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Course: Celtic Mythology

A painting called Riders of the Sidhe by John Duncan showing the fairy folk on horseback

Celtic Love of Nature

The ancient Celts believed that all things, animate and inanimate, possessed a spirit. Mountains, hills and trees were manly; rivers and meadows were feminine. The Celts knew that spirits watched their every move. So any action was carefully considered because of the effect it might have on their destiny. Ogham, the first Gaelic alphabet, was based mostly on the names of trees and bushes. A reverence for nature passed gently to Celtic Christianity.

fionn and the Fiana, his men

Celtic Myth & Legend

Then there was the tough side of Celtic Mythology: the thunder god, the god of light, the young god, even Cú Chulainn and Fionn, warriors everyone. These muscular and fearsome gods were remembered because of the battles they fought. The first of August was a huge festival because it memorialised the combat between Lug, the god of light, and Taran, the thunder god. Water monsters were feminine entities; they gave life but then took it away.

Croagh Patrick Cruach Phátraic which wsa the site where pagan gods Lugh and Taran fought
Cruach Phátraic, a pilgrimage site for Christians, and also the site of a mythic battle between Taran and Lugh, ancient Celtic gods

The ancient gods were a reflection of the society which worshipped them, and the druids were the priests who interpreted their will. They have had a bad reputation from the likes of Julius Caesar, but were they so evil? Did they make French fries of hundreds of people? 

a wicker man supposedly where druids burnt hundreds - from the film
The Wicker Man, a film set in the modern era, shows a large cage where people were burnt. The film was inspired by the propaganda of Julius Caesar which ‘proved’ the savagery of the Celts .

Celtic Gods, Druids & Fairies

Find out more about the Celtic gods: who they were and why they were worshipped. You’ll also find out a little of the ancient druids and the belief in fairies. 

The course includes self-quizzes and simple research projects to generate story ideas. Discussion and questions are encouraged.

Topics to be covered: 

  1. Peoples & Landscape
  2. British & Gaulish Gods
  3. Myth to Legend: An Túatha de Danann, Fionn & Cú Chulainn
  4. Myth to Legend: Arthur
  5. Druids & Fairies

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