Although the Celtic people were at the height of their importance almost 2000 years ago, they have not gone away. Today, ancient rituals are enacted across lands that still claim some Celtic ancestry.
Across the Celtic Isles of Ireland and Britain, festivals are celebrated that remember the strongly pagan roots of the people there. The Christian Churches that today dominate the religious landscapes can be seen as little more than a thin veneer that masks the pagan heart within the populace.
In Ireland and Scotland, Bealtaine is still celebrated, as is Samhain – known today as Halloween. The solstice and equinox of the seasons are marked in an innocuous fashion, and in places such as South Armagh, for example, there is a growing reawakening of the pagan traditions, now remembered during the winter solstice celebrations that take place on the sacred mountain of Slieve Gullion.
Christian holy wells mark the sites of pagan fonts. Prayer trees are pagan in origin, together with the sacred groves said to hold the spirits of those from the Otherworld. In Ireland of today, you will go a long way to find someone who will destroy the fabled Fairy Trees or Fairy Forts that dot the landscape. Drive down country roads and boreens and you will witness the pagan beliefs that still hold the people in their mystical allure.
The following documentary looks at the religion of the Celts. The beliefs that existed then may be diluted now. But for those of us fortunate enough live in the lands that are influenced by the ancient peoples including the Celts, we can tell you that there is still magic in the air.
Episode 2 – Heroes in Defeat can be watched here: