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Author Topic: Star Symbolism Specific to Gallic Celts  (Read 5579 times)
NibbleKat
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« Topic Start: May 27, 2010, 04:52:31 pm »

Try as I might, I can't find any good info on what stars meant to the Celts... continental preferred, but any and all would be fine, too.  (And stars in general, not say... the Pole Star).

If anyone can point me to a webpage that's not just star-generic, which is all I'm coming across, or a book I can google books search, I would be really appreciative.

And of course, if anyone knows  off the top of their noggins of any star symbolism meanings, with hopefully some sources to cite, I'd really appreciate it!

(I know a lot of you guys recommend books, but as it stands now, I am woefully poor, and can't afford to even buy books off Amazon or the like... and the local library is, well... inadequate in its supply! Believe me, I've checked.)

Thanks!
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« Reply #1: May 27, 2010, 10:08:31 pm »

Try as I might, I can't find any good info on what stars meant to the Celts

I've looked through my books on Celtic art and symbols and haven't found anything specifically on stars yet.  Sorry.  Undecided  I'll dig a little more tomorrow, if I can.

You might try researching Celtic coins.  I pretty sure I've seen stars on some of the ancient coin designs.  CelticCoins.com is a pretty good site to start with.

Let us know what you find out.
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« Reply #2: May 28, 2010, 02:52:06 am »

Try as I might, I can't find any good info on what stars meant to the Celts... continental preferred, but any and all would be fine, too.  (And stars in general, not say... the Pole Star).

If anyone can point me to a webpage that's not just star-generic, which is all I'm coming across, or a book I can google books search, I would be really appreciative.

And of course, if anyone knows  off the top of their noggins of any star symbolism meanings, with hopefully some sources to cite, I'd really appreciate it!

(I know a lot of you guys recommend books, but as it stands now, I am woefully poor, and can't afford to even buy books off Amazon or the like... and the local library is, well... inadequate in its supply! Believe me, I've checked.)

Thanks!
You and I both  Cheesy It's been recorded that there was an elaborate system, and knowledge of this, but unfortunately, not what it was!

This was pointed out to me by my good mate Nuadu.
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2009/12/23/ns-lunenburg-church-ceiling-star-mystery.html?ref=rss
It's a link of a church in Nova Scotia built in the 1700's, that has a map of the stars as it's altar, dating back to the time of Christ's birth.

Now Nuadu heard a folk story from Nova Scotia when living in Canada that followed the Exile of the Sons of Uisliu from the Ulster Cycle, but with a different ending, in which the Milky way emerges from the trees of the doomed couple. It's not a Christian ending, so could this represent something else? As Nuadu pointed out, maybe the interest in astronomy as early as the 1700's could stem from the folk-tales? 
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« Reply #3: May 28, 2010, 07:18:10 am »

Now Nuadu heard a folk story from Nova Scotia when living in Canada that followed the Exile of the Sons of Uisliu from the Ulster Cycle, but with a different ending, in which the Milky way emerges from the trees of the doomed couple. It's not a Christian ending, so could this represent something else? As Nuadu pointed out, maybe the interest in astronomy as early as the 1700's could stem from the folk-tales?

I'd be very interested in that folk story, if you happen to remember any of it or point me to a source.  Especially the part about the Milky Way.

Also, I think it's pretty well documented that ancient civilizations far earlier than the 1700s were well versed in astronomy and astronomical observations.  For the Celts (and pre-Celts in Ireland?), the orientation of Newgrange and other structures would seem to attest to that, although I guess it could have been coincidence.  It's truly fascinating.

Does anyone else "see" a galaxy shape in the Newgrange spirals or the classic triskele?   Wink
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« Reply #4: May 28, 2010, 11:59:57 am »

You and I both  Cheesy It's been recorded that there was an elaborate system, and knowledge of this, but unfortunately, not what it was!

This was pointed out to me by my good mate Nuadu.
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2009/12/23/ns-lunenburg-church-ceiling-star-mystery.html?ref=rss
It's a link of a church in Nova Scotia built in the 1700's, that has a map of the stars as it's altar, dating back to the time of Christ's birth.

Now Nuadu heard a folk story from Nova Scotia when living in Canada that followed the Exile of the Sons of Uisliu from the Ulster Cycle, but with a different ending, in which the Milky way emerges from the trees of the doomed couple. It's not a Christian ending, so could this represent something else? As Nuadu pointed out, maybe the interest in astronomy as early as the 1700's could stem from the folk-tales? 

Hahah, that's pretty awesome.  That's a great link, thank you.
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« Reply #5: May 28, 2010, 12:00:38 pm »



It's driving me nuts, though, since I can find stuff on eggs... or horses, or whatever, but nothing on stars. *pulls out hairs*
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« Reply #6: May 28, 2010, 12:08:18 pm »

It's driving me nuts, though, since I can find stuff on eggs... or horses, or whatever, but nothing on stars. *pulls out hairs*

Have you tried searching with the word "pentagram" or "pentacle" instead of "star"?

The only thing I've come up with so far, besides the suggestion of checking out coins, is a particular Irish Imbolc tradition of using rushes and potatoes to create "collages" that include stars, the moon, and a ladder.  But that's strictly Irish, as far as I can tell.
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« Reply #7: May 28, 2010, 12:31:20 pm »

Have you tried searching with the word "pentagram" or "pentacle" instead of "star"?

Or "stellar" and "celestial".

And I found something.  If you can get your hands on a copy of Celtic Gods, Celtic Goddesses, by RJ Stewart, it would probably help you.  He has numerous entries under "star" in the index.  I haven't been able to read them all yet, but here's a brief excerpt from the intro, pg. 11:

Quote
Beyond the goddesses of the land and their associated sons and daughters there are stellar or cosmic figures described in Celtic legend.  These are often deeper aspects of environmental or heroic characters.  The Welsh goddess Arianrhod, a character in the medieval story collection The Mabinogion but clearly deriving from pre-christian tradition, whose name means 'Silver Wheel', is not only a local or national deity preserved in myth and legend, but is a stellar figure, associated with observation of a group of stars.  She is related in many ways to the Greek Ariadne, the goddess of maze and thread, who also has a stellar significance.

If this sounds promising to you, I'll try to read the rest of the passages today and see if they look like they'd help you.  If you want me to do that, if would be useful to understand a little more of why you're exploring this and what you're looking for.

Let me know if you want me to do that.
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« Reply #8: May 28, 2010, 02:07:09 pm »

Or "stellar" and "celestial".

And I found something.  If you can get your hands on a copy of Celtic Gods, Celtic Goddesses, by RJ Stewart, it would probably help you.  He has numerous entries under "star" in the index.  I haven't been able to read them all yet, but here's a brief excerpt from the intro, pg. 11:

If this sounds promising to you, I'll try to read the rest of the passages today and see if they look like they'd help you.  If you want me to do that, if would be useful to understand a little more of why you're exploring this and what you're looking for.

Let me know if you want me to do that.

They do sound a bit promising, I will admit.  I don't want you to go TOO out of your way, but I would love to hear what that author has to say. And now I'm rhyming.  I THINK I looked up 'star' in "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets" that I have at home, but there was little in it. Or none. Or I am misremembering.
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« Reply #9: May 28, 2010, 02:14:15 pm »

They do sound a bit promising, I will admit.  I don't want you to go TOO out of your way, but I would love to hear what that author has to say. And now I'm rhyming.  I THINK I looked up 'star' in "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets" that I have at home, but there was little in it. Or none. Or I am misremembering.

I read through the rest of the star cites in that book, and wasn't impressed.  There isn't much more than what I already quoted -- just a couple of vague references to the Pleides.

I'll keep digging through my library as I can.

I have a couple of books on symbols, in addition to my Celtic-specific books, and I'll check those too.

Later.  Wink
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« Reply #10: May 28, 2010, 03:58:09 pm »

I read through the rest of the star cites in that book, and wasn't impressed.  There isn't much more than what I already quoted -- just a couple of vague references to the Pleides.

I'll keep digging through my library as I can.

I have a couple of books on symbols, in addition to my Celtic-specific books, and I'll check those too.

Later.  Wink

I really appreciate it (and all the help you've given me).

It's frustrating that I can go to a symbol dictionary and find "Grain=fertility" and not "Star=XXXX"

Maybe they were like us, and didn't have one or two specific things they believed about stars. Maybe there were multiple interpretations, or none, really.
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« Reply #11: May 28, 2010, 08:38:54 pm »

Maybe they were like us, and didn't have one or two specific things they believed about stars. Maybe there were multiple interpretations, or none, really.

Well, I've been through my library, and I haven't found a lot about stars.  (There's tons on solar imagery, though, if that would be helpful.)

Ronald Hutton mentions stars in The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles, page 235, discussing funerary practices:
Quote
...[C]ertain motifs are common on burial structures, such as...stars (perhaps symbols of eternity)...

Miranda Green, in Celtic Goddesses, page 102, in a section on Sirona:
Quote
A final point of interest concerns Sirona's name, 'Star', which suggests a link with night and with light penetrating darkness.  Stars are luminaries of the night, like the moon, and Sirona may have had similar associations with women to lunar goddesses, such as Diana, who was traditionally linked to the menstrual cycle and childbirth.

I didn't find anything relevant to the Gaulish Celts in my symbol dictionaries.

Sorry!
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« Reply #12: May 31, 2010, 04:18:03 pm »

Well, I've been through my library, and I haven't found a lot about stars.  (There's tons on solar imagery, though, if that would be helpful.)

Ronald Hutton mentions stars in The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles, page 235, discussing funerary practices:
Miranda Green, in Celtic Goddesses, page 102, in a section on Sirona:
I didn't find anything relevant to the Gaulish Celts in my symbol dictionaries.

Sorry!

Sorry it took so long to get back to you about this.  I have no net access at home, so weekends are dead silent for me in that regard.

Those two things actually REALLY helped.  That makes sense in the structure of the other things I am working with, and it untangled some of the things that had been snarling about in my head for a while.

I really need to get Green's book. Rarr.

You rock!
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« Reply #13: May 31, 2010, 09:13:56 pm »


No problem.  I'm glad the info is helpful to you.  You never know what little tidbits will click for someone.  Wink
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