Sample Scholarship Essays

Celtic Mythology

.. e Goddedd Ceridwen after taking a brew of her inspiration and wisdom. He was a Welsh bard, and was often connected into Arthurian legend as a wise man, teacher, and advisor to Arthur. He is said to have had to power to assume the form of whatever he wanted to be. I am the wind that blows across the sea; I am the wave of the deep; I am the roar of the ocean; I am the stag of seven battles; I am a hawk on the cliff; I am a ray of sunlight; I am the greenest of plants; I am a wild boar; I am a salmon in the river; I am a lake on the plane; I am the word of knowledge; I am the point of a spear; I am the lure beyond the ends of the earth; I can shift my shape like a god.

– from the Song of Amergin He used this power in order to allow a married woman, the sister of Morgause, to believe Uther Pendragonto be her husband and allow him to get her with child. This child was Arthur, and was to be the hope for unification and peace in Britain. A Brief History of Celtic Art Fig.1-1 Fig1-2 Architecture Most structures during the early age of the Celts, was compiled of large rough-hewn stones. Most were built for practical use, but later became more commonplace for artistic purposes. Fig.

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1-1 Din Lligwy settlement at Anglesey, shows the entrance of a late Iron Age (fourth century AD) circular hut. This is the common structure of a home. The hut faces the central courtyard of a small Celtic settlement. It consisted of two circular and seven rectangular dwellings, surrounded by a limestone wall; two of these contained evidence of iron smelteringin their hearths. The roofs to these dwelling would have been thatched.

Fig 1-3 Fig 1-4 Fig 1-2, Wayland’s Smithy, chambered long barrow, Oxfordshire England c.3500 BC, Wayland was the Norse smith god; legend stated that if a traveler left his horse at this sight, together with a coin for payment, the horse would he shod and the money gone by the time he returned. Such ancient monumental tombs were often mythologized by the Celts, who did not understand their original function. Another example of Celtics making sacred what they did not understand, is Fig. 1-3, ‘Ossian’s Grave’: a Neolithic grave above the Glen Ana, County Antrium Ireland. The monumental stone graves of earlier cultures were thought sacred by the Celts.

This grave is attributed to the Irish hero ‘Ossian.Simply to clarify, these were not a part of the Celtic architecture, but architecture that became part of Celtic mythology. The South door of the church of St. Mary and St. David in Kilpeck, near Hereford, England (Fig.1-4) is a rare example of Late Celtic Art in Medieval England. Dating from the twelfth century BC, this door shows the interlacing tendrils, dragons and warriors common in Celtic art.

Sculpture Fig 1-5 Fig 1-6 Celtic sculpture was small and rare. Things needed to be small, and portable. However, a few examples have been found. They feature the same traits.Flowing long hair, large eyes, wide faces, and small mouths.Fig 1-5, is the head of a Romano-British deity Antenociticus, found in a shine tohim at Benwell in England. It is dated c. 300 BC. This local Celtic god wasworshipped in a small temple near a Roman military fort on Hardian’s Wall.

The shrine provides evidence of the adaptation of native divinities by Roman soldiers. The head is carved in the classical manner, but it’s Celtic features show in the powerfully modeled hair and eyes. The Human head on a large bronze cauldron from Rynkeby Denmark, 100 BC, also shows the distinctly Celtic facial features. Many have asserted that this cauldron was used for animal sacrifices. On the outer panel of the same cauldron we see the sun god demonstrating his great power over men by holding wild boars (Fig.

1-6) These animals were seen as a source of strength, and leaders often took the names of animals with their own to show power in comparing themselves to powerful beasts. Though Denmark is outside the boundaries of the Celtic world, their influence can still be seen here, as styles have traveled. This piece, Base of the Cross of Cong ( Fig 1-7), shows the Viking influence on Late Celtic and Irish are with its interweaving tendrils and dragons. The use of a beast to support the cross symbolizes the triumph of Christianity over nature. The cross was made for the Hogh King of Ireland, Turlough O Conna. Fig 1-7 Conclusion The Celts were a romantic people, concerned with protecting their lands, gaining glory in battle, acknowledging beauty, magic, gods and goddesses.

They have entwined their history and mythology together, linking it all. It is hard to tell what is history and what is myth, and even the most serious student of the Celtic beliefs and impacts on history will find himself secretly believing in all of the magic and myth of this captivating culture. The sun is shining, clear and fair, And I can hear the sweet song of birds; All around me they sing in thickets And their songs are new. I see my own death coming, And I sing a lay which will be held most dear, And will not fail to touch lovers, For it is love which makes me long to die, Tristian, my friend, friend, friend, Here is my heart which I entrusted To your love; not a good place for it, And now I will die by your sword. Tristian, my friend, friend, friend Even though the gods despise my desire, My should shall swell in your spritit, In the lands of the blessed or in the Underworld.

Falling on Tristians sword Isolt followed him to the Underworld, and thus did the lovers return in death to King Mark’s fort at Tintagel. They were buried in two mounds, side by side, and the intertwining branches of two trees grew from their graves. -Tristian and Isolt Bibliography Works Consulted Gardner’s Art Through The Ages Tenth Edition c. 1996 King Arthur Norma Lorre Goodrich c. 1986 An Introduction to Celtic Mythology David Bellingham c.1990 Domesday A Search for the Roots of England Michael Wood c.1986 The Dark Ages Michael Wood c.1987 The Power of Myth Joseph Cambel with Bill Moyers c.1987 History Essays.

Celtic Mythology

Celtic Mythology
A Brief History of Celtic Origins
Sad to remember, sick with years,
The swift innumerable spears,
The horsemen with their floating hair,
And bowls of barley, honey and wine,
Those merry couples dancing in tune,
And the white body that lay by mine;
But the tale, though words be lighter
than air
Must lie to be old like the wandering
moon.

(From The Wanderings of Oisin by William Yeats, 1889)
The author provides a poetic summary of the life of a pagan. The life of men concerned with protecting their land, working it, and living from day to day. If not for bards and ballads of the Celtic oral tradition, these piece of history may not have survived .Celtic traditions were recorded in two ways. Christian writers recorded some, while other stayed alive in the oral folk tradition. Most of the surviving material is found in Britain and Ireland, which is not to suggest these are the only places where these beliefs flourished.

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What we call today “Celtic”, is really a combination of numerous basic barbarian tribes, who spoke the Aryan language. Goidals (Gaels), Brythons (Britons, Brentons), Continetal Gauls, Irish (or Irish Gaelic), Manx and the Scottish Gaelic are few of these.

The earliest reference to Celts appears in Greek literature c.500 BC, and by this time they appeared to inhabit a large geographical range. Celtic Britain may date as far back as 1500 BC.

The Celts were primarily a warrior society ruled by dominating warrior kings. Women in this society were almost, if not totally, equal to men. They could hold property, rule, fight in battle and express their opinions freely and equally. A warrior queen Boudicca, lead a first century rebellion against Roman invaders.The ancient myths tell us nothing of lower and more severe levels of society. They grew corn and raised cattle. Religion and ritual played an important part in everyday life, and myths may have been used to stress the importance and sacred power of the Druidic priests and leaders. Bards had equal respect, as they were literally historians of the people, recording in song the events of their lifetime and passing them on orally to the next generation.
Gods and Goddesses
The Celtic traditions are based on nature. The people believed in a God and a Goddess, and that together the two made one God. They believe in a balance of good and evil, similar to the beliefs seen through the history of many religions. A parallel can be found in the Japanese Ying and Yen, and the Afrikaans Mandala.

They also believed in something called a triple Godess.Three women found in popular myths are identified as the Godess, and it was believed that all three of these women together, were the singular Goddess, that these variations were different personifications of the same being. There was a personification of her as a young beautiful maiden (Blodeuwedd), a motherly figure (Arianrhod), and the death crone.

They not only believed in the God and Goddess, but several subject of myth and legend were also deified.
Arianrhod- The mother aspect of the trip, Goddess. Arianhod means Silver Circle. (Arian meaning silver, and Rhod meaning circle.) She was the wife of Gwidion (son of Morgause or Morgana La Fae, from the popular Arthurian legends) and the mother to both the son god and the god of darkness. In later Arthurian legends her place is taken by Morgause, Arthur’s sister.

Belenus- Meaning bright or brilliant, refers to the Sun God of the Celts. He is also a healer associated with healing springs and the healing power of the Sun. The yearly festival of Beltene is most likely related to this god. This festival celebrates fire, and healing. It is also a fertility festival.

Blodeuwedd- is the flower maiden, the aspect of the Goddess that represents the maiden. The name translated means ‘flower face’. According to legend he was made by Gywidion and his uncle Math to be Lleu’s wife. They took the blossoms of an oak tree, and meadow blossoms and produced from them Blodeuwedd. She was the fairest and most graceful maiden a man had ever seen. Blodeuwedd fell in love with a man other than her intended Lleu, and he managed to turn the man into an eagle, and the took revenge by changing Blodeuwedd into an owl. In the tale this chase took place in the night sky, and that is what is responsible for the creation of the Milky Way.

De Dagda- His name meant ‘the good god’. He was the gaelic God of the earth, heavens, and magic amongst others. He had a harp made of oak which-when he played it-put the seasons in their order. After the battle of Telltown, he withdrew into the spirit world. Then cast a veil of invisibility on themselves, which they can lift at will. Thus Ireland is divided into to worlds. When later, Christianity came to influence Celtic mythology, he became a fairy.

Gwydion- Some say he was the brother of Arianrhod, others claim he was her husband, and some say that he was both. He was the Druid god of illusion and fantasy, the teacher of all that is useful and good. He and Arianrhod had two children. Dylan, son of the Wave, represented darkness, his element was the sea. His uncle Govannon later killed him, and the whole country wept for him. His brother Llew was the personification of light, his name meaning ‘lion with a steady hand’.

Rhiannon- the moon goddess mainly, and the protector of children and women. She was a warrior goddess, a Horse goddess and often takes on the from of a white rabbit. Very old traditions tell that an image of her should be worn about the throat by a women getting married so that she would not be mistreated by her husband, her children would be born safely and be safe from harm. She is usually accompanied by three birds,who can sing the dead to life, and the living to sleep for 10,000 years.

Talesin- A Celtic mythological figure in the Shamanic beliefs. He was belived to be able to be simultaneously part of many realities and existences, which is the heart of the Shamanic beliefs. He stole his knowledge from the Goddedd Ceridwen after taking a brew of her inspiration and wisdom. He was a Welsh bard, and was often connected into Arthurian legend as a wise man, teacher, and advisor to Arthur. He is said to have had to power to assume the form of whatever he wanted to be.

I am the wind that blows across the sea;
I am the wave of the deep;
I am the roar of the ocean;
I am the stag of seven battles;
I am a hawk on the cliff;
I am a ray of sunlight;
I am the greenest of plants;
I am a wild boar;
I am a salmon in the river;
I am a lake on the plane;
I am the word of knowledge;
I am the point of a spear;
I am the lure beyond the ends of the earth;
I can shift my shape like a god.

– from the Song of Amergin
He used this power in order to allow a married woman, the sister of Morgause, to believe Uther Pendragonto be her husband and allow him to get her with child. This child was Arthur, and was to be the hope for unification and peace in Britain.

A Brief History of Celtic Art
Fig.1-1 Fig1-2
Architecture
Most structures during the early age of the Celts, was compiled of large rough-hewn stones. Most were built for practical use, but later became more commonplace for artistic purposes. Fig. 1-1 Din Lligwy settlement at Anglesey, shows the entrance of a late Iron Age (fourth century AD) circular hut. This is the common structure of a home. The hut faces the central courtyard of a small Celtic settlement. It consisted of two circular and seven rectangular dwellings, surrounded by a limestone wall; two of these contained evidence of iron smelteringin their hearths. The roofs to these dwelling would have been thatched.

Fig 1-3 Fig 1-4
Fig 1-2, Wayland’s Smithy, chambered long barrow, Oxfordshire England
c.3500 BC, Wayland was the Norse smith god; legend stated that if a traveler left
his horse at this sight, together with a coin for payment, the horse would he shod
and the money gone by the time he returned. Such ancient monumental tombs were often mythologized by the Celts, who did not understand their original function.

Another example of Celtics making sacred what they did not understand, is
Fig. 1-3, ‘Ossian’s Grave’: a Neolithic grave above the Glen Ana, County Antrium
Ireland. The monumental stone graves of earlier cultures were thought sacred by the
Celts. This grave is attributed to the Irish hero ‘Ossian.Simply to clarify, these were
not a part of the Celtic architecture, but architecture that became part of Celtic
mythology.

The South door of the church of St. Mary and St. David in Kilpeck, near
Hereford, England (Fig.1-4) is a rare example of Late Celtic Art in Medieval
England. Dating from the twelfth century BC, this door shows the interlacing
tendrils, dragons and warriors common in Celtic art.
Sculpture
Fig 1-5 Fig 1-6
Celtic sculpture was small and rare. Things needed to
be small, and portable. However, a few examples have been found. They feature the same traits.Flowing long hair, large eyes, wide faces, and small mouths.Fig 1-5, is the head of a Romano-British deity Antenociticus, found in a shine tohim at Benwell in England. It is dated c. 300 BC. This local Celtic god wasworshipped in a small temple near a Roman military fort on Hardian’s Wall. The shrine provides evidence of the adaptation of native divinities by Roman soldiers. The head is carved in the classical manner, but it’s Celtic features show in the powerfully modeled hair and eyes.

The Human head on a large bronze cauldron from Rynkeby Denmark, 100 BC, also shows the distinctly Celtic facial features. Many have asserted that this cauldron was used for animal sacrifices.

On the outer panel of the same cauldron we see the sun god demonstrating
his great power over men by holding wild boars (Fig. 1-6) These animals were seen
as a source of strength, and leaders often took the names of animals with their own to
show power in comparing themselves to powerful beasts. Though Denmark is
outside the boundaries of the Celtic world, their influence can still be seen here,
as styles have traveled.

This piece, Base of the Cross of Cong ( Fig 1-7), shows the Viking influence
on Late Celtic and Irish are with its interweaving tendrils and dragons. The use of a
beast to support the cross symbolizes the triumph of Christianity over nature. The
cross was made for the Hogh King of Ireland, Turlough O Conna.

Fig 1-7
Conclusion
The Celts were a romantic people, concerned with protecting their lands, gaining glory in battle, acknowledging beauty,
magic, gods and goddesses. They have entwined their history and mythology together, linking it all. It is hard to tell what is history and what is myth, and even the most serious student of the Celtic beliefs and impacts on history will find himself secretly believing in all of the magic and myth of this captivating culture.

The sun is shining, clear and fair,
And I can hear the sweet song of birds;
All around me they sing in thickets
And their songs are new.

I see my own death coming,
And I sing a lay which will be held most dear,
And will not fail to touch lovers,
For it is love which makes me long to die,
Tristian, my friend, friend, friend,
Here is my heart which I entrusted
To your love; not a good place for it,
And now I will die by your sword.

Tristian, my friend, friend, friend
Even though the gods despise my desire,
My should shall swell in your spritit,
In the lands of the blessed or in the Underworld.

Falling on Tristians sword Isolt followed him to the Underworld, and thus did the lovers return in death to King Mark’s fort at Tintagel. They were buried in two mounds, side by side, and the intertwining branches of two trees grew from their graves.

-Tristian and Isolt
Bibliography
Works Consulted
Gardner’s Art Through The Ages Tenth Edition c. 1996
King Arthur Norma Lorre Goodrich c. 1986
An Introduction to Celtic Mythology David Bellingham c.1990
Domesday A Search for the Roots of England Michael Wood c.1986
The Dark Ages Michael Wood c.1987
The Power of Myth Joseph Cambel with Bill Moyers c.1987
History Essays

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