Celtic Culture and Religion in Ireland

  1. Sociopolitical Background

    1. Economy -

      1. Pastoral -

        1. Livestock -

          1. cattle - (basic unit of currency)
          2. sheep
          3. pigs

        2. Raiding

      2. Agriculture - cereals

      3. Trade -

        1. Barter
        2. Raid

    2. Social Status

      1. Family

        1. derbfine - four generation group
        2. gelfine - three generation group

      2. Status -

        1. kinship
        2. honor price

      3. Sureties - enforce contracts

    3. Family Structure

      1. Polygamy
      2. Divorce
      3. Fostering

  2. Politics

    1. Chieftain/King (Ri)

      1. King (ri) of a tuath (i.e., tribe)

      2. Provincial King (Ri Ruiech)

        1. Ulster
        2. Leinster
        3. Munster
        4. Connacht

      3. High King (Ard Ri) - sacral

    2. Warrior/Retainer

      1. as few as 10 retainers
      2. up to 40 retainers

    3. Farmer/herder
    4. Slave

  3. Celtic Religion

    1. General Characteristics -

      1. Anamistic/Polytheistic
      2. Zoomorphic
      3. Regional/Syncratistic
      4. Fertility
      5. Magic

    2. Ritual

      1. Theography - Sacred Space

        1. Water - springs/wells
        2. Oak Groves

      2. Sacrifice

        1. Votives
        2. Human (the triple death)
        3. Cult of the severed head

      3. Theology - Triple Deity (female)

    3. Religious Hierarchy

      1. Druid - priest
      2. Filidh - seer, judge
      3. Bard - poet

    4. Major Religious Festivals

      1. Samhain (October 31) - New Year
      2. Imbolic (February 1) - Calving/Lambing
      3. Beltain (May 1) - Summer
      4. Lughnasa (August 1) - Harvest

    5. Major Deities -

      1. Male -

        • Balor (of the evil eye, - sun god - archaic)
        • Bres (the beautiful)
        • Dagda/Eochaid Ollathair (the good god, The All Father)
        • Lug(h) (the shining one, - sun god)
        • Nuada (of the silver arm)

      2. Female -

        1. Mother/Earth Deities:

          • Anu/Danu, Erin, Banba (Ireland, mother of the Sidhe)
          • Brig(it) (the exalted one, goddess of knowledge)
          • Macha (goddess of fertility, horses)
          • Medb (goddess of kingship)
          • War and Death Deities: The Morrigan -
            • Badb (the crow)
            • Macha/Epona (the horse)
            • Nemain (panic)

    6. Creation Mythology - (The Invasions)

      1. The Ladhrains
      2. The Partholonians
      3. The Nemedians
      4. The Fir Bholg
      5. The Tuatha de Danann
      6. The Milesians