CeLfic Consciousness

Cyprus Rag Tree

What is it to be a Celt? Has the term any relevance today, or does it refer to a European civilization that has been lost with the passage of time? In the past decade, an upsurge in regional national identity' within the British Isles has been mirrored by a similar increase in Celtic identity-. Have Celtic consciousness and regional awareness anv relevance in the 21 st century?

Below: Celtic religious traditions like the rag trees still seen today as far apart as Cyprus and Ireland, are echoed in modern Christian rites like the Christmas tree, right, adorned with trailing and hanging "votive" decorations.

coplc are sporting Celtic symbols, or are otherwise identifying with an ancient Celtic past wherever you look. This interest is partially inspired by the intriguing and hauntingly beautiful examples of Celtic art in the world's museums. It also manifests itself in a sense of heritage. While many condemn the film Braveheart for its lack of historical accuracy, few Scots were unmoved by the film's sentiments. It played on dormant emotions, pitting Celt against Anglo-Saxon, and represented a late-blooming resurgence of independent Celtic spirit. It also has something to do with romanticism, looking back to an uncomplicated age of chivalry in much the same way that the Arthurian legends did for previous generations.

The Celts of today are not just the indigenous inhabitants of the Celtic Fringe, of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and Brittany. Millions identify with this "Celtic consciousness" through their spiritual beliefs, their traceable ancestry, their artistic temperament, or simply by a feeling of independence. The Celts were a people who constituted one of the great world civilizations, and who formed an important role in the development of Europe. They were also all but crushed by a series of conquerors who brutally imposed their will on them, and tried to eradicate all traces of their language, culture, and belief. The resurgence of the small Celtic nations in recent years has inspired the renewal of "Celtic consciousness." The recent opening of the Scottish and Welsh parliaments marked a turning point in the history of the British Isles, and a shift in the attitude of their constituent peoples.

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