The Celtic Religion

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The Celtic Religion

The Celts were an ancient group of people who populated a substantial area of Europe from the British Isles to Galatia. The Celts are thought to have existed from about 1000BC to the 1st century when they were conquered by the Romans. The Celtic religion was extremely complex and is difficult for modern day man to understand. This essay will discuss the nature and role of religion in the ancient Celtic society.

The Celts were polytheistic sharing some beliefs that spanned across all the tribes; however, each tribe had their own beliefs and rituals. The Celts worshiped many gods and goddesses and a lot of the Celtic religion revolved around the worship of natural phenomena including water, sky, mountains, trees and earth. The worship of water deities was common among all Celtic tribes due to their medicinal and healing properties. There have been a number offerings which the Celts made for their gods that have been discovered in rivers, springs and wells. An example of a famous Celtic-healing site linked with water is Bath found in England. Other places where Celts made offerings to their gods were in sacred groves and forest clearings. Animals were revered by the Celts for their special qualities of speed, strength, ferocity and cunning and the gods that were represented were mostly in animal form. Some of the animals important to the Celts included boars, stags, bears, hares, birds and horses.

Due to the Celts close connection with nature shrines and altars were built in the forest. These were generally made of wood, evidence for this is found in classical literature. For example, Lucan, a Roman poet, describes an altar in a forest near Marseilles, “altars were erected on little hillocks and all the trees were purifies with human blood.” This is also evidence of sacrifice, which formed a part of the nature of the Celtic religion. Both humans and animals were sacrificed in honour of their gods. Julius Caesar mentions such sacrifice...
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