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Home Beginning Wicca, Druid, My Articles, The Tree Information on Celtic Etiquette


Information on Celtic Etiquette

(This was a post that I had put up on my Dreamwidth blog. I thought I had reposted it here, but apparently not.  So it is here so that it is available to everyone.  –Erin)

Because it’s relevant to a lot that some are doing, I thought I would put up some sort of post on how to interact with and what to expect from the Celtic pantheon.

First, the overriding ethic for ALL Celts is that everyone, EVERYONE, has an inherent worth. When interacting with someone who is a Celt or whom identifies as a Celt, you must understand and acknowledge that worth. Be prepared, if you insult that worth you will be making compensation to somebody for the insult. If you kill a Celt, SOMEBODY is going to come and demand payment for the “honor price” of that person, you will have to make payment or you will BE the compensation (in that you will be serving as a bondsman until that is repaid according to the statutes of the Brehons). If it is intra-tribal, that is. (1) If the insult is inter-tribal, it could mean war. The greater the person’s status is, the greater their honor price. This holds true from the Gods down to the bondsman or least slave of the tribe. Personal honor is the MOST important thing to a Celt. The laws, status, and prior instructions on honor price indicate it strongly. (1)

Second, know that the Tribe, the Clan, the Family, the Tuath, the group you are part of is the second biggest thing in a Celt’s life. They will do, give, be damned near anything to help the Clan, to take care of their family, to contribute to the group. However, just as the First Law of Robotics overrides the Second Law, the personal honor – worth is more important to the individual than the Family/Clan. (2)

Third, personal honor reflects on the Clan honor. If I, as a Celt, do things that bring me fame and renown, it raises the status of my Clan. It also increases my status and Honor Price. (3)

Physical ability is important. Their kings were not only elected by the Tribe because of their ability and their proficiency, but also by their physical perfection. Nuada couldn’t be the Righ (king) of the Tuatha de Dannon once he lost his hand because he was missing a hand. Odin would not have been the leader because he is missing an eye. But, Nuada COULD be the king again once Dian Cecht made him the new hand of Silver. (4)

The ability to give gifts are important. The election of a Righ was not only about who was the most physically capable, but also who “bribed” the electorate the best. I say that but it wasn’t really bribes. Hospitality and generosity were prized traits, and thus the Righ should show those the most. Having a lot of gifts of treasure, jewelry, weapons and so on to give out to those that come into contact with them is a hell of a big deal.

Personal honor is very important. If a Celt says something, it was damned important that they keep to what they said. If they gave their loyalty to someone, it was expected that it was pretty much forever unless there were HUGE extenuating circumstances. That’s why oathbreaking and outcasting was such a HUGE deal, it made the person so shunned nothing. The person so cast out was a piece of wood, a rock, not human. They could be killed without any consequences.

All these are part of the Celtic deities. They embody this principle in themselves and reflect it to the world. So be very careful about what you say, because you will be expected to live up to those words. There is not really any “being released” from an oath to those Gods unless there is a really, REALLY compelling reason. You will be expected to hold to the Celtic Virtues (found on http://erinsjournal.com/druidism-and-wicca-a-comparison) and you will be judged on how well you personify those virtues.

Rules are important, but not as important as everything else is. There is flexibility in the rules and if you can cite an overriding reason to ignore those rules, then you might be allowed to avoid punishment, but you’ll need the tongue of Taliesin (c. 534 – c. 599) to survive.

This is what made the Celts particularly recalcitrant when it came to taking oaths and giving their allegiance to someone. Their local tribal leader was the most important leader, because they knew him (or her) and (s)he had done good for the tribe before. The other leader was an unknown and the Celt’s attitude would have been “yeah? And what have you done for me lately?”

The three “classes” in society were the Druids, the Warriors, and the Crafters. The farmers were considered Crafters. Each of these castes was equal to each other, for each held the other two at different times. The druids were the professional class, the Doctors and Lawyers, the studiers of nature and so on. The warriors protected all, without care as to who they were, and they kept order among the tribes. The crafters made things and grew things that allowed the others to live a life they desired. All three were important. Placing the Warriors above all was idiotic to them and it would not have been considered had the Romans not come in and corrupted the thinking. Male/female didn’t matter much. While it was easier for men to do some things because of physical differences between the sexes, a female warrior was seen as just as important as a male one, and they were treated the same. (5) (UPG, see note)

It is from the Warriors that the kings were chosen. Omens played a big part of the lives of the Celts, but the Druids were the ones who interpreted the omens. There were tribal deities, and personal ones that you felt closer to. They didn’t really do animal spirits, although the Gods did have their associated animals. Druids were not warriors and they didn’t carry arms of any kind. As such, their person was inviolate on the battlefield and off it. They were the people who could move between tribes, even ones in active warfare, and who could act as peace bringers. Captured peoples of another tribe were bondsmen who could earn their way back into Celtic Society, usually in the tribe they were with now.

That’s all I have right now. It’s a lot and it is all important.

General Reference: Celtic Flame: An Insider’s Guide to Irish Pagan Tradition by Aedh Ruahttp://www.amazon.com/Celtic-Flame-Insiders-Guide-Tradition/dp/0595529704
Celtic FAQs http://www.personal.psu.edu/ejp10/lingland/faqcelt.html#top
Irish Gaelic translator http://www.irishgaelictranslator.com/
1. Honor Price: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtic_law plus Bibliography
Honor Price The Preserving Shrine Erynn Rowan Laurie http://www.seanet.com/~inisglas/ethics.html

2. Personal Honor: Gaelic Culture http://homepage.eircom.net/~kthomas/gaelic/gaelic1.htm
New Tara: http://www.newtara.org/newtara_lib_ethics004.asp

3. Increasing personal status The Preserving Shrine Erynn Rowan Laurie http://www.seanet.com/~inisglas/ethics.html
Llygedyn Grove http://www.llygedyngrove.com/Ethics.htm

4. Celtic culture: a historical encyclopedia By John Thomas Kochhttp://bit.ly/bFPeAk Page 1359
Nuada’s sliver hand http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuada

Celtic & Druidic Society From Celtic Library http://www.druidcircle.org/library/index.php?title=Celtic_%26_Druidic_Society

Ranking of Classes* http://www.aislingmagazine.com/aislingmagazine/articles/TAM27/Druids.html *
*My Unverified Personal Gnosis: It is my belief that within the classes there were ranks and that the status of a low warrior was less than a master craftsman. A student of Druidism would be ranked far lower than the king or tribal leader and so on. The texts referenced show that the Druids had a higher status than the Warriors, and the Warriors had higher status than the Crafters. While this was true to a point, high ranking people of each group would probably be considered equal to each other.

Originally posted 2016-01-27 04:11:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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