Life and Afterz Lijie

Early Celtic society was agrarian, ruled by a warrior aristocracy. The most important part of their world was the cycle of life, marked by the passage of seasons and crop cycles. For the warriors, a belief in the afterlife gave them the courage to face the enemy without fear of death because their place in an idyllic afterlife was assured. Myths of Irish and Welsh chroniclers shed light on these vital aspects of Celtic belief and culture.

amalgamated with it. For some reason Samhain (now Halloween) retains its older, mythical link with the afterlife to the modern day.

This supernatural link is further reflected in the way the Celtic gods communicated with mankind. Earlier, we noted that the supposed ease with which people could talk with the supernatural world in the earlier Irish myths was replaced by a stronger delineation between the human and spiritual worlds in later Welsh writings. This has been seen as a reflection of increasing Christian censorship. When gods wanted to appear before humans, they were often surrounded by a mist, or appeared from over the sea or out of a lake, or alternatively the humans entered the supernatural world through a supernatural portal, such as a burial mound.

Above: A stone Druid Circle in Kenmare, Ireland.

□ s we have seen, the Celtic calendar was divided into four seasons (see pages 52-53), and the start of each was marked by a celebration. Lugnasadh was originally the festival of the god Lugh, and traditionally associated with harvests, stock-rearing, and fire. The early Christians absorbed many aspects of pagan traditions and observances in order to offer common people continuity with the annual cycles of religious ritual, and although the origins of this festival have been obscured by Christian chroniclers, enough survives to enable us to identify the true meaning of Lugnasadh. Similarly Imbolc was altered to coincide with Easter, and Beltaine as a spring-time festival was

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