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THE ENSIGN MESSAGE

OUR CELTIC HERITAGE

By

England

THE GAEL

Many books have been written tracing the descent of the Anglo-Saxons from the exiled house of Israel. The story is comparatively straightforward. Esdras writing at the time of Judah’s captivity, places them at Arsareth (another land). It is interesting to note that there is a river Sereth in Moldavia, a tributary of the Danube. Migrations have usually taken the easiest way, following up the river valleys. Their line of advance, from the cities of the Medes through the Caucasus and southern Russia is strewn with landmarks to this day. Gothic tradition and Icelandic Sagas bring them from the same district (then known as Swithiod and Asgard) led by Odin, into the Baltic lands of Germany. From there British history brings them into these islands as Angles, Saxons and Danes. But Britain has everywhere a Celtic substratum, absorbed by Anglo-Saxons in England itself but still flourishing and speaking their ancient tongues in the neighbouring countries of Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

Ethnologically, and in spite of differences of speech, the various component parts of the population are of one stock or race. Any claim  to represent   the  Israel  of  the  dispersion  cannot therefore ignore the Celtic strain. The Celtic occupation of Britain preceded that of the Saxons by many a century and they came by diverse routes. There is therefore no clear cut story, as is the case with the Anglo-Saxons,  linking  them  up with  the dispersion. Instead, the story has to be pieced together from Old Testament history, archaic classical writers, Celtic folklore and archaeology. Nevertheless, from Scotland, as late as A.D. 1390 and still at that time a Celtic Kingdom, we get a national claim to British Israel identity set forth with the full authority of the Scottish Parliament in a letter addressed to the Pope repudiating the claim of Edward I to the Scottish crown. Scotland at the time was undergoing a curious transformation and the direct line of succession of the purely Celtic kings had just come to an end. Unlike the Welsh, who during the same period lost their independence but retained their language, Scotland was to engage in a costly and exhausting war for freedom and eventually to win, only to succumb internally and without further conflict to Norman Saxon influence within their own border in all the more accessible parts of the country. In little more than two centuries the Western Lowlands were to lose their  Gaelic mother  tongue  except among the peasantry of a few isolated districts. Norman barons were to become Highland chiefs and Gaeldom was to retire behind the Highland line.

Only in the folklore of the Highland peasantry were the ancient traditions to be preserved. The English Bible of James VI was a great factor in completing the process. Yet, as the knowledge of that same Bible spread, the Scottish Church took up the claim where the Scottish laity had let it pass into  oblivion.

THE GAELIC CELTS

 There are of course two distinct branches of the Celtic race in these Isles, represented today by the Gael of Scotland and Ireland and by the Cymry of Wales. They speak different but closely allied variations of the ancient Celtic tongue. Essentially the same race, they retain different traditions as to origin and differ in certain well define characteristics, all of which points to a split in the far distant past.

The Gael is the older settlement of the two. This has led certain Celtic scholars to suggest the Bronze­ Age megalith builders as the ancestors of the Gael – an origin in accord with their own folklore and traditions. It also affords an explanation of certain peculiarities which are otherwise not easily understood. For this reason a megalithic origin has been accepted by the present writer. It is, however, only right to state that this is not the view generally accepted by Celtic scholars. These latter would bring Gaeldom into these Isles from France and by the same route as that followed by the Cymry, only earlier. In this case it is assumed that they absorbed much of the megalith culture.

The difficulty is that while the advent of the Cymry can be traced and dated approximately, that of the Gael is purely a matter of speculation.

Now Ireland never underwent the disintegrating experience of a Roman and Saxon invasion. Consequently the traditions embodied in Irish folklore cover a far longer period and an unbroken one at that. While the Cymry can be traced back to “Greece”, which in early times covered the Levant, (they moved overland by the valley of the Danube into France and so into England), the Gaels claim to have come from the same district but by sea, via the Mediterranean and Spain. Dates, where they cannot be co-ordinated with events in classical history must be regarded as tentative only.

THE MEGALITH  BUILDERS

The shores of the Mediterranean and Atlantic seaboard are dotted with megalithic stone shrines. As the people who set them up moved further on, their ideas evidently expanded and so we have the great open air temples of Stonehenge and Avebury in England, Callernish in the Hebrides and that of Cormac in Brittany. They are associated with the tumuli of the men of the Bronze-Age in Britain. These megaliths are undoubtedly the work of a comparatively civilised race, originating somewhere in the Levant, trading by sea along the North African Coast and Atlantic seaboard and establishing shrines at their ports of call.

Finally they established permanent settlements in the British Isles and the neighbouring coast of France. It so happens that where dates must be a matter of speculation both Stonehenge and Callernish do yield approximately initial and terminal dates.

At Stonehenge and a nearby  Bronze-Age  barrow in Wiltshire quantities of blue Egyptian beads have been found of a type manufactured in Egypt between 1450 and 1250 B.C. These beads are composed of a mixture of sandstone and copper and only in Egypt was there the necessary proportion of  lime and soda in the sandstone to produce “Egyptian Blue”. When copied on the continent the resulting colour was a shade of green instead. Thus Stonehenge was built after 1450 B.C. As regards Callernish, when the megalith builders arrived in the Hebrides the country enjoyed  a much drier climate than  today.

This is shown, by the remains of ancient forests, in the peat. It was the constant wet which produced the peat. The growth of peat has been calculated at one inch in fifteen years and in the Western Isles the average depth of peat is eleven to twelve feet. The growth of peat then represents some 2000 years. Assuming that the Callernish stones were set up some centuries before the peat began to form it has been suggested that an approximate date would be three thousand years ago. This would fix the date at roughly 1000 B.C.

HEBREW-PHOENICIAN

Now history records the sudden rise of a seafaring community trading along the route of the megalith builders and traditionally visiting the British Isles about the fifteenth century B.C.

It is known as the early Phoenician, but should more probably be called the Hebrew-Phoenician. It comes into prominence shortly after the Exodus reaches its zenith at the time of Solomon and receives a great setback a century or so later. At the time of Solomon the two navies, those of Solomon and Hiram king  of  Tyre,  were  so  closely allied as to form practically one enterprise. These two dates practically coincide with the era of the megalith builders.

SOUTHERN DAN

Dan was the great pioneering tribe of Israel and already in 1300 B.C. we find Deborah reproaching both Dan and Asher with being more interested in sea commerce than in joining their brethren in the common cause against Jabin king of Hazor. Not long after Solomon’s reign Dan disappears from the Bible story.

Bearing in mind that the Golden Age of Phoenicia corresponds so closely with the fortunes of Israel  from the Exodus to Dan’s disappearance, it is reasonable to conclude that the Phoenician  Golden Age was a joint Phoenician-Hebrew combination. Later Phoenician enterprise, including  the founding  of the great colony of Carthage, was, of course, a purely Phoenician undertaking. But by that time all touch with the British Isles had been lost for several centuries. It was not regained till Himilco’s voyage of discovery in 420 B.C.

TARSHISH

In Solomon’s clay a flourishing Hebrew colony, Tarshish, was founded in south eastern Spain, centred in the modern port of Cadiz. This settlement was apparently established along the valley of the Guadalquiver. The name appears to be derived from the Arabic Wadiel-Heber or “river of the Hebrews.” A stone inscription to Adoniram, Solomon’s viceroy or tribute bearer, has been found near Seville. This colony was destined to play a great part in early Irish history. Eventually driven north by the Carthaginians they settled in Northern Spain where they are last heard of as “Iberes” (or Hebrews) amalgamating with the Kimbrian Celts in the first century B. C. They had in their journey through Spain given their name to the whole Peninsula as Iberia or Hebrew land. This name the Milesian Scots brought with them and transferred to Ireland which was also known as Hibernia to the ancients.

On vacating Palestine the southern half of Dan would appear to have migrated bodily to Spain from whence they eventually come into Irish  folklore  as the tribe of Dan. Contact  with  the motherland  was not lost for another two centuries for Jonah, 862 B.C., had set sail for Tarshish before  his  adventure  with the whale and even Isaiah in 698 B.C., just after the captivity of ten-tribed Israel, is full of references to the isles afar off. Ref. Isaiah  66:19.

Carthage was still a struggling offshoot of Tyre at the time. So far we find that there are strong grounds for believing that the megalith people, who penetrated  as  far  north  as  Orkney  and  Lewis were Phoenicians from the times of the Exodus on to the glorious reign of Solomon, and that they were working in close association,  if  not  actual  partnership,  with  the Israelites. Their fortunes  rise  and  wane  with  that of the  latter people.

IRISH FOLKLORE

We need, however, something more to associate them definitely with Gaeldom. Let us see what Irish folklore has to say. According to this the first settlers in Ireland were certain “Formorians” under Partholan and “the sons of Nemed .” Dealing with the dawn of history, accounts are naturally slightly confused. They came in two successive invasions at long intervals to fight each other. The sons of Nemed are the heroes and the Formorians the villains of these tales. Both  are described as coming from “Greece” or Scythia. They are said to have skirted the North African shore as their name of Nemed  (Numidia) would  imply and to have come through the Pillars of Hercules (Gibraltar). Partholan, the Divider, is said to have divided Ireland into four parts while the sons of Nemed are credited with being the builders of the cromlechs.

In due course the Firbolgs arrived,  the  “men  of the leather bags”, perhaps an allusion to their Bagpipes, the peculiar treasure of the Gael. They too were said have come from Greece having stayed in Spain en route. They stated that they had left Greece owing to “Greek” tyranny – having been made to carry bags of earth from the fertile valleys to rocky uplands to make arable land. And so, preferring exile to slavery, they had left. It reads strange of memories of the Egyptian bondage. Dates are, of course, purely speculative but they may be put down as during II Phoenician Golden Age between 1400 and 1000 B.C. They all appear able to converse with  each  other in the  same tongue.

The next great invasion is that of the Tuatha de Danaan or Tribe of Dan. The account is much more definite for they left a more permanent impression on Irish folklore. They too came from Scythia and stopped in Spain en route. They are quite definitely stated to have spoken the same language as the Firbolgs who were at first minded to share the country amicably with them.

This implies no great racial hostility. Eventually by mutual agreement it was arranged, to abide  by  the test of battle. They met on the plain of Moyntara when the Firbolgs were heavily defeated. Henceforth the Danaans remained masters of Ireland till the coming of the Milesian Scots. The Tuatha de Danaan are described as great magicians implying a superior culture.

This would accord with a colonial community cut off by a couple of centuries loss of intercourse from the parent stock at the heart of civilisation. The Tuatha de Danaan are very definitely associated with the Lia Fail or Stone of Destiny. It would seem that this was brought into Ireland by Jeremiah  as  the  credential for the king ‘s daughter whilst the Danaans were the overlords of all Ireland. The story of Jeremiah, his scribe Baruch and Tea Tephi, the king’s daughter, is scoffed at by most Celtic scholars as a monkish insertion of later date. But Jeremiah’s rock hewn tomb is still shown, the Lia Fail is still with us and through Tea Tephi we have a direct line of succession, generation by generation, from David to Queen Elizabeth II.

 The arrival of the Tuatha de Danaan may be put tentatively at about 800 B.C. and that of Jeremiah at 580 B.C., about two centuries later. Israel was in captivity and the Hebrew adventure in Spain was drawing to a close. Carthaginian ambition and the gathering clouds of the Punic wars were filling Spain with chaos. At the same time continental Celticum was beginning disintegrate. Sometime about the 3rd century B.C. the Hibernian kingdom of the Milesian Scots left Spain for good to find a new home in Ireland.

They brought with them the name of the old kingdom of Hibernia and also  the  other  branch  of the Royal House of David. Hibernia was to change to Iernia and  so to Erin.

Meantime, after the usual preliminary skirmish to obtain a foothold, peace was to be patched up by the marriage of the king of the Milesian Scots (descended from  Tea  Tephi ‘s  sister)  to  the  daughter  of   the  Heremon (Zarah-Judah), the overlord of the Danaans. The move of the Dalriadic Scots from Ulster into Argyle, eventually to give their name to the kingdom north the Tweed, is no longer legend but actual  history.

EARLY  BRITAIN

Irish folklore speaks only of Ireland but it is only reasonable to suppose that much the same process was going on in Britain among the megalith builders and their descendants there. With the coming of the Cymry this was overlaid and lost. There is a vague reference to Partholan and a great mythic hero of the name of Don, and the curious legend that London was founded by Brutus after the fall of Troy. Beyond that Cymric tradition treats mainly of the Cymry themselves.

Asher was almost as much at home on the sea as Dan and no mention of Asher is made by Tiglath – Pileser in his account of his deportation of “all the land of Naphtali:” Ref. 2 Kings 15:29. Doubtless many of  Israel  sought  refuge  in the new world overseas during those troublous times. It seems probable  that as the ancient inhabitants made way for the Cymry many moved north to form the Caledonians of Roman times and the Strathclyde Britons of early Scottish history.

Certainly there was little love lost between the Britons north of the wall and those of the Roman provinces to the south. All we know historically is that when Himilco made his voyage of rediscovery in 420 B.C., before the coming of the Cymry, he found a numerous and prosperous people in south Britain eager for trade and in close touch with the Continent and there we must leave them – except to point out that Caesar ‘s reference to skin clad and painted savages was from hearsay evidence. It  is not  borne out either by classical writers within touch in the next generation nor by the evidence of archaeology. The painted savages of our childhood histories were the invention of the Romish monk Augustine anxious to discredit  the  Church  and flatter the Saxon  overlords.

RELIGION

Before we close there is one final thing connecting Gaeldom with Palestine, namely that of religion. There existed  side by side in Ireland  two factions, namely  Druidism and idolatry, the latter pointing to Baal worship. The conversion of Ireland to Christianity came much later than  in  Britain. When  it did  come, however, the Druidic schools seem to have become immediately colleges of Christian teaching and Ireland sent missionaries all over Northern Europe. Beneath the surface, however, traces of Baal worship  existed  almost  to the present day.

Many attempts have been made to sweep away the Beltane fires of the 1st of May. The word Beltane is Bel’s fire in present day Gaelic, and Cormac, king  of Munster and Bishop of Armagh, writing in the 9th century A.D. gives it that meaning-adding that children were offered in fire to the idol Bel to obtain fertility of crops. Writing of his own times he presumably knew more about them  than  scholars of the 19th or 20th century.

Crom Cruaich, the great Irish idol, whom St. Patrick is stated to have overthrown, is described as a great idol with gold and surrounded by twelve satellite idols of stone and situated on a serpent or S­ shaped mound. Hence the legend of St.Patrick banishing the snakes from Ireland.

In Dunsinichus, an Irish book of the 6th century, it is stated, “To him (Crom Cruaich) they used to offer the firstlings of every house and the chief scions of every clan.” We seem to see here a presentation of Baal Melkarte, god of the Phoenicians with an added memory  of Joseph’s  dream  and the  serpent  insignia of Dan. Throughout the centuries the Beltane fires on the 1st of  May have shown traces of  purification  by fire. They did so at Tarbolton in Ayrshire until discontinued at the outbreakof  war in 1914. John Buchan’s book  ‘Witchwood’,  gives  a good  idea of the ritual as carried out in Scotland as late as the 17th century.

To sum up the infiltration of the Hebrew race into “the isles afar off” which had its beginnings not long after they entered the Holy land – as far as Gaeldom was concerned it owed little to the final break up of the two Kingdoms. Celtic scholars have noted the strain of Palestinian allusions which run like a thin thread through early Celtic mythology. They have noted it with with sarcasm and sought to explain it away. But neither sneers nor explanations alter the fact of its existence.

PART 2. THE CYMRY

The Cymry, the Celts of Britain with their brethren the Britons of Brittany are the present representatives of a great Celtic Empire, which stretched all over Central Europe north of the Alps and all Western Europe not inclusive of Spain and Italy. Eastward they stretched down to Thrace and the mouth of the Danube. At that time Rome was little more than a Southern  Italian State.

It must not be assumed that the Celts were in the majority in all this great extent of territory, rather were they in the position of a Governing and Military Aristocracy who had gained their ascendancy partly by conquest but also largely by peaceful penetration. They were in fact the master race, much as Germany has aspired to be in Central and Western Europe in our day.

With the disintegration of the Celtic Empire, between 300 B.C. and A.D. 100 the majority of this master race withdrew to Great Britain  to  form  the bed rock of our British race and it was no mean heritage that they bequeathed to us. They continued  for a couple of centuries to exercise an influence over Gaul through the Druid priesthood, the seat of authority which was situated  in  Britain.

THE CELTS OF GAUL

The Celts are first heard of in European history in the 6th century B.C. when  they were  in  occupation of France and the Low Countries, or Gaul as it was then termed. They are described as coming from the source of the Danube, where their great capital at Hallstadt near Salzburg in Austria has given its name to the Bronze-Age Culture. The finds at Hallstadt disclose a great civilisation and a wide range of commerce. They are generally  found  in alliance with the Greeks, and joined them in fighting the Carthaginians with whom they were at enmity. Their Eastern branch in Thrace assisted the Greeks under Philip against the Illyrians and made a compact with Alexander to guard his  northern  homeland  before  he set off for his conquest of Western Asia. About 400 B.C. they poured through the Alpine passes to the valley of the Po in Northern Italy and eventually sacked Rome in 390 B.C. The Celtic Empire was now at the zenith of its power. One hundred years later it began to disintegrate. From 300 B.C. onwards they began to lose all political cohesion. Rent asunder by some mighty subterranean force their tribes rolled down like lava streams south, east and west of their original homes. Delphi in Northern Greece was sacked in 273 B.C. Northern Italy was invaded, where they suffered two annihilating  defeats in 295 and 283 B.C. In the following century they revisited Southern France and entered Northern Spain where they eventually coalesced with the Iberians.

At the very close of the second century B.C. they issued their final challenge  to Rome. After inflicting  three crushing defeats on the Roman army in Southern Gaul in 123 B.C., 109 B.C. and 105 B.C., they were finally brought to bay by Marius near Verona  in 101 B.C. and decimated. Gaul was now open to Roman occupation.

During all this turmoil three great waves of immigration were entering the British Isles. In the opening centuries of the Christian era the tribes of Northern Germany, Goths and Vandals, Franks and Burgundians were to pour into the vacated lands of France to take their place. Britain became for some centuries a purely Celtic  land.

CELTIC CULTURE

The Celts are described as tall and fair and redoubtable warriors, fighting better on horse back than on foot. Caesar bears testimony to their bravery. They were fond of fine clothes and Strabo specially mentions their many coloured tartan cloaks. Their gold jewellery and enamel work is specially commented on, the art of enamelling being unknown in Rome. They dwelt in great houses roofed with arched timber and walls of wicke r work well plastered with clay. The roofs were thickly thatched. Caesar comments on the strength of the walls of their towns built of timber and stone. Colleges for education were established in their towns and Greek letters and  science were  spreading  from Marseilles.

The Druids who were in charge not only of religion but education as well, were all powerful and the Druid Colleges for training were always well filled. It was in their religion that they differed from their  neighbours – a religion reserved for the Celtic portion of the population alone. Strabo maintains that the sacrificial fires noted  by  Caesar  were  not  indulged  in  by the Druid priesthood and probably related to an aboriginal cult, unless Baal worship had crept into Gaul too. So firmly did the Celts believe in life after death that both Caesar and Strabo mistook it for belief in the transmigration of souls. But the evidence available tends to show that it was not transmigration but a new celestial body in which the soul was clothed after death. Neither did they believe in a dim underworld such as that depicted by classical writers. For they pictured their God, Hesus, as shining on the Isles of the Blest (the spirit land of Gaelic mythology far in the Western Atlantic) with the same radiance as He shone on themselves  in the Isles of the West.

KIMBRI AND KIMEH

While Celt was the general name given to the people of Gaul, the tribes which came into collision with the Romans were known as Kimri and Kimbri , causing some confusion of identity for their inroads into Rome came from different directions. Herodotus first mentions them as Cimmerians occupying the Northern shores of the Black Sea. If any identity is to be established with Israel it must then be  through these same Cimmerians. But in order to  do so, it is first necessary to follow the fortunes of the pioneer tribe of Dan, the imprint of whose way has been left on all the great rivers flowing into the Black  Sea.

THE TRIBE OF DAN

Dan it was foretold would “leap from Bashan” and Dan in consequence always appears as a seafaring and colonising community. The earliest colony, that of Greece, is placed at a date before even the Exodus, when the Danaoi, sons of Belus, appear in Greek mythology. (Dan was of course the son of Bilhah, Jacob’s concubine.) They left in consequence of disputes with their brother Aegyptus possibly of the sons of Joseph? Similarly Dardan, the grandson of Judah, is reputed to have left for Asia Minor to found Troy. Be that as it may, the Lacedaemonians, the successors of the Danaoi, definitely claimed Hebrew descent at the time of Onias the High Priest about 300 B.C. (I Mace. 19: vv. 7 & 21). The Trojan war threw early Greece into chaos and the Danaoi moved into Thrace.

Later many returned but they left a settlement in Thrace and others in Colchis south of the Caucasus. This Danite colony would have received many reinforcements during the troubled time of Jabin “the oppressor” and others. They must have been a flourishing community for the shores of the Black Sea are labelled with their enterprises.

It is often overlooked  that  the migration  of  Israel started long before the captivity. Neither Dan nor Simeon are mentioned after the reign of Solomon. Asher was reproached along with Dan, by Deborah, for their seafaring proclivities. Asher is ignored in Tiglath Pileser’s deportation of “All the land of Naphtali” (2 Kings 15: 29) while of Zebulun it was foretold that “He shall be for an haven of  ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.” Northern Dan’s great adventure was up the Danube  to the Baltic and so  to Denmark and Norway; while Southern Dan migrated to Spain and to  Ireland.

SIMEON

Simeon was to be scattered “in Israel” and so like Dan he disappears from Bible history.  Simeon lying to the south of Judah was not in one of Shalmaneser’s deportations. When they went and how is uncertain; but some fifty years after Israel’s final deportation a detached tribe of Gimirri appear in Southern Armenia. There they come into conflict with a confederate contingent of Babylonians serving under Esarhaddon of Assyria, some time about 680 B.C. The Gimirri were heavily defeated. Gimirri is the Babylonian equivalent of the Beth Khumri or House of Omri of Assyria. After their defeat these Gimirri turned westward and ravished Lydia.

Eventually expelled they crossed to the ancient Greek (Danite) settlement of Colchis south of the Caucasus. From there they moved into South Russia and  the  Crimea  as  Cimmerians.  Though  known  to their neighbours as Cimmerians they called themselves Senones or Semnones. Eventually they worked their way to Roumania, the Arsareth of Esdras, where as Kimri they came into contact with the descendants of the  Danaoi. Their stay was short for the main body of the Beth-Sak were on the move. By about 600 B.C. the Beth-Sak arrive at Arsareth as described by Esdras. The Kimbri were uncertain whether to oppose them or vacate quietly and  a quarrel arose between  the  two  factions.  Weakened by internal dissensions they had no choice left but to vacate. The main body moved up the valley of the Danube in the wake of Dan to become the Celts of history. From their centre at Hallstadt on the upper Danube they built up the great Celtic Empire of Western Europe. But they did not entirely lose touch with the smaller branch whose fortunes we will presently follow as Kimbri Celts. These moved first south into Thrace and thence into Asia Minor which they again looted.

Then they moved back into Thrace to become the allies of Alexander. With the break up of Alexander ‘s Empire fresh hordes of nomad peoples poured into Southern Russia. This started the Kimbri on their adventures in Northern Italy till finally defeated by Marius. After that disastrous defeat the remnants with their allies the Celtiberians move into Jutland, where they are last heard of. By the end of the first century A.D. the continent knows them no more. But at the same time and from the same place the Picts appear in Scottish history. By the end of the 3rd century they had established themselves as politically dominant in Central Scotland.

All these peoples described themselves by the Hebrew word for exile “Galeh” the state of exile and “Galutha” an exile. “Galeh” became shortened into Gaul and “Galutha” passed from “Khelod” to “Keltoi.” (See “Chronicles of Eri”, “Gael of Iber of Scioth” Wandering Hebrew Nation of God.)

CYMRIC TRADITION

The Cymry entered these islands at a much later date than the Gael. Their mythology bears the stamp  of the absorption of the tradition of an earlier people whom they replaced and there is no continuity of ideas. They preserve for us the  founding  of  London by Brutus of Troy and Dan figures as one of their mythological heroes.  On the other hand  the account  of their own origin is straightforward and agrees with classical history. They trace their place of origin from the neighbourhood  of Constantinople  or near where it now stands. They left these lands under “Hu Gadarn”, Hugh the Mighty, in search of a new land where they might renew their faith. They entered Britain in three distinct waves of conquest. First came the Seonones or Kymry proper from the valley of the “Seine”. In due course followed the “Lloegrwys” or “Ligurians” from the valley of the “Loire” and last the Brythons, known as Belgae  to the  Romans,  moving up from Gascony into Brittany and so into England. All are counted as true Cymry. These moves occupy from about 300 to 100 B.C. They had long been in touch with the people of South Britain and there  is  no tale of wars. They doubtless brought a higher culture than the ancient Celts of Britain possessed. Above all they brought the philosophy and religion of the Druid priesthood, and they have handed down some memories of that philosophy to the  present  time. Beyond Caesar ‘s and Strabo’s statements anything we can gather of the Druid Faith comes from Welsh Bardic tradition. This is set out in two books of “Barddas” compiled from ancient tradition in the 16th century. Modern Celtic scholars have poured ridicule on this compilation. Nevertheless the  Bardic  Order had had a fairly continuous existence in Wales through history. The Bardic Order was  certainly  at one time in possession of such doctrine. While interwoven with references to Christian personalities and episodes there is a strain of thought which is certainly not Christian, still less does it agree with Christian  orthodoxy of the sixteenth  century.

It should be remembered  that Druidism  in Britain was to pass readily and insensibly into Christianity as early as the first century A.D. that is to say, within a generation of the date that Caesar and Strabo were writing of Druidism in Gaul. The writer cannot do better than quote from “Myths and Legends of the Celtic race.”

DRUID PHILOSOPHY

“According  to  the  Druid  teaching  as expounded in “Barddas” two primary existences are contemplated-God and CYTHRAWL who stand respectively for the principle of energy tending to life and the principle of destruction tending to nothingness. CYTHRAWL is realised in AN NWN or Chaos. In the beginning there was nothing but God and AN NWN. Organised life began by the word of God – God pronounced His ineffable Name and MANRED was formed. Manred was the primal substance of the universe. It was imagined as a multitude of minute indivisible particles – atoms in fact, each being a microcosm, for God is complete in each while at the same time each is a part of God the Whole. The totality of being as it now exists is represented by three concentric Circles. The innermost of them where life springs from AN NWN is called ABRED and is the stage of struggle and evolution – the contest of Life with CYTHRAWL.

The next is the circle of GWNFYD or Purity in which Life is manifested as a pure rejoicing force, having attained its triumph over evil. The last and outermost circle is called GEUGANT or Infinity. Here all predicates fail us, and the circle is represented, graphically, not by a bounding line but by divergent rays and is inhabited by God  alone.”

The Philosophy embodied in the extract given above is very ancient and very oriental. It had frankly nothing whatever to do with sixteenth century Christianity in spite of the assertion of modern Celtic scholars. With such traditions Christianity was bound to make a strong appeal to the Druid priesthood and the foundations of the British Church were well and truly laid. Absorbed for a time by Rome, it renewed its strength in the Reformation and it is for us to rehabilitate it in this age of disbelief.

THE PICTS

Any survey of Celtic Scotland would not be complete without some reference to the Picts. They are first noticed by Irish Gaels about two centuries before the Romans record their supersession of the Caledonians in Scotland. Their first foothold in Great Britain was in the Orkneys and Shetlands where they appear as divided into two great clans “Ores” or “Bears” and “Cats”. They were at that time great seamen and also good masons or builders in stone as their Brochs testify.

By the second century A.D. they had quietly superseded the Caledonians as the ruling race in Scotland, North of the Firths of Clyde and Forth. If there had been hard fighting between them and such redoubtable warriors as the Caledonians, the  Romans would have heard of it. We may therefore conclude that it was the more or less peaceful penetration of a kindred  people   of   superior  culture.  Scraps  in  the North there may have been, but no war of extermination such as historians  so glibly talk about.  It was in fact much the same ascendancy as came about in Lowland  Scotland  after Bruce’s  days.

St. Columba testifies that their language was different from Gaelic of his day but easily learnt by Gaels.

Very little is known about them!

They arrive from nowhere, take over and settle down amicably to disappear in the Scot of Gaeldom again. They would seem to be the great bridge in overseas invasions between Celt and “Saxon”, to give the Norse men a generic name, and they must have played a great part in Scotland in those opening centuries of the Christian era.

PICTS AND KIMBRI

War left the Kimbri, the southern branch, of Simeon, heavily defeated by Marius in the Gulf of Lyons in B.C. 101 and heading north through Gaul. They are mentioned by Strabo towards the end of the 1st century B. C. as being on the Baltic in a feeble and scattered state.

They did in fact give their name to the Jutland Peninsula as the Chersonesus Cimbrii.

Tacitus writing about 117 A.D., i.e. about 150 years after Strabo, states that it was “A small state now but great in glory”. The marks of their ancient fame yet remained far and wide about the Elbe. It is just about these dates, the end of the first century B.C. to the beginning of the second century A.D. that we hear of the Picts arriving by sea and via the Orkneys and Shetlands. The motive power was the arrival of the vanguard of EPHRAIM as Goths into the Baltic lands of NORTH GERMANY. The division of the Picts into two great clans (Bears, or Ores and Cats) suggests a not long established amalgamation of Kimbri and Danes or whoever were in Jutland before them and it would have been from these ancient “Norse” that they acquired their seafaring activities. The fame of their name lived on in Northern waters, as the Northern Ocean  was  still  called  Cimbrica  Thetis  by Claudia about 400 AD.

No sooner were the Picts well established in the North than the Saxons established touch with these Isles. Saxon and Dane and Norse followed easily in due succession to the Cymry and Picts. Touch with these Isles began as soon as the young Hebrew nation was formed. It received a great impetus with Solomon’s reign. When final exile came to the “land of promise” dim memories of this other “Land of Hope and Glory” remained to exercise an irresistible pull on these scattered nations till the ingathering of Israel had been completed  as foretold.

THE HERITAGE OF THE CELTS

“He had   little  gift   for  the  establishment of institutions for the service of materialism; but he was, and is, an indispensable and never failing assertor of humanity against the tyranny of principle, the coldness  and  barrenness  of  institutions.

The Celt has always been a rebel against anything that has not in it the breath of life, against any unspiritual and purely rational form of  domination.  He has done and will still do infinite service to the modern world by insisting that the true fruit of life is a spiritual reality, never without pain or loss to be obscured or forgotten  amidst the vast  mechanism  of a material civilization.”

From “Myths and legends of the Celtic Race.

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