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research problem

To: alt.religion.druid
From: Fyrnae 
Subject: Re: research problem
Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 23:05:55 +0100

In article , Steve  writes
>Just a point to consider.
>In most tribal cultures, which I would classify the Celts as, it is more 
>common to banish an individual from the tribe. And with what we know 
>about the Druid class of individuals - they were free to travel between 
>tribal boundries - getting the message that someone from another tribe 
>was banished was probably accomplished.
>Think about this for a second. If you were an individual dependent on 
>your tribe for survival - wouldn't you be a little apprehensive if you 
>were suddenly banished to survive _out there_ alone. Second point, if the 
>Celts believed in reincarnation to the point of making payments to others 
>in the next the point of fighting like _mad people_ not afraid 
>to die, do you think they would losely use human sacrifices?

No, I don't think they soley used human sacrifices...I was simply giving
the person the information they requested from out of my library.  They
were looking for quotes from the Greeks and Romans so that's what I gave
them.  They didn't ask for my opinion, so please don't take what I wrote
as my opinion when it is obviously quotes out of books.
>I can't remember the reference, but I'm aware that the Celts used
>banishment as a primary form of punishment - not sacrifices.

I agree.

> This does not
>exclude the fact that they could have for some purpose or another - as
>every culture seems to have use human sacrifices in some form or another
>at one time or another. But I hardly think they used human sacrifices, if 
>they used them at all, as a wide spread method of capital punishment. 
>Maybe Strabo mistook a fire festival (Beltane?) where people and livestock 
>pass through two fire columns for human sacrifices?

I don't know; I wasn't there.
>Also, both the Greeks and Romans used the shining entrails and organs of 
>both humans and animals as tools for divination. I don't recall any 
>references other than that provided by the classical writers of the period.

        '...In the central Highlands of Scotland, bonfires, known as the
Beltane fires, were formerly kindled with great ceremony on the first of
May, and the traces of human sacrifices at them were particularly clear
and unequivocal.' -- _The Golden Bough_, J.G. Frazer (though
interestingly he never follows up and says what this evidence actually

        Frazer does go on to mention the many rural 'sacrifices' held on
feast days, many up until the last century, where a man-shaped 'victim,'
often made of plant material, stood in for what orginally was human

        ...'The early Celts, along with many other peoples of the time,
practised a selective form of human sacrifice.' -- _The Celtic
Tradition_, Caitlin Matthews.  She gives her reference for this passage
as _The Celtic World_, Barry Cunliffe, 1979.

        ...'The Celtic religions were sacrificial religions, of the
ritual of which we unfortunately know very little.  There were blood-
sacrifices and others, which were offerings of first fruits.  The
ancient authors speak of human sacrifices among the Gauls, and massacres
of prisoners which had a sacrificial character.  In Ireland there are
very few allusions to human sacrifice; one might mention the sacrifice
of newborn infants to the idol Cromm Cruaich.  The ritual of Celtic
sacrifice allowed the substitute-victim, as we see in the story of the
goddess Becuma.  She was married to a king of Ireland, and her ill-luck
brought sterility upon the country.  Expiation had to be made by the
sacrifice of the young son of a virgin, but the sacrifice of a cow was
accepted instead, and was effective....' -- _The History of the Celtic
People_ , Henri Hubert

        Better yet, have a read of _Life and Death of a Druid Prince_.
Ann Ross is one of the authors.
>One must remember to look at this objectively (I'm not suggesting the
>Celts didn't use human sacrifices) with many sources. The Celts did not
>take prisoners or slaves...the Romans and Greeks did.

> The Celts seemed to 
>have practiced hostage and fostering which probably included individuals 
>of the enemy which is a little different than slavery!
I fail to see how taking 'hostages' meant anything less or different
than taking prisoners.  Also, as Celtic society was based on a caste
system, I find it unlikely that they did not have slaves.

>The Celts seemed to have practices that the alter of slaughter to a
>war-deity was on the battlefield (acorns of macha) not at some hidden
>alter. References to this are made with Caradoc and Boudicca and their
>battles with the Romans. For their own _criminals_ banishment would have
>been the preferred method of dealing with them for obvious reasons! Like 
>I said previously - every other Celtic tribe would have known about the 
>banishment through the use of Druids and Bards which would have been more 
>devastating to an individual than just mere death (Just a speculation)!
>In Peace,
>Steve                         ... 
>          /|\
From your .sig, I take it that you are a member of OBOD?  Your own Carr-
Gomm writes in his _The Druid Tradition_:

        'It has always been the tradition of the Order that the Druids
were not responsible for the human sacrifices mentioned by the classical

*Sigh*  I suggest to everyone to read up and make up their own mind.

Fyrnae Carwgwen (Ovate)
        Same God, Different Name, No Problem......

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