Page:The Celtic Review volume 3.djvu/41

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
26
THE CELTIC REVIEW

ANCIENT CELTIC GODDESSES

Professor E. Anwyl

The extant remains of the Celtic forms of religion afford abundant testimony to the great variety of divine names which were associated therewith. No student of Celtic religion can fail to be impressed with the number of Celtic deities, who appear to have been local or tribal in character. Even where a certain deity appears to have become non-local, it will generally be found on investigation that the sphere of the extended worship has fairly well-defined areas and centres. We cannot take as our first guide for the classification and grouping of Celtic gods a Pantheon like that of Homer, behind which there is a long history of religious development, and upon which there is the impress of a literary tradition. Patient archæological investigation has thrown light on the local character and history of many of the deities of the Hellenic world, and in the Celtic world likewise we find the more rudimentary local divinities, which, had the fates so willed, might, under a civilisation like that of Greece and in the hands of Homer and his forerunners, have developed into as elaborate a Pantheon as that of Greece. As it is, however, we can only observe the scattered elements out of which, under other circumstances, a Pantheon might have been constructed. This is not altogether a misfortune, since it enables us to see in Celtic lands actual parallels to the hypothetical stages of development, which lie behind the more advanced religious systems of more highly civilised and literary countries, such as Greece and Rome. Religious development always stands in some correlation with the social development generally, and the civilisation of the Celtic world, in its various forms and in its several localities—a civilisation that at best was but rudimentary compared with that of the Græco-Roman world—had as the religious concomitants of its culture, conceptions and divinities of a corresponding character. Some of the