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Celtic Mythology

1 April 2021

This course is sponsored by the Lawson Writers’ Academy

A painting called Riders of the Sidhe by John Duncan showing the fairy folk on horseback
Riders of the Sidhe (Fairy Hill) by John Duncan

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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Scottish Highlands 1500-1800

6 Sept 2020

Swinging Kilts & Claymores! 

Everyone the world over recognises the heroic figure of the Scottish Highlander. But you have to wonder how that distinctive clothing evolved. You might assume that the society of the people who wore it was quite different from the Scottish Lowlands, England or any other European country. And you would be right.

In the Scottish Highlands, serial marriage was as common before 1700 as it was in northern Europe before 1200. Highlanders still raided Lowland cattle in the 1600s and 1700s. Lowlanders did not appreciate the fact that cattle raids were an elite and honourable activity carried on by Celts for over 2000 years.  Lowlanders wanted their cattle left in Lowland fields.

As late as the 17th century chiefs were inaugurated in pagan ceremonies with divination and no clergy, and then expected to go on a cattle raid to demonstrate their leadership qualities.

The government in the Lowlands did what they could to abolish Gaelic language and customs and make them into proper subjects. Yet Highlanders were not completely assimilated in the 18th century, and the Highlands became a tourist destination for such literary giants as Samuel Johnson. At the end of his tour of Scotland he said, “The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England!” Is that justified?


–Incredible information!  Your  classes are so packed with interesting history. I can’t wait to go through them again in a more leisurely manner and really absorb all the detail.  Thank you! Enjoyed all that you shared.   

–I appreciate your expertise in Scottish history. You’ve helped tremendously in supplying needed details for my Scottish Historical Romances. 

–Thank you. Was so incredibly informative and intensely detailed, am taking time to delve deeply.  I am so impressed with the care you took with this, much gratitude to you! 

–I wanted to thank you for such a wonderful class. I always come away with a wealth of info and ideas. I look forward to the next session. 

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Possible Courses in the Future

Ancient Celts                                                     Celtic Mythology    

Druids                                                                Celtic (Gaelic) Church                               

Roman Britain                                                   Fairies

Picts & Scots                                                      The Wars of the Three Kingdoms

Lords of the Isles                                               The Jacobite Rebellions

The Wars of Independence (Scotland)           Emigration

Medieval Ireland                                               Victorian England

If you want more information on one of these course, please contact me.