. Here's an example:

O Michael, warrior,

thou king of angels,

protect your people

with the strength of your sword,

protect your people

with the power of your sword.

 

Spread your wings

by sea and by land.

East and West-

protect us from the enemy

East and West-

protect us from the enemy.

 

Enlighten us with your heavenly power.

Be with us on your pilgrimage

and in confusion of battle.

Join us on our pilgrimage

and in confusion of battle….

 

Furthermore, there were two principal deities: Hu the father and sun god and Ceridwen the mother and moon goddess. These are sometimes compared with the Egyptian Osiris and Isis.

The Druids had a transcendental perception associated with the gift of prophecy. This prophecy was often introduced with the words:

I see with my spiritual eye.

Their magical properties were also famous and feared, especially in war. The Druids could influence nature in such a way that it could have disastrous consequences. It is known that in one battle a druid blew against a hill and that his breath unleashed a veritable storm and moreover the hill disappeared from view through a thick mist. The Celts' opponents lost heart and gave up the fight.

By the power of their spells and incantations, not only could they influence nature, but they also brought blessings and suffering to the population. They had been placed in the midst of life as priests, expressing their opinions frankly on certain matters of concern to man. In this way they could encourage their warriors to be brave when it was necessary to fight, but also criticize and sneer at people who were cowardly.

That the Druids were also familiar with astronomy can be seen from their construction method. No stone was laid on top of another in a temple building for no reason. Everything was built to precise astronomical measurements.

The temples were often erected on elevations in an oak forest and these were either cruciform, because the cross was the symbol of rebirth, or round, because that symbolized the world already. Either they were wing-shaped to indicate the divine spirit or snake-shaped because the serpent symbolized the deity Hu, the druidic Osiris.

The most holy temple was a cromlech or a dolmen used as a place of initiation or rebirth and it consisted of three upright stones topped by a flat stone that served as a 'roof', creating a small cell. In this the druid took place to investigate certain matters.

(To be continued in part 7)

 

Sources:

[1] Rudolf SteinerDie Tempellegende und die goldene Legende [The temple legend and the golden legend], GA 93 (1904), (English: rsarchive.org)

[2] Eleanor C. Merry, The Flaming Door - The Mission of the Celtic Folk-Soul, Knowledge Books, East Grinstead 1936

[3] Jakob Streit, Sonne und Kreuz [Sun and Cross], Freies Geistesleben, Stuttgart 1977

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