The Celtic Races, Gods, Heroes, and Symbols Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein (Synthesized from Celtic Gods and Heroes by Marie-Louise Sjoestedt, and Celtic Myth and Legend: An A-Z of People and Places, by Mike Dixon-Kennedy) The Celts seem at one time to have been all over Western Europe, and perhaps as far east as China. Under the Romans they were pushed further and further west, first to the area of Gaul (modern-day France), then to the British Isles and Ireland. Each of the groups of Celts has its own mythology and history. Below is that of Ireland, which has certain symbols that seem to have influenced many later stories. There were six races in ancient Ireland in the mythological period: 1. An original race before the Deluge of 53 people, whose leaders were Ladra, who had 16 wives and “died from an excess of women,” Bith, a son of Noah, and Fintan, who married Bith’s daughter Cesair. The whole race died in the Great Flood, with the exception of Fintan, who lived on to see nearly all of Irish history. 2. The race of Partholón landed 268 years later. Partholón is regarded by some as a god of vegetation, but the name really applies to all those ancestors who ruled the world of the Gael (i.e., Ireland). The race of Partholón is supposed to have fought the first battle of Ireland, with the Fomorians (Fomhoiré), a group of powers or demons (like the powers of chaos) who lived in the islands off the coast for 200 years and had to be driven back by the more civilizing races (their name means “sea giants”). The race of Partholón created the crafts and civilizing traditions of the Celts, including the keeping of cattle and clearing of land for crops, but they were destroyed on the feast of Beltane (the 1st of May) by a plague. 3. The race of Nemed, whose name means “sacred,” next occupied Ireland for 30 years. However, they were overcome by the Fomorians and became their servants. On the Feast of Samhain (the 1st of November) each year, they had to give their masters two-thirds of their corn, sheep, and children. They finally resolved to leave Ireland. 4. The race of Fir Bolg arrived on the Feast of Lugnasad (the 1st of August, also called Teltane). These people did not disappear, but left behind descendants. They introduced iron and a system of monarchy. They were dispossessed by new invaders: 5. The Tuatha Dé Danann, “People of the Goddess Dana,” who landed on the Feast of Beltane and fought the Fir Bolg in the First Battle of Mag Tured. They are supposed to have won by the power of magic. They then fought the Second Battle of Mag Tured with the Fomorians. The Tuatha were considered gods because they were sorcerers. Further, they considered their artists to be gods, because they shared in the magical knowledge. The laborers or farmers were “non-gods.” From the islands they brought four talismans: The Stone of Fal, which screamed when the lawful king of Ireland put his foot on it The Sword of Nuada, whose wounds were fatal The Spear of Lug, which gave victory The Cauldron of the Dagda, which satisfied all who ate from it 6. The final race was the Sons of Míl, ancestors of those who dwell in Ireland today, who also arrived on the Feast of Beltane. They fought the Tuatha and drove them underground, where they still live. Some say the Tuatha are the “fairie folk” of Ireland. The tradition is that the two worlds still exist side by side; the veil that separates them parts once a year, at the feast of Samhain (Oct 31st-November 1st). Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily